“Hot town, summer in the city…..”
The words of the classic old, Loving Spoonful Sixties hit ran through my head like a thread. It’s a February night in Cape Town, and the temperature is in the mid twenties. The famous Victoria and Alfred waterfront is absolutely buzzing on this mellow Monday evening.
The ‘V and A’ is a complex of bars, shops and restaurants just five minutes’ walk from where Boudicca sat docked. It’s a safe, almost hermetically sealed playground, where yachts snuggle up to a floodlit waterfront thronged with scores of open air bars and music venues. Thousands of visitors- locals and tourists alike- come out to enjoy it’s vast, breezy expanse. The vibe is as carefree and casual as it comes. Imagine South Beach In Miami, but with prices about seventy five per cent cheaper, and you begin to get the drift.
And, for as much as I do love Miami, it does not have the monolithic swagger of Table Mountain as a backdrop. It looms across the background like some silent, wary colossus, quietly keeping score. Floodlit at it’s base, it looks simply stunning. There’s no backdrop anywhere else in the world that looks quite like it.
Just take a while to stroll and roll, and the whole expanse soon becomes easy enough to navigate. If you’re arranging to meet somebody, then the central, quirky Victorian clock tower is as good a focal point as any. Breeze past the mime artists, and the restaurants offering early dinner specials, and find one of the waterfront bars that offers free live music.
I came to love Milligan’s, one of a pair of adjacent former warehouses long since converted into music venues. Sit indoors or out (personally, I prefer the upturned beer barrels that double up as outside tables) and wash down a fabulous, flaming sunset with a side order of the local Castle Beer. Better still is a bottle of the local, slightly sweet Leopard’s Leap wine. At roughly the equivalent of around £7 a bottle, it seems almost too good to be true. In fact, the price is about on a par with South Africa as a whole.
There’s stellar live music from a resident acoustic guitarist who is obviously popular with the locals. People come and go in waves, ambling from one venue to another. There are ice cream sellers, strolling musicians and, of course, there are pickpockets, too.
It’s about one in the morning by the time that I amble slowly back to the Boudicca; it’s a walk that takes me all of five minutes. It’s still warm as toast out here, and the party is rocking on long since after I have decided to call it a night. Still, I have an appointment tomorrow, with Table Mountain itself, literally up close and personal, and I need to be ready.
Sleep cradles me like a baby. I hover somewhere between alert and amazed. Maybe all of this has been a dream? One thing is for sure; Cape Town is no one off date for anyone and yes, a return is already in the planning…..