Cape Town vs Jozi

2013-07-15 09:17
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Top 10 beach bars

Take a look at which of Cape Town's chic seaside bars has made it onto Cheapflights' list of top 10 beach bars around the world.

When you're travelling on a shoestring budget, it's important to plan ahead with the itinerary that suits both your budget and your holiday style. But how much is enough when it come to having a good time? Many might say it depends on the city you're in.

Cape Town is the world's 9th cheapest city, according to a Tripadvisor TripIndex Cities survey - especially if you're calculating it according to a local budget.

Women's Health recently sent two writers to play tourist in two of South Africa's most popular cities. They each had 24-hours and R1 500. to stand a chance of being published on News24 Travel.

Sea Point, Cape Town

The Tourist: Wanita Nicol and her hubby swapped the leafy 'burbs for an urban staycation by the sea. The best way to feel like you're on holiday is to immerse yourself in tourist central.

FRIDAY We found the Sweet Olive guesthouse tucked away in a quiet little street just above Sea Point Main Road. It's bright and cheerful and delightfully eccentric, with service that's friendly, if a tad disorganised. It was a warm autumn evening – one of those rare windless gems – so we bought a couple of beers from the honesty bar and sipped them next to the swimming pool before heading to dinner. We managed to get a table at cosy La Boheme, always abuzz and flickering with candlelight, that I'd been wanting to try for years. It seemed silly to drive less than 500m and the simple act of strolling to supper – something I only ever do when travelling – made me feel a long way from home. You can get two courses for R100 or three for R120, but after making quick work of the bread basket, starters and mains were all we could manage. The flavour combinations in my roast veg salad had me cleaning my plate and the tender beef short-ribs-on-mash was more than generous. A bottle of Sterhuis Sauvignon Blanc complemented the balmy alfresco meal superbly. I ate too much – but I was on holiday.


You'd think life at the tip of a peninsula would be all walks on the beach, but in reality, weeks can go by without a glimpse of the sea. So, heavy from the night's indulgence, we decided to hit the promenade, which was already a bustle of runners, cyclists and dog-walkers, while paddlers dodged kelp bobbing in the gentle swell. The salt air, just cool enough to raise goosebumps, had us steaming as we jogged down to the outdoor gym. Breakfast back at the guesthouse was a feast of fresh breads, fruit and eggs, accompanied by broken conversation with European tourists. With cash to spare, we spent the rest of the morning at the Two Oceans Aquarium, gawking at the strange creatures that live under the waves. With R150 left, we headed back to the promenade for a sandwich at popular Newport Deli and amused ourselves watching locals walking Yorkies with bows in their fringes. Then, budget exhausted, we decided on one last bit of fun – a walk along the fragrant, fynbos-lined pathways of Green Point Park, which we'd never explored. As the afternoon game kicked off at Hamiltons Rugby Club, we began the long trek home – all 17km of it.

Route Planner:

Sea Point Pack: For all seasons – this is Cape Town; a smart outfit if you feel like a fancy dinner; gym clothes and golf clubs if you're actively inclined.

Stay here: The five Sweet guesthouses are conveniently located and affordable. For something swanky, try Winchester Mansions. There's also a Protea Hotel.

Eat: Aside from its affordable food, La Boheme has an extensive and well-priced wine list. Book early, but if you don't get in, there are many options, from authentic Italian to genuine Korean.

Soweto, Johannesburg

The Tourist: Hitekani Mbatsana is used to seeing tourists exploring her neighbourhood. She decided to join them. I often spot tourists cycling around Soweto and, like many residents, I pause, think, Hmm... I wonder what's happening there, then just drive past. This time I decided to stop. So I packed a bag and checked into a local backpackers.


THURSDAY The mood at Lebo's Soweto Backpackers was fun and festive, with island-style decor and local music playing. There's a bar, games, drinks and a fireplace – an ideal way to relax after a busy day. The accommodation is simple and comfortable. I booked a double room, but when my friend had to cancel, Lebo kindly charged me the cheaper single room rate. There were two other guests, from Germany and Italy. We played pool and had drinks around the fireplace, so it’s not a lonely trip to do on your own. For dinner I met family (another perk of holidaying at home) at Sakhumzi Restaurant on Vilakazi Street, which has a delicious local buffet menu, including chicken feet (popular, but not my cup of tea – I stuck to stews and samp).

FRIDAY After breakfast at the backpackers, I saddled up for a bike tour, which conveniently starts at Lebo's (if you’re not a fan of pedalling, this tour is also available on a funky tuk-tuk, but the bikes eliminate the "us" and "them" factor). Residents cheer you on when the road is steep, which made me smile. Born and bred in Soweto, our guide was full of interesting anecdotes, like the fact that Mbuyisa Makhubo, who was carrying Hector Pieterson in the famous photo, simply disappeared after the uprising. We stopped at a shebeen to learn more about umqombothi (traditional African beer). They say the alcohol content is so low you'd have to drink the whole day to get drunk. Judging from some of the patrons, this is clearly possible. Also included was a tasty lunch of ikota (township bunny chow) – not low in kilojoules, but you're on holiday!

FRIDAY Orlando Cooling Towers, once part of a power station, now offer a spark of a different kind: extreme sports. From the platform you have a stunning view of Soweto; a view I may have enjoyed more had I not been trying to calm my nerves before the 100m power swing between the two towers... I met friends for drinks at the restaurant at Orlando Towers. They had come to watch, or jump if the spirit moved them. They weren't moved. Being a tourist in my own city was a lot of fun. I guess it doesn't happen often enough because people along the way found it odd that I was there. However, international visitors enjoyed chatting to an ordinary local. I would certainly do it again.

Route Planner:

Soweto Pack: Quality activewear and a good pair of walking shoes; sunscreen and a warm top for nights. Opt for closed shoes for muddy areas.

Stay here: Lebo's Soweto Backpackers offers a range of accommodation, from R145 per bed in the dorms to R360 for a private room for two.

Eat: Vilakazi Street is the most popular tourist street in Soweto – museum and curio haven by day, and a lively place with great local music and good restaurants by night. The food at Sakhumzi is very good and priced for locals.

Read more on:    weekend escapes  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle

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