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by Marita Acosta
Africa‘s most dynamic country is naturally home to some of its most dynamic cities. And especially when it comes to culture and creativity, it can be argued that South Africa‘s “Mother City“, Cape Town, continues to lead the parade.
Exhibit A is the continent’s biggest and most impressive contemporary art museum – the first major institution of its kind, in fact – which opened its doors a year ago on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. The nonprofit Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (top) is focussed on collecting and exhibiting 21st-century work by artists from throughout Africa and its diaspora, as well as conducting educational and cultural exchange programmes. Based on the collection of German businessman Jochen Zeitz, it features not just internationally known artists like British-Nigerian Chris Ofili but also the likes of Zimbabwean mixed-media artist Kudzanai Chiurai, South African Marlene Dumas, gay American multimedia artist Glenn Ligon, Ethiopian painter Julie Mehretu, Kenyan sculptor Wangechi Mutu, and Nigerian-American painter Kehinde Wiley.
Zeitz MOCAA‘s architecture, too, is a work of art in itself. British architect Thomas Heatherwick took a 1921 complex of ix grain silo and created an innovative design to house the museum’s nine floors (including a rooftop sculpture garden) and dozens of galleries, along with the luxury boutique Silo Hotel.
Said grain silo has also lent its name to the surrounding Silo District, part of the increasingly hip, cutting-edge V&A Waterfront, with sunsplashed sidewalk cafés, bars, restaurants, and attractions such as the Two Oceans Aquarium. Four of my favourites:
Belthazar Restaurant & Wine Bar Spectacular views to go with delicious roast meats, hearty South African stews, and a great selection of the superb local wines.
Cape Town Fish Market V&A Waterfront The sleek latest of a chain of high-end seafooders, with the ocean’s bounty served up in myriad forms, from sushi to good old fish and chips.
Mugg & Bean Yummy coffees, teas, breakfast, sandwiches, and sweets – a brilliant way to start the day, wind it up, or anything in between!
Shimmy Beach Club Now this is the life – a private beach and pool to play by day, hot DJs after dark, and a menu including pizza, sushi, and designer comfort food to match the club’s own sleek design.
Terrific Table Settings
Then, looming right above the Silo District (indeed over the entire city centre), no visit to Cape Town would be complete without a cable car ride up to flat-topped Table Mountain. Locals would tell you if the notoriously fickle local weather is clear, drop whatever else you’re doing and head right up (if you want to add a dash of challenge and adventure, you can hike up in about two hours and even rapel back down – very Amazing Race). At the top, the views are of course truly mindblowing, and you might even spot a cute little native critter called the hydrox!
And before I go, let me leave you with one last tip: don’t visit Cape Town with swinging by downtown’s Long Street, this city’s answer to London‘s SoHo. Lined with handsome Victorian buildings as well as cool restaurants, shops, and nightspots. An upbeat, party atmosphere is the order of the day here!
More info: CapeTown.travel.