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Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

Portland, OR
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Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

We will be in South Africa for 3 weeks in April for my 50th birthday and will spend time in Kruger NP, the Wild Coast, Wine Country and Cape Town. We are well traveled, lean towards slow travel and are on a moderate budget. We prefer to spend less on accommodations so we can take several trips a year. We will be exploring options on Airbnb and VRBO. Our plan is to spend 4-6 nights in Cape Town, maybe longer to explore the wine country since it seems we can get there within an hour or so? Or is it best to stay in the wine country? Here is an idea of what our ideal Cape Town neighborhood would be like:

1. We don't want to be in the city center or an area with lots of big department stores.

2. We prefer to be in an area with more locals than tourists. For instance, here in Portland, OR most of the tourists stay downtown or in The Pearl district. We have many wonderful neighborhoods to explore on the other side of the river where tourists rarely go. Looking for that similar vibe, if any of you happen to be familiar with Portland. :-). that being said, I am not opposed to being directly in the center if that is what the majority recommends.

3. We will probably have a car so an area where we can safely park the car. We always take the normal precautions and don't leave anything of value in the car but would not be happy to spend time dealing with a car that has been broken into.

4. It would be nice to stay in a neighborhood with some bars, casual restaurants and small shops, maybe even leaning towards artsy or slightly Bohemian style. I found a cool place in Muizenberg with a view of the ocean that is appealing but not sure how easy it would be to get into the city center? Another great looking place is in Vredhoek. Nice area to stay in?

5. Would love to be near public transportation to get into the center within 20 minutes or so and explore.

During my initial research, Bo-Kaap, Waterkant and Woodstock appeal to me and the busy V&A area probably has the least appeal. We often stay in apartments when we travel and like the idea of going out to hike, explore and then come back to relax after with the option to cook. I am noticing several great looking apartments and cottages in the $50usd range!

I look forward to your suggestions!

Edited: 21 August 2014, 14:15
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Leigh-on Sea...
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1. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

We enjoyed our stay in the Constantia area.

we have also stayed twice in Camps bay and next Feb. will be trying Hout Bay. However, none of these places are 'budget'

A regular TA poster, Joyceyorks, recommends Ascot House in the suburbs near Constantia , for self catering .

I am not sure if being near transport to the city centre is a necessity. I found that one full day's sightseeing in the centre was enough, it is a bit scruffy and run down in my opinion, there are many beautiful other places to stay.

I would certainly stay a few night in the Wine Areas, Franschoek Valley is particularly beautiful and if you want to visit the vineyards you would not have to worry about anyone driving back to CT. We have stayed twice at Plumwood Inn.

north yorkshire
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2. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

I do often recommend Ascot Gardens in Bergvliet, near Constantia, for value for money, safe, self-catering accommodation. We often walk to 3/4 restaurants within 5 minutes in the evenings. The supermarkets and some small shops are also within 5 minutes walk. 10 Minutes walk to the railway station for day-time trips into CT or Simonstown, I wouldn't recommend this at night. It is only about 5 minutes drive to Constantia with lots of shops, restaurants and wine estates. The Gardens are all fenced and cars are parked securely within.

Portland, OR
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3. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

Sorry I didn't reply sooner. I was on a quick get-away to Bend, OR. Thanks for the suggestion of Ascot Gardens. Definitely looks like an option. Any feedback about the other neighborhoods I posted about? Is Cape Town really not a good option for exploring for a length of time?

Edited: 24 August 2014, 02:22
north yorkshire
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4. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

Muizenberg is on the same train route into CT as Bergvliet so is quite conveneient, and it is, of course, by the sea. However, I am not sure of safety at night - we have often driven through there and thought it looked a bit seedy but others will know better!!!!!!!! Bergvliet is also well placed for venturing down to Cape Point, Constantia winelands etc. Lots of the other places, like Bo-Kaap etc. are well recommended here on TA but I think most places you have to park on the street. Bergvliet might not be for everyone - it is very quiet but we are considering our third visit - and we are quite picky. We are 67 and 73 and like a quiet life and wine, so being able to stroll around in the area without driving after a fairly busy day sightseeing is good for us. Out of interest, I have researched my family history and found that my Lattie family were founders of Seaside in Clatsop County, so perhaps we might venture out to OR at some time!!!!!

Leigh-on Sea...
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5. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

I hope my post did not mislead you regarding Cape Town. I am just of the opinion that the city itself is only worthy of a day or so sightseeing, however, the surrounding area is my favourite in the world, so beautiful.

I have posted 2 trip reports, see the first post at the top of the list, named 'Post Trip Reports Here', it may give you an idea of what to see and do in the areas in and around Cape Town.

Bo Kaap and Waterkant are in the old and inner city areas and becoming popular , but not at all scenic or spacious.

I visited Woodstock on our last last visit, the famous Test Kitchen restaurant is situated there. I thought the area very seedy, I didn't feel at all comfortable in driving the back streets looking for parking , lots of dodgy looking youths hanging around. I would never consider it a tourist hang out. However many young, trendy , artistic people are moving in , so it might fit your description of 'artsy and Bohemian' . Once again, it is a very cramped area with some commercial and industrial surroundings.

Cape Town is so beautiful, so I prefer to be within sight of the coast and mountains.

Do a search on this forum for these suburbs where you will find other opinions .

I do recall a similar question on Woodstock earlier in the year .

Often people state that they prefer to stay and mix with the 'locals' . I still find the Cape quiet different from most countries I visit, not much evidence of the races mixing socially and I can't remember ever seeing a mixed raced family. Past history in SA has resulted in much of the country being still strongly divided on racial and economic lines.Tourists tend to stay in 'white' , rich, dominated areas, although I have read that there are now some opportunities of staying in guesthouses in the Townships.

I agree that V&A has no appeal but nevertheless it is VERY popular with tourists.

Kent
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6. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

I would not suggest Woodstock as a safe place to walk at night, not sure about Muizenberg either. It's a bit further but have a look at Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek & Simon's Town, all on the train line, just further out but also closer to attractions on the peninsular.

Kent
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7. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

I used to live in Clovelly a residential area of Fish Hoek, I often recommend it as it's very safe with stunning scenery but high up on a mountain so walking back at night would not be easy. The town itself looks dreary & dated but again very safe with a police station, has a superb beach too. It used to take a 50 mins pleasant easy drive to the city, 10 mins to Simon's Town, 5 mins to Kalk Bay, easy access to Stellenbosch from Muizenberg, 10 mins to Noordhoek & Chapmans Peak drive.

And one other thing, for some reason Fish Hoek is cheaper than most other areas.

Ontario, CAN
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8. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

We stayed in an apartment in Sea Point and although it was not right on the water it was only a block off. There are several restaurants in the area and we felt comfortable walking to them in the evening for dinner. You can walk along the waterfront all the way to V & A (3+km). You can also catch the HOHO sightseeing bus in Sea Point - there are 2 routes (blue and red) and they could keep you busy for a couple of days alone if you actually "hop off". You can do without a car just fine for 3 - 4 days, except for the Cape Hope trip. After travelling outside of Cape Town we came back to Simons Town and rented an apartment there for a week. It is a lovely little town (as is Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek), but I would not recommend it for a first visit unless you are looking for a quiet spot - a car is a must there I think if you plan to see Cape Town from there. And if you are doing wine country, then I'd definitely head out to stay for a night or two right in the area.

Portland, OR
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9. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

Thanks again for all this great info. We do like to stay in somewhat quiet areas as long as we can hop on public transport at night to get to bars and restaurants. We won't drink and drive and we both like some nightlife. I expect we will be out exploring by car during the day, park it at night and head out on public transport or by foot to eat and drink. Which of the suggested areas above would be best for this?

How late does the train run and is it safe late at night if we take the usual precautions?

When at home and while traveling we always take public transport.

north yorkshire
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10. Re: Help Us Find Our Ideal Neighborhood Please

I personally wouldn't take public transport late at night. You might indeed be better off staying in some if the central areas such as sea point or camps bay where there is a bigger choice of restaurants. Alternatively, you can get good taxi companies.