What do you know about things to do in Durban or just Durban as a city?
My knowledge circled around Bunny Chows, an airport I kept calling Shakalaka and giggling each time (the name is King Shaka!), and enviable warm water for anyone coming from Cape Town. That was the extent of my Durban knowledge, and frankly, I was only semi-interested to learn more before heading to Phinda to look for giraffes.Read more: African Safari Adventures at Phinda, KwaZulu-Natal.
I must admit that I didn’t have a look at a Durban Guide once so I was happy when my recent press trip with Thomas Cook included a Durban tour and I had to pick one I liked – a city tour to see all the main sights, graffiti tour or a trendy things to do in Durban tour, the hipster tour as I called it. As the words coffee and beer were predominantly featured in the description of the latter, you know what I chose.
Things to do in Durban
– A tour for coffee & beer lovers
We met our tour guide Jonas from Street Scene and were off to Station Drive with some hipster water in hand (you know the one that has a bearded man’s logo!). Our destination, Station Drive was only a little horseshoe shaped road, but packed with cool shops and businesses, making it perfect for an afternoon stroll. It is not an official tour (yet) that Street Scene offers, but due to all the shops’ proximity you can explore everything on your own. So here is a little guide with cool things to do in Durban and some some places you shouldn’t miss.
Savior is a coffee lovers dream come true. Mind you, as some may know I love my New York deli filter coffee but even so, I couldn’t resist a cup of their very own blend. Max, the creator of Savior, first fell in love with coffee 15 years ago at a Häagen Daaz cafe in Düsseldorf over their latte. Who knew that they could make such inspirational coffee?
Savior Brand is so much more than a regular cafe though as they also sell their own line of leather goods which are all made by previously disadvantaged people that the company trains. Bags, belts, bracelets – you will find things that are local and lekker here, 100% not made in China.
And if you are just in it for the hot beverages and have some extra change – pay it forward on the pay-it-forward poster wall!
Sometimes you walk in somewhere and feel immediately at home, right? That can even be someone’s office and happened to me when we visited Tomfoolery. Okay, so you probably won’t just be able to waltz in there (then again, you could always knock and try) but you can check out their amazing work here.
It is a little film production company with the motto What would Robin Hood do? Yawn, how pretentious I thought, until I met David, the owner of Tom Foolery, and learned what they are all about. Just like any other film production they make money by producing videos and commercials for clients who pay them well because well, they are awesome. However, unlike other film production companies, Tom Foolery takes part of their proceeds and puts money back into projects close to their heart. Social, environmental, you name it. They have a documentary out about finding a dinosaur in the Congo, have written a book to explain the aftermath of apartheid and have recently done an inspiring campaign called #40yearslater, opening a dialogue about the lives of black South Africans.
While David had to move back in with his parents to make his dream happen, all I can say is – thank you, Robin!*
*I also realized that even him living with his parents wouldn’t have turned me off asking him out if I lived in Durban.
Now you could call it a mall, but that would be mean because it is so much better (and of course, smaller! No scary mall dimensions here!).
And instead of Starbucks you get handed a shot of hot cocoa with chili and a slice of mother’s carrot cake. I know my carrot cake and while I initially just wanted ‘a bite’ I ended up eating the whole piece. Mothers do know best. Well nourished, I meandered on. From little vintage shops to furniture designer, art and leather wear and everything in between, Foundry Factory is a mecca for creativity and design.
Head upstairs to see the world in a new way through the uber-cool wood frames from Kraft, visit Con Amore for home decor, and find clothing, art and so much more.
S43 & That Brewing Company
What to do in Durban? Drink beer of course! Craft beer that is and no hipster street would be complete without it. For that head to S43 to meet Sean, Paul and Marcel in their malt and hop empire That Brewing Company.
All of their beer is brewed right on the premises and only sold in a few select stores in the area, so you will actually have to make your way to Durban to enjoy it. A Blonde, a Red, a pale ale, and a German-style Weiss beer is on tap, which of course, Durban-style, tastes of bananas! All go down nicely with a selection of tapas and burgers in this cool urban setting.
If beer is not enough, I recommend you head next door to Distillery 031, home of local cachaca, gin, and absinthe. Now I have wanted to try Absinth ever since falling in love with Moulin Rouge but lack of opportunity aside, I have always been too scared as well.Read more: Falling in love with Jorge – The ultimate Brazilian Caipirinha.
But when it comes served chilled as part of a tasting flight amongst gin, homemade tonic and vodka, it wasn’t so scary anymore. That and owner Andrew’s explanation that absinthe got such a bad/good reputation for unjust reasons. Thujone which was blamed for Absinthe’s alleged psychedelic effects can only be found in trace amounts. According to Andrew fun with the green fairy was more due to excessive alcohol and drug consumption in general during the Bohemian era of the early 20th century France, not just due to absinthe. Knowing that made me feel a lot better to try it and even more so when I realized that the taste reminds me a lot of Pastis which I love.
If meeting the Green Fairy isn’t really on your agenda of things to do in Durban, try their local cachaca – after all, Durban is famous for its sugarcane production! If you require sustenance after a tasting (tasting four spirits is a lot more than tasting four beers, just saying…), go for their burger with pineapple salsa and enjoy your own blend of G&T to go with.
Station drive is located here:
I recommend taking a taxi as parking is limited and absinthe, with our without the Green Fairy, is still pretty strong!
Disclaimer: My Urban Durban Tour was part of a press trip with Thomas Cook. As per usual opinions are my own but empty glasses just speak for themselves! Images for Tomfoolery and Distillery 031 taken from their websites.