Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront is a tourist magnet. Here, you can shop in upmarket boutiques; book helicopter trips, boat tours and cage dives; have a fine dining experience; watch seals; and shop for kitsch, both authentic and mass-produced. The sights and sounds (and most probably the smells, but not for this anosmic traveller) bombard visitors with stimuli – to the point of putting me off, after my first visit.
When we returned to Cape Town with my family in tow, we couldn’t NOT take them to the V&A – it would be like not going to Table Mountain on your only trip to Cape Town – but Rich and I approached it with a certain jaded ‘been-there-done-that’ attitude. Unfortunately, the Waterfront initially screams everything I dislike about travel: largely overpriced, definitely over-visited, often overdone, and occasionally inauthentic. That is, until I spent a couple of hours wandering by myself. By this point, I’d visited the Waterfront twice before: the first time, two and a half years ago; the second time, the day before. Having already dealt with the audiovisual overdose less than 24 hrs ago, I now had the chance to take in and focus on the details. The design. The colours. The industry. The elements of everyday life still present in this tourist haven. One of the highlights for me was detouring into Solveig to enjoy not only the stunning jackets, but also the mannequins; stunning pieces of artwork in and of themselves, created by one of the designers. Thankfully, the shop manager was gracious enough to let me photograph the artwork.
These photos are a combination of two aspects of the V&A – the bits that cry out for tourists’ attention, plus the bits that I was able to enjoy when I started to really look around.