Cape Town, the Last Day: Cool Hotels, Cool Bars and Restaurants, Cool Coffee Shops, Cool Gentrifying Neighborhoods, and a Stark Reminder that Everything Here Isn’t so Cool
I arrived at my hotel last night around 6pm, and had about 19 hours to explore before I had to leave for the airport. I checked into the Daddy Long Legs Art Hotel on Long Street and was really pleasantly surprised. Each room of this small boutique hotel has a different artsy theme. My room was called the Being Mak1one room. I was confused by the name, but wowed when I saw it! (See my instagram for pictures.) I did a little research and found out that Mak1one is a street artist from Cape Town. He grew up in Mitchell’s Plein, a very bad township here, and was commissioned to design the room. That night, I went to a cool local Mexican restaurant to grab a drink (I indulged in a Havana Club rum, knowing I can’t have it in the US), eat quesadillas and watch the world cup. Exhausted from my long day, I went to bed at 9:30.
I woke up at 7am today and actually made it out of bed at 9am excited to explore Bo-Kaap, the Malay neighborhood a few blocks from my hotel. Unfortunately, I did not get the memo that it was a bank holiday and most things were closed. I still walked on Dorp Street, the main thoroughfare of Bo-Kaap. I snapped a few pictures of the brightly colored houses and made my way to the Haas Design Collective, one of the few businesses in the neighborhood that was open. It’s a hip coffee shop and artist studio/gallery that opened in the neighborhood, which is undergoing fast gentrification as many young, white professionals were priced out of De Waterkant, the neighborhood where I first stayed. The neighborhood felt like some odd, Malay version of Bushwick, Brooklyn.
I decided to walk back on Long Street, which is chock full of hostels, shops, cafes and restaurants. I was approached by a beggar who followed me for at least three blocks. When I tried the usual, “sorry, I don’t have any change” line, he continued to follow me and got really aggressive. When he touched me, I muttered “you don’t want to fucking touch me.” He continued to follow me a bit more hesitant, at which point he touched me again and I screamed at the top of my lungs (having seen a public safety officer a few blocks up) “STOP!!!!” at which point he bolted. I stepped into a café, checked to make sure he hadn’t pick pocketed me, and waited a while before leaving. I was afraid this guy would be waiting down the block to mug me, so I waited until I saw a police officer walking in the right direction and followed him back. The whole experience was a stark reminder that while Cape Town is a veritable paradise; it is really for only some people who live in the center of the city. It was also a reminder that even a beautiful city like Cape Town can be really unsafe. I got lucky this time, but it might not have been the case again.
In any event, I was leaving soon, so I returned to my hip and cool hotel to pack up, have a coffee and take a cab to the airport. South Africa was one of the most incredible trips I’ve done to date, and I really hope to return some day. I will be posting pictures when I get back to New York, along with a few of my Cape Town travel tips… so stay tuned!