After a leisurely breakfast in the Company Gardens we joined a free historic walking tour of Cape Town. The concept of “free” walking tours in major cities has now been around since 2004 and while you do not pay any upfront fees you are expected to leave a tip. I have always found them to be great fun with the guides being knowledgable and usually very witty and today was no exception. We set off in a group of about 15 and our first stop was the City Hall which is where Nelson Mandela made his first speech after being released from prison. Our guide was full of information and was willing to answer questions and made us feel included. The tour lasted around 90 minutes and at the end of it I felt as though I had leant a number of new facts about Cape Town. One of the guides recommendations was a visit to the Slave Lodge which we did and the exhibition was very well done and it very informative. The life of a slave in Cape Town pre-emancipation was not a happy one.
We enjoyed the tour so much we decided to do the afternoon tour of Bo-Kaap and our guide on this walk was equally as informative as our first guide. This area was used to house slaves and was known as the Malay Quarter and in 1740 the Auwal Mosque was built on Dorp Street. The Cape Malays, as they are now known, can trace their links to the area back to that time so it is a historical and cultural centre for them. Bo-Kaap is on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and the streets are made of cobble stones originally bought out from Europe as ballast in the ships . The houses have all been painted in bright colours and you never find two houses together in the same colour. The area contains the largest concentration of pre 1850 architecture in South Africa and is the oldest surviving residential neighbourhood in Cape Town, but things are changing. The area has been undergoing gentrification and a number of properties have been sold for development which will change the character of the area. It would be a great pity if this special little part of Cape Town was lost
Tonight we went back to Bo-Kaap for a traditional Cape Malay dinner at the Biesmiellah Restaurant and the food was very good. The restaurant is a no frills eatery, no alcohol is served and the food is typical Cape Malay, not hot, more spicy and sweet. I had a Denning Vleis which is lamb loin chops in a sweet-sour brown onion sauce, served with a roti and the others had bobotie and a chicken curry. All of us enjoyed our last dinner in Cape Town.