Our Cape Town holiday was one of my best vacations

Cape Town

Dean and I just got back from the most amazing trip to Cape Town. It was all part of my grand plan. I figured that before we emigrate, I should see Cape Town, especially seeing as everyone raves about it as their favorite city in South Africa. In fact, before I ever met Dean, I was planning to do a trip around the world and the only city I really wanted to visit in South Africa was Cape Town. In the almost ten years I’ve lived here, I’ve visited most of the urban centers and national parks, but had missed out on the Mother City… until now. And wow, what a trip!

There are so many things that made this a fantastic holiday. We saw incredible sites, tasted so much deliciousness, saw people we love and also simply reveled in each other’s company. It was everything a vacation should be, and definitely a destination that I would love to revisit in the future. For sure when we come back to South Africa when Harley (and maybe one day, baby #2) is older to visit, I’d want to return to Cape Town. I really tried hard to chronical this trip more than usual – friends always laugh at me and Dean because we will go places and come home without a single picture. So I tried my best to take more pictures – I don’t think any of them will do our trip justice, though.First up, the flights. I was honestly dreading flying with a toddler. What if she was cranky? What if she screamed the whole way? What if it was the worst trip and made me dread the intercontinental journey even more? Well, I shouldn’t have worried – Harley was a dream! The airports were pretty easy thanks to having my Ubuntu carrier. I could strap Harley on and still get around without any issue. However, she really doesn’t like being in the carrier when I sit down – either at home or on the plane. So when I sat down, I unstrapped her from the carrier and just held her on my lap. On the flight down to Cape Town, she nursed for take-off and napped a little bit, otherwise just playing and being pretty chilled during the flight and landing. On the flight back home, she slept the whole time. She fell asleep before take-off and woke up when we were getting off the plane. What a dream – I can only hope she’s this easy when we face those ridiculously long flights when we emigrate.

Upon arrival in Cape Town, we grabbed our rental car and off we went to our little cottage for the week. When we went to Knysna a few months back, Harley slept in camping cots (or those bad co-sleeping experiences) in our accommodation. But this place didn’t have a camping cot for her. Instead, they had a fold-out sleeper couch that was my new favorite thing. We would make the couch into a bed, complete with sheet and duvet. Then I’d crawl into bed with Harley and nurse her to sleep, but once she passed out, all I had to do was sneak out of the bed. No lifting, carrying or putting her down, all of which are known to be opportunities for a little one to wake up. It was divine and made bedtime, as well as midnight wakeups, so, SO much easier.

Cape Town table mountain and ocean

Okay, so day one was already jam packed. After we got the keys to our cottage and had a quick chat with the hosts, we went for a quick walk around the area – we found our local shopping center to buy water and any other supplies we might want or need, and then off we went. We started out at Eden on the Bay in Big Bay. Thanks to it being mid-week, it was empty and beautiful. In fact, it’s so beautiful that National Geographic even has a giant frame so that you can take the perfect picture of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. Of course, I didn’t use that, though – I opted to take my own image by the dunes, and then forced Dean to take a picture of me and Harley when we sat down for lunch.

Me and Har at Table Mountain

 

After I had some sushi, Dean had a burger and we determined that Harley was happy with a plate of chips AND a small ball of sushi rice, off we went to Durbanville Hills. Dean did a wine tasting while I did a wine and chocolate tasting… That resulted in us sending home a case of wine and buying a couple slabs of accompanying chocolate. I adored the look and feel of that particular wine farm. Each one we went to was lovely, but Durbanville Hills was just so clean, fresh and open, plus it has an incredible sculpture garden in the tasting area. The pieces cost about as much as a small car, but that didn’t stop me from admiring them and wishing for all the space and money to have one in my home one day.

wine and chocolate tasting

We ended up back at Eden on the Bay in the evening, heading to Saints for some truly delicious burgers. I had the Sweet Child of Mine, which comes with bacon, caramelized onions, and camembert while Dean had the Smoke on the Water, which actually featured a pork and chorizo patty. The portions were large, Harley loved the normal and sweet potato chips, and it was the perfect end to a delicious day. It wasn’t even our first full day in the city, and I was rather impressed.

Saints Sweet Child of Mine burger

The next day, the weather was beautiful. Following recommendations, we went to Bread and Butter and I had the most delicious, decadent breakfast – French Toast that’s served with camembert sandwiched between two slices along with some crispy bacon. Yeah, such a hard life.

bread and butter breakfast 2

After filling up on bread and cheese, off we went to Table Mountain. Parking was a bit of a mission, but we managed to find a spot and then took the cable car all the way to the top. The ride itself was beautiful, but once on top, there were the most incredible views. I think my favorite view, though, was of Dean carrying Harley in the baby carrier. He wanted to see what it was like, and was pretty quickly convinced that it’s the ideal way to carry her around when she isn’t in an active, run around and cause trouble kind of mood. I totally failed to take any pictures on top of Table Mountain, but here is Dean with Harley in the carrier.

Dean baby wearing Table Mountain

After Table Mountain, we headed down to V&A Waterfront where I hoped we could catch the ferry to Robben Island. I remember doing Alcatraz as a kid when we visited San Francisco, and I was really intrigued by Cape Town’s island prison and all the history it held. Unfortunately, the tours were booked out for the day. I was advised to book online, but when I went to do so, I saw so many terrible reviews. People were stuck on the island for hours without the ferry service to bring them back, people said the tour really wasn’t that great… just complaint after complaint. They had told me at the visitor’s center that the tour was four hours, but I had figured we could always leave early if necessary. Well, if the ferry might not run and we could be stuck there, it just wasn’t a risk I was willing to take with a toddler along for the ride. Maybe next time we visit.

Instead, Dean and I hung out at V&A where I bought some new, Star Wars-themed Haviannas, and then we sat at Mitchell’s brewery and happily drank beers and had snacks. We were pretty tired when we eventually got home, and just picked up more snack food and chilled in our cottage for the evening.

The next day was blustery and chilly, so we went on a bit of a road trip. It was amazing! We went down the coast and drove through all the small towns, my favorite of which was Kalk Bay. Next time we are in the area, I really want to spend some time there browsing galleries and eating in all the cool looking restaurants on the wharf. Instead, we drove on through and got to Boulder Beach, so named because of the giant boulders (duh!). There, we got to see penguins! So cool!! Then we carried on south and made it to the Cape of Good Hope, the most south I’ve ever been in the world. We were quite lucky because at each place the weather cleared just long enough to see whatever site, with the rain continuing as soon as we were back in the car.

On Thursday, we saw two of our very dear friends, Gerhard and Carla, and their son Finn. They moved down to Cape Town a few months back, and we have missed them a lot. It was so lovely to catch up, to talk and laugh and just generally be the way we always are together. It’s so totally comfy being together, to the point where when it was time for Finn’s bath, we threw the babies in the tub together. Too cute! I wish I could show you how adorable their kid is, or just how much fun we all had, but we were too busy enjoying each other’s company (and the incredible offering at The Spice Route in Paarl) to take any pictures.

Harley Jack Black beer tastingFriday was the last of our real touristy experiences, and we decided to head to a local brewery that makes a beer Dean likes when he can get it up in Joburg – Jack Black. We managed to have a tour of the brewery, and a tasting, and buy some cool swag as well. Harley also seemed to enjoy it all, mainly because of the pretzels.

From there, we went to Groot Constantia, a Dutch manor house, and wine farm. It was a beautiful area and cool to see – the architecture was so intriguing because it pretty much showcased the types of houses Dutch people would make if they had all the room to work with. We had a delicious lunch there (are you noticing the trend here? If we stayed in Cape Town much longer I would have needed an extra seat on the plane!) and then returned to our cottage for a bit of downtime before meeting up with some of the amazing staff and community people from my day job at Critical Hit.

Already by this point in the week, I’d noticed a significant change in Harley. She had discovered her “no” ability, and it was not only adorable but really rather useful. Sure, it’s frustrating when you offer her something and she refuses, but at least through a process of elimination, I can now figure out what it is that she does want. Want the yogurt? No! Want the spoon? No! Want to put on your shoes? …. Ah, nodding – must be that. It feels like we can sort of communicate a bit more now, and it’s fantastic.

Beyond that, I’ve written before about Harley finding her appetite. Well, it was such a lifesaver on this trip. Wherever we sat down, we’d order our drinks and a plate of chips (fries) for her. Yes, I know, chips aren’t the most nutritious, but at least she’d eat a few bites and not be cranking. Thereafter she’d join in on my sweet potato fries, chicken, sushi or whatever else. When we were in the national park driving through to the Cape of Good Hope, it was so very cool that Dean and I could get coffee and pick up a small bag of Nik Naks (yes, again, I know it’s not the healthiest) and she was happy to snack away in the car while we drove.

On Saturday, Dean and I went out to meet part of my amazing mom tribe. These fellow moms became my friends at the start of the year when we were all going to do yoga together. They have since become an important part of my support network. We talk throughout the day, pretty much every day. Whether it’s just to vent about kids, husbands or work, or to share concerns or ideas, encouragement or inspiration, these ladies have become an integral part of my life. Of course, when we went to Cape Town, I had to meet the ones down there. So Cassey, Mandy, and Jonelle all converged on Stellenbosch to meet up, laugh, chat and eat and drink all the things. We were seriously missing Eleanor, but it was such a fabulous chance to finally meet in person.

mom tribe 1

Harley and CharlyPlus, our kids got to all play together, which was quite possibly the cutest thing ever. Initially, Harley was very clingy, but by the end, she was relaxed and causing mischief along with the others. Playing in an ice bucket with a stick, chilling on the grass, cruising around the picnic table. It was so adorable, and then Charly took things to a whole other level as she stroked Harley’s head and told Mandy that she missed stroking baby hair! Mandy also managed to take my new most favorite picture of Harley. Please can we all pause and appreciate how gorgeous this is:

Fav Harley picture year and 4 months

Then Cassey and her lovely husband and adorable son took us into Stellenbosch proper to see the city and eat ice cream and explore the botanical gardens. It was a wonderful, chilled way to end the day. We made our way back to Cape Town, where we ended up back on Saints for some more burgers with colleagues. Our last day was pretty much spent just packing up and getting to the airport, where the slow lounge was divine and made the whole return experience so stress-free. Harley could wander around a bit while I ate yet more delicious nibbles and Dean drank coffee. Oh, and of course there was wifi, too.

All in, it was one of my best, most delicious holidays I’ve had as an adult. We used to go on amazing vacations when I was a kid, but this was a new era and truly divine. I see now why people love Cape Town, and I would happily return to the Mother City for future holidays. I really want to go back and see more – more wine farms, Kalk Bay and maybe even make it to Robben Island. But at least now I feel like we can emigrate knowing that I’ve seen so much of what South Africa has to offer, and truly know it is a beautiful, delightful country.

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  • Melissa Javan

    It’s so cool that you travelled a lot in Cape Town. I’m happy Harley was such a sweet baby during the flight. You’re lucky

    • Zoe Hawkins

      thanks so much! Yeah, I was honestly surprised at how easy she was, and how delightful it made the trip.

  • Jonelle

    Such a lovely post. I love this city so much and I’m glad you made the most of it while you were here. Seeing Robben Island was really incredible for me. I cried a lot. The tour itself isn’t anything great but knowing the history meant a lot to me. Cape Town is all kinds of magical! The best part of your trip was finally getting to meet you and your adorable child (and Dean too :P). xx

    • Zoe Hawkins

      hehe, did I make you remember all the reasons to love your city? 😛
      Was so great meeting you – felt like we already knew each other for ages! I’m just sad that we won’t live near each other and meet up more often.

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