Ask former South Africa football legend Shaun Bartlett about Cape Town and you are likely to get a short, simple answer: “It’s a lekker place, really lekker.”
When you get to Cape Town, “lekker” is one of the words you will hear being bantered about quite a bit by locals in the streets. It is a slang word borrowed from Afrikaans, one of the local languages. In lose translation, it means “cool” or “nice.” So, there is no irony in the fact that Bartlett uses this phrase to describe this city, a place regarded as one of the prime tourist in the world, boasting iconic places like Table Mountain, Waterfront and some of the finest wineries in Southern Africa.
“In summer, Cape Town is like Miami,” he quips, obviously borrowing from his experience when he was playing in the United States’ Major League Soccer for Colorado Rapids. A proud Capetonian, Bartlett is a man who reached the pinnacle in football achievements in South Africa. For more than a decade, he spearheaded the national team’s attack and was the nation’s all-time top scorer until his fellow Cape Townian Benni McCarthy took over the mantle. Bartlett was the first and still the only South African to score a brace in a FIFA World Cup™ game - at France 1998 against Saudi Arabia in the group stages.
Now Bartlett, whose illustrious playing career included a spell with Charlton Athletic in England and FC Zurich, is retired and enjoying life after football as a television analyst in South Africa. For someone who has travelled the world extensively, Bartlett has met many different people from different cultures. So, it is natural to turn to him for advice on what will turn on visitors to Cape Town. While avoiding being lyrical, the retired striker goes for conservative options on his attempts to show “the other side” of Cape Town. He was born in Facreton – a place between Cape Town city and the notorious Cape Flats, and he managed to craft his way to the top. He is one of the city’s true success stories.
Shaun takes FIFA.com on a small tour of Cape Town as he sets the table for the visitors, who will be flocking to the city for the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final Draw at the Mother City on 4 December. “For many people, whenever they think about Cape Town, they think about Table Mountain, Robben Island and Waterfront. These are nice places, but there is more to the city. When someone lands in Cape Town, they will be greeted with great weather and sunny conditions, these are the first impressions of the city. The weather is perfect in summer, more especially between December and February.”
Shaun's morning routine
“Whenever I’m in Cape Town, I like relaxing and I usually spend my time in the morning enjoying the early sunrise breeze or talking a walk around. Then I make my way to the Market Square. I know that a lot of people will go for places like Waterfront, but I prefer Market Square, it has a different vibe, it’s different from other popular destinations in Cape Town, but it’s a nice place. You will also find lots of shops and get an opportunity to mingle with the locals.
“I love seafood, so naturally I will look for the nearest seafood restaurant. In Cape Town, you are spoilt with choices on this one, so no need to worry. This is the only place in the country where you will find good quality seafood. But I don’t have one favourite restaurant, I’m an adventurous person, so I like going around and tasting different foods. Afterwards, I will make my way to Bloubergstrand to relax and explore nature. Another option will be to visit some of our wine farms, a few minutes away from town. The Stellenbosch area is famous for this.”
Afternoon and evening
“I will spend my afternoon along the beach, in places like Camps Bay or any of our beautiful beaches. I love hanging around the beach and there is no better feeling that being in Cape Town along the beach while watching sunset. It’s a special feeling that I cannot describe in words. I’m not really into nightlife; I’m getting a bit old now (laughs), so I’m not the best person to talk about nightlife. If you had asked me few years ago, maybe I would have helped there. But Long Street is probably the best place to start looking,” he concludes with a big smile.