I'll say it right now. I find Cape Town's public transport system absolutely delightful. Yes, some of this probably stems from the fact that I'm not a regular grinding commuter. But screw that. I've not yet been to any other location which has more taxi drivers than passengers hanging around the bus stop. And before coming here, I hadn't taken a train ride for almost ten years. It's an invigorating experience, I can tell you.
Since discovering the wonders of the locomotive system in Cape Town, I've taken several opportunities to ride on the choo-choos and explore various places around the Mother City. It's akin to that delightful little feeling I always get in videogames whenever I receive that cheerful little “area unlocked” message on my screen – that sense of anticipation and feeling of liberation, only minus the pixellated graphics and sinister aliens attempting to blast me into tiny little Nandrew-shaped pieces.
It's also loads cheaper than going by car. Yesterday I went to Vishoek and back (a considerable trip just short of the distance to Simon's Town) for about eleven rand. Trying to get an even remotely comparable price for car trips or even other modes of public transport would prove to be a great challenge indeed.
Train expeditions are also great for interesting conversations if you play your cards right. On the Vishoek trip, I spoke with an old Zimbabwean fellow (I have this strange tendency to engage in deep and epiphanic chats with old people) who told me what he knew about the place's history, as well as some pretty interesting facts about the little bay and good places to visit.
But now I'm just waffling. The short of it is that I think trains are Cape Town are awesome. In fact, they're very nearly as awesome as the Panarottis “all you can eat pizza” night. Be warned: cellphone pictures follow.
So, this is basically how it works: every Thursday evening, the Panarottis kitchen staff decide to churn out a bunch of random pizzas and do a tour of the restaurant tables, offering pizza slices as they go. Customers take pizza. Customers eat pizza. Rinse and repeat for the next round of goods. The experience costs just under R40 per head, and if you're determined enough to sit down for an entire evening (or simply possess a constitution heroic enough to let you eat a baby elephant), you could potentially end up with one of the best value-for-money meals in the history of pizza parlours.
The nature of the slice-by-slice rounds means that you end up getting to sample many different types of pizza, a few of them being remarkably creative (some have whined about this – sod their unadventurous tenacity). I, for one, wholeheartedly recommend the chicken mayo and bacon.
The pizza came thick and fast, too: within two minutes of sitting down (and before I could even place a drink order), I had three slices of pizza on my plate, and more were coming faster than I could eat them. After less than an hour in the restaurant (and a ridiculous amount of mozzarella cheese), my party was finally forced to admit defeat. We lurched out, clutching our bloated stomachs and cursing our determination to try out-eat each other despite the protests of our respective digestion systems.
It was easily the most food I'd had in one sitting for a very, very long time, and Panarottis now stands as the one pizza establishment that I would actually deem a rival to the Gino's in Grahamstown. The pizza would go fantastically with a good movie.