I’ve been quite homesick lately, so I thought I’d make a list of 25 things that I love and miss about my hometown, Cape Town, South Africa. It’s 59 days until I’m back for a visit, so these bittersweet memories will have to keep me going until then!
1. The mountains
I dearly miss the mountains of Cape Town and surrounds. Northern Germany is made up of mostly incredibly flat landscapes. You get hills and small mountain-ish rocky outcrops, but nothing like Lion’s Head, Table Mountain, or the Twelve Apostles! I miss seeing the clouds rolling over the mountains, hiking up forest-clad slopes, and taking scenic drives through mountain passes.
2. The sunsets at Clifton
I remember staying all day on the beach, until the sun sank below the horizon, creating a beautiful golden sky with the air still warm, even though the sea there is always freezing. The giant boulders provide shelter from the wind, making Clifton a great place to spend the whole day on the beach.
3. Spotting penguins in Simon’s Town
These cuties live in Simon’s Town, and you can often get very close to them (but not too close, as they can take your eye out with their sharp little beaks!). My grandparents live in Simon’s Town, a small town by the sea near Cape Point, and I love visiting whenever I can.
4. Open, dry country farmland and farm gates
I don’t do well living in a big city. After a while, I start craving silence, nature, and wide open spaces. You get empty spaces in Germany galore, but they are generally pristine, radiantly green, and well-tended. I miss the dirt roads and rickety wire gates of the farms back home.
5. Having a picnic raided by the local wildlife
Once you’ve finished your delightful, boozy picnic (with delicious South African bubbly), it’s really entertaining to have a couple of naughty animals stealing the leftovers. At this particular picnic we had geese and guinea fowls thieving our bread and chips.
6. Having cocktails at the Old Biscuit Mill
I visited the Old Biscuit Mill (a market with local luxury foods and farm-stall goods) for the first time with one of my besties, and we treated ourselves to a cocktail or two in the afternoon sunlight. I still remember us sitting there on the floor chatting about life, sipping on mojitos, and basking in the sun.
7. The Two Oceans Aquarium
I love this place so much I actually completed an 8 week course to become a volunteer. Sadly I left for Germany without having volunteered, but I’m grateful I got to see behind the scenes at this wonderful place. My favourites are the tropical fish exhibits from the Indian Ocean, the baby sharks, and the Atlantic Ocean kelp forests. Oh, and the touch pool, where you can hold starfish and urchins!
8. The winelands
Marco and I used to take day trips or weekend trips just outside of Cape Town, mainly to discover new wine farms. Here we were on our way to the Drostyhof Wine Farm in Tulbach, and we stayed in Ceres Valley. I really miss road trips in the Western Cape, and setting off on weekend adventures to neighbouring areas.
9. The Southern Suburbs, and lazy strolls in nature
Groot Constantia is about 10 minutes away from my family home, and it’s a beautiful respite from busy life. I’ve walked in the vineyards many times, hiked up to the Elephant’s Eye cave in the mountains in the background, and spent one New Year’s eve watching the fireworks explode above the rolling hills. Marco and I were even surrounded by a family of baboons there once, and we got incredibly close to the babies as they scampered around.
10. Freshly baked muffins
For some reason, Germany isn’t very muffin-friendly. You can get American-style muffins, but they tend to be pre-packaged American imports. I miss freshly baked muffins served with butter and jam whilst still hot, especially carrot and nut muffins, and cappuccino muffins with a double espresso. Mmmm.
11. This view from the V&A Waterfront
I miss Table Mountain, and spending Saturday mornings window-shopping at the Victoria & Albert Waterfront in the city centre. We would often walk along the seaside, looking at the yachts and enjoying a glass of wine in the late afternoon summer sun.
12. Family times at home
My whole family (grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, etc) lives in Cape Town. I’m a third generation South African, and I’ve lived in Cape Town for 24 years! I miss my whole family, and my beautiful dog Cleo. I miss our family outings walking the dog or going to the beach. No matter where Marco and I end up, Cape Town will always be my home <3
13. Metrorail adventures
Metrorail (affectionately known as “MetroFail” by locals) is the train service in South Africa. I took the train daily to college, then university, and eventually to work. Annoying as the South African train service is with delays and less-than-decent interiors, you’re always guaranteed to have an adventure whilst commuting by rail. I’ve seen evangelical preachers screaming at commuters, a man making animal noises for tips, little kids doing traditional African dances, a jazz band comprised of several weather-beaten old men with guitars and a saxophone, and I’ve conversed with many weird and wonderful people about all topics imaginable.
14. Coastal drives
Cape Town has some of the most beautiful scenic drives – Chapman’s Peak, Ou Kaap se Weg, and many other roads that traverse mountains and wind along hugging the coastline. Often we’d just go for a drive to enjoy the scenery on a Sunday afternoon, perhaps have lunch out somewhere, and then drive back.
15. Cape Dutch architecture
I love the elegant colonial architecture of Cape Dutch buildings – the thatched roofs, white-washed walls, and decorative gables. Stellenbosch is especially beautiful with its Cape Dutch architecture and historical wine farms.
16. Sun-downers in Camps Bay
I’m a summer girl at heart. I love the sun, sandy beaches, cold sea water, warm air, sand encrusted between my toes, hair curly from salt water, nose red from sunburn, and the warm glow that I get from warmer weather.
17. Wine tasting at Spier
Spier is a lovely wine farm in Stellenbosch. Marco and I love wine tasting – discovering new wines, finding out about cultivars and the wine-making process, and of course tasting many different wines! At Spier we had an awesome wine educator who told us stories about the different wines and their histories – and when tasting the wine I imagined I could taste the sunshine and rain that helped to produce the grapes.
18. Seaforth Beach, Simon’s Town
One of Cape Town’s lesser known beaches, Seaforth is one of my favourite places to go for swimming and penguin-spotting.
19. Sneaky wine on the beach in plastic glasses
There’s nothing quite like arriving at the beach with a bestie and she announces that she brought wine – complete with plastic wine glasses! It was SO windy on that day that we had a layer of sand at the bottom of our glasses, but it was so much fun, and something I will never forget.
20. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
I’ve had many pleasant picnics and walks in these beautiful gardens, and they always remind me of my grandmother who passed away many years ago. She loved all plants, flowers, trees, and animals, and used to tell us the names of each as we walked by.
21. Card games with good friends
I miss all my friends dearly. I miss our game nights, braais, parties at DecoDance (this amazing 80s club in Cape Town), coffee dates, wine dates, seeing girly movies at the local mall, spending weekends away with my besties. I have a hole in my soul that opened up when I left them behind. <3
22. The wide open road cutting through the bush
23. South African wine
I miss good, strong South African wine. Most red wine in Germany is around 11% alcohol, which makes it taste like slightly alcoholic juice. Whenever I find South African wine in the supermarkets here I get very excited – it tastes like home. I especially crave red South African wine, and I’ve kept a bottle of Alto Rouge that my parents brought for us, just so I can enjoy it on my birthday trip next week. I’ll be raising a glass to my friends and family back home 🙂
Marco’s parents live here, and I LOVE this part of the world. Peaceful, beautiful, and it feels like home.
25. Walking my dog in the forest
I sorely miss having a dog. We used to always walk my family dog, Cleo, in the forest or on the beach.
These are only 25 of many hundreds of tiny things I miss about Cape Town, but they are the ones that stand out to me the most. I can’t wait to be back home!
It’s very true that travelling and living away from home intensifies your love for it – you see it with new eyes, and fully appreciate how amazing it really is.