Easter Weekend was a perfect time to go to Cape Town because we had full 5 days off of work. Or we thought it would be perfect…ticket prices from Johannesburg skyrocketed and it was almost impossible to find accommodation. People from across South Africa and the rest of the world flooded CT because of holidays and Two Oceans Marathon, a popular running event taking place once a year around this time. The moody weather didn’t help either cancelling out trip to Robben Island the first day, not mentioning the rain which spoiled a few other plans along the way.
But enough about the negatives. The city is so beautiful that nothing could have possibly ruined our experience. I’ve heard so many amazing things about Cape Town that it made it hard to go there without high expectations. Yet, I was still surprised and amazed…the beaches, white sand, blue water, the mountains, the food, the cosmopolitan vibe, the waterfront, the people…I can go on and on. You get the idea. I fell in love with the city.
I compiled a list of must see & do things that I recommend for those who are traveling to Cape Town:
Beaches: Camps Bay & Clifton 2nd (the last one is perfect for when it’s windy)
Cape Point – most Southern Tip of Africa
Cape of Good Hope – where two Oceans meet
Boulder’s Beach – swim with the penguins
Robben Island – where Mandela was held (ex prisoners guide you through the Island)
Hike the Lion’s Head!! Or if you’re lazy take the cable car to Table Mountain
Winelands: Franschhoek & Stellenbosch – for wine lovers
V&A Waterfront – stunning and lively harbour (read “touristy”) with shopping, restaurants and bars
Sea Point – take a walk along the ocean
Biscuit Mill – really fun, fresh food market where you can buy homemade and handmade products (only Sundays)
South Africa has, hands down, some of the best food I’ve ever tried. And it’s not about their traditional cuisine but literally everything from salads, sandwiches, steaks (duh!), duck and even pizza! Here are some places I highly recommend:
The Potluck & The Test Kitchen (book way in advance)
Being in South Africa wouldn’t be complete without going on a safari. SA has a few parks where you can spot the “big five” in wilderness. The major one, Kruger Park, was more or less 5 hour drive from Johannesburg, a bit too much of a drive for a weekend only, so we settled on Pilanesberg, only 2 hours away. When we got to our safari loge, the friendly staff warmly greeted us and announced that we arrived just in time for the first game drive. All our group got a designated ranger for the whole time of our stay, so we were able to negotiate 6am drives instead of 5am :D.
Initially, three to four hour rides seemed quite long, but every time trying to spot new animals was as exciting as the first time. Unfortunately, we did not encounter two out of big five – the cheetah and water buffalo. Since there are only a few of them in the park, we had a very little chance. On the other hand, we were very lucky with spotting rhinos, several times during the trip, which nowadays is quite rare due to inhumane and barbaric poaching. Over a thousand rhinos were killed last year in South Africa alone, just because of conviction that rhino’s horn aids with impotence…No prove for that exists. Sick.
The whole safari experience was amazing. The Ivory Tree Game Lodge, which I highly recommend, the rides, our designated ranger and safari sunrises. The culmination of the day in the peaceful game reserve was nothing other than taking an outdoor shower under the perfectly starry sky…
I have never followed a trend of doing a juice cleanse or juice detox. I have refused to spends over $100 on this scientifically unproven fad and I have refused to waste my time “juicing” myself (mainly because I didn’t even own a juicer). I tried other diets here and there telling myself that “this time I will last”, but usually failed before it was the end. So I gave up on them and learned how to eat right. I learned how to make perfect (to my taste) green morning smoothies, healthy lunches and homemade dinners most of the time. I ate out usually when I traveled for work but I was always conscious of what I ordered.
I was good until I came to Spain, where eating out became a social “thing.” Spanish food is not necessarily the healthiest and not even the most delicious but it became a “good” option for a very busy lifestyle. Then, South Africa happened…where basically the food is so delicious and dirt cheap you just can’t stop eating (and it doesn’t make sense cooking because why would you, if everything else will taste better than your own cooking).
Enough is enough though. Through interactions with various people in Johannesburg, I was introduced to One-Juice and decided to give it a try. Because why not. I got delivered a box of 24 bottles of rainbow looking juices a night before my 3 day cleanse. The bottles are 280ml each (comparing to usual 500ml size), that’s why you drink 8 bottles a day instead of 5. (On the side note, I’m hungry as I write this). I must say it has not been bad at all. The juices tasted the best on the first day because they were new and exciting. On the second day some of them lost my favoritism, and on the third…well I’m not there yet! I’m probably less energized than normally during the day, but I’m not sleepy which is good as I can’t drink coffee. In a day it will be over and I will enjoy some delicious and fresh seafood in Cape Town 🙂
My MBA Program consists of 4 periods: 2 core terms that last 10 weeks each, a 5 week lab period and about 12 weeks of electives. The lab period, which I just entered into, gives a student the possibility of working on a start-up idea or on a consulting project for a major local company (business impact lab). Both of those options combine taking classes and group work. There are two other options that are more hands on and outside of the classroom – an internship or a Social Impact Lab in Peru or Johannesburg which is what I have chosen to do. Social Impact Lab is a part of Leadership Development Program led by Emzingo, a company that “prepares and equips responsible leaders to solve the worlds most pressing problems.” The program gives students the opportunity to act as consultants for nonprofit organizations and social business, to help them with problems in their business models from marketing and branding to financial modeling and fundraising strategies.
Social entrepreneurship has been a concept on the rise over the past few years. Having heard little about it before, I got exposed to it during the MBA and very much became interested. More and more young people feel the urge to give back and are not motivated by the financial gains alone. They want to make a difference and change the life of people in their communities, cities, and countries through innovative solutions. They are visionaries but realists, who combine entrepreneurship skills with the passion to create societal value and drive for a change. Here is a list of 30 under 30 social entrepreneurs and their often simple but scalable, and sustainable ideas.
The trend is there and looking promising. I could not be more excited to be working on a project for an ethical business whose mission is to make other people’s lives better. More about the project in my next post.