Is there such a thing as typical Capetonian?
As much as the rest of the country loves to generalise about those who live in the Mother City as tardy, with a propensity to wait until the last minute before committing to an event, and obsessed with their mountain, actually they’re about as diverse as people of any city can be.
And every little enclave and seaside village has a life of its own. Cape Town, surrounded by sea and mountain, nonetheless has a distinctive quality. And there are certain general things locals tend to do.
Here are 15 things only a Capetonian would do…
Catch the metro rail into work
Despite the recent vandalism, translating into regular delays on services, over 65 000 people commute on a daily basis into town. On a good day, when all goes well, Capetonians get into town at least 30 minutes faster than if they did the same trip by car. It’s not the Gautrain, but it is the very fabric of Cape Town.
Whilst tourists are paying a comparative fortune for their fish & chips at the V&A Waterfront, those in the know head down Harbour Road to the harbour edge to Fish on the Rocks.
It might not look like much from the road, but it serves up fresh and tasty for a fraction of the price. The views more than make up for the lack of glamour.
Surf at Muizenberg
Every local learns to surf at Muizenberg. Those who surf there regularly know to first check in with wind guru and www.yr.no, and if the weather is playing along the locals are there in their droves, whatever the time of year.
Attend regular book club meetings
A book club is to Cape Town what local pubs are to London. Except that they’re for lasses, not lads. Just about every woman in Cape Town belongs to at least one book club. These monthly book passion shares are a social network all their own. And getting into one is as difficult as extricating yourself from one you don’t enjoy.
Walk the dogs along the contour path at Kirstenbosch
Annual Bot Soc membership gets you access to the contour path on the backside of Table Mountain, with your dog, via the Rycroft Gate (Gate 3). Views, exercise and doggy heaven all in one.
Sip coffee in Kalk Bay
This sleepy fishing village with its buzzy high street offers a vast choice of coffee shop, restaurant and bistro. It has become a little difficult to get to, with the continuous road works along Main Road, but that doesn’t stop the locals.
Braai with friends you’ve known for years
Braaing with friends is not synonymous with Cape Town, the rest of the country is as likely to braai on the weekend as the average Capetonian. But to bag an invite, as a newcomer to the Mother City, is as rare as hen’s teeth. You’d do better seeking out those who’ve only lived in the city a while. They’ve had to deal with the cold shoulders ahead of you.
Perambulate Sea Point’s promenade at sundown
Ambling along the promenade is something Capetonians from all walks of life enjoy. It’s a busy part of town, particularly at sundown. The combination of outdoor gyms, local exercise groups, installation art, bicycles, joggers, roller bladers and walkers makes it a vibey place to connect with others.
Commute along the cycle paths between Newlands and Cape Town
This local 12.5 km commuter route gets locals’ hearts pumping before or after work (a shower at either end is almost obligatory).
From Melissa’s in Newlands locals take Kildare Road up to the bicycle path alongside the M3, head up Rhodes Memorial Drive, and then onto one of the paths over the mountain and into town via Chelmsford Road, Derry Street, Upper Mill, and then Buitenkant. Download the map on Strava.
Watch a match at Newlands
You’ll find the locals at any and all of the domestic or international cricket matches (rugby is across the road, closer to SAB) at one of the most historic cricket stadiums in the world. But you won’t find the locals in the grass patches (too much sun in January and there’s the ‘barmy army’ to consider when England plays).
The jawdropping backdrop of Table Mountain even leaves the locals speechless.
Get an all day, cheap, meal at the Eastern Food Bazaar
The Eastern Food Bazaar between Longmarket and Darling Streets in the city centre is one of the local secrets, serving up Eastern-style, reasonably priced food all day (09h00 to 22h00). Perfect for post-movie, pre-club food.
Braai in Wynberg Park
Regarded as one of the better braai spots in Cape Town, locals are out with their umbrellas and gazebos in full force over weekends. There are several braai and picnic spots and a kids play area.
Probably the best vantage point in Cape Town, the top of Boyes Drive offers incredible views out over False Bay (Muizenberg, St James, Kalk Bay). When the whales are in this is one of the best places to see them without driving up the coast. The shark spotters can always loan you their binoculars (not!).
Hangout at Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts
This is a real southern suburbs haunt during summer. Weekends are incomplete without a dose of blanket, lawn, picnic and music, and the concerts are always busy. Other visitors in the garden content themselves with band warm-up practice.
Saturday breakfast at a local market
If you want to find locals on a Saturday morning, look no further than the Biscuit Mill, City Bowl Market on Hope Street, the Earthfair Market in Tokai, Bay Harbour Market and the Oranjezicht City Farm Market at Granger Bay.