23 July 2012
The views of the flat top Table Mountain was clear as I peered through a window from my hostel at Tamboerkloof. Today the weather was clear and the sun was out. It would have been a perfect day to hike up Table Mountain today but I had made arrangements for it the following day. I decided to take the local tourist bus – City Sightseeing Red or Blue bus. Each colour took a specific route [ some cross-overs in places]. Both departed from the V and A Waterfront terminal. I walked through the rather busy Long Street. Some of the buildings here are decorated in Victorian style cast iron balcony railings. It is a colourful street and lively as well. Indian and African restaurants, clubs and cafes, book shops, curio retailers, antique stores and many more. It is one of the oldest streets in Cape Town and stretched a few kilometers. Today, the colonial architecture street thrived alongside modern steel and glass skyscrapers. People dressed in suits mingled with colorful casually dressed street vendors. In the evenings I noticed security guards in uniform were stationed a junctions all along the street. I felt very safe, day and night. No one hassled me for practically anything. No beggars either. At adjoining streets, mosques and museums added more appeal to the surrounding. I walked on Long Street everyday just to have a meal or enjoy the vibrant and ambient atmosphere which is essentially african. On Shortmarket Street, off Long Street, is the popular and colourful flea market in a cobbled Greenmarket Square. Wooden handmade curios to an assortment of clothing to costume jewellery to “antiques”. The atmospheric square is surrounded by restaurants and cafes. This provided a quiet corner to people watch and observe the going-ons at the market. Bargaining is common. Sometimes amusingly animated.
I reached the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront or simply called V & A Waterfront as people traffic began to pick up. This waterfront is prime real estate located on the Table Bay with a magnificent views of the iconic Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain , Lion Head and Signal Hill. Just off its shores is Robben Island, where Mr Mandela was imprisoned during the notorious apartheid days. It was a perfect day for viewing. I walked pass multistoried apartments towards the water. Workers were busily fitting and welding at the ship yard while on another corner, fisherman were preparing their vessels for the days’ work. This is a working harbour. Restaurants with outdoor seating under white parasols, purpose-built walkways, canals, elegant shopping malls, retail outlets occupied the marina with colonial buildings. Occasionally, ships sounded their horns as they departed the harbour. Catamaran and sailboat representatives sat behind small lecterns pitching to passerby for tours to the nearby islands and wildlife watching as the boats bobbed in the calm water behind them. A lone seal swam around without any care or concern. I loved the atmosphere, the location and the vibrancy. And the sun was shining. Only the sounds of a nearby construction was uncharacteristic.
Under the ancient but colourful looking clock tower, uniformed school children have a day out from school. Some with amazement expression on the faces. I could easily spend days wondering here. Nearby is the Two Oceans Aquarium and an indoor crafts market. I headed to the City Sightseeing Bus terminal which is located just opposite the aquarium. I decided to take advantage of the open top bus to get around Cape Town and the surroundings. I choose the Red Bus route.