Exploring Cape Town’s Neighborhoods

Last Saturday I went on a cycling tour of the neighborhoods surrounding Cape Town. On our bikes we visited Woodstock, Salt River, Observatory, and District 6 to see the graffiti, art, and architecture around the city.

We started out in Observatory, referred to as Obz by the locals. Obz is a trendy neighborhood with main streets filled with hipster nightclubs, bars and restaurants. In Obz we visited Newtown Market, a small art gallery run by independent and largely self-taught local artists.

After Newtown Market, we headed to Beth Uriel, a boys’ home in Salt River that houses 24 previously disadvantaged boys aged 14 to 24. The boys who live in the house (which has the feel of a fraternity) are working to create a better future for themselves through various projects and initiatives. There are boys who learned to barista and started a coffee shop on the lot, those who teach traditional African cooking classes from the house kitchen, and one boy (Edwin) who learned to repurpose used plastic bottles and built a machine that turns them into artsy plant vases and decorations.

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From Salt River we cycled to the bustling neighborhood of Woodstock. In Woodstock we visited the Woodstock Co-op, a collaborative space for local shops, the Woodstock Foundry, a design hub for artists, and the Woodstock Exchange, a small business center for local entrepreneurs.

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Also in Woodstock, we visited Old Biscuit Mill, a famous Cape Town market with lots of local food and restaurant stands, boutiques, and live music. We sat on the ground under lighted tents and enjoyed delicious food.

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The main attraction on the tour was the graffiti found all around Cape Town. In Cape Town, graffiti is a popular and beautiful art form used to send messages, make political statements, and brighten up the city. From tributes to Nelson Mandela, to awareness pieces about the poaching of endangered rhinos, to zebras that represent blacks and whites coming together after the horrors of apartheid, the graffiti around the city is moving. Below are some of my favorite pieces from around Woodstock, Observatory, Salt River, and District 6.

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