a view into the sordid life i lead

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

best coffee in capetown

capetown is the film capital of south africa. in that respect there are parts of capetown that have an uncanny resemblance to santa monica. the place most so is probably vida e caffe, on kloof street and rheede street. it's full of the bronzed and the beautiful - eye candy galore. the place has the best coffee around. plus they've got great portuguese bread and pastries. excellent place to start off the morning :-) and it became a regular hangout for us: the bronzed and beautiful!

to give you an image, it's like sitting at diedrich's on montana and 11th in santa monica. the dress code is about the same. the attitude is about the same. there are young, beautiful people hanging about in the middle of a work day. the coffee is FAR better. i've got to figure out how it is that a whole segment of the population can afford to drink coffee at these expensive hang-out places when they should be working!

parking in capetown is a very interesting experience. when we got into the LSB, we asked ollie the punk what the parking situ was. he said it's free from 5pm, but that we needed to go negotiate the price for the day. also, we needed to tip the parking attendants at night so the car did not get jacked. obviously we did not know what the heck any of that meant. the night before, when we walked out of the LSB and get a couple of things out of our rentacar, a guy accosted us saying "i'll take care of your car, and you just need to take care of me a bit". what that meant was not clear, but i had R7 in my pocket (about $1.25), which i gave to him. i think the standard overnight tip is about R10 (about $1.75), which we found out after the fact.

the night shift ends at 8am, and a different guy shows up that you need to negotiate parking fees with. a guy with a reflective bib (like the highway construction workers in the US) came up to us when we went over to the car in the morning, and basically told us that he would give us a good deal on several days' parking. since we had no gauge of what that meant, we negotiated a R60 (about $10) fee for 5 days. seemed fair to not have your car broken into. if indeed your car *does* get broken into. we figured what the hell - cheaper and easier than driving around trying to find a spot.

we heard later from one of the residents at the LSB that they had seen a car getting its windows smashed on a less traversed street a couple of nights earlier. i doubt that long street has such issues, since there are constantly people around.

carjackings are the most notorious crime in south africa. most occur in johannesburg. and the carjackings are not petty crimes - it's apparently one of the major organized crime problems in the country. jo'burg has a very vioulent history of hijackings, as pretty much every travel guide will tell you. the issue has diminished greatly in the last few years, thanks to tough policing. and the problem appears to be most in jo'burg.

no matter where you try to park in capetown (and presumably any large town in south africa), there's a guy that jumps out of the shadows and directs you into the spot, and says he'll watch your car. these guys are pretty much anywhere there's a commercial area. the going rate seems to be about R2 per hour. this is so that your car does not get jacked. i wonder if your car would get jacked if you did not pay :) there were a couple of times when i did not have enough change, and the parking guy just looked surly, but didn't really do anything about it. there was one time when the parking guy said that he expected R10 as i was walking away from the car, and i gave him R4 when i returned, and we discussed things for a while, and he walked off. seems altogether random!


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