Friday dawned bright and sunny, perfect conditions for a whole day off work. Touring Cape Town on the Topless Red Bus Tour, sucking lollipops while accosting others to take our photograph and cracking up, as only South Africans can, at the often cheesy audio commentary – it was a day otherwise known as the Flat Art Studios end of year party.
A couple of weeks ago and after a meeting as long as the tour would be (Dawie takes his planning very seriously) we had set out every detail of the route. It would kick off with a secret santa exchange in the office at 8am and end with supper at La Vie, Seapoint at 7pm. It was to be a day like no other, an entire day stuck with the same people we work with every single day. Had it been any other group of individuals we may have shuddered at the thought, but being the Flat Art team we were as excited as an American tourist fresh off the plane, in search of elephants roaming the streets and spears flying through the sky.
It must be said that Willem received the most… interesting, secret santa gift. Having been limited to R50 most of us had given cheery gifts of chocolate, peppermint tea and soetkoekies but Dawie decided to give Willem a practical gift, a fire starter. Now Willem has a history of misuse when it comes to fire as he once caused a mini explosion at work by dropping his lighter in the passage but hopefully this time he will be more careful. If you’re ever caught on a mountain side after dark, forget Bear Grylls; Grizzly Bear, aka Willem, is now your go-to-guy.
The red bus tour sets off from the Waterfront so it was time for the team to avoid high parking tariffs designed for the very tourists we were pretending to be and rather make the truly South African decision of catching a minibus taxi to the MyCiTi bus stop in town and then to the V&A. For all the chaos and mayhem taxis cause on our streets, on the inside it was surprisingly well-organized and serene. It proved to be a safe and mildly pleasant trip and the only one in any real peril were we to have an accident, was Dawie. He was perched on what appeared to be a precariously upturned plastic crate with a weathered blanket on top for extra comfort but not extra safety.
With our stomachs rumbling and the team’s insatiable appetite for coffee (we blame the coffee machine) our first port of call before even hitting the bus was the Breakfast Run R20 breakfast at Primi Piatti. With the sea glinting and the bacon glistening and despite our waitress’s questionable manners (we must have looked more like tourists than we thought) it was a great fuel up for the day ahead.
After breakfast it was time to plug in our festive red plastic earphones and board the bus. Even for Cape Town locals and those who have lived here most of their lives, the commentary is enlightening and educational. This was just the vibe Dawie was after as he once again sent us out into the world to learn, and this we did. Between the Waterfront and our first stop – St George’s Cathedral – we learnt that snoek, being quite a bony fish is best eaten in paté form. This was placed amongst actually quite useful nuggets of historical information but for some reason those didn’t quite seem to stick as fast.
After taking in the quiet opulence of St Georges Cathedral and after much debate over masonries, questionable symbols and old manuscripts, it was time for a drink. The café in Company Gardens proved the perfect choice for a cool drink but after spotting the “elusive” albino squirrel more times than we could care for (it isn’t that elusive, people really need to stop spreading that rumour) the team thought it the perfect time to play a practical joke on the Bossman.
Perhaps we can blame it on the sun or the holiday high we were riding but we decided when Dawie went to the bathroom that we would all hide and secretly video his dismayed reaction with Michael’s iPhone. I believe this was all Donna’s plan as we hurriedly got up like mischievous children and followed her to her secret hiding place. Well turns out our “secret” hiding place just happened to be right outside the bathroom window where Dawie heard our entire plan as we giggled it out like over excited schoolgirls. He was kind enough to forgive our folly and kept us amused with brightly coloured lollipops which we hurriedly popped in our mouths and sucked in glee as we carried on our sugar-coated adventure.
Next it was time for the Bossman to remind himself why he ever employed such misguided youths by instilling some more education and culture in us. We solemnly took in the National Art Gallery and then headed over to the Iziko Museum where we couldn’t resist once again, to put it quite frankly, act like children on a school field trip. After meandering through the Wildlife Photographers of The Year Exhibition which is very impressive and definitely worth a visit, we headed through to the whale room.
The whale sounds being played held our attention for a short duration as we sat in a yellow submarine and had fun making up possible conversations they could be having (Donna and Willem proved quite skilled at whale speak) but the planetarium was calling. It was here that Willem discovered a huge yellow funnel which could spin a coin all the way around its edge as it headed closer towards the middle. I (Camilla) then had the most ingenious idea of using up my loose 5c coins (there happened to be a lot more than I thought) and spin them into the funnel one after the other.
Believe it or not it was actually really fascinating and we even considered doing it with silver coins after the brown money ran out but once again our rumbling stomachs reminded us it was time to eat so we kept our change and caught the bus to town and the bustling atmosphere of the Eastern Food Bazaar. Being a Halaal establishment we satiated our appetites with the generous and good-value-for-money meals but then had to water it down with a well deserved drink at Gatta Patat Theatre Cafe just down the road.
By this time it was already 3:30 so we decided to give the Castle of Good Hope and District 6 Museum a miss purely out of time constraint and took the bus through to Camps Bay to really get the night’s festivities under way. After being pointed out, via cheesy audio commentary, a hedge outside a popular veterinary clinic which is supposedly cut in the shape of a cat but mostly resembles (if it must have an animal like quality at all) a chocolate Easter bunny that’s been forgotten on a sun-baked window sill; Kirk, Lee and I decided to call it a night. Prior engagements prevented us from seeing the night through with the team so we left Donna, Dawie, Michael and Willem to wave Flat Art’s flag high in Camps Bay. We’ve heard a few stories but how the rest of the night really went down will remain a mystery…until we do it again this time next year of course.