1…2….3…GOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL. If you (or your boys) are like most of the rest of the world, eagerly awaiting the World Cup kick-off later this week, then you’ll enjoy the timing of this interview with Jann Cheifitz from Lucky Fish on Family Travel in South Africa.
Jann is from Cape Town, and while she lives today in Brooklyn, NY with Milla (7) and Gabe (13), they regularly go back to their hometown in South Africa. Her brand Lucky Fish is an old-time favorite of mine in the world of children’s tee shirts. The prints are just incredibly special and beautiful.
I am from Cape Town, a beautiful town surrounded by two oceans (one warm and one cold,) for swimming in and mountains for climbing on. It’s a buzzy city bowl and a sleepy seaside town and an african township all at once. South Africa is really very many different things and different experiences to different people- the climate,the culture and the landscape changes radically from place to place. There are 11 differerent official national languages…so many kinds of people.But it’s amazingly friendly and fun although an edgy place.
What inspires me in South Africa: the nature, the landscape, the quality of light: that blue sky and those saturated colors that you can only experience down there. It’s so different than in the northern hemisphere. I am also inspired by the creativity of the poorest people who have very little, but decorate their living spaces with exquisite colors, patterns and joy — coexisting with, and also influencing the sophisticated urban African/European aesthetic.
Where I would go for a family vacation…We usually head straight to Cape Town, which is home and where we try to cram everything new and beloved into the couple of weeks we have a year there. But I would love to visit the Kruger National Park where the locals go to see game. We love to go up the West Coast north of Cape Town, which is ruggedly beautiful, desert-meets-the-sea kind of place. Going East from Cape Town, the water is warmer, and the rainforest areas around Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are beautiful in a gentler kind of way.
My children love…The playground at Deer Park Cafe. The aquarium in the waterfront. Rides to the top of Table Mountain in the cable car. Muizenberg beach for body surfing. Visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach. Collecting mussels and cooking them on the West Coast. And the fantastic swimming pool in Sea Point. The National History Museum to listen to whale music in the Room Of Natural Wonders, and also the dioramas of Cape Town’s history.
EAT & DO:
Enjoy the many outdoor restaurants! Lunch/brunch at Deer Park Cafe. The Round House for a beautiful brunch on the bottom of Lions Head, (in the Camps Bay Glen) where children can run around on the lawn.
The Food Barn in Noordhoek has a lovely garden with chickens, stop for a delicious lunch after the beautiful views on Chapmans Peak Drive. Afterwards, a lovely walk on Noordhoek beach. Or carry on the scenic drive to Cape Point.
Lunch at the Olympia in Kalk Bay, after a swim in the waves at Muizenburg beach (local surf spot where all the kids take their surfing lessons). Suggestion: You walk along the ocean path from Muizenburg beach to Kalk bay for a lunch at the Olympia Cafe, then on to see the penguins at Boulders beach in the afternoon or swim in the tidal pool at St. James.
Casual lunch (grilled cheeses, local pancakes) or rooibos tea at the Cafe in the Company Gardens, the downtown green space created by the Dutch East India Company in the 17th Century . Sit under gorgeous trees hundreds years old and enjoy the squirrels and the aviary, then wander across to the South African Gallery to see local contemporary art, or up to the National History Museum. The area of Woodstock has a couple of very cool lunch spots. We like Superette and The Kitchen.
Local contemporary art galleries along the stretch of road are well worth a visit..my favorite is Whatiftheworld
For a more grown-up experience…
For a tete a tete in the city, the restaurants 95 Keerom and Carne SA both owned by the same Italian owner-chef are fabulous. Great interiors and delicious food: wonderful fish from the owner’s own boats at 95 and meat from his own Karoo farm. Both are near the 15 on Orange Hotel where you can then head for drinks..
For a casual meal, we like &Union, excellent prego roll and boutique beers with good music and djs sometimes. (110 Bree Street, Cape Town – 021 422 2770). For a cherry beer and moules frite with a view, head to Den Anker in the waterfront.
The Old Biscuit Mill Neighborhoods Market (Sat. am through early pm – 375 Albert Road) has fun local kids clothing and is a delicious local farmers market, with prepared foods and a range of interesting gift shops.
For the latest cool hotel, stay at 15 on Orange (near the Labia). The bar is worth a visit at cocktail time. For more traditional, the salmon-pink Mount Nelson has the colonial grandeur that feels like the last outpost of the British Empire. It is upmarket but kid friendly, with water proof nappies at the pool, hide and seek in the garden and a special kids menu. The air stream trailers on the roof of The Grand Daddy Hotel is the quirky address. More Quarters are self catering apartments, a great option for the family.
Last but not least, my friends at BengaAfrica can arrange tours and are wonderful people to recommend!