Cape Town can be described as one of the most cosmopolitan, multicultural and diverse cities in not only South Africa, but in the world. The city is made up of areas filled with different people, vibes and experiences. One street in particular merges Cape Town’s unique feel with it’s own magic – Roeland Street.
Roeland Street, located in the Cape Town City Bowl, runs for a length of 0.09 kilometres and is a hub of trendy restaurants, student life and the perfect mixture of leisure and work activities alike. Roeland Street’s charm stems from it’s ability to contrast and combine Cape Town’s old and antiquated characteristics with the modern, contemporary and progressive way that it’s become. What I mean by that, is that as I casually walked down the busy street, I started to notice old Victorian-style buildings situated in close proximity to fresh and modern glass and steel type buildings. I began to witness young people as well as older people sharing the same space through means of coffee shops and restaurants and with colleges (such as CPUT and Varsity College) located right next to workplaces.
What a wonderful thought, that through the hustle and bustle of the Cape Town city life, there is a street that has a little bit of magic for everyone.
The Kimberley Hotel situated on the corner of Roeland Street and Buitenkant Street, is an historic building built in 1895 which boasts a restaurant, pub and a hostel experience. Going inside the ancient building may be like taking a step into time (I’m picturing a strong Marty McFly throwback) but it’s an adventure nonetheless. The establishment was once the base for horse-drawn carriages which were on their way from Cape Town to Kimberly (that should give you a subtle taste of how old the area is).
On the contrary, the street is occupied by restaurants and coffee houses such as Yo! Meatball, The Blend and Vida e Caffe. These places are known for attracting the young, the hip and the hungry with each creation bringing something fresh and different to the Roeland Street mix. Despite these establishments being of similar quality, they all have different menus and vibes associated with each. Vida e Caffe has quickly become a South African favourite, with franchises all over the country while Yo! Meatball and The Blend are near and dear to the heart of Cape Town.
While scanning the surrounding areas, I gathered that Vida e Caffe was generally filled with yuppies (which is informal for Young Urban Professional aka YUP) and the odd friend or two catchup whilst Yo! Meatball and The Blend were bursting with students and stitched together with a more casual-looking crowd.
As a student (at CPUT) and as an aspiring writer, I am constantly on the lookout for inspiration and motivation and what better way to get both than by passing by décor stores, seeing the working men and women who I soon hope to emulate and mingling with the students from Varsity College, who are set up just a few minutes walk from my campus in Roeland Street. As mentioned earlier, the street is constantly bringing together people from all walks of life.
To me, Cape Town has always collectively been the cultural hub of South Africa – with many areas having an important role in making Cape Town what it is. Roeland Street is definitely a contender in regards to that. The street is diverse (in terms of not only people but in experiences) and is constantly evolving through the times while staying true to its strong heritage. Many places in the Cape, like Camps Bay for example, have been nearly completely renovated. The houses, the buildings and the establishments are all focused on a specific target group and have stayed in a more contemporary lane. Which is more than okay but it is always a pleasure to go to a place like Roeland Street to experience the perfect combination of modern and vintage.
Regardless if you were walking out of a fairly old building or out of a modern establishment in Roeland Street, you would always walk into a street filled with friendly faces, lovely aromas and into the perfect embodiment of Cape Town and South Africa’s new and old.