Woodstock is still very much an up-and-coming area of Cape Town. And sadly, it’s not always the safest like many other areas of Cape Town. Luckily for us though, we had a guide from Urban Adventures who showed us around. I love doing private tours of places I wouldn’t usually be brave enough to explore on my own. Connecting with a local to really experience the true story of a place is one of my favorite parts of traveling.
Our day started out an hour late thanks to some trouble checking in to our hotel (I do NOT recommend the Raddison Blu in Cape Town). But our guide, Roy, was so chill about it. He could tell we were stressed, so instead of shopping, he suggested we start our day at the brewery across the street. Five star move right there Roy. So we talked over some local brews while Roy outlined the itinerary and told us safari stories from his 20+ years in the travel guide business.
Our next stop was a bit down the road, so instead of walking, we took a minibus, which is a van that stops every other block or so to pick people up and drop them off. This experience might have been our favorite of the whole tour. There’s a driver and then there’s a…whistler? He jumps out at each stop whistling for people to get on the bus. If someone across the street wants to get on, he’ll stop traffic and bring her to the bus. He’s also in charge of collecting the bus fare, which was always paid in coins, so couldn’t have been over 5 rand, about 30 cents USD (our fare was included in the tour).
This stop was a cool area with shops, restaurants (including The Test Kitchen, which was featured on Top Chef), and more. It was built by a group of young investors and really makes the area much nicer than it was in the past. It kind of reminded me of an outdoor version of Ponce City Market or Krog Street Market (both in Atlanta). Not too far down to the road was a gin distillery. I have to be honest, I have never been a fan of gin. When I was younger, vodka was always my drink of choice and now I’m a bourbon girl, so I didn’t have high expectations. But the gin tasting was amazing. First, you get a little sip neat (if you want) and then they put different things like tea, black peppercorn, or pomegranate into your gin to bring out the flavors. Tasting it again revealed a whole new flavor. It was really incredible to gain that perspective and understanding of gin and the flavors that go into it in the distillery process.
After a nice long visit at the gin distillery, we walked through the streets of Woodstock and got to see some really beautiful street art. Roy talked to us about the history of Cape Town including apartheid and his own story of being jailed – in the same prison as Nelson Mandela! He was caught in public with two other persons of color, which was against the law. So he was thrown in jail. For saying hi to two friends at one time. Insane!!
We ended up at another brewery and sat down on the patio for a flight as the sun set. It was the perfect ending to a perfect day of learning and exploring. We even got Roy to finally have a beer with us. What a treat! I definitely recommend Urban Adventures not only in Cape Town, but anywhere you go! They hooked me up with this tour in exchange for inclusion in my travel guide, but I loved it so much I just had to give it its own post!
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Where’s a place you’d like to explore with a private tour guide?
Photos by Ryan Carpenter.