Bo-Kaap: More Than Just a Photo-op

Hello. My name is Annika and I am an Instagram junkie. The first step to change is admitting you have a problem. Haha! I definitely spend more time than I should admiring the gorgeous photography of my Instragram community of travelers. I love to scroll through my feed and see tons of lush landscapes and popular, instantly recognizable travel destinations. There are certain places that are guaranteed to garner social media admiration like the steep cliffs and striking blue domes of Santorini or iconic structures like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Colosseum in Rome. I know many people use social media for travel inspiration and decide on where they want to travel based on pictures that they see on social media. I mostly get inspiration from other bloggers and travel sites when preparing an itinerary but I admit that sometimes I decide to visit certain spots just to get the perfect Instagram photo-op. There is nothing wrong with this approach to travel but I do think that going to a place and just snapping a few photos can sometimes result in you missing out on some of its value. Additionally, you may not have a chance to visit a place again so you should try to take in as much as possible.

The historic Bo-Kaap neighborhood is famous for its candy-colored housed. Bo-Kaap means upper cape in Afrikaans and sits on a hill overlooking downtown Cape Town. This area was inhabited by descendants of slaves, mainly of Malaysian and Indian Origin. In fact, Bo-Kaap is also referred to as the Cape Malay Quarter and has a large Muslim population. Given its historical significance, municipalities encouraged residents to paint their houses bright colors to make the area more aesthetically pleasing for tourists. I think this was effective because this neighborhood is one of the most photographed areas of Cape Town.

What to do: Obviously, take lots of pictures! The brightly colored homes serve as an awesome backdrop to garner all types of social media envy. But, I would also recommend interacting with the residents if possible. I had the opportunity to chat with a very spunky lady who had lived in the neighborhood for years. Her perspective on the popularity of her residence and the lack of privacy was eye-opening. She was very grateful that we engaged in conversation with her and asked permission to take photos pass the gate of her property.

Where to shop: Atlas Trading Co. is family-owned spice shop located at 104 Wale St, Schotsche Kloof, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa. It is a Cape Town institution filled with exotic spices guaranteed to elevate even the most novice chef's culinary endeavors. In addition, they have a more modest tea selection but you should definitely pick up some South African Roobios Tea while you are there. I learned the hard way that they close relatively early: 5:15 PM on weekdays and 1:00 PM on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday.

Where to eat: A visit to Biesmiellah Restaurant is a great way to experience the true flavor of Bo-Kaap. This establishment serves authentic East Asian dishes. It is a short walk from Atlas Trading Company (2 Wale St & Pentz St, Schotsche Kloof, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa) and serves as a great way to wrap up your visit to Bo-Kaap.The Bo-Kaap neighborhood is so much more than a photo-op. It is a neighborhood full of culture and charm. I encourage you to do more than just stop through the neighborhood for a quick snapshot and linger for a little to enjoy all it has to offer.

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