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August 20, 2018

Exploring Cape Town independently made me feel invincible

Written by

Alina Zaki

University of California 19'

While I did a fair number of activities with friends, I also got to explore Cape Town on my own. It was the most rewarding experience.

I went to The Old Biscuit Mill, visited The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and biked 7 miles from The V&A Waterfront to Camps Bay on my own – all of which has given me a great sense of accomplishment and independence.


When I decided to bike about 7 miles in about-to-rain weather, thoughts were rushing through my mind, “What if I fall down and scrape my knee?” “What if I get hit by a car?” However, the challenge was alluring, and with the right safety precautions, I reasoned that I should be fine. So I grabbed a helmet, and got on the road!

It was such a rewarding experience! I overcame my fear of biking amongst pedestrians, picked up a good pace and enjoyed the breathtaking views along the Cape Town coast. I recall the thrill of arriving in Camps Bay and reflecting on the fact that it was the distance that we usually only covered by shuttle when travelling back and forth from class.

Old Biscuit Mill

The Old Biscuit Mill, has was my favorite! It's an awesome village in the heart of Woodstock, and while the repurposed factory houses artisans, restaurants, businesses and award-winning restaurants on the daily, it's The Neighbourgoods Market (a type of farmer's market), hosted on Saturdays, I loved best. My friends were asleep till 11 am so I just left (oops) and enjoyed a leisurely Saturday afternoon. I absolutely love coffee and jewellery, both of which the market has in abundance, along with some delicious food stalls. I came across Espresso Lab, passionate micro-roasters with their own shop, which has the most amazing coffee, and then browsed the many small jewellery stalls selling wonderful creations. I ended up picking a gold band that says “smile” and a necklace with the outline of Africa – mementos I'll treasure forever.

neighbourgoods market, cape town
Neighbourgoods Market, Cape Town (image from supplier)


Kirstenbosch, Cape Town’s botanical garden, is astoundingly beautiful! As much as I love being around a buzzing town with lots of people, this was a much needed getaway for some quieter me time. From the herbaceous leaves that would release a fragrance when rubbed between fingers, to flowers that produce so much scent as night that they would be nicknamed “a young lady”, this place was absolutely stunning! I could quite happily live under one of their tree canopies, no joke.

kirstenbosch gardens, cape town
Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town (image from supplier)

Getting out there and doing things on my own has made me reflect on my time here in Cape Town, where I both immersed myself in South Africa’s natural beauty, and felt a great sense of personal accomplishment. In my time alone, I’ve realized that what you get out of an experience is what you put in it. I could have stayed home on the occasions where my friends were unavailable, but I choose not to. Life is too short to feel insecure and not do the things you’ve always wanted to! So go and do them, because you are by yourself, you are with yourself :)

Now please enjoy my shameless selfies that I posted on Instagram.

biking in Cape Town

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