An awesome day in… Stellenbosch, South Africa
Every nice day begins well rested with a delicious breakfast. The insider’s tip here is Tiger’s Milk, because there is no other place you will find such a nice breakfast for so little money. For 30 Rand (about 2 euros) you get a tasteful plate with an egg and hot drink of your choice. From there you walk along Dorpstreet with its cute colonial houses (towards the city center) until you reach the Eerste River at the end. Your little walk continues along the river to Coetzenburg Stadium, not particularly worth seeing in itself, but past the gym a small path winds up the hill and into the forest. Along the way you pass by a small reservoir and then reach the foot of Stellenbosch Mountain, one of the two great mountains you can see from pretty much anywhere in the city.
It is worth the very small hike (about an hour uphill) on the first crest of the mountain, which you will hardly miss with its radio mast. Below you, the city stretches out and you look over the vast hills of the Winelands, you may even see Table Mountain and the outskirts of Cape Town in the distance.
On the way back you turn left behind the small reservoir and walk straight through the forest, until after a few minutes you reach a somewhat hidden second quarry pond. Here you can sit nicely, let your feet dangle into the water and look at the mountain, which is reflected on the surface in front of you. It’s best to have a can of Grapetiser with you, a kind of grape lemonade, just very different and especially South African. Swimming is officially not allowed in the lake, but actually everyone does it.
After this little refreshment you will head back to the Eerste River. It is about half an hour from here to the Lanzerac Wine Estate, the most central and one of the oldest wine farms in Stellenbosch. Here you can try the delicious wines, while sitting on the veranda with large wooden tables and overlooking the rows of grapevine.
From here you take a walk through the wild and romantic Jan Marais Park back to the city center and to the Café Meraki, where you absolutely -this is very essential- have to eat the epic carrot cake. In my opinion, you’ll find the best carrot cake in the world in South Africa and the best in South Africa at Meraki’s. Sitting outside, you can watch the passing people, look at pretty colonial buildings and may begin to wonder if you are even in Africa.
From this sweet café and this beautiful corner of Stellenbosch, where you can live so incredibly easily in your white, privileged bubble and forget all racism, it’s only a short walk to a completely different Stellenbosch on the other side of the Eikestad Mall: the minibustaxi station where minibuses travel to Stellenbosch’s township Kayamandi. Instead of Woolworths, you’ll find Pick n Pay and you’ll hardly see whites anymore. It almost seems as if there is an invisible border going through the mall, just as that border still divides South African society. Back in your white bubble, you slowly become hungry again: For dinner, I highly recommend the Lebanese restaurant Manoush, a bit more expensive but delicious. My favourite bar in Stellenbosch is Bohemia. To get there from Manoush, you just walk up Andringa Street towards the mall. The bar is just cool, a little bit fucked up, but somehow cozy and – it seems to me – one of the few bars in which one sees people of different skin colors. Here you should never drink the wine – it is really bad – but there is gin-tonic for only 26 Rand (less than 2 euros). If you want to get a bit more insight into the culture of the white Afrikaans-speaking population, then you should head over to Catwalk. This club actually plays pretty bad music, but on the first floor there is a soki floor, where the typical Afrikaans dance is performed. It is definitely an experience and if you find a good-leading dance partner, it is also lots of fun to try it out yourself. From the white go-out scene, it’s just a few blocks to the club, where blacks and coloured mainly go: the Entourage. And then, mysteriously every evening seems to end in Mystics, where you can dance the night away to electronic music. But you should know that going out in South Africa means until 2 o’clock. Then all clubs close and you go home.
Going out in Stellenbosch – Where to go when:
Nacho’s day in Buena Vista Social Club (two portions for the price of one) (this is also a really nice bar, unfortunately just a bit far off in the direction of Sommerset West)
Lady’s night in Balboa (nice and a bit fancyish bar) and the night, in which students go out
Quiznight at Aandklas (the rockmusic club of Stellenbosch), Livemusic at Balboa’s (mainly Blues or Jazz)
Often Livemusic at Aandklas
Bingo Night at Bohemia’s with Livemusic afterwards (you should never miss out on that! Bingo night in Stellenbosch is a very special event, totally different from the stereotype of the boring old-people’s-game!)