Our arrival into Cape Town couldn't have come at a better time. It marked the end of our planned itinerary and the beginning of having no plans at all. We booked an Airbnb for a week and knew that we wanted a good chunk of time before switching gears and heading to India. We loved Cape Town so much, we ended up extending our stay to ten days and continue to talk about when we can go back. In all honesty, it was a breath of fresh air. It felt familiar. We got to unpack our bags and settle down. It felt so much like home, really reinforcing its nickname of The Mother City.
Cape Town is San Francisco... on steroids. You have different microclimates, the mountains and ocean surround you, the food culture is exploding, and wine country is a short drive away. There are so many similarities, with an added layer of dramatic flair. The water is bluer; the hills are bigger; the hikes are crazier; and the weather is even more fickle. You can experience all four seasons in one day! The only difference were the prices. We felt like royalty. With the South African Rand being so weak, one dollar was worth 14 Rand. It was amazing! Basically, go to Cape Town now!
As we explored the different neighborhoods, we found ourselves comparing them to their SF counterparts. Lower Camps Bay is the Marina/Cow Hollow area.
Upper Camps Bay is Pac Heights
Woodstock is the Dog Patch
The Restaurants of Gardens is like the Mission but with the Charm of Russian Hill
And the Financial District is the... Financial District
It all felt so familiar, and we loved it. It's honestly a place we could consider calling home some day in the future; I just have to accept that I'll probably never live in a place where I don't have to layer and take a jacket and scarf with me everywhere I go. The wind is insane in Cape Town!
I have never, in all my years of using Airbnb, Homeaway, VRBO, etc, walked into what we did that night. There were wet towels on the furniture, the floor, and hanging from the doors. Both beds were slept in with the sheets and comforters crumpled up in the middle. The trashcan in the kitchen was overflowing and there were dirty dishes in the sink. I won't even talk about the situation in the bathroom. It was disgusting. Tears may have been shed; words exchanged. Brian had to take the phone away from me to keep me from lashing out on Joffrey, Game of Thrones style. Brian, always being the level headed one, simply told Joffrey that the apartment was not in any state for us to stay in and got instructions on how to retrieve the keys to the main house, safely hidden in the unlocked garage.
The house was freezing and pitch black. The only direction we received was to stay in the room closest to the kitchen. Using our phone flashlight for light, we turned into the hallway by the kitchen and to our horror, found ourselves starring at what felt like a scene from The Shining (or the hallway in at Chez Wilson's, minus the scary twins). There were so many doors, and we were scared to open any of them, fearing that we may walk into a bedroom where guests were sleeping. After several failed attempts, we finally found our room, and had to send a picture to Joffrey to show him that we were sleeping in the correct room by the kitchen. I was so frustrated and cold, I had to take an Ambien just to get some sleep.
Everything was great! Perfect, really! Everything except for our insane Airbnb host (who, for our own safety, we will call Joffrey from GOT because Brian and I agreed that this is definitely what he must have look like IRL). I should have known, he didn't have the best reviews, but for every bad review I read, I would come across a great one! We booked our stay just a few days before leaving Zambia and emailed our host letting him know that we would be arriving late into Cape Town (around 11pm). He responded by saying he was out of town, and he would ask his neighbor to let us in but added that we were arriving extremely late and he wasn't sure his neighbor would still be awake (basically calling him a loser, (or me on a Saturday night) for lack of a better word). Okay... hmmm. So, I responded asking when he would know whether or not his neighbor could help out, and if not, would there be arrangements to get the key a different way, perhaps a lockbox? WRONG QUESTION! His response was a four paragraph lecture on how lockboxes are only used in first world countries. South Africa isn't a first world country, and anyone would be insane to use one. And then, for good measure, he added that he didn't have one anyway. Brian and I were a little stunned, and we still didn't know how we would get into the apartment. We thought about cancelling, but we were flying out that day and Joffrey had a strict cancellation policy (of course). Finally, during our layover in Johannesburg, Joffrey sent us instructions via WhatsApp on how to retrieve the key, under the front gate mat. WTF!? Clearly, a safer option than a lockbox with a four digit code. We were also instructed to be dropped off a couple houses before his and wait till the cab drove off before walking to the apartment and retrieving the key in the top secret location.
As we were in our Uber (so cheap in Cape Town!) en route to the apartment, tired and hungry after a long day of travel, we received another cheerful message, "If the apartment isn't up to your standards, you can stay in the one of the bedrooms in the main house. There are other guests there though so don't wake them up." What do you mean if the apartment isn't up to our standards? I was getting nervous. Camps Bay, which turned out to be a neighborhood we didn't love staying in but rather would have enjoyed more for a beach day was one of the nicest neighborhoods in the city. We picked it because it was a detached one bedroom apartment with a beautiful patio overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the $30 a night price tag. The furniture and decor was nothing special, hideous in fact, but you couldn't beat the price and the location (which for a lot of people would have been great, we just weren't in a beachy mood).
We were woken up at 6:00am when the cleaning lady came into our room, all three of us taking a few seconds to realize what was going on. She hadn’t expected anyone in the room we snuck into last night and we weren’t expecting an early morning wakeup call. After finally sorting everything out, we told her we would be back in a few hours to officially check into the actual Airbnb we had rented. Sadly, things somehow took a turn for the worse. The apartment was an arctic abyss with no extra blankets to spare. Waking up to pee in the middle of the night was never a pleasant feeling but tack on sub-zero temperatures, and it felt like utter torture (yes I’m being dramatic but truly it sucked!). I mean, it was so cold. The only good thing that came out of it was I finally wore those slipper socks that I packed for who knows what reason, so now it didn’t feel like a waste! Brian, sadly, didn’t have any 😝.
The only thing we had specifically asked Joffrey about was a good WiFi connection, and of course, it wasn’t working. If Brian was connected on the laptop, I couldn’t connect on the iPad. We would constantly be kicking each other off the connection, and thats only when it was working. This was the first time we decided to contact Joffrey after the check-in disaster. We simply told him that the WiFi wasn’t working and asked where the router was so we could reset it. For some reason, this really set him off. He argued with us for an hour telling us (that the Iron Throne was his, I mean...) it wasn’t his WiFi that wasn't working, it was our computer. I’m not even the Computer Science genius in this relationship and this response made me crazy! Of course, Brian remained calm. Nothing was resolved. Finally, Brian started getting frustrated as well (not to mention it was becoming more and more difficult to type messages to Joffrey given our fingers were frozen) and finally asked for the refund I had been begging him to ask for (I was banned from talking to Joffrey when I was heated).
We asked in the most polite manner we could given the circumstance. We thanked him for trying to help with the WiFi (if you call blaming our computer helping) and said given everything that has taken place in the last two days, namely not being able to check into our apartment until a day later, if he would consider refunding us for that night. Or, if it wasn’t possible for some reason we also gave the option of extending our stay a night, free of charge (not that I wanted to stay, but a free room is a free room). WRONG QUESTION AGAIN! The responses we got from this guy were borderline racist and threatening. Brian seriously feared that he would fly back from Croatia or wherever he was and slit our throats in the middle of the night. He went on and on about how it was our fault we arrived late and our fault that the apartment wasn’t up to our standards, and after all, we did sleep in a bed that night didn’t we? I mean, it was insane. I won’t go on and on about it, (like I already have) but just thinking about it all over again leaves me even more bewildered.
Everything was our fault; it was never his because his cleaning lady not showing up and cleaning the apartment before we arrived was clearly our wrong doing! ANYWAY! I don’t even know how we ended it with him, but we woke up to an even bigger surprise. He filed a complaint against us to Airbnb! That jerk beat me to it! And the worse part? Airbnb basically scolded us for asking for a refund. At this point, Brian finally let me respond. Airbnb received a perfectly (lol) balanced email illustrating our frustration with, not only Joffrey, but also this so called Customer Experience Expert and our clear understanding of how Airbnb worked. Given we were hosts ourselves for some time, complete with pictures and quotes from our conversations with the most hated character from GoT, we got the message across and received three free nights and an apology from Airbnb. We instantly turned that around into a three night extended stay in the most epic Airbnb in Gardens complete with the best Airbnb host we have ever had (truly). Needless to say, we found ourselves asking each other, What Would Joffrey Do throughout the rest of our stay.
Well! Long story turned long, we didn’t let a horrible Airbnb experience stop us from enjoying (*almost) everything this incredible city had to offer. We went grocery shopping (YAY!), ate the best avocado toast OF MY LIFE at Clarke’s Bar and Dining Room.
Played tourist on the Hop on Hop off bus and froze our butts off while enjoying the freshest fish and chips ever at Mariner's Wharf in Hout Bay (seriously my mouth is watering right now) while getting ambushed by a fleet of evil seagulls (WHY IS IT ALWAYS ME??).
Had a relaxing afternoon in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens.
Hiked Lions Head and enjoyed in an epic sunset complete with french music and a charcuterie plate!
The Dog's Bullocks
We enjoyed having no agenda, whatsoever. Basically, we ate (and drank) our way through Cape Town, and we were okay with it! One of these days we promise to come up with the MLL city guide to Cape Town!
Cape Town truly felt like a place we could one day call home, but for now, Brian and I will relish in the many wonderful memories we made. Next up, the Garden Route and driving on the left side of the road!
(* What we didn't do was hike Table Mountain...but I'll let Brian tell that story...another time.)