While researching things you can do free on your birthday in Cape Town, I found very few activities that are:
• Free (no catch – no strings attached)
• On your birthday (unique, not available on any other day)
• Special (not average, ordinary, everyday activities)
• In Cape Town (local is lekker)
An internet search provided several options. These included “a stroll through the Company Gardens” or “a long walk on the beach”. These might be free, but they’re not unique to one’s birthday. Only a few activities fit all four of my criteria listed above. These four aspects make such activities unusually unique, special and fun. I found three that are absolutely, unconditionally free. Later, one more was added, bringing my list of free activities to four.
The concept of “four” started while I was planning my fourth special birthday geocaching event. However, completing four (free) activities was not going to be easy. But I was up for an even bigger challenge, which made me decide to plan four activities per day, over four days.
It might be important to mention that the four main activities I had planned were rather widespread and my mode of transport would not allow me to visit all of them in one day. Adding additional activities in such a way that I could do four per day required careful planning and a schedule.
My first activity on the list was (supposed to be) breakfast with my 24-year-old daughter. This has become a tradition, if I may call it that, where one of us spoils the other one, whose birthday it is. As plans progressed, both my daughters and I would be going out for breakfast. Yes, you guessed it: this never happened. Unfortunately, the one caught a tummy flu and the other one was called to go to work on her off day, therefore neither was available.
Number 2 then became first on my list…
1. Free beer experience tour at the Newlands brewery.
I discovered this only new FREE activity during my research. Yes, I mentioned earlier that I found three, but two of these I already knew about before my research. When I found out about the free tour, which is a birthday special but normally costs R100, I made a booking via email.
The tour itself was very informative. We now know a lot about how brew-master Charles Glass grew this empire from scratch. But little is known about the history of Newlands Brewery before Charles came into the picture. This report would’ve been too long if I included detailed information about the tour, but read on for some interesting bonuses I discovered there. For more information about this tour, contact: 0216587440 or visit www.newlandsbrewery.co.za
• Bonus: free beer tasting
There is a myth that all beers taste the same…We (a group of 20+ that participated in the tour) were given the option of tasting five different beers.
• Bonus: two free beers – two ‘tokens’
Upon arrival, each of us received two tokens, redeemable for two beers (or drinks) at the bar.
2. The Cape Wheel’s free ride
One of the two FREE activities I knew about before my research was the Table Mountain cable car. The other was the Cape Wheel at the V&A Waterfront. In short, this was a first for me and a very exciting experience.
Until now, I have mentioned only three of the four FREE activities. The reason for this is simply that I only found out about the next birthday special on the day of my birthday, while at the Cape Wheel. I’m talking about the Two Oceans Aquarium. When I collected my ticket for the Cape Wheel, the friendly gentleman at the cashier window advised me to check out the aquarium as well. So, next on my list…
3. Free visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium
This was a major wow experience! I’ve wanted to do this for a very long time. A highlight was seeing not just one but two great white sharks swimming past each other. I’m sure they looked bigger in the movie Jaws.
Next up was finding Nemo. This was so cool, I wanted to take one home. There were so many, I doubt that they would’ve missed one little fishy. I found Nemo!
4. Attend a geocaching event (free)
Next on my list – the main reason for having four activities per day over four days – was my fourth “birthday special geocaching event”. I was surprised by how many attended. It might not have been great in number, but still a great group. Skattie, Tjoklits, Commaille, Odjupa and Puzzled Penguins were all there.
• Additional bonus: I almost forgot to add this, but Puzzled Penguins bought me a cappuccino…Super cool!
5. Free cable car ride up Table Mountain
For as long as I’ve known about the free cable-car ride, this has been a highlight for my birthday. In fact, at a height of over 1000 meters, I was “high” in many ways.
• Bonus: free guided tour
This tour was very informative and educational. Also, seeing how visitors from all over the world experience this tour was very interesting. For one reason: people from Europe refer to Lion’s Head as “Simba” (no prizes for guessing why.)
In Great Britain, Table Mountain is referred to as Tabletop Mountain. However, the early Khoisan people called it the “Sea Mountain” or “Mountain from the Sea”, which literally means “Mountain that rose from the sea.”
6. Geocaching on Table Mountain (includes placing a cache) – Platteklip Trail Throne GC24AVJm, Table Top Trove GCMYYZ
OK. Geocaching may not be unique or limited to birthdays, but it’s still something special for me, simply because I do it only once a year. On a previous occasion, the navigation of the phone I used messed around so much that I couldn’t get close to any of the caches. On this day I found two. The reason for this is simply because the caches are so wide apart. I guess I had no choice but to add one of my own…
7. Free ice cream at the Goodwood spur
The first on my list that is not “really” free as I had to order something off the menu, but still uniquely a birthday special.
8. Free coffee at Van’s Café
There’s a saying that goes: “It’s the little things in life that are most precious.” Van’s is a home-based café.
9. Visit the Castle of Good Hope in Cape Town
This wasn’t free, but still something special. For a very long time I’ve been wanting to visit the Castle of Good Hope, but never got round to doing it. A friend sent me some photos that he took during a visit there, just days before my birthday. That was all the motivation I needed to add this memorable outing to my list.
• Bonus: free guided tour
On arrival at the castle, I was told that the next guided tour would be in 20 minutes. As with the tour on Table Mountain, this was also very informative and educational and it was interesting to see other visitors’ responses.
As part of the tour, a visit to the “torture chamber” was rather exciting.
• Bonus: visiting the museums in the castle
After the tour, visiting the three Museums inside the Castle was optional, yet also educational and fun.
10. Train trip to Worcester
The furthest I’ve ever travelled by train, or more accurately by Metrorail, was to Wellington. So this was an exciting trip for me. By the time I boarded the train, I realised that I was not going to be able to complete today’s four activities due to too much time spent at the castle. Well, a lot of plans changed and had to be adapted, so improvising is important!!!
11. Visit to Kleinplasie Museum in Worcester
• Bonus 1: free tour
• Bonus 2: free witblits tasting
• Bonus 3: free key ring
• Bonus 4: special discount on a bottle of witblitz
12. Find a cache
12.1 Found it…
This is the only cache in town and the owner of the salon was most helpful.
12.2 Did not find it…
I only found a dry pen where I suspect the cache should have been.
12.3 Placed a new cache…
As there is only one cache in town, I felt my obligation to place a new cache rather fitting.
12.4 Introduced a muggle (couple) to geocaching…
One can never be sure if someone will be interested (enough) to start caching, one can just tell them about it and let them decide for themselves.
The last item on my list was not planned. It just happened.
I hope you enjoyed reading my experience.
Tell us: Have you ever travelled locally? What area is good to visit for your birthday in your area? Which place do you want to visit the most after reading this piece?