Every morning when we woke up, the first thing we’d do was look outside the big glass windows (the ones that stretched from one end of the apartment to the other) in search of the sun. Would we finally be able to go up Table Mountain? No. Sunday was not the day.
We were a little lazy that morning and decided to make it a lazy day. Premsheela wanted to go back to Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town to see the penguins but I really wasn’t keen on driving all the way back there, since we had just passed through Simon’s Town the previous day. We still had to go to the winelands, and Sophia and my high school friend Priscilla wanted to get together that day.
Sophia was in constant contact with me that day because we really wanted to spend some time together, given that me visiting her in Cape Town was so long overdue, and the previous night didn’t work out. Just thinking about what I’m going to say about it in the next few paragraphs is making me smile. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
Although it was a dull day, the sun peeped out now and then and it wasn’t actually cold. We embraced the fact that there was no wind either by wearing light clothes. The drive to Constantia was fun – Premsheela had opened a massive slab of Kit-Kat, which my trusty co-driver Surbhi handed to me. That, and chips. I found it very odd having chocolate and chips at 10 in the morning, but I figured stuff it, I’m on holiday. And with Premsheela there, I expected nothing less.
The GPS took us into the middle of Constantia, which wasn’t exactly where I had in mind, but I knew we weren’t far off from where I wanted to be – Groot Constantia. Constantia is probably the most beautiful suburb in Cape Town as the majority of the homes are Dutch style. The streets are lined with trees and are immaculate. It actually reminded me of Bavaria a little, particularly Schwangau, the area around Neuschwanstein Castle.
When we got to Groot Constantia, the guard at the entrance asked where we were going. I said something stupid like “We’re just going to walk around a little”, and he gave me a brochure saying we could go have lunch at the restaurant. I said it was a good idea and that we’d probably do that, knowing full well we weren’t actually going to do that. I was hungry though.
There was ample parking so I had no trouble finding a spot. We walked around a little enjoying the peace and quiet of the vineyards. The grape trees carried on for as far as the eye could see, and the roads were lined with white and red rose bushes.
After dodging the occasional car for our “road trip” photos, we found what appeared to be a park with rolling grass steps. Only, the steps were large and quite steep. We could have walked around them, but we were with Premsheela, so of course we had to climb. Surbhi and I found spots that weren’t as steep so we could walk up on our two feet rather than on all fours like Premsheela. Surbhi was just as amusing too, as she was taking so many baby steps so that she could stay upright. I couldn’t help but giggle.
Not that there was anything special about them, but we spent a good 30 minutes or so sitting on those steps, mostly trying to take selfies on Premsheela’s phone*. It wasn’t particularly comfortable because it had rained the previous night so the grass was wet, and let’s just say we sat long enough to feel it.
The entire time, I was having an argument in my head as to whether or not to go to Boulders Beach, because on one hand I didn’t want to drive all the way back there, but on the other hand, I didn’t want Premsheela to leave South Africa not having seen the penguins in the one place you can see them here. I try to live my life without regrets, so I didn’t want to be the one stopping Premsheela from seeing something she might never see again. It just wouldn’t have been fair.
*The reason I mentioned us using Premsheela’s phone for taking selfies on the wet grass is because while we were on our way to the Waterfront, her phone decided to crash. It required a factory reset, so we basically lost all the photos she had taken and sitting on that wet grass for so long was for nothing. The photos I posted above are ones that she had sent out to other friends, thankfully, so we got those back.
It was already closing on 12pm and time was of the essence, so after taking a quick walk to the wine cellar and having a look around (I know, a total fail considering where we were), we left for Boulders Beach, much to Premsheela’s delight. Constantia is pretty much half way between the city and Boulders Beach, so the fact that I had already driven half the distance and only had 30 minutes more to go made my decision easier. Premsheela offered to sing for me to show her appreciation, but when I refused (knowing how ridiculous it would be), she offered her most prized possession instead: chocolate. I couldn’t help but laugh, and started on the drive to Boulders Beach.
We had to go up the winding road over the mountain again, and this time the views were much better because the sky was relatively clear. We reached Boulders Beach just before 1pm; a good time. We paid special attention to the signage in Simon’s Town this time and it was evident that there weren’t clear enough signs for us to have noticed it the previous day. I felt slightly better.
There was a wooden walkway on either side of the small ticket kiosk – we assumed the left side was for people exiting the premises and the right was the entrance, but it turned out that there was no set direction. It was R40 each if I remember correctly, which I thought was quite reasonable.It as only a matter of minutes before we spotted the first penguin. We were surprised to see them that far away from the water, waddling underneath such thorny bushes. I don’t know if penguins are usually that chilled or whether they’re just used to seeing people around, but it was as if some of them were posing for photos.
We were lucky enough to even see 2 or 3 with their babies. It was the cutest thing – we found them by zoning in on the tiniest little tweeting sounds, only to find that their mothers were hiding them underneath their own bodies.
After a while we came to what appeared to be an “official entrance” to the actual beach, and there was a long queue. We were confused because we had already paid for our tickets and weren’t sure whether this was something else or not. I stood a little out of the line trying to see who was being let through the entrance separate to the one people were queuing in front of, but I was too far to make out clearly. I purposely stood with my right hand visible – the one which was holding our tickets – and it worked in alerting one of the staff who gestured for us to proceed passed the queue. Thankfully we were only in the queue for a few minutes.
One we got through the gate, we were met with an open area where we could see the whole beach. There were dozens of penguins walking around, and what I enjoyed just as much as the view was the weather: there was barely even a breeze despite the fact that we were right on the beach, and it wasn’t cold either. I know I keep mentioning the weather when it came to this trip, but winter is a funny time of year in Cape Town and it’s practically a miracle for it to be dry and not cold, so we took what we could get.
When we walked back to the parking lot, we came across a souvenir shop as well as a coffee shop/restaurant which was above it. We thought we could get something to eat take away, but Surbhi and I decided to settle for a cup of coffee while Premsheela browsed around the shop. We went upstairs, ordered 2 cappuccinos, and waited patiently while Surbhi took photos of the random ocean-themed decorations around the restaurant. What was nice about being with Surbhi and Premsheela was that they really were tourists, and I remembered how I am when I’m in a foreign country where I find interesting what a local would normally overlook.
We got our coffee and went back downstairs to meet Premsheela, and she was still choosing what she wanted. I didn’t blame her because there were dozens of miniature penguins to choose from and all were so cute. I was actually quite tired and a little cold, so I waited on the benches outside. I think the girls thought I was still mad about coming to Boulders Beach, but I was actually just a little preoccupied. We were there for another 15-2o minutes while they choose what they wanted. I didn’t want to rush them at all – they are never going to go there again.
The V&A Waterfront
I was keeping Sophia up to date regarding our whereabouts, so informed her as soon as we were leaving. She was at the Waterfront with her mom so there was no rush to get to her since they had no plans for the rest of the day, and she asked me to call when I was close to the city so she could tell us exactly where she was. I did exactly that and found that she was in the Zara at the mall at the Waterfront.
We parked where we had done so on the Friday, and walked over to the mall. It looked exactly how I remembered it from 9 years ago, and I felt a little nostalgic. I walked through Zara while Surbhi and Premsheela went to answer nature’s call. I couldn’t find Sophia or her mom anywhere and figured they were in the change rooms, so I went back outside to wait for the girls. Upon their return, I called Sophia and she said that they were indeed in the change rooms and were now paying. We walked back into the shop and there she stood, in the queue with her mom. I can’t quite describe just how happy I feel when I see or even speak to Sophia. She is definitely my most beloved friend. The warmth with which both Sophia and her mom greeted not only me, but Surbhi and Premsheela with, is something I don’t think any of us will forget.
After Sophia was done paying, we headed to Gucci (if I remember correctly) to get a jacket for Sophia’s cousin from Australia. They didn’t have it, and after Sophia’s mom complained about the price of the tiny underwear (it was like R700 for a pair), we left. I had already told Sophia at least 2 hours prior to meeting about how little Premsheela eats and that we were starving, so as the 2 of us walked ahead of the girls and Sophia’s mom, she gave me some options on where to go so that we could all eat something. I didn’t need to worry about Surbhi at all, but Premsheela was another story. I couldn’t let her go a full day without eating at least one decent meal. I found myself occasionally turning back to check on whether or not the girls were comfortable enough walking alone with Sophia’s mom, and it was evident that they were. Surbhi smiled back at me as a reassurance, and Sophia told me not to worry because her mom loves people from India. It was as if I had introduced the girls to my own family – I loved it.
As we walked to a familiar part of the Waterfront and headed towards the food market, we finally got our first clear view of Table Mountain. Surbhi remembered the big yellow frame we had seen from afar on Friday and asked if we could take a photo there. Sophia assured us that we’d be passing it, so we stopped there when we did. I think what I enjoyed the most was the fact that we were in no hurry at all at this point – it was just a chilled afternoon with people I adore.
Photos done, we headed for the food market where Sophia proceeded to give us a full tour of every stall in the entire place. We were mostly focused on where the girls could eat, and Sophia pointed out her favourite places for both veg and non-veg while her mom guarded a table for us patiently downstairs. The market has a balcony-like area upstairs with a handful of stalls – there was an Indian stall there that served dosas, so it was perfect for the girls. I asked Sophia which stall was her favourite, and she pointed it out to me so I got exactly what she recommended – a pulled lamb flatbread. It really was amazing so I’m glad I went for it.
I went to fetch the girls from upstairs but their dosas weren’t ready. I told them where we were sitting which was literally at the bottom of the stairs, and they agreed to meet us back there. I feel very happy when I see people eating, so when they came down with their food, I couldn’t help but smile at them, especially Premsheela who pretty much doesn’t eat. Sophia and her mom were the most pleasant of hosts too, and I still felt like I was sitting with family. After all, Sophia and I have been best friends for 20 years, so listening to her mom talking to friends who, in comparison, I had only just met, made me feel very proud.
Sophia, you have no idea just how proud I am to call you my friend. Thank you.
After we had what was left of Sophia’s Nutella and banana waffle which she insisted we taste, it was time to say bye. Sophia’s mom’s flight was at 6:30pm the following day, and ours was at 6pm, so we were pretty sure we would see each other one last time at the airport. I really hoped we would, cos that would be awesome.
As we said our goodbyes, my high school friend Priscilla informed me that she was on her way to meet us. Considering I had last seen her 15 years ago, I was pretty excited. Since Premsheela and I had left our jackets in the car, we decided to use the 20 or so free minutes that we had to go back to the car to fetch them before Priscilla arrived. However, since it was dusk, everything was just so damn beautiful, and the tablecloth (i.e. the clouds) was coming over the Table Mountain, so we couldn’t help but stop to take more photos.
By the time we were done wandering around the area, Priscilla had arrived and since we were near the ferris wheel, I suggested that as the meeting spot. When I spotted her, she screamed with delight and we obviously hugged each other. But not just once…I actually don’t know how many times. It was a super happy moment seeing her after that long and I think we were both in slight disbelief that that much time had passed. It was insane.
Priscilla walked with us to the car so we could get our jackets, all the time trying to catch up on what the other has been doing for the last decade and a half. There was so much to say that we had to try to summarize everything, but at the same time it was as though no time had passed. I was glad that I had told her I was coming to Cape Town and will be forever grateful for the fact that she made a plan to meet us at such short notice. I think real friends are the ones who make time in their diary for you; even though she had a full weekend planned, she still managed to squeeze in some time to spend with us.
We had all eaten so we decided just to have coffee somewhere. Priscilla suggested Quay 4, a restaurant adjacent to the water. We choose a table right next to the railing so we got an amazing view of the Waterfront. The amusing part of the evening, apart from Premsheela’s insanity, was the seagulls. There were several times where we thought they were going to fly straight into us, but somehow we managed to dodge them.
We spent a little over an hour at Quay 4 not only catching up but also talking about our current lives, both personally and professionally. It was funny how much we could relate to each other, and I’m not just talking about Priscilla and I. What was good was that the girls got along with her too – the defining moment was without a doubt when she described how the wind hits you in Cape Town. I wish I had caught that on video but Priscilla, you really made our day with that face.
Poor Priscilla had to go to work the next day, so we had to leave fairly early. After we finally got the waiter’s attention (we thought he had gone all the way to the paper mill to manufacture the paper with which to print the bill on), we paid and left. Priscilla had taken an Uber to meet us since she doesn’t have a car (she doesn’t need one thanks to Cape Town’s fabulous public transport system called My City, which works like London’s Oyster card), so she walked us to the entrance of the parking lot where we said our goodbyes.
I’m so glad we met up, Priscilla. You were one of the few genuine people I knew from high school that I wouldn’t hesitate to hang out with again. You’ve not changed a single bit, and I hope you never do!
The girls and I headed back to the apartment, pretty tired, but feeling good. That night, after watching some random music videos and some episodes of Full House, we decided to watch Queen, a Bollywood film about a girl whose fiance dumped her right before the wedding which prompted her to go on her honeymoon to Europe alone. I love that movie because she kind of reminded me of my first solo trip which was also to Europe, and I could relate to her character because of that.
If there was a theme song for our trip to Cape Town, “O Gujariya” from Queen would be it.
After watching Queen, we headed to bed. But we didn’t sleep because Surbhi and I had so much to talk about. It was also still too early for Premsheela who proceeded to watch more Full House on what sounded like full volume. Surbhi and I were eventually at the point of wanting to actually sleep, but we couldn’t because of the TV volume. Surbhi then decided to do something about it.
Aisi hai hamari dosti. Tapey girls.