In 2013, it took me only about 10 minutes to decide that I was going to take up my relative’s offer to visit her in Switzerland. Roughly 2 months later, I was on a plane. That was the least amount of time I had taken to plan, book, and go on a trip. Ever. Until now.
One of my friends from India who is contracting to my company went back home on Wednesday 17 May. Because we had been so busy with the project that I’ve mentioned several times in recent posts, we could not really go anywhere over the weekends. Surbhi had been saying for weeks that she wants to go to Cape Town before she leaves, but we didn’t know if or when we could make that happen.
By some miracle, we got permission to take the much-needed quick break, considering all the overtime we’ve been doing. Permission was granted on the Tuesday, and together with Premsheela, we left that Friday morning after booking the flights and accommodation on Tuesday night.
When we arrived on Friday, we got our hired car from the airport and went straight to Table Mountain. The weather was dismal and the sun was playing hide and seek with us. We were stuck in annoying traffic and realised that it was partly due to a large truck which was going at around 30km/hr. The horse part of the truck was Stuttaford Van Lines, but the trailer had transparent plastic sides. When we looked inside, there were 2 surgeons inside operating on a patient. I was totally taken aback because I made eye contact with one of the surgeons the moment that I realised what was going on. The girls were totally freaked out by it, and the fact that it was close to one of the hospitals made the whole situation even more believable.
As it turned out, it was just a marketing strategy for a new movie called Bypass. The patient was a dummy, and the surgeons were just actors. Damn, they did a good job!
I hadn’t driven a manual car for at least 2 years, so I was slightly nervous driving around a city that was relatively foreign to me, especially up the windy road to Table Mountain. I felt like such an idiot when I eventually found a parking but couldn’t figure out how to put the car into reverse. Before my BMW, I drove my dad’s VW Polo, and one had to push the gear to the extreme top left to put it into reverse. I tried that several times with this car (a Toyota Corolla) and I just kept going forward. Eventually, I went so far forward that 2 cars were able to parallel park behind me. Eventually we just sat in the car waiting for someone to park in front of me so I could ask them. Only a minute or 2 later, a young local couple showed up, and, visibly embarrassed, I asked the guy if he could help. He chuckled and got into the car while telling me that all I needed to do was lift the top of the gear up while shifting. I had never used a gear like that before, so I didn’t feel so bad after that. It was still pretty funny though.
Unfortunately, once we got to the ticket station, we were informed that cableway was closed because of the wind. We didn’t know what to do because going up the mountain was pretty much our only plan for the day. We spent a few minutes considering our options before deciding to head down to the V&A Waterfront. Even if we couldn’t do anything, we could at least enjoy the beauty of the place.
The hunt for accommodation
We wandered around the waterfront for at least 2 hours and even considered going to the Two Oceans Aquarium so that we could be indoors and avoid the occasional drizzle and cold wind. It turned out to be a little too expensive considering we would only spend an hour or 2 there so that we’d make it in time for check in to the guest house we booked at in Camps Bay. Despite the dull weather, we got ourselves an ice cream sandwich from a Crumbs and Cream stand right outside the aquarium. It’s never too cold for ice cream.
When we eventually arrived at the guest house, there was no one to receive us. All the doors and gates were locked, and we didn’t know how to get in. I called the owner and he had forgotten that he didn’t send me an access code or directions on how to enter. It was like a puzzle getting into that place: first there was a combination lock on a box against the wall next to a gate which, when opened, gave us access to a big door key that was stuck with Prestik to the back of the box in which it was in. Then we had to use that key to unlock another box close to the ground which contained an envelop marked “Welcome pack”, inside which lay a set of keys. One of those keys opened the gate, and another the door behind it. The third key opened the door to the actual guest house.
We were uncomfortable as soon as we walked in. Let’s just say the place was not at all like the pictures made it out to be. Besides it being tacky, it smelled as though the windows hadn’t been opened in months. The bathroom was a scary sight too; it was as if we were in a jungle thanks to the blue mosaic tiles and plastic roof. We only spent around 1.5 hours there trying to come up with an escape plan. Long story short, we cancelled the booking and bolted out of there, only to spend the next 2 hours or so looking for an alternative within our price range on booking.com. My best friend Sophia was on the phone with me trying to help us out too, and eventually we found the perfect place titled “Convenience by the sea”. Sophia found it very amusing, but I knew it was just a description of the place as it was clearly an apartment.
The embarrassing first meeting
After securing the booking, I called Marc (the guy letting the apartment out) from Surbhi’s phone, and he quickly agreed to meet us there within 30 minutes. I thought it was brilliant that he’d be available at such short notice. We found the place easily and parked in the space in front of the apartment building, next to the front door. We waited patiently in the car for a few minutes, since we were only 5 minutes away. The apartment is in Three Anchor Bay, which is an area in between Green Point and Sea Point. Barely 10 minutes later, a very good looking guy showed up at the door. He was looking at his phone so I asked Surbhi to check hers in case he was calling or messaging on it, because I was convinced that he was the guy I had spoken to on the phone. I thought that his face matched his voice. I told both girls not to stare at him because he’d be able to see that the 3 of us were all looking at him at the same time, and it would have been creepy!
When Surbhi’s phone didn’t ring and the guy went inside, I thought I was probably wrong about who he was. A minute or two later, a petite woman entered the building. I figured it was another resident. Suddenly I noticed movement on my right so I turned to look – the same good looking guy had come out of the side entrance and was walking towards me smiling. That smile instantly confirmed that he was Marc.
We all got out of the car and he introduced himself to each of us. I don’t know if it was just me, but I pretty much became like a blithering idiot because he was so insanely good looking. He said that our timing was perfect since the cleaner had just left, and the apartment had only just become available as the last guest had left that morning. He then asked if I could move the car a little to the extreme left of the parking as that was his parking. I don’t know why the girls got back into the car with me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because they were just as starstruck as I was.
Because there was a small gutter in between the parking and the road, I had to move the car very slowly as I was scared I was going to scrape the bumper on the road. Let’s just say I went a little too slowly and I stalled the car not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES. I wanted to kill myself; it was without a doubt the most embarrassing moment of my life. When I got out of the car, I told Marc to forget what he just saw cos it was my first time driving a manual in a very long time. He chuckled pleasantly and said it’s ok and that these things happen. He was so nice.
He broke our hearts seconds later when he said that his girlfriend was waiting for us upstairs. Turns out it was the woman we had seen entering the building minutes earlier. The girls and I gave each other looks of approval the moment we entered the apartment as it was not only clean and tidy, but also bright, airy, and kind on the eyes.
I really don’t remember her name, but Marc’s girlfriend said that she noticed us in the car but wasn’t sure if it was us, and I said yes, we saw her and Marc too but I told the girls not to stare cos it would be creepy for all of us to be looking at them at the same time. It was quite amusing, and they were so warm that I didn’t feel embarrassed to say that. Besides, what could be more embarrassing than stalling the car 3 times in front of an audience?
Marc was also nice enough to waiver the deposit of R1500 because he said we look like decent girls so he doesn’t foresee any trouble. If you think I’m exaggerating about how good looking he is, ladies, do yourselves a favour and google Marc Buckner. Yes, he is a model. You’re welcome.
The apartment was just off a popular main road which had lots of restaurants and supermarkets too, so after getting some groceries for the next few day, we headed to Posticano, an Italian restaurant that Sophia recommended. Surbhi is a foodie so she eats anything (vegetarian), but we weren’t sure what Premsheela was going to have. Long story short, Surbhi and I ate while Premsheela sat and watched us. That girl is crazy, but she did make something to eat once we got back to the apartment.
We were pretty exhausted by the end of the day and were already in bed by 10pm. Premsheela decided she was going to binge watch Full House on Netflix until passed 2am, so Surbhi and I didn’t actually sleep much till after that.
I knew the next couple of days was going to be a lot of fun.