Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cape Town: Shop 'til you drop

With today my penultimate day in Cape Town (well, in Africa for that matter since I'll be spending most of Saturday hanging out at Jo'burg airport or in the air flying homewards), I was at a bit of a loss as of what to do this morning. The options I came up with were: A) Cry (since I don't want to leave); B) Go shopping for souvenirs in the City Centre (since I'm sadly lacking in the present department); or, C) Soak up the sunshine in Kalk Bay (well, just because I love Kalk Bay really!). In the end, I decided to hold off on Kalk Bay until tomorrow and save crying for the airport and caught a train to the City Centre to indulge in a little shopping. Cape Town of course has long been known for its three 'S's': sun, surf and sand. But thanks to an excellent exchange rate, it is also one of the best destinations for that other great 'S' – shopping! Whether you prefer large sprawling malls a la the Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, more innovative shopping zones like Long Street, or rummaging through a flea market like Greenmarket Square, there are scores of shops around the city offering all kinds of unique and unusual treasures. From replica radios expertly constructed from wire to world-class wines, here are a few of my favourite Cape Town buys.

Beaded beauties
For a gift that gives twice you can't beat the cheeky hand-beaded dolls from Monkeybiz. Each doll is a one-of-a-kind work of art made by disadvantaged women from surrounding townships. With the proceeds going to their designers, you'll be uplifting others when you buy one.
Where: 65 Rose Street, City Bowl
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Divine wines
No shopping trip to Cape Town is complete without sampling the region's superlative wines. One of the best-known labels is Fleur du Cap. Their signature Chenin Blanc is bright, fresh and perfectly balances fruit and wood flavours. It's also exceptionally good value at around $10-$20 (AUD) for a bottle.
Where: Available from most grocery and liquor stores
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Table magic
For almost 20 years, Carrol Boyes has been crafting pewter, aluminum, and stainless steel into sophisticated, functional art. Her eye-catching pieces, featuring fluid human forms, include cutlery, frames and bowls. With designs like these to take home, tableware need never be mundane again.
Where: Shop 6180, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront
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Wired for sound
Wire art is everywhere in Cape Town, but the best place to find quality artwork is at Streetwires. With characteristic inventiveness, Streetwires combines wire, beads and other recycled goods to create everything from key rings to chandeliers. Designs like their signature fully-functioning radios are not only unique, but also environmentally friendly.
Where: 77/79 Shortmarket Street, City Bowl
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Cherrie on top
Launched in 2000, Stoned Cherrie is South Africa's hottest clothing line. This street-savvy range celebrates Afro-urban culture with remarkable flair and exuberance. Intelligent and self-reflective, the line reclaims the past for the present giving African culture the recognition it so richly deserves. Trademark designs include slogan T-shirts featuring images from the iconic Drum magazine and Xhosa inspired A-line skirts.
Where: Available from Woolworths Department Store at the V&A Waterfront
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In the bag
Bag yourself a bargain with one of Africa Nova's unique 'Hip-Pip' handbags. This colourful range of hand-made bags are made from 'Zambane' (potato printed) fabrics and decorated with leather, beads, wood, felt, and buttons. With the focus on small intimate designs, each bag is individually created to ensure exclusivity, so you’ll never have to worry about running into someone else bagging your style.
Where: Cape Quarter, 72 Waterkant Street, Green Point
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