Before coming to South Africa, all of my associations with the word hostel triggered one of three thoughts:
1. A dark, scary place where you get to stay for cheap while traveling abroad; while there you are constantly worrying about all your belongings being stolen.
2. An ideal setting for a horror film.
3. A place that houses sex workers.*
Either way you put it, I wasn’t exactly jumping for joy the first time I found out we we would be staying in hostels during our trip. However, after having the opportunity to stay in numerous different hostels, I now have a new found appreciation for them.
The hostels which we stayed in while in South Africa were all known as “backpackers” yet no two backpackers were alike. Each one has its own theme, its own vibe, and most importantly its own story which made the experience even more special. Listed below are a couple of backpackers we got to explore while traveling around the Western Cape:
Carnival Court was a popular backpacker recommended by students who were on the program in prior years. Located in the middle of Long Street and in the center of Cape Town. Carnival court was a central location to access all parts of night life, as well as street markets and restaurants; this made Carnival Court the ideal place to stay in order to truly experience what Cape Town had to offer. The highlights of Carnival Court included the trance bar/club located below our rooms and the ability to wake up at 6 in the morning on a Sunday to noises of people still out in the town from the night before. #gohardorgohome
Afrovibe was nestled right along the beach in a town called Sedgefield.The staff consisting of a young diverse batch of individuals whose attitudes and energy were infectious from the start. We learned that most of the staff were young people “finding themselves” and “seeing what the world had to offer”. Although their spontaneity gave me anxiety, hearing their stories of where they were from and where they plan to go was truly admirable. #goodvibes all around
African Array was the most unexpected backpacker of all of the ones we encountered. Located in Plattenberg Bay and with a home style set up, we were greeted by a husband and wife who welcomed us with open arms into their “home”. Unlike the other locations this duo ran the whole show including managing business operations and preparing all meals for guests–every meal being absolutely delicious and better than the one before. One highlight included meeting Jimmy, the traveling Rastafarian singer who was embarking on a three year journey walking, 25km a day at a time, from Cape Town all the way up to Cairo while selling his records and collaborating with musicians along the way. #hustling
The final shout out goes to Backpackers Paradise which was truly a paradise in every way. Not only was this place filled with beautiful flowers and palm trees, but they were also known for their nightly ostrich braais. Gathering around the fire we got to watch the ostrich be prepared to produce the most divine piece of meat I have ever consumed (refer to “Girl Meats World”). It was at this place that we were not only blessed with ostrich boerwors and kebabs but also Pierre. The oldest man with the most expensive taste for the finest things…a man who can pull off a scarf, pipe, and probably a monocle if he wanted. He talked to us about life and gave us advice on life, liberty, and the importance of well-fitted quality clothing.
Long story short, hostels have shown me the extremely unique and diverse sides of the cape and what the people here have to offer.
**It has been clarified that this is in fact called a brothel….glad that’s been cleared up for me.