In bed with Nodi Murphy

Posted on 15 May 2015

As director of two film festivals, documentaries have taken Nodi Murphy to more than a dozen countries, so she knows a good bed. In fact, we somehow managed to end up in one up in the penthouse of the hotel… It was for a photo shoot. Her home is Cape Town. We asked her to recommend a hot hotel in this worldly city.

Encounters South African International Documentary Festival is happening from 4-14 June. The films are from all over the world, but in particular Africa. The festival is held in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and screenings are at The Labia and V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, and The Bioscope and Ster Kinekor in Johannesburg.


Nodi will switch you on with her stories and festivals... Get the picture.

Nodi will switch you on with her stories and festivals… Get the picture.


1. You have family visiting from Ireland. Where would you recommend they stay?

The Glen Boutique Hotel. It’s central, and because they’ve sponsored the Out in Africa gay and lesbian film festival for many years. Their generosity has been extraordinary. It’s dinky, it’s sexy, it’s cool. It’s got the most beautiful textures; that’s really what it is. It’s got great views. I love the aspect of the red roof; it creates privacy. It’s beautifully located and it’s beautiful service. Have you seen the staff? They’re all gorgeous. And I don’t think they’re only specifically picked for their gorgeousness; they are talented at what they do. The breakfast: I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.


2. How would you describe Sea Point to visitors?

That it’s got a Mediterranean feel. Cape Town still has a particular texture of small streets, there’s an intimacy about it, there’s that little bit thing of an aged fabric, but also with the modern amenities. The proximity to the centre of Cape Town is enormous… It’s fantastic that we have the MyCiTi bus now, which makes it incredibly easy for people to get around and of course what I like about Cape Town is it’s so walkable. Transport is an enormous issue in South Africa per se. And nighttime transport. The MyCiTi stations are beautifully designed: they’re stylish, lit inside so that you feel safe because you’re in a lit area. But I want to see more MyCiTi, it hasn’t come to Obs yet and I want to be able to use it.


3. Where should their first stop be?

The sightseeing bus tour to get a perspective of the city. Cape Town isn’t just Cape Town, it’s the whole Peninsula. It’s cheaper than a taxi… It gives you a lay of the land and of course it’s really well planned to take you to prominent spots that a city tourist agency has researched and deemed worthy of visiting – it takes you to all of the great spots. I did [that] in Mexico City, which was fabulous ‘cause that’s the hugest city – 27 million people. An enormous spread. The other place I took it was Madrid, which was absolutely gorgeous. It’s a fine way to get the orientation. There’s a safety element to it as well in that it’s regulated. It’s run by the city usually, it’s safe, it’s clean, and the people who are on the bus tell you about the spots that you are seeing.


4. And where next?

False Bay is great for swimming; tremendous beaches.[It] also has a lot of those tidal pools. I went to the St James one the other day – absolutely exquisite. The water is gorgeous, because of course this is the water which is fed by the Agulhas current, so it’s that much warmer. The whole main road that goes from Muizenberg, all the way out through St James, Kalk Bay, and onto Simon’s Town is the most beautiful drive.

Also read: the charm of the Southern Peninsula in 22 photos


5. Have your films taken you to unexpected places?

I went to Bali. I was invited to a gay and lesbian film festival there and we had a screening on the beach. Bali is absolutely gorgeous. It’s got the largest Hindu population outside of India, the architecture is exquisite. It’s a peaceful religion. Never ever thought I would get to Bali. I’ve been to Mexico to a film festival, to Argentina, the States and in Canada, France, Germany, Holland, England, Switzerland, Italy and Jakarta…


6. Where did you grow up?

In Uganda and there we ate flying ants, termites, grasshoppers, mopane worms. I’ve even tried crocodile – not to be recommended, I don’t think so. [Uganda was] absolutely exquisite. My memories are just warm, rich, beautiful people, delicious food, extraordinary life: anything and everything will grow in Uganda.


Earliest childhood travel memory?

Never having to wear clothes, it was that warm. Lake Victoria, bugs, extraordinary bugs. Spiders. I remember we had the most beautiful garden and we had Jacarandas – that purple blossom. We had three in our home and my father used to park his tree under the Jacarandas and my job of the morning was to take the Jacaranda blossoms off. Of course it was a colony, and I was a protected child, but just a memory of warmth and freedom, and beauty. I lived in Swaziland as well and it was also gorgeous. The people; gorgeous people. My father was a medical doctor and his specialty was tropical medicine and running hospitals and he was in Swaziland. I first went out there for summer and Christmas holidays. I was at boarding school in Ireland, and the nuns thought I would benefit from parental supervision, so I was brought home and I went to school at Waterford Kamhlaba, which was a very unusual school in its day… it was pastoral, it was peaceful, it was safe, and it was quiet.


7. Favourite place on the continent?

Langebaan Lagoon. I have the use of a little cottage there, and it’s right at the bottom of the lagoon, and it’s a bird sanctuary. I was out there about two weeks ago and I have a little bird bath – it’s like Grand Central Terminal for birds. Bulbuls, the funniest and most gorgeous birds with their fabulous yellow bottoms; a little cisticola, I’ve never seen one so close up; weavers, canaries, wagtails, franklins. In season the tortoise comes through, it’s particular to that area, and even a meerkat comes to visit, drinks. So you could just sit there. And it looks like the Mediterranean. The sea is shallow, so it’s easy, a great place to learn how to windsurf. The water retreats, you’ve got these beautiful white sands which bake in the sun and then the water comes back in and it warms the water up. Great place to swim, great place to be.


8. Last break?

My last holiday which was incredibly memorable was Thailand. I absolutely love it: the food, the people, the ease of getting around. I went to Phi Phi Island. I mean, really, your best designer on acid could not do better than that extraordinary sealife. I mean the variety, the variation, the hugeness of some things, and the tiny, delicate, dinkyness of other things and it lives there in harmony. People aren’t very nice. Human beings. We’re not the best species on the planet. We mess things up.


Nodi’s recommendations for what to do in Cape Town

To eat

My absolute favourite is Lucky Fish and Chips. They do fabulous calamari. They’ve got kind of Greek style to them: white tiles with blue detail. It’s not a restaurant per se where you get knives and forks and things like this. It’s like an old fish and chipper where you get your chips and your meal on a large square of paper on a tray, and it’s a decent price, and the portions are big. And then, of course, there are lots of cafés and restaurants along the Mouille Point strip and then the whole of the Sea Point strip.

To walk

The promenade is one of the most gorgeous spots and gives you this lovely feel of the Mediterranean ‘cause there are palm trees around, this fantastic ocean; I wouldn’t recommend getting in the water though because this water comes straight from the Antarctic and it is chilly beyond belief. When you go down there you see everybody: you see all colours. There is a time of year after Ramadan when the Muslims come down to see the rising of the moon. You have runners, people just walking along, old folk in their wheelchairs, being wheeled along, you have teams of people playing soccer, there are jungle gyms for kids, and it’s dog friendly.

To swim

The Sea Point Swimming Pool. The seawater is pumped up into the pools, and it’s warmer than the freezing Atlantic only metres away. And there’s a paddling pool for the littlies and a diving pool for those who like to throw themselves off heights.

In town

Visit The Company’s Gardens where you see the Parliament Buildings. There’s St George’s Cathedral which is very important in our history and liberation struggle – it’s a magnificent church. The gardens are beautiful: trees, the rose garden, and then, of course, you’ve got the South African National Gallery with extrodinary displays of art. And then across the way you’ve got the South African Museum and the Planetarium, which is fabulous. Truth Coffee on Buitenkant: the coffee there is absolutely magnificent. I love the opportunity to sit street side and watch, they’ve got those huge windows, and of course the décor, steam punk is absolutely gorgeous.

To stay

The Glen Boutique Hotel is ideally located near the beaches on a quiet road off the lively streets of Sea Point. There are 24 individually styled en-suite rooms with a private balcony or garden. B&B rates from R990 per room.

This article first appeared in the May 2015 issue of Getaway magazine. All prices were correct at time of publication, but are subject to change at the establishments’ discretion. Please confirm with them before travelling.


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