3 reasons you don’t want a ‘festival spouse’ this summer

You’re never lonely at a music festival, they say. Yet many seekers of live music weekends tend not to heed these words and look for a romantic partner, whether previously known to them or met in the very first beer queue, ‘for the weekend’.

It’s understandable, I guess. When the euphoria of escaping to another world – one where few of the rules from the rat race apply – it’s tempting to want to make that transformation complete. In the real world, you’re alone, watching sitcom reruns every night until you fall asleep in a haze induced by french fries and self-abuse. In the music festival world, everything seems perfect, including your love life, so you hook up with the nearest available target to complete the picture. Here’s why you shouldn’t.

(1) All rules are left at the gate

You don’t get to choose which “outside” rules apply at a music festival and which don’t. So consider whether you’d enjoy missing the act you were most looking forward to simply because you’re too worried, having no idea where your “partner” is, or you do know and a raging jealousy destroys you as he’s/she’s cosying up to the world’s worst band’s worst roadie, right in front of you.

(2) The sex will be uncomfortable (at best)

Partners get to know each other’s bodies and needs over time. But even if the first time with someone new is great, the atmosphere when you’re in a small tent, dirty, possibly with plenty of alcohol or other substances in your veins (or on the floor), becomes less than romantic. If, however, that’s usually the case for you anyway, feel free to discard this point.

(3) You don’t want any explaining to do

The lack of responsibility that accompanies a weekend away at a music festival is one of the main reasons we keep on doing it. Do you really want to be chewed out for forgetting to lock the tent, or for taking three shots in a row, or for dancing stupidly and embarrassing her/him? No.

Experiencing a music festival in and around Cape Town with your partner is great. Creating a partner to do this with is not.

3 rules for surfing the Mother City

Like everywhere else in the world, surfers in Cape Town generally stick to the unwritten rules of surfing. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out, it’s essential to try to abide by these rules. Here are the top three:

1. The most important rule is that the surfer closest to the breaking part of the wave has the right of way, and the worst thing you can do is catch the same wave as them. This is called a drop-in and is considered a cardinal sin in the rules of surfing. Not only does it ruin the other surfer’s ride, but it can be dangerous and cause collisions. You are going to come off second best if your head meets the pointy end of someone else’s surfboard and vice versa.

The best way to avoid dropping in is to always check that there is not someone up and riding on your inside – closest to the breaking part of the wave – before you paddle for a wave. Regardless of how careful you are, you may still unknowingly drop in on someone. If this happens, apologise to the other surfer immediately.

2. The second most important rule of surfing is to wait your turn. If you have just caught a wave, don’t paddle straight back to the inside – closest to the breaking part of the wave – if there are other surfers who have been waiting their turn.  This is called ‘hustling’ or ‘snaking’, and nobody likes a hustler or a snake. Rather get in line again and wait your turn.

3. The third most important rule of surfing is that it’s your responsibility to get out of the way if another surfer is riding towards you. Don’t paddle in the direction they are riding – this makes it far more likely that you will collide. Instead, paddle for the breaking part of the wave or whitewash (foam) behind them, no matter how scary this may seem. It will be a lot less scary than their surfboard cleaving you a new side parting. And don’t let go of your board – this can obstruct the other surfer or smash out someone’s teeth if they are behind you, or worse.

If you absolutely have to let go or ‘bail’, make sure there’s nobody behind you first, push your board away and dive under the breaking wave.

3 wine bars you have to try

Pieter Smedy, fashion and décor fundi and Associate Editor for Condé Nast House & Garden, knows exactly where to go for an evening of good food, great wine and superb company in Cape Town. He shares his top recommendations.

La Parada is a staple for the inner-city after-work crowd, where the Spanish-style tapas menu is headed up by former elBuli chef Andres Condé. The wine list is extensive without being soulless — expect a good balance between up-and-comers and established names. Below street level, the Catacombs bar at the same address continues the party until late into the evening.

The hidden star of the city wine scene, Publik is headed up by local wine revolutionary David Cope and focuses entirely on unusual wines and undiscovered estates. Imagine a cellar space in the middle of a bustling city that’s also a working artisanal butchery. Monday nights are dedicated to sparkling wine and every Tuesday they pop open their older vintages.

Think impossibly cool nikkei cuisine at Charangowe’re talking lashings of tuna tataki and toasted quinoa crème perfectly paired with a concise yet considered wine list that features a solid cast of local favourites. A sprawling mural of swans in flight by acclaimed local street artist Faith47 dominates the interior, while foxed mirrors and exposed copper plumbing complete the industrial-chic setting. Order a glass of Dornier Malbec – or be daring and try a Constantia Glen Five while you peruse the delights of their menu.

4 architectural gems worth visiting

Architect Stuart Hermansen, who specialises in restorations of heritage buildings, shares four of his favourite historical buildings in Cape Town and its surrounds.

“I worked on the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Strand Street a couple of years ago, and this came as a great surprise to me: if you go inside the building and go on a guided tour, they take you up into the roof. There’s a spiral stair and the roof structure is huge! It’s made out of old ships’ masts. If you’ve got a head for heights, it’s worth asking for a guided tour of the whole place – you’ll get to see little back courtyards and things like that. It’s incredible.

The Centre for the Book in Queen Victoria Street is also worth visiting. It’s beautiful! It’s a library now, so you can go during office hours. It was the first university campus building in South Africa, then it was the Cape Archives for a long time before it became the Centre for the Book. I think it’s an incredibly well-designed building and beautifully crafted.

I find it very interesting that one of the few well-preserved Cape farms is the Valkenberg farmhouse on the banks of the Liesbeek River at Valkenberg. It is well restored and is one of the few Cape farms in the city precinct that is intact. I’m not sure what the farmhouse is now, but it is a treat to just walk around the outside. The barn, where you’ll find the Wild Fig Restaurant, is also an interesting early pioneer building.

But the best kept secret in terms of Cape farms is a farm called Welvanpas in Wellington. This farm, which has been in the Retief family since the 18th century, is near the old Baines Kloof pass. When I went there for the first time I thought to myself: this should be a national heritage site. It’s completely authentic and the buildings and the precinct is just beautiful. It’s not very touristy – you can do wine tasting and there’s a mountain bike trail – but it’s fantastic.”

4 amazing mountain campsites near Cape Town

Camping in the wilderness is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in nature, and there are plenty of wonderful campsites near Cape Town.

The closest campsites to Cape Town are a short drive south of the city centre. But they are large, generally lacking shade and extremely busy during weekends and holiday periods. If you want to camp in a purer form of nature, drive north from Cape Town to one of these magnificent wilderness campsites.

Tietiesbaai, a couple of hours drive up the West Coast from Cape Town in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, is as rustic as it gets. Other than toilets and running water there are no facilities and none of the sites have shade. But the coastal setting is amazing and the nutrient-rich waters are full of marine life. Buy a mollusc permit from a post office before arriving and you’ll be able to harvest your own supper from the rock pools. In season, and with a permit, you can also try your hand at catching crayfish (West Coast lobster).

Some of my favourite campsites are nestled along the rivers and among the rugged, orange boulders of the Cederberg mountains, a three-hour drive north of Cape Town. The superb mountain setting at Sanddrif Holiday Resort at Dwarsrivier and nearby Kromrivier Cederberg Park is a big attraction. In addition to the dramatic mountain scenery, beautiful wildflowers, rock paintings, hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and horse riding, both farms have their own craft breweries. Dwarsrivier is also home to Cederberg Private Cellar, the highest wine farm in South Africa. Deep rock pools make offer a great escape from the heat of summer and the unpolluted night sky is incredible. If you’re there on a Saturday night, visit the Cederberg Observatory for a slide show and to peer through one of the telescopes at the starry skies.

Beaverlac is also high in the mountains, but a little closer to Cape Town. It also has wonderful pools and waterfalls, trails, rock art and picturesque, rugged campsites. It is also pet friendly so if you want to bring your dog camping in the wilderness this is your spot.

4 reasons you should study in Cape Town

Deciding where to study can be a difficult task. You need to consider what you want to study, the kinds of people you want to study with, and exactly what kind of life you want to live while you study. And that’s why Cape Town is the perfect place for any student.

1. Cape Town has excellent institutions

Want to study at a university? Well, we have the University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University and the University of the Western Cape. Want to study at a specialised college? We have everything from advertising schools to art schools. Whether you want to study public relations courses or complete your law degree, or brush up on your English, Cape Town has it all. You’ll find both academic excellence and creative stimulation within the borders of the Western Cape.

2. Cape Town celebrates individuality

There’s nothing “normal” about Cape Town. Whether you’re a hippy, an intellectual or an outright hipster, you’ll find somewhere to express who you really are in Cape Town. You don’t have to conform to any ideal when you walk through the streets of this city; it’s all about being true to yourself. There’s no strict definition of what a Capetonian has to be. That’s one of the best things about this place.

3. Cape Town has something for everyone

You can’t study all day and all night. You have to let loose and enjoy yourself at some point. And, when you live in Cape Town, you’re in luck. There’s so much to do and see that you’ll never find yourself bored. If you’re an avid hiker, we’ve got those famous mountains you’ve heard so much about. If you’re a wine enthusiast, we’ve got farms for days. And then there’s the ocean. Of course, we also have a vibrant nightlife and you’ll find your favourite bar in no time. Finding what you’re looking for is as easy as scrolling through the special interest groups on All About Cape Town.

4. You can make a name for yourself

If you’re a creative or an artist, you can easily get your name out there in Cape Town. With an abundance of projects and collaborations going on throughout the Western Cape, you’ll find something you can contribute to. There are plenty of internships and programmes that will interest students of other disciplines as well.

HOT TIP: Do you need a visa to study in Cape Town? This immigration expert has the answer

5 Cape Town cocktails you have to try today

Shaken? Stirred? With an umbrella in it? If you’re looking to tap into Cape Town’s cocktail culture, we suggest you start with these five showstoppers…

1. The Classic Martini

No cocktail has the elegance of a dry martini. Made with gin, not vodka, of course. And few hotels in Cape Town have the elegance of the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel in the city centre. The Planet Bar at this grande dame of the hotel world may be most famous for its selection of sparkling wines and champagnes, but I like to sidle up to the cosy bar and order their Perfect Ten. Made with Tanqueray No. Ten, vermouth and a twist of lemon, it’s as classy as the bar itself.

2. By the seaside

Okay, we’ll let you in on a little local secret. Hidden away behind the gleaming façade of the Radisson Blu Waterfront hotel you’ll find one of the most charming seaside bars in the city. And we don’t mean seaside with a road between you and the beach. We mean seaside. With your table an ice-cube’s throw from the sparkling Atlantic, Tobago’s is easily one of the finest sundowner spots in the city. Which is a perfect excuse to drink something bright and colourful: like the hotel’s famous watermelon cosmopolitan; summer in a glass to toast the views.

3. Muddle me once

With its sea views Cape Town is a city made for the mojito, and where better to enjoy it than the bar that claims to have muddled and mixed the very first in South Africa. Cape to Cuba, in the colourful suburb of Kalk Bay, has a rather dismal restaurant but the laidback beach-style bar is well worth a visit. Their classic mojitos are made with Havana Club three-year-old Añejo, and then muddled with lemon, sugar and mint. Need a change from the same-old same-old? Try their fresh and fruity hibiscus and cranberry mojito.

4. Live a little

The creative barkeeps at the 12 Apostles Hotel’s Leopard Bar know a thing or two about shaking a cocktail, and with perhaps the best sunset views in Cape Town it’s bubbly all the way here. The Hugo blends local Méthode Cap Classique sparkling wine with elderflower syrup, fresh lemon and mint. We’ll drink to that.

5. Follow me up the stairs

Tjing Tjing rooftop bar is another well-kept local secret. As night falls, head for the roof and the superb cocktail menu that stretches to dozens of drinks. You’re spoilt for choice here, but we suggest starting at the top, with the superb Old Fashioned. Bourbon, bitters and orange… what’s not to love?

4 top student spots in the university town of Stellenbosch

A 20-minute drive from Cape Town’s city centre, Stellenbosch is primarily a student town, playing host to a wide, vibrant array of clubs and bars catering largely to the hundreds of 20-year-olds who populate it. Here are a few to check out.

Aandklas is, arguably, the centre of Stellenbosch nightlife. A club with an extensive range of events every night of the week – from typical college-style foosball and beer pong to Thursday quiz nights. The rest of the week is dedicated to a wide range of events, with live music on Tuesdays and pumping parties from Monday to Saturday.

Bohemia restaurant and bar incorporates a relaxed bohemian vibe. Primarily a live music venue, Wednesday finds it packed to the rafters with students as they demonstrate their support for whichever local musician is booked for the night.

Just down the street is Die Mystic Boer, an alternative club that plays music out of the mainstream six days a week, with Fridays being trance nights.

Nu Bar, a fresh upmarket club, features top DJs six nights a week, while every last Thursday of the month is Afrikaanse musiek aand (“Afrikaans music night”), ideal for those wanting to get to the root of Afrikaans music culture.

5 Cape Town restaurants with a view…that won’t break the bank

There’s no shortage of gorgeous views from Cape Town’s finest restaurants, but what if your budget is more cheap and cheerful than silver service? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered…

In Cape Town you can easily pay a fortune for lunch or dinner with a great view. But you don’t have to. If you’re watching your budget, make like the locals and head for these five fine restaurants with a view that won’t break the bank.

1. Dunes in Hout Bay is a true local favourite. While tourists flock to Mariner’s Wharf, also a good choice, families lap up the generous portions and kid-friendly atmosphere at this charming beachfront spot with views over Hout bay and the famous Chapmans Peak Drive. Expect fish and chips, wood-fired pizzas and excellent grills. There’s even a sushi bar and a wine list of top-notch local estates, all at fair prices.

2. Also boasting a grand seaside view is Kalky’s. This no-frills joint in Kalk Bay harbour offers superb fish and chips at rock-bottom prices. Order at the counter, grab a wooden table overlooking the harbour and wait for the waitress to shout your order number. If you’re feeling broke, and adventurous, try the fried yellowtail head and chips for just R20. In summer Kalky’s offers perhaps the cheapest crayfish (lobster) in town; a steal at R165.

3. Rhodes Memorial is a popular stop on the tourist trail along Table Mountain, but few visitors discover the charming Rhodes Memorial Restaurant situated behind the granite monolith. It’s a fuss-free menu of café-style food, but the outdoor tables offer superb views out over the city.

4. The glamorous Atlantic Seaboard stretching from Green Point to Camps Bay is never going to be a place for bargain hunters, but Sotano, near the Mouille Point lighthouse, does a great Sunday breakfast with a side order of sea views. After your Eggs Benedict join the locals for a stroll on the stunning Sea Point promenade.

5. The Roundhouse, on Kloof Nek Road towards Camps Bay, has some of the best restaurant views in Cape Town… but at fine dining prices. If it’s out of your league, pull in to the neighbouring Rumbullion at lunchtime to soak up the same views for a fraction of the price: a Cajun beef and tzatziki open sandwich is yours for just R80.

5 emergency numbers to put on your phone today

Whether it’s climbing a mountain or surfing the waves, these are the five numbers you need to programme into your phone today for worry-free adventures in Cape Town.

Cape Town is a city of adventures but you never know when you may need help out of a sticky situation. We’ve got you covered with this go-to list of emergency numbers.

1. I have an emergency

Call the general emergency hotline on 021 480 7700 107 (Toll-free from landlines including payphones). Use this for a quick go-to, to be transferred to the relevant connection for ambulance, fire, police or traffic service.

2. I need to report a fire

Call the Cape Town Fire Control Centre on 021 590 1900 – this centre manages fire emergencies throughout Cape Town and surrounds.

3. I’m stuck on a mountain

Call Mountain Rescue on 021 948 9900 if you need help within the Western Cape. Or join the mountain rescue whatsapp group before you go – read how here

4. Someone is drowning

Call the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) on 112 or 021 449 3500. These rescue experts are the first port of call for any type of sea-related emergency.

5. My child has consumed something poisonous

Call the Red Cross Children’s’ Hospital Poison Line on  021 689 5227. Use this as a direct line to the experts for advice or an ambulance to the hospital.