Since I'm about 22, I have a little deal with myself: I have to be in a warm place for at least 4 weeks every winter. Otherwise the cold season is just way too long and I'm slowly but surely turning into a depressed couch potato. Since I have a child, of course I plan a little differently than before. Now it's not just a 6 week trip across South America, now it's time to get a little more systematic. When Atlas was a baby, everything was easier because he didn't have an opinion of his own and wasn't much trouble otherwise when it came to getting from A to B. Now, at two and a half, he can not only talk like a little waterfall, he also has very specific ideas about how he would like to spend his time. So after spending the winter of 2015 (Atlas was just 7 months old) paddling around Thailand, a year later we had to come up with another plan. I opted for an apartment, complete with nanny and off-site workspace in Cape Town. 10 whole weeks we would live here, like we normally do in Berlin, but with a lot more sun and individual care instead of daycare.
Of course Airbnb was my first port of call, but the competition was faster and so all affordable accommodations were already gone. A great alternative for South Africa, (which is not so well known internationally yet,) is Accom Direct, where you sometimes find the cheaper deals. I finally found an apartment via detours and luck in the heart of De Waterkant, a central and super nice area in Cape Town. From here it was quite easy to get around on foot (not a given in Cape Town), there were great restaurants, cafes, supermarkets and even a playground right behind my house in my immediate vicinity.
The next task was to find a good nanny, who was not only good with children, but who was also able to get involved in the adventure of a “German child”, i.e. one who does not yet know English. There are several agencies, but I can't and won't recommend any of them at this point. These agencies take quite horrendous prices, which are absolutely not justified and some even want quite high fees before they have even suggested a girl. What worked well for us was the site Aupair SA, where families and potential nannies can sign up. You have a profile including a photo and all relevant info and then you can contact each other. I wrote to a number of girls with appealing profiles and found them relatively quickly.
For the next 2 months Eva, a nice student, looked after Atlas 5 days and 3 evenings a week. And best of all, the boy learned to understand English quite well during this time, which turned out to be a great foundation for his current English language skills.
Since I couldn't just lay low for 10 weeks, but also didn't want to work from home when my young son was around, it quickly became clear that a coworking space was needed. Fortunately, the choice in Cape Town is really big as far as that is concerned. I had a look at a few spaces and booked myself into 2 different ones, but I can recommend one more than the other. First of all the good: the Cape Town Garage not only has a great location in the middle of the imposing Woodstock Exchanges, you can also work here in a super good and relaxed way. No attitude, lots of light and various coffee shops and cafes just an elevator ride away. Moreover, the costs are really totally fair.
Before coming here, I stayed at Cartel House, which was only a few minutes walk from our apartment in De Waterkant. Unfortunately Cartel was the exact opposite of the garage. Snobby receptionist, overpriced office space in crowded mini-room. Absolutely not recommended, even if there is a very nice bar on the roof and the central location is of course not inconvenient.
If you want more info about coworking in Cape Town, have a look here.
4. From A to B
Although I rented a car from day one, the car actually stayed in its parking spot most of the time. It almost felt like a secret, but in Cape Town right now it really makes a lot of sense to get chauffeured around by Uber. On average, I spent around €2 for a 10-15 minute ride, which also conveniently came out of my paypal account, so I didn't even have to worry about getting change. I'm sure most of you already know about Uber, it's a smartphone app that lets you order a car to you in no time at all. Even better, you can enter your destination on the app and immediately find out how much the ride would cost you. Best side effect: you save a lot of time and headaches, because you don't have to search for a parking space and you are always on time for your appointments.
A car is of course still quite nice if you are planning a larger trip just on the weekend times. I got mine via Auto Europe, they have pick-up locations at the airport as well as in the city and were quite friendly and accommodating. Important tip: if you like to drive automatic, you have to book far, far in advance, because the winter months in Cape Town are super crowded with tourists from all over the world and there are never enough automatic vehicles. Even rental cars in general are sometimes hard to find if you need one last minute.
One of the top reasons why Cape Town is such a great place to spend the winter is that it only takes a relatively short drive to get to the Winelands, the beautiful wine region outside Cape Town. Whether it's just a day trip or a few days is up to you, but the fact is that it's a piece of an ideal world, which simply enchants with its beauty and its attitude to life.
My personal favorite addresses here are:
There is a lot to see and do for kids in Cape Town. This list gave me a lot of inspiration at that time. By the way, in the next few weeks I'm planning a little follow up to this post, where I'll write down exactly my favorite activities for the whole family again.