I was invited to join a select group of media to walk the streets of Observatory, or Obs as it’s fondly known. Guided by Jana Leonard and local resident photographer Silas Lekgoathi aka Just Silas, we moved through the streets from one local flavour and iconic landmark to the next.
First stop was Queen of Tarts where I indulged in a baked chocolate ganache, then moving between quaint renovated homes and impressive street art we hit the latest hot spot Rust on Station Road, where craft beer and a self-designed menu are offered. A tempting look at the treasure trove that is Wendy’s Vintage Clothing, brief pause outside Marley Coffee and then on to see The Paragon by Rawson Developers going up on Main Road.
Still under construction, it was such a surprise to enter a beautifully finished show house and get an idea of what they will be like on completion. Such a convenient location, whichever way you travel each day. Then on to Ahem Art Collective to learn about the art of following your heart, before a delicious pizza at Ferdinando’s pizza — with rescue pup Ferdinando himself, of course.
Street scenes as we walked, and below Queen of Tarts and a struggle to choose a treat from the abundance on offer by the lovely and talented Tina Bester in her now renowned cafe.
Baked Chocolate Ganache amazingness.
Rust Coffee & Craft Beer opened only a few weeks ago and offers a chilled out cool coffee bar that serves ice cold craft beer, hot drinks and delicious food — with a menu created from the patron’s special requests. Catching the afternoon sun, the warm ambience welcomed us for a break as we listened to how the owners are following their Station Road dream, before gaining further insight into the suburb from Carolyn Neville, the chairperson of the Observatory Civic Association who sits on the board of the Obs Improvement District.
The entrance (By Silas)
A sneak peak at Wendy’s Vintage Clothing which is packed with pre-loved gems looking for their next homes. Jackets, jerseys, dresses, accessories, hats, purses, shoes, gloves, all in a trendy welcoming spot. A good way to recycle and reduce your clothing carbon footprint while sporting some gem finds, I need to get back there.
Loved this camel coat.
On the walls, layers of art.
Getaway Journalist Welcome Lishivha enjoying a coffee break.
When you get to Obs, make your way to Ahem Art Collective on Lower Main Road where you’ll be hosted by creative Barbara Langridge. The gallery is born of an idea when a local illustrator realised there was no good place to display ‘non fine art’ work in Cape Town for local illustrators, with work on the walls sourced from artist friends around the world. Look out for their Art Thursdays, and pop in for a coffee, chat and browse through the very well priced works. There are some incredible pieces, framed or not framed, that you may want to own.
Also on sale are a collection of incredible high-quality African story books by volunteer creative professionals, with proceeds going to Book Dash.
Last stop was Ferdinando’s Pizza where we enjoyed a menu reading that brought the story of Diego, Kiki and their rescue pup Ferdinando to life, as well as the genuine Italian passion that makes their pizza, let alone melanzane and caprice salad — delicious! This is such a sweet place, the perfect spot for a back to the things that matter, heartfelt tasty night out.
Irresistible pic of the trio off their website.
Street art by Nardstar, Mr Ekse and Fok Alles (yup that’s the name) adorns the walls.
More about Observatory
At a glance Obs is home to a large student community given its proximity to the University of Cape Town’s main campus and medical school, yet has for decades drawn artists, musicians and families to the historic pastel painted homes that line the quiet tree heavy streets.
More recently young professionals have been drawn to the area to take advantage of easy access to the city, and the more affordable rent. Never to be described as a conventional suburb, Observatory was one of a few so-called grey suburbs during the apartheid era, with the eclectic arty appearance and chilled vibe, always known to embrace the diversity of the people who lived, created and partied there.
Today a big attraction is its iconic Lower Main Road with its laid-back restaurants and cafés as well as long standing favourites — other than those listed above — such as Pancho’s, Obz Café and A Touch of Madness, with more recent additions of Hello Sailor, Jerry’s Burger Bar, Ginger Mango and Marley Coffee.
There’s always something happening in Observatory. City Rock indoor climbing gym is drawing the after-work climbing crowd as well as families, while the nearby River Club has a driving range and mashie golf course. But the must visit destinations that gave the hood it’s name, are the The Cape Town Science Centre and The South African Astronomical Observatory.
There are also several business parks in the area, including the popular Black River Park, as well as a range of small businesses as diverse as the suburb itself — from backpacker lodges to hairdressers and more. I am well aware, that I have only scraped the surface of what is on offer. It’s no surprise that the suburb is becoming increasingly sought after by property investors as the demand for properties in the area is ever on the increase.
Our Guide Just Silas
Our walk was led by Silas Lekgoathi from Just Silas — a dynamic local resident and adventure seeker who is striving to find beauty in every corner of the continent. When he’s not packing his bags to take off on the next adventure with his fiancé, he is trying to grow his company with a focus on photography, illustration and a fair amount of voice-over work. Some of the better photos included in this post, are his.*
About The Paragon Development by Rawson Developers
The Paragon consists of 141 stylish, contemporary apartments offering a superb location, great views and vibrant lifestyle. Perfectly located just 300m from UCT Medical Campus, 600m from the Observatory Station and 2km from UCT Upper Campus, it is easily accessible by the Uni’s Jammie Shuttle which stops just 300m away.
The lay outs include are one, two and three bedroom apartments, each finished with contemporary, quality touches like hard stone kitchen counter tops and a neutral pallet of fixtures to complete the look. It really is stunningly done.
Security has been given a high priority and includes around-the-clock guards monitoring CCTV surveillance. Entry into the building is controlled via biometric access and the site is encircled with an electrified fencing. The Paragon also lies within the Cape Town Urban Development Zone and that means that purchasers will be able to claim up to 55% of the purchase prices as a tax expense.
Capital growth is inevitable with gains of up to 50% predicted during the building phase. There are a few apartments left and they can be secured with a 10% deposit.
What a treat to learn more about this characterful pocket of our city that constantly evolves with the ebbs and flow of development, emerging always with it’s own artistic expression, passion infused individuals, distinctive stores and delicious dedicated eateries. And above it all, very proud locals.
Originally published at theincidentaltourist.com on July 3, 2017.