Free wifi in the Company’s Gardens

Now here’s something exciting. The City of Cape Town has announced that they are implementing free wifi in the Company’s Gardens. Bringing the historic treasure up to speed with modern times, or something like that. The project is run in conjunction with Cape Town Partnership, Iziko Museums and Connected Space (wifi service providers) and you can read the full press release here.

This is the pilot project in which will hopefully be a larger plan to bring free wifi to other parts of Cape Town’s CBD as well. It also goes hand-in-hand with another nifty project in the gardens – one of tree-labelling. Some of the ancient and historical trees in the Company’s Gardens will receive labels and QR codes that you can scan on your smartphone to learn more about the tree in question.

The wifi will cover the Company Gardens restaurant as well as the area outside of the aviary and you’ll get 100mb free per day.

Now we have wifi in public spaces, we have an awesome bus system and trees that are connected to the internet. It seems like Cape Town is just getting better and better. Dig it.

 

Images courtesy of Richard Mortel and Robert Cutts.

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How to spend a rainy Thursday afternoon in Cape Town

So it’s been raining the entire day and you were caught in a particularly strong downpour as you walked from the office to your car. Now you’re driving and all you want to be is home.

Don’t go there though. Rainy Thursday afternoons have much more potential.

Drive directly to the Book Lounge in Roeland Street. If it’s after 5pm then you don’t have to pay for parking anymore and, if you’re lucky, the casual car guards haven’t showed up yet. Now you can browse books to your heart’s delight, drink a warm cup of coffee or tea downstairs and settle in one of the deep chairs for a bit of a read. Alternatively, wrap up your day, make your to-do list for tomorrow or (and this usually happens to me) collect arms full of books, spread them out on the table below and take your proper time to decide what you want to buy. In other bookshops I tend to make much more rash decisions because there’s never space to sit.

booklounge market

Now you can go and get some dinner. The Hope Street Market is literally just up the road, but you might want to drive there. It’s a particularly cosy spot, partly because of the warm food and live acoustic music, and partly because the hall is generally packed to the brim with people in scarfs, coats and hoods. The food is hearty, but also readily made. So no cooking, no dishes and no takeaways. Grab a glass of smooth red or a craft beer, try and find a seat (the most challenging part of the evening) and either  meet up with friends or make a run for it and eat your food at home. If you’re planning to sit though, the upstairs area is your best bet.

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Once home, there’s still an entire chunk of the evening left, but unlike the sluggish-series-and-microwave-meal-evening you would’ve had had you gone directly home, you now have proper food and proper books.

So much church, so pretty

Even if you’re not a religious or church-going person, it’s hard to ignore all the intricately detailed and beautiful churches spread out across Cape Town‘s city centre. Like this one, for example. It’s the methodist church on Greenmarket Square and, although it serves as a convenient meeting place on the square, it’s also rather beautiful to look at. It’s a little difficult getting a clear view of the entire church, what with all the stalls, shoppers and coffee-drinkers around, but if you stand right in front of the front doors and you look up, the view is quite something too.

greenmarket square church

Matroosberg – my every-winter place

It’s not often that I return to the same weekend-away spot over and over again. But I just can’t help making a weekend to  Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve an annual event. I’ll even go as far as to say that this is my favourite place to go away to during winter.

The obvious reason for my return is because this is the one place in the Western Cape where you’re most likely to experience actual snowfall and white mountains. I haven’t been lucky enough to make snow angels in my home province just yet, but I will keep on going back until I do. Still, although the chance of snow is a very strong drawcard, Matroosberg is about much more than just seeing snow. It’s simply an inspiring place to be.

As mentioned previously, this is a winter destination. I don’t think that it will be horrible here in summer, but I do think that if you can find a place that can make Cape Tonians enjoy winter then you’re on the winning end. Plus, it’s only 2 hours’ drive from Cape Town.

It’s one of the few places where we are happy that it’s below zero degrees and we wrap ourselves up without complaints to go out and find frosted grass and frozen puddles in the early hours of the morning. It’s our excuse to mass produce smoors and binge on red wine in front of the fireplace. It’s about finding yourself surrounded by the province’s highest mountains, in a hut crammed with mattresses for 20 people, where there’s no electricity but where none is needed and where you wake up to the most magnificently crisp and vibrant sunrises imaginable. It will make everyone love winter.

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Sunrise from the Metrorail

With petrol prices absolutely sky-rocketing (and rocketing higher still into the universe) I have decided to start taking the train to work. And it’s been great so far, considering that today is day two of this new mission. Riding in cars also get on my nerves and walking from the station to work allows for a bit of excercise. All in all a few not-so-bad reasons to explore our country’s very old (and sometimes frowned upon) public transport system.

Now it may not be the safest of options for a girl travelling alone, but I’m hoping that constant vigilance will protect me. Phones and ipods shouldn’t be flaunted either.

So on my second day of Metrorail travels, I captured the sunrise through the window. Beaut.

train sunrise

HQ – for the love of steak

Disclaimer: you don’t have to eat meat to indulge in the brilliance that is HQ. Keep reading, you’ll see.

There’s a lot of beauty found in simple things. I’m talking uncluttered, but masterful. Simple, yet brilliant. And that’s exactly what you’ll encounter when you spend an evening at HQ. Loosely based on a French dining concept, Headquarters specialises in one thing and one thing alone.

Steak.

Which means that they’re good at it. I would much rather eat at a place that knows a lot about one thing than a little about a lot of things. So here’s how it works:

First, you get a warm welcome at the door and you’re shown to the lounge and bar area where you can have a quick drink while you wait for you friends. It was a Monday night when we went and Mondays mean live music from a Bob Marley cover band. They were busy setting up, the fire was blazing and we were soon nice and toasty.

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Now you go to your table. These are stacked quite close together, but it’s not bothersome at all. In fact, it created quite a cosy, friendly feel.

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You look down at your menu.

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Yup, that’s it. There’s a separate drinks menu, but this is stamp is only thing resembles a food menu in here. Makes for much less clutter on the table.

Now you can spot the other tidbit of information on the table – two-for-one Mondays. Score.

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Next up, the drinks come and you’re asked only one food-related question: How would you like your steak? That gets written down on your table. Like this.

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Now there’s a bit of time to drink, chat and enjoy the music which is just loud enough so that you can groove along to the songs, but soft enough so that you don’t need to strain to chat to the other people. It’s all very well balanced.

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The food starts coming. First up is you starter. All of these are the same and they’re just perfect to get the taste buds ready.

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And now, for the main treat – a quality slice of steak, with butter and herb sauce and perfectly crispy French fries. These are what I would imagine gourmet McDonalds fries would taste like – extremely delicious. And the steak? Well, I’d say it’s close to perfection.

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Now vegetarians, don’t fret. Except if you can’t stand being surrounded by so much meat, you can enjoy a delicious mushroom substitute with the same fries and the same yummy sauce.

Just as you get about halfway with this impressive plate of food, the waiter comes by with a large dish and offers you more sauce and more fries. Yes! That just happened! So a good idea would be to get going on your fries before they come around so that there’s space on your plate for another proper helping.

Now you can order a spot of dessert if you feel that you can handle it. I couldn’t, but the creme brule on the table next door did look rather delicious.

And that’s it! Two hours later and my tummy couldn’t be happier.

HQ Cape Town

HQ

100 Shortmarket Street,
Heritage Square
021 424 6373
www.hqrestaurant.co.za
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Opening times:

Monday – Saturday
Kitchen serving 11h30 – 22h30
Bar open till late

Cafe Frank – not just a café

Café Frank has been around for a while, but it’s often overlooked as a coffee stop because of the ever so popular Jason’s just across the road. I only discovered it because the queue at The Hatch promised at least 10 minutes’ waiting time which I didn’t have that morning. So I went to Cafe Frank’s hatch, and subsequently to sit inside and eat. Now I’ll keep going back. There’s just so many things to try.

The inside is simple. There’s long, light-wood benches and tables and walls of shelves stocking yummy eats and drinks for a quick lunch. You order at the counter, paying, tipping and getting all of it done. Then you can sit back for a chat or a good read. I love the high stacks of Rolling StoneWired and Time Magazine just sitting there, waiting for you to stuff your brain with new information. If you can’t stand reading something that’s printed on paper, there’s always the free wifi to keep you occupied.

The food is wholesome and without fancy frills. Apart from the pastry-based breakfasts (everything is baked fresh and lined along the counter, tempting you to forget those healthy eating habits), there’s also the very delicious and colourful looking yoghurt, muesli and fruit to indulge in if you manage to stop yourself. Lunches are either decently filled ciabatta’s and sourdough sandwiches, plated chicken/salmon/quiche and salad, soup of the day or a wide variety of filling salads.

Going on a picnic? Stop here on the way and pick up a fresh, delicious picnic box.

Not keen to cook and less keen for takeaway? Pick up a take-home dinner on your way from work.

They really have all your meals covered, and deliciously so.

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Café Frank

160 Bree Street (corner of Bree and Bloem)
cafefrank.com
info@cafefrank.com 
021 423 0360

Opening times: 

Monday – Thursday 07:30 – 18:00
Friday 07:30 – 17:00
Saturday 08:00 – 14:00

Photo: The pro’s of winter in Cape Town

For some reason, people think that winter in Cape Town is a devilish affair. They complain, they sit cooped up in their houses, they refuse to go out (even to a cosy restaurant), and then they complain some more. But when you look at these two pictures, you have to admit that there are a few awesome things about Cape Town’s winter. Just look at what the clouds and the mist do on a chilly morning and an overcast afternoon. You won’t see this in summer.

cape town

cape town