Monday, 14 March 2016

Settling in to Picture-Perfect Cape Town

I know you might have heard that I've been on a South African road trip, well, our journey started in Cape Town. First off, you should probably know that I'm a Cape Town virgin – so
this was my first visit to this sunny city! When you arrive in such a place known for its turbulent political past and ongoing struggles it can be a little overwhelming to know how to relax and settle in. As long as you're careful, don't walk around late at night and don't leave things in your car over night, you're in for a good time. So for any other Cape Town virgins, relax, follow me straight to our new home and neighbourhood for a week, and in no doubt you'll feel at home in no time...

Everyone seems to head for Camp's Bay, but we decided to stay in a leafy city suburb under the watchful eye of Table Mountain. We follow the sign on Park Street to the garden gate at the end of a tiny cul-de-sac off one of Cape Town’s busiest inner city streets. We push it open carefully into a beautiful hidden garden full of fruit trees and little cosy corners perfect for morning coffee and cocktail hour sundowners. Our jaws drop as we take in our surroundings. Welcome to La Grenadine Petit Hotel! A rustic bohemian paradise set in a renovated 19th-century farm building in the vibrant Gardens area of Cape Town at the foot of Table Mountain. This little slice of heaven is where you might imagine all those sun-bleached Capetonians hang out after surfing big waves.

Inside it’s photo heaven and full of DIY inspiration, my attention immediately turning to the fabulous Art Deco bar in the corner of the kitchen and the Library room filled with bohemian cushions, rugs, slouchy chairs and shelves full of well-worn dusty books – yep, I can seriously say I’ll be right at home here for a week – or maybe even forever. It’s also not as expensive as you might think either, at just £70 a night for a double room.

Here’s a sneaky peek inside our room. Obviously I had to go for the one with the flamingo…and I wonder where I can get one of those yellow radios for my new Ellie & Co clubhouse I'm currently working on?

Nested, we decide to go on a snooping mission in our new hood first of all walking around the pretty residential streets. 

It’s not long before I spot these glorious wonders, and instantly thoughts start swirling around in my head of whether, maybe, Cape Town could be a place for Ellie & Co?

We hit the main road called Kloof Street, a mixture of shops, cafes, restaurants, yoga studios and hidden alleyways, quickly stumbling on a rainbow-coloured treasure trove of African textiles called Ashanti Design. This must be where all those cool, artistic Capetonians furnish their leafy whitewashed houses… I wonder, could I sneak a beanbag into hand luggage?

The mid-morning sun beating down, we stop for a verrrrrrry late breakfast at this gem of a neighbourhood cafe, The Power And The Glory, serving up strong coffee and hearty platefuls. Note to self: the cute little bar out back is open late.

 Tummies full, we carry on strolling before a chance encounter with a secret garden. It looks like something out of a Sofia Coppola movie and I’m in heaven. Turns out, it's actually a place called Kloof Street House, an eclectic dining room set in a magical Victorian house with leafy gardens where you can listen to jazz, cocktail in hand on a summer's evening, or cosy up for a romantic dinner. For now, I'm going to carry on pretending it's a movie set.

You can easily eat up an entire day wandering your way through the Garden suburb’s leafy streets, picking out your dream houses, searching for quirky local shops and stopping for endless coffees, but let's face it, we are in the city where you can be urban exploring for secrets one minute, hiking and surfing the next. 

So we decide to end the day with an afternoon hike up Table Mountain to take in the view across this magical city and get a sense of where we actually are. We're not adrenaline sports junkies by any stretch so opt for a modest hike up a popular trail towards a section of the mountain called Lion's Head, for the most amazing view across the western beaches. 

I hope you've enjoyed our little introduction to Cape Town and feel at home. Now, where's that sundowner... 

I'll be posting more about our South African road trip this week. Stay tuned!

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