the lonely planet is probably the greatest travel guide ever written. not sure if i've stated that previously, but it can't be overstated. in the capetown places to eat section of our "southen africa" edition of the lonely planet, the highest recommended place is the "savoy cabbage". the planet claimed it was probably teh best restaurant in capetown, and that it was pricey but worth it. it also intimated that the place was veggie friendly. recall that we are self-proclaimed gastro-snobs. so we decided to try the place out.
LSB is at the intersection of long and pepper streets. savoy cabbage is at the intersection of buitengracht (pronounced wheat-en-grach, according to warren), and hout street. speaking of warren, he was otherwise tied up having forgotten that it was his sister's birthday, and he had to rush off to buy her a present and be present at the b'day party. hout is about 7 blocks north-east of LSB, so we decided to walk it, after dressing up in our finest backpacker regalia - basically a shirt with a collar and dark pants instead of shorts! we found hout street to be pretty deserted, and found the savoy cabbage to be boarded up. or at least it looked that way. we saw a room that had people in it, but it had bars on all the windows and doors and there was no visible way into the place. no welcome sign, no open door, no doorman. just as we were about to give up on the place, a guy in some sort of security uniform jumped out of the dark (recall the parking attendants from a previous post), and told us that the barred up wall was in fact the entrance and that we should just wait a minute and that they would buzz us in. ok, strange, but maybe this was a pretty sketchy neighborhood - given that it was deserted and all!
the savoy cabbage was outstanding food. basically a menu with only a dozen items, including one veg appetizer, one veg soup, one veg salad and one veg entree - we tried them all: tomato tarte, original gazpacho, arugula salad and azuki beans and basmati rice. the maitre d', frank (note how we're now on first name basis with this dude) was very accommodating about our vegetarian-ness. best of all, our new pal frank was happy to give us tips on which the best vineyards were that we should go get sloshed at. cool beans :-)
recall that i had mentioned the loudness of mama africa and long street at night. that was thursday, i.e., before the weekend hit. we returned to the LSB around 11:30pm, now friday night, to find that the decibel level of the clubs around were the same as a stereo cranked inside the room. couldn't close the windows because there's no fan in the room. so we tried to deal as well as we could. around 4am the street and club sounds subsided, but then people started hanging out on the balcony, chatting and smoking. basically a pretty shitty night altogether! all sounds pretty whiney, in retrospect, since we should have been partying with the gangs outside. we probably would have had we had enough sleep the previous few nights, but i guess we're just becoming old farts :-)
we decided the next morning (saturday) that we would definitely have to move to a less lively habitat. thankfully ollie the punk was not at reception (we were praying that we did not have to try to explain the situation to him) and there was a far more civilized individual, whom we could understand, manning the desk. we explained the circumstances, got clearance to leave, and told the guy, tom the surfer, that we couldn't understand much of what ollie the punk said. tom the surfer said that after working with ollie the punk for 3 years he still couldn't understand what he said!
as good coffee-addicts we headed to vida e caffe, then on to the Ashanti Lodge. hostelworld.com ranks ashanti as the number 1 hostel in africa. the LSB is ranked #2. when we initially booked, jonii figured the diff betw. #1 and #2 must be minimal. wrong! the ashanti is located in a residential neighborhood about 7 blocks away from the bustle of long street and kloof street. basically an easy walk or a cheap cab ride. but the surroundings are great. there's a clear view of table mountain, there's no need to pay for parking, the rooms are way bigger, and best of all it's closer to vida e caffe. note how our life now revolves around the coffee! the only downside is the price is almost double (R350 at ashanti vs. R200 at LSB). thankfully they accept mastercard, so we plunked down the plastic and moved ourselves into the new pad.