Every now and then, I like to go out and act like a tourist. I find that as a local, I have a tendency to grow so accustomed to my surroundings, that I don't really look around anymore. I stop noticing new things about my city, stop actively engaging with the world around me. And when I do see something interesting, I generally express the sentiment 'I should go check that out, but I'll go another time', which often results in never going at all. Exploring like a tourist is my way of correcting this; it means seeing everything as if it were new, exploring everything that grabs my interest right in the spur of the moment, and being open to experiencing the city in ways I usually don't.
Last week, on a particularly sunny day, we headed down to Cape Town's Central Business District (1) for a morning of sight-seeing. Actually raising my eyes to look around reminded me of all the unusual details in the architecture of the CBD, like this incredible carving of early Cape history on the Old Mutual building (2). We stopped and admired proteas in the Trafalgar Flower Market (3), which I've seen from a distance for almost five years, been curious about, but never been into. And in general we just wandered around, admiring the eclectic mix of architectural styles that make up Cape Town's CBD (4).
Our only real activity of the day was a visit to the Castle (5), a fort built by the Dutch East India Company in the late 17th century. We ended the morning out with a lunch on St George's mall (6), a leafy pedestrian street right in the centre of town. It's not somewhere I often think of going-- the cafes are mostly chains, and I'm not too into the stands selling paintings of townships or the big five. But it is an attractively green urban space, and I like the hum of constant daytime energy as people stroll through, meet for lunch, or stop for coffee. The crowd is always an interesting mix of locals and tourists, so as we ate our lunch we enjoyed some people watching, listened in on conversations in foreign tongues, and felt very much like tourists in our own city.