Devil's Peak series launching this week! We sat down with the South ...
The hottest Wi-Fi Spots in Cape Town
More and more Wi-Fi Hotspots pop up every day in Cape Town
As I struggled to find my shoes amongst the nest of internet cables, power cables, extension cords and guitar leads in my room, I started to imagine how wonderful my world would be devoid of the electronic vines slowly consuming my living space.
Wonderful... But the only practical, viable solution considering a struggling writers salary - is luckily readily available to any occupant of the Mother City.
I grabbed my laptop, almost tripped over a wayward cable, and began my escapade into the wide world of Wi-Fi Hotspots.
Depasco’s, a good start
Depasco Café & Bakery – this was a spot I already knew and liked, but in terms of what it offered as a place to steal internet, I had no clue. Comfortable, cosy, vibey (despite being at that time of the morning very empty), great voyeuristic offerings thanks to the glass windows and outside section, I settled into one of the comfy couches. Delicious coffee in hand, I got to work catching up with some emails. Unfortunately, the 10 Megs free were only about enough to let me load my homepage.
‘Still, there’s really no such thing as truly FREE internet’ I thought to myself as I enquired as to the cost of further web navigations. The waitress politely informed me that for 20 more Megs it would cost 16 Rand. I smiled back politely and asked for the bill.
So Café Sofia on Kloof was next, and only a small walk up the road. When I got there I remembered that Arnolds is directly next to it, and being a favourite haunt of mine I hastily added it to my list. But for now Sofia was waiting.
The Sofia host very promptly and politely showed me to a nice table in the outside section and, seeing my laptop, immediately brought me a voucher (service that I was happily surprised at, considering the serious lack of attentiveness present at the Sofia in Rondebosch). So here the internet WAS free? With an order of course, but come on people, who sits in a restaurant or coffee shop without ordering something.
Sure enough, the waiter offered me a further voucher when mine ran out. As much as I wished I could stay there and annoy people on chat rooms, I decided instead it was time to move on.
A place called Arnolds
So I entered the ever welcoming Arnolds, filled as always with its varied clientele of every size, shape and creed. Sitting down at my usual spot in the sun, I hauled out my laptop and realized my battery was in dire need of a recharge. Alas, my kingdom for a socket.
Downhearted I thought back to that morning, and yearned to be back at Depasco, where cords cables and sockets were so readily available – it already felt so long ago. Letting out a deep sigh I asked the waiter about the Wifi costs. Eventually I managed to decode his dialect enough to understand that 20 Megs would cost me 8 rand. Better than Depasco’s, but I could see Sofia’s pricings were going to be hard to beat.
Still, Anold’s comfortable setting and vibe always makes the trip worth its while. Despite my laptop now telling me it would like to be buried at sea with a simple service. And of course the inevitable struggle for a table thanks to the popularity of the place. Deciding it was time to shake things up a bit; I got into my car and headed towards the southern suburbs.
Wireless in the South
Cocoa Wa Wa was next, a cute little spot frequented by it seems, only students. A sweet little outside area with trees hanging over, and an American-esque diner feel inside, with clientele chattering away. I could see many like- minded individuals typing away on their laptops, and felt I would fit in nicely. The outside however proved far too noisy thanks to the Main Road traffic, so I quickly moved to the inside.
The tables inside were full, so I sat on the counter which looks out onto the outside tables and street. Unfortunately when I say looks out, I really mean looks at. I spent the next half an hour staring through the window at a young couple less than a foot away from me who were trying very hard to have an intimate conversation.
Not on my watch, these kids were far more interesting than any Facebook status update. That aside, I thought Wa-Wa near Wi-Fi perfection. Just as with Sofia the internet was ‘’free’’, the food good – and here I had entertainment of a sort.
By the Boardwalk
Having had my fill of student haunts, I decided to head back townside towards the well known franchise of Mugg & Bean, specifically the V&A incarnation. Generally Mugg & Beans are all the same, and this incarnation held no suprises.
I’d already had more coffee than my body could take, waiters now appearing as a vibrating blur. So the free refills M & B offer, while at any other time greatly appreciated, proved a tad too strong. I managed to beat down the coffee high long enough to enquire about the Wi-Fi options, only to find that’s it a rather complicated process, including a log on and registering on the site, and then the use of either ‘tokens’ or credit paid into the site itself – the cost about R50 an hour.
Through my caffeine-induced haze, thoughts of the Internet started to amalgamate together, creating a montage of images in my mind; Facebook became Myspace, Depasco merged into Arnolds, Twitter became Google; and then as the haze lifted it struck home that really most of the places I visited offered equally useful service –
Sure M & B were a bit harder to negotiate, but the refills and comfortable quiet setting were a huge plus; Cocoa Wa Wa was free internet but useful only if you don’t mind dealing with all the students; Depasco has a divine interior and carbohydrates to die for; all these places were great in their own right, and I’d barely touched the surface even - places like Ricky’s or Origins are renowned as WiFI hotspots.
What was most clear is that no matter what your specific needs in scaling free internet are, Cape Town will provide… provided of course you follow some simple rules:
- Make sure you sit within good distance to a power socket; laptops dying during the middle of an email are on no-one’s list of Fun Things to Do.
- Watch your internet usage – same as above, you don’t want to be Skyping a potential client only to have to load more megabytes half way through the conversation.
- Make sure you arrive at a good time. Why would you want to share a table with 3 other laptop strangers during lunch just because you arrived at half past one?
- Ear phones, bring ear phones. Unfortunately these are eateries, places of social gatherings; you can’t expect people to be quiet just because you’re trying to complete an essay.
- Own a foreign Laptop? Please bring your own adaptor, I don’t share.
My coffee cup was empty, my laptop sang its iTunes swan song, and it was with a satisfied albeit buzzing heart that I headed home, safe in the knowledge that I would never ever worry about how much of my Internet cap my forays into YouTube were wasting.
By John Scharges
For further options offered by the world of Wi-Fi, check out what we think the best of the best for your needs are at Cape Town’s Top 10 WiFi HotSpots