Wednesday, February 25, 2009


After deciding yesterday afternoon that I would never forgive myself if I left Cape Town without first visiting the V&A Waterfront, I hopped onto a train and made my way to the city centre.

Even in the midst of a big, smelly, crowded urban environment, Cape Town still somehow manages to feel colourful and coastal. I guess this is due to the proximity of Greenmarket Square to the train station. Greenmarket is basically an enormous craft market in the middle of Cape Town's CBD, with a concentrated nucleus of stalls in the square itself and a whole bunch of peripheral barrows lining the surrounding walkways and side roads. It's delightfully atmospheric.

I call this “the gauntlet”.

Unfortunately, the market is a bit of a tourist trap - to the exclusion of all else. Yes, rows and rows of African carvings, masks and random jewellery may intrigue foreign consumers, but there's not really much for a domestic traveller to look at. Not to mention that most of the stalls quite literally sell the same cultural doohickeys as all of the others do.

No, seriously: it took me about five minutes to realise that the vast majority of establishments had identical siblings scattered around the market. It's like they pushed a bunch of gimmicky crap into a cloning vat somewhere and accidentally sent every single copy to Cape Town. Not much variety, but I guess that's the sort of stuff that holiday couples adore. And it probably keeps the store owners afloat, too.

I found the Waterfront to be far more impressive.

One of the Waterfront hotels. I guess rich folk like the smell of fish.

The Waterfront is a pretty big place full of shops, craft markets and lovely photo opportunities. And since it's such a huge tourism spot, you'll inevitably run into a nice variety of interesting folk. Most of them will be asking you for money, of course, but it's a refreshing change of scenery and there's a lot of stuff for the dedicated sightseer to get up to.

I could blab for ages about the activities, events and shops at the Waterfront, and that's only counting the stuff that I actually saw. Lamentably, however, I had only the lesser part of an afternoon to take in all the sights and splendours of the Waterfront. I'm not one for doing the same thing twice when there's so much to experience out there, but I'm seriously considering the idea of heading back again on Friday after I swing by the Design Indaba Expo.

And now, a final related snippet for this post: what's the deal with the no-cameras policy everywhere? Half the places that I visited today had some sort of issue with photography, and the budding journalist in me died a little every time I was told to put my camera away. Of course, I managed to revive it a little here and there by taking pictures on the sly. I totally rebelled against authority, yo.

This one's my favourite.

So yeah. Pretty eventful day. Methinks I'm going to write some more about the Waterfront when I head there again.

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