From where I am sitting now, I can see the headlights of cars coming down in the dark from Signal Hill, and I visualize what the occupants of the vehicles have just experienced: viewing Cape Town and the most famous Table Bay from atop this beautiful vantage point. I remember many a day when I would drive up for some quality me time, and listen to the artist who shows off his paintings of Table Mountain play his guitar whilst taking a break from stroking his paint brushes over the canvass. We would chat and he would tell me of his meeting with “Groot Krokodil” P W Botha, in the midst of the apartheid era, and I would as always, be amazed that he had such high regard for our then prime minister, even though he is a typical Cape Coloured from the Bo-Kaap.
It has been an exhilarating day. I arrived after a 10 hour drive from the farm early evening yesterday, and after a feet-up on the couch and a catch-up with my son, we set off at around 9 pm to the trendy Alexander Bar and Cafe in the heart of town, where my daughter and best friend joined us for some chatter and drinks. The bar is a novelty, an ode to Alexander Bell, with telephones at each table as well as the bar, and you never need to leave your table to place an order, or wait for a waiter – you dial the bar, and your drinks are delivered to your table! My head spun being in the midst of town again, surrounded by a younger, vibrant crowd, drinking in the sights and sounds of my beloved city, after a long separation that left me hungry to experience my home town again.
Dawn broke warm and fresh over a sleepy Cape Town this morning, our famous Table Mountain basking in the early morning light from where I stood, almost feeling it close enough to touch. There were already so many cars of climbers or visitors to the cable car, that empty parking was only seen some distance from the entrance.
We all met at Lazari in Gardens for a breakfast to die for – the place is so popular that unless you book, you are likely to wait for a table from early morning. I chose to have a salad for brunch – salmon, feta cheese, beetroot (my favorite veggie) on a bed of fresh greens. And the piece de resistance, a red velvet cup cake with Earl Grey tea!
Next stop was The V&A (Victoria and Alfred) Waterfront, our world-famous wharf where tourist can experience the best shopping, eating and entertainment. I became emerged in the sights and sounds, taking photos of everything – much to the annoyance of my kids, who probably could not understand how thirsty my soul was to experience the familiar again. After years of spending so much time living and working in and around Cape Town, this past year being away from her has been tough on so many levels. And I wanted to drink in every drop of her beauty, experience every sweet sight, sound and smell. Belinda, being the food fundi, dragged me off to the lovely new food market in the building that used to house The Pumphouse once upon a time. I remember many a good party night there, watching shows that got the whole audience onto their feet, bopping away at foot-stomping music! Once they closed down, Planet Hollywood opened, with a disastrous bomb attack that left some people dead and some sans limbs. It never revived and a Musica followed. To see it being a hive of good food and activity again today was great! I left with a packet of liquorice fudge. (I am a fudge freak, have to confess.)
I could not get enough of the sight of the ocean, nor the mountain view on the opposite side, or the sounds of a minstrel band “kapping dit uit” (playing). Thin, leggy ladies on stilts blowing up balloons, huge wigs and all, attracted people to the food market, seals were entertaining tourists (and I felt like a tourist in my hometown today), Moyo’s has opened another venue where the old Polaner Brauhaus was, the big “lego man” actually built from empty Coke crates still standing there. The swing bridge opened and a luxury motor yacht with some rich kids on came through from the Cape Grace moorings to go play on the ocean in Table Bay, one of the familiar yacht schools’ yachts came past with new learners on board, a catamaran was booked with festive, rowdy, bare-chested young men enjoying a stag party with a poor dressed-up groom-to-be. Cape Town was at its best behavior – no mad South Easter wind blowing to cover Devil’s Peak in a cloud cover (legend has it a man called Van Hunks and the devil would have a smoking competition on the mountain when the wind, also called the Cape Doctor for blowing away any pollution, is blowing a gale). The Waterfront however is so protected from the wind by the mountain, that it is always a pleasure to walk around in this world famous venue. And as always, it was teeming with tourists from across the world, who enjoyed world-class cuisine at restaurants like The Hildebrand (going for many many years in Cape Town and still as popular), Den Anker (real Dutch delicacies) or Moyo’s (true African cuisine, tradional face-painting and indigenous entertainment).
After a delightful cocktail and fresh, delicious salmon roses and other sushi (all half price until supper time at Sevruga, the sister restaurant to the ever popular Beluga, where celebrity Charlize Theron and her mom were pictured recently as well), the kids were tired and wanted to go home. There was no way a 1000 horses could tear me away, so Belinda gave me her “MyCiti Bus” ticket and they left. I wanted to stroll around some more, and decided to spoil myself with a good helping of halva ice-cream at Willoughby’s – a treat I always enjoyed when I had a spa date for a massage and pedicure at The Table Bay Hotel every couple of months in my past life. As per usual, it did not fail to impress and I left the Waterfront happy and satisfied.
Next on my list was to board the “MyCiti Bus” for the first time. Our premier, Helen Zille, who is also the leader of the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance Party (or DA for short), instigated this much-needed transport system in our lovely town, and what a hit it has been! Having lived in West Beach, Blouberstrand, I know just how much this bus system has improved many a life of city workers travelling from the Table View area. The kids use it a lot, and have always raved about it, and thus it was a huge relief to find the bus arriving on time, being spotless and efficient, with friendly helpful staff. I loved the ride through town and marveled at how clean my city is these days. Not since working in the heart of town in the early nineties have I seen Cape Town look so good – really heart-warming. Our premier and our mayor, Patricia de Lille, are clearly doing their jobs very very well.
Even the area around the courts, close to The Parade – a huge square which houses (or used to??) a market where one could buy the most beautiful cloth, lace etc, has been upgraded and now the streets are lined with designer clothing shops.
I jumped off at the historical and still loved Labia Theatre, and took a short walk back to Allister’s flat, past the imposing pillars of the landmark Mount Nelson Hotel. Short of breath, with pink cheeks from the slight ascent on the foot of the mountain, I got to his top floor flat, in time to capture the sun’s last rays basking Devil’s Peak in a yellow glow.
Belinda arrived, we ordered great Chinese take-aways, and ended a perfectly beautiful day by all three lining up on the couch to watch Silver Linings Playbook.
- Cape Town Tourism: Send your Facebook profile to Cape Town (adsoftheworld.com)
- Cape Town Holidays (ebookers.com)
- Cape Town guide: luxury hotel concierges’ recommendations (telegraph.co.uk)
- My Favorite Destination of 2012 (landlopers.com)