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12 Reasons for Digital Nomads to Visit Observatory & Woodstock, Cape Town

Work. Play. Eat. Sleep.

Relaxing on the white sandy beaches of Clifton or Bloubergstrand, kitesurfing in the waves, paragliding off Signal Hill and landing on the promenade in Greenpoint where earth and ocean meets, hiking up one of the 7 natural wonders of the world — Table Mountain — and visiting Robben Island, the symbol of freedom and leadership where Mandela were imprisoned for 17 years.

These are a few good reasons to visit Cape Town, the design capital of South Africa and creative hub of the country and African continent to a large degree. And once you’re done with the big five on the to-do list of any traveler, here is a more intimate list of reasons to stay a while in one of the lesser known areas of Cape Town.

Hidden off the main touristy CBD and city centre is a pocket of truly South African creative culture in Woodstock and Observatory.

The heart of design and self-expression, the area boasts a range of unique shops selling anything from furniture to handmade wooden sunglasses and tribal material. It’s also the new tech & media centre of Cape Town where many reputable agencies have their homes and popular co-working hub.

A bit further out is the more bohemian Observatory, where students and artists live and work, linked in the middle by Saltriver, a less developed area.

Observatory makes me think of the movie “Big Fish”, where once you arrive, most people stay for a lifetime. It takes a slow stay to see why it is so loved, and here is a list of some of the best spots:

Woodstock Exchange

Co-working spaces

Arriving by MyCiti bus or train, the Woodstock Exchange is only a few minutes walk towards the city centre. It’s a co-op with a variety of shops and speciality stores and also the home of two co-working spaces and a yoga studio.

Image from https://woodstockexchange.co.za/

For the digital nomad, this is one of the best co-working spots in Cape Town with a variety of choice available a short distance from each other.

Art It Is

Art Gallery

For inspiration to flow, art is a must. From the Woodstock Exchange simply walk across the road after relaxing in the park and pop into ArtItIs, an art gallery and function venue featuring a range of unique artists and their work.

The selection of artists is what differentiates this art gallery from any other. Of the works include a selection of Lisette Forsythe’s paintings of African people on old pieces of wood, newspaper, or other interesting medium. Another artist from the Congo paints on different non-standard materials and uses newspaper to include texture. Once the work is complete, he burns parts of it leaving a unique texture and imprint.

Then there is an artist from Bali who makes the most extraordinary large ornaments from off-cut pieces of wood in a lengthy process.

For any art lover, this is a recommended stop that houses the best of African and global artists in one place.

Delos

Antique Furniture Store

Opulence extraordinaire. A short walk further down the road on the opposite side of the road is an old school that was transformed into an antique furniture store. It is now the home of a range of the most exquisite antique indoor and outdoor pieces.

Fit for a king or queen, even if you’re not looking to buy anything, walking through the selection of garden statues outside and strolling through the magnificent collection of antiques inside will remind you of your royal heritage if only for a while.

Roxy’s All Day & Night

Coffee shop, eatery, games cafe

The new kid on the block, Roxy’s All Day & Night is a must-stop to take advantage of their R10 cup of (real) coffee and try out their delicious range of food.

They have a range of tasty all-day-breakfasts, toasted sandwiches, pasta, burgers, salads and more and be sure to ask the waiter to find out what’s on offer that’s not on the list. Each item on and off the menu is unique and tasty and beautifully presented.

It’s a great spot to fill your tummy, and the range of comfortable sofas and large tables is a convenient spot for doing a little bit more work in a relaxed environment before continuing your journey of discovery.

For the locals or the bored, pull out one of the games or join one of their themed dinner events.

Street Wires

Empowerment Project & Shop

A short walk down the road is a social enterprise on a mission to create beautiful art while uplifting the community. Local artists make African bead and wire craft art in a workshop where visitors are welcome to see how the pieces are being made, take as many pictures as they want and interact with the artists themselves. It is an uplifting, happy atmosphere with workers chatting while creating their craft.

There are also workshops available from time to time. Definitely one of my favorite places if for nothing else but the unique concept and the buzzing vibe.

Three Feathers

Diner & Bar

Hidden at the back of the Woodstock Co-Op is a traditional old diner complete with pool table and old car. It’s the perfect spot to try one of the exquisite craft beers on offer in Cape Town or imagine being part of the Pulp Fiction movie crew.

Recreate

Furniture Store

Recreate is another shop worth popping in to admire the creativity of re-purposed old items into something fun and new. It is an inspiration for anyone with old pieces which they don’t know what to do with, or those looking for something unique and old.

The Old Biscuit Mill

Market and Shops

No list would be complete without a mention of the Old Biscuit Mill, the anchor of the area, consisting of a range of designer shops and home of the famous weekly Saturday neighbourgoods market running from 9–2pm each Saturday.

It has become a bit commercial and is over busy and overpriced, but worth a visit as still one of the best foodmarkets in town.

If you’re there the last Wednesday of the month, try out their Wacky Wednesdays where live music and events are hosted to keep this old industrial space the hub and heart of the entire area.

Bokkeveld Rooibos

Foodshop

Another traditional South African product is Rooibos tea, roughly translated to ‘red bush tea’, a sweet herbal red tea. It’s the African green tea with a range of health benefits. It contains no preservatives, no additives, colorants, kilojoules or caffeine.

The shop, originally from the northern cape, is the supplier for the big brands available in most stores, but without all the fillers. 100% pure, the shop sells a select range of products including flavored teas and a range of soap and bath products made from Rooibos.

That Place

Books and coffee

Once you’ve crossed the mainly undeveloped Saltriver area, Observatory suddenly pops up with its range of bohemian and interesting shops filled with vintage and organic goods.

That Place is a bookshop and coffee shop collaboration, bringing together the best of these two worlds in a unique setting with long tables where students and digital nomads are invited to use the desk space and wi-fi as long as they order something to eat.

Mnandi Textile & Design

Textile shop

Image from http://blog.sa-venues.com/activities/dress-like-madiba/

Around the corner is a textile shop selling starched 100% cotton in a range of unique African designs as well as a range of products including books, bags and clothes made from the exquisite and sought after 3 Cats brand.

This is the place where locals come to find material for traditional weddings and special events.

Look out for the watermark at the back of the material to know it’s an original.

These are my favorite spots. What’s yours?

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Kate Dames

Kate Dames

A cup of fresh ideas for old problems. Integrating technology, agile, gamification & lean to make workplaces more human, productive & fun. www.funficient.com

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