It was the whimsical name – Cloud Break Backpackers Lodge – that decided my choice of accommodation in Cape Town. Nestled close to the base of the Table Mountain, and not too far from the trendy V&A waterfront, the lodge offered splendid views of the Table Mountain from across a little garden. Each morning, I awoke to the sight of the mountain covered in its trademark “table cloth”. Come evening, the same craggy façade lit up with gazillions of strategically placed focus lights that cloaked it in mystery.
In fact, my favourite travel anecdote about South Africa also transpired atop this singular, flat-surfaced mountain in the world. Not far from the alighting deck of the cable car is situated an open air bar counter. On that fateful visit, it was being manned by a rather glum bartender. Queries brought forth a litany of woes and in a weak moment (maybe it was the chilled beer) I offered to tend the bar for him, an offer he hastened to accept. So there I was, after a quick refresher on the contents of the bar, pouring out measure after strong measure to milling crowds on top of the Table Mountain…the entire day.
Another day found a few of the other backpackers and yours truly at a place called Fatboys. An enormous nightclub, it was spread over many levels, with as many music consoles and dance floors. Packed to the gills, reverberating with loud music, the club was evidently the choice of every tourist, and local, in Cape Town. The reason: free alcohol, as long as you bought yourself a tumbler to drink it in. The catch: trying not to lose the tumbler. And how difficult can that be, you ask. Very difficult, actually, for, as the night progressed, it became abundantly clear that a tumbler could be knocked, nudged, shoved, bumped, or simply grabbed out of your hand.
A slightly less “spirited” experience, but with a decidedly higher kick, took place at the Drum Café. This club is done up in true African flavour and hires out djembe drums to those interested in learning to play. My initial desultory lessons under the guidance of a friendly Rastafarian gradually developed into a pressing desire to be one with the powerful rhythms of West African songs. An unbelievable feeling, once you get over the stinging palms, that is. But then, that’s where the wonderful wines of the region came in handy, literally.
My first ever wine tasting tour took me to the wine lands around Stellenbosch, one of the oldest towns in the Cape region. Not only does this area claim the finest vineyards owing to its near-Mediterranean terroir, it also showcases some of the finest examples of Cape Dutch architecture. Clubbed together with this bacchanalian jaunt was a visit to a cheetah farm. A stroke of genius, I have to say. Clearly, not a soul would be willing to bell this cat sans generous doses of Dutch courage!
Great piece. Loved the bartending anecdote!!
This is what i would do in Fatboys….. get myself one of those chains that seasoned long-journey train travelers in India use to chain their bags to the berth…..use it to chain the tumbler to me!!!! merry merry high high…. HOHO
Now, why didn’t I think about that?!
liked the piece very much. i am tempted to travel but no bar tending for me!
Thanks. You must visit SA, it is an amazing experience.
Excellent, as always…..btw in what currency does one get paid for bar tending…my own guess is alcohol…would u be writing about Cape Aghaus- just 20 kms from Capetown and said to be the southern most tip of Africa….
PS….I don’t read your pieces as they come…I wait and read when I want to feel good…Thanks and keep on writing and sharing…
Thanks a lot, am happy my writing makes you feel good. Isn’t that a writer’s aim? Do keep reading, there is yet more on SA including Cape Agulhas…
Oops…I slipped on the spellings…Cape Aglhas.
hey go easy on that vodka bottle he he ehe
Heavens, no! South Africa is a Drinker’s Haven 😉
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