Cape Town to London – The Good, The Bad & The Sunny

I am at a pivotal point of my time as a Local Tourist – I have left the windy Mother City and returned home to the British Summer.

Let me take this moment to point out a few reasons why Captonians have it so good. We have a myth in England, every year it is the same – we worship the memory of her, anticipate her sweet return, we know that any hardships in our lives will be resolved if only she were with us again – her name is Summer and she is a cruel cruel mistress. She will give us a cheeky wink in the early morning, a promise if you will, that she is here to stay. Sadly, by the time you have your wits about you and have gotten ready for an outdoor pool adventure, a picnic or even a quick tanning session she has fled the scene only peeking through the clouds every so often to check that you are still missing her. Though this lady is elusive, sometimes she graces this small Island with her benevolent presence and when she does the British public are amazing at making hay while the sun shines! Yesterday it hit tropical temperatures of 26°C and Clapham Common in London was filled to the brim with opportunist tanners. They even have a paddling pool for the children of the City. I must confess that I got a little sun burnt, in the British sun! Who would have thought?!

600489_10151450668651879_1301255038_nThe people of London enjoying a blissfully sunny day on Clapham Common

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1003277_10151450668566879_683740775_nMy friends and I enjoying a picnic in the tropical weather

Though I might sound like I am dramatizing our British Summer my point is that a day of pure sunshine in England is like gold dust, whereas in South Africa it is taken as a given. Don’t think for a moment though that I am suggesting that South Africans don’t appreciate the sun – far from it! Cape Town is the sun worshipping Capital of the World and I could not love it more. Think of sun downers at the top of Lion’s Head or a full day of fun and frolics on Llandudno beach, I can’t think of anything better. Rather, my point is that England spends three quarters of the year waiting for the sun to appear so even when it doesn’t we still need to act like Summer is in full swing. We will take any opportunity to sit outside and have our iced coffee; one ray of sun and we will all be wearing our sunglasses and those slightly-too-short shorts. Finally, I honestly believe that there are more convertible cars on the small Island of Britain that in the whole of California and South Africa combined and you will see people driving down the motorway, roof down trying to ignore the intermittent drizzle that characterizes this wonderful Country!

While we like to think that we have it bad in the Cape Town Winter, I’d like to point out that it is not dissimilar to the British Summer. So rather than anticipate how windy and rainy it’s going to be, lets not wait for the storm to pass but rather learn to dance in the rain.

Jess Over’s Exciting Adventures in Sydney

I am so excited to introduce the first guest blog! My wonderful friend and fellow Exeter graduate Jess Over has embarked on a wonderful journey far far away from the small island and gone all the way down under. She explains her impressions of the dynamic city of Sydney, Australia and has included many recommendations.

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Jess and I together in Exeter, England

So, without further ado here it is: Being a local tourist…in Sydney Australia

My lovely friend Saxony is currently living life large in Cape Town and asked me to write a guest blog piece for her blog about being a local tourist. Someone who lives in a city and learns and grows to understand the city but is still, at the same time, a tourist there.

This is the exact position I am in currently with my life living in Sydney. I am currently working as a receptionist at Hays Recruitment Company in the central business district, known as CBD, of Sydney.  This is a temporary role and not something I want to do for the rest of my life but the perfect job to be able to live and work and play in Sydney. So… what is it like living in Sydney? My first impressions were positive. Arriving in March the weather was still very warm and everything was buzzing. In contrast to New Zealand Sydney was a welcome change and I embraced it all. The heat, the beaches, the sun and the coffee!

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Jess absolutely loving life in Sydney

Sydney is perhaps one of the most liveable cities due to its size. It’s not too big but at the same time still quite small. It is situated around the harbour which is one of the most gorgeous active pieces of water – ferries, yachts, motor boats, fishing boats – you name it , you will probably see it in the harbour racing around. For me living by the sea is perfect. It appeals to me and my love of the sea. Just living within reasonable distance of the sea and the beach is pretty cool. But it’s not just the sea and the beaches which appeal to me. I am a little bit obsessed with the Opera House. I love it! I take photos of it every time I got near it. Whether I’m on the ferry to Manly or just taking a stroll around the Botanical gardens I take a picture of it. I have near on 50 now! I can’t get enough. And tied with the Opera House you have the Harbour bridge which is equally spectacular in my opinion. I think the first time I went over it on a bus I let out a squeal of excitement which caused people to turn and stare. The tourist in me didn’t care. The local in me was mortified! With iconic architecture, stunning surfer beaches, compact, diverse city landscape Sydney has it all combined with great coffee and places to eat and drink.

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One of Jess’s many photos at the Sydney Opera House

Which takes us onto lifestyle…why is over half my office English? Perhaps because winter weather doesn’t get below 10° and only lasts 3 months if that. So the weather is great. Summer can be a bit scorching but if you like the heat then it’s ok and everywhere has air conditioning so ‘no worries’. But it’s more than just the weather that Sydney has to offer. I have never been to so many above average coffee cafes and brunch spots. The city is littered with them and each one has its own identity, coffee barista expert, and spot on menu of delicious brunch options. So I did a lot of discovering! The coffee tourist/snob came out and so did the coffee guide and off I went, with the help of friends of course!  Just for the record- a few of my favourites are FourAteFive in Surry Hills, Clipper Cafe in Glebe, Forbes & Burton in Darlinghurst and many many more. In fact just getting a good coffee is a treat. Just the fact that I am not in a Costa, Nero’s, Starbucks is a revelation and one big difference from here and the UK is that they still have their high streets. Sydney’s suburbs have character, individuality and independent shops. The UK has lost that and it’s been replaced with chain stores selling the same old stuff with Topshop look-a-likes posing around. In Sydney each suburb has its ‘thing’. It’s the hipster part, the business part, red light, grunge & alternative, beach, high end retail and so the list goes on.

Which makes going out for a drink slightly challenging: where to go? What to drink? There are plenty of places to drink. It’s something that Australians are good at. And it’s fun and social in a new city to explore via new bars and pubs. Exeter was small and limiting in terms of places to drink, home has one venue, the local pub , Sydney has too many to count. But what has impressed me about Sydney is the attention to detail.  Me and some friends got hooked on a bar called ‘No Name Bar’ because it hosted a live art battle every Thursday which saw two artists battling it out over one and half hours.  Another bar is called Grandma’s bar which is the tiny basement bar that has rocking chairs, knitting, Werther’s Originals and great cocktails. 5 Boroughs is a favourite because we are now friends with the barman and he experiments new cocktails on us and gives us a discount! And so it goes on. Rooftop bars and pools, $10 steak dinners, champagne at the Opera Bar- life is pretty good!

As much as eating and drinking has been a recurrent theme in this blog if there is one word to sum up Sydney it’s: active. People go to boot camp at 6am before work to get their exercise in for the day. The walk from Coogee to Bondi is overcrowded with runners on a sunny day. People are off sailing, surfing, running at weekends. Always on the go. It is slightly addicted even I have started going for a swim after work to wind down but also to keep fit. Then again who wouldn’t want to in an heated outdoor 50m pool?  So it’s not surprising that Australians are equally sports mad. I recently got introduced to Aussies Rules Football. Which when you first watch it is one of the most bizarre games on this planet. A lot of men, in very short shorts running around a cricket ground kicking a rugby shaped ball through 4 posts. It doesn’t make sense, it is hilarious and addictive and I love it!

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One of the many gorgeous beaches that Sydney has to offer

Culturally there are not so many differences with the UK. The outdoor lifestyle that exists here is impossible in the UK but for me, what I have noticed is that everyone is friendly, open, courteous, welcoming. Everyone is your ‘mate’! It takes some getting used to when your manager called you mate and there are ‘no worries’ and everything is ‘too easy’. But it’s a pretty sweet life dude!

The Truth About Coffee

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Soy Latte at Truth Cafe

The first awesome coffee place that I stumbled upon in Cape Town was Truth café on Buitenkant Street. This place could rival Shoreditch in London as the hipster hub of the world. The waiters and waitresses wear an assortment of hats, from trilbys to top hats, and they all look like part time musicians and artists. As you walk into the building you are instantly transported off the streets of Cape Town and into what feels like a secret club – where all of the cool kids hang out. Truth has seating for every occasion –  tables spilling onto the street, small tables for intimate coffee dates, a long bench that stretches almost the length of the room and has multiple plug sockets dangling from the ceiling for those wishing to lose themselves in their laptops and deep American style booths fitted with dark leather chairs. This place is lit only by a few flickering lights hanging from the ceiling and some suspended lamps at the counter, giving it a low light. A friend of mine referred to the ambiance in Truth as being similar to an instagram filter – how fitting!

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Light fittings dangling from the ceiling 

The most impressive aspect of Truth though is the enormous coffee roaster behind the counter. It’s sheer size is astounding, it looks like if you were to climb into it, it might transport you to another time in history. This piece of technical ingenuity has almost a whimsical feel, it looks like a contraption that could only have been thought up by the likes of Roald Dahl, Tim Burton or Lewis Carroll.

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Part of the coffee roasting contraption

It’s big, copper and cool – you get the picture. Now, lets talk about coffee. Truth promises that they “roast coffee properly” and let me tell you, they do not lie. The coffee is incredibly rich and strong. I seize every opportunity that I have to take a coffee expedition with my classmates and introduce them to this special place.If I could start every morning with a coffee from truth I know every day would be fabulous. Lucky for me they have a cheeky side stall that sells coffee to-go from the window – not so lucky for my wallet.

16083_10151332232271879_1754206914_nLunch time adventure to Truth for an on-the-go coffee

Link to Truth’s website: http://www.truthcoffee.com/

Coffee Culture – First Love

One of my favorite things to do is to collect coffee places. Independent coffee shops always seem to be interesting, some are quirky, some are hipster, some are incredibly posh and most have a wonderful uniqueness to them that the gigantic establishments like Starbucks, Costa and even Vida E just cannot contend with. In England I would love finding these brilliant little places – Exeter was particularly full of them from the wonderfully strange Bike Shed which is tucked away just off the high street and offers big friendly sofas and an  eclectic mix of décor. To the beautifully traditional Tea On The Green which offers the most magnificent view of Exeter Cathedral and the most delicious cream teas that you could imagine.

 

IMG_3263 Exeter Cathedral as seen from Tea On The Green

And lest not forget, most importantly the famous Boston Tea Party with its spacious top floor filled with huge desks and mismatched chairs and sofas that make it feel somewhere between a huge common room and a very loud library. With every new place I visit I am able to add more exciting coffee shop joys to my list of favorite places ever and in this section of my blog I will share them with you as I find them.

 

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This is how much I love coffee

Dream. Explore. Discover.

Introduction

Let me start by explaining the driving force behind this blog. I was born in South Africa but have spent the last thirteen years of my life living in England. Having been raised in a South African home in the heart of the United Kingdom and living and learning among Brits, I have always felt like a foreigner. The feeling of otherness was increased further when I spent a year of my University career studying in America at Iowa State University. While some may feel uncomfortable being foreign, I feel most alive when I am travelling. I also believe that the best way to get to know a Country is by living there. To live and study (or work) in a foreign setting and to get to know those who are most local to it  is to become part of the fabric of that place. Once again I have been given the exciting opportunity of leaving my comfort zone and living 5980 miles away in the beautiful City of Cape Town, South Africa. I will be spending a year studying a Post Graduate Marketing course at the Red and Yellow School of Magic and Logic.

The theme of this blog is both being foreign in a place that is local to you and being local in a foreign place. Most of us would have experienced this feeling at one time or another, whether it was moving out of home and going to University or taking a gap year and living and working somewhere like Australia or Europe. There is something so special about discovering somewhere new, you arrive not knowing what to expect, a possible adventure around every corner. And slowly but surely you add favourite places, fun activities and cultural quirks to your internal list of things to show your friends when they come to visit. I am my happiest when I have a friend come to visit me in a place I love. I get to show them all the awesome things and places I have found and I get to feel like a tourist again. That is what this blog is to me. An online portal to share my experiences, tips and list of wonderful places that as a tourist one might never discover. I will make it as visual as I can because photography is my main passion in life – I compulsively document every new experience I have through my photographs. I will also include guest blog post from my friends who have found themselves a local tourist at one time or another.

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Cape Town

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London

The Bean, Chicago

Chicago

I used this quote when I wrote my personal statement to get into The University of Exeter, I wanted to study English with A Year of Study in North America. This quote encapsulates both my desire to travel and the reason I am so passionate about it. I try to take every chance I can get to fully immerse myself wherever I am. Three years later I still live by this quote and will always strive to continue to. Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover – Mark Twain