To Kalk Bay for lunch in the fishing harbour. Uncle Max, our 85-year-old lunch companion, remembers when Kalky’s, the dockside fish ‘n chips place, was just a hole in the wall, serving hake and chips soused in salt and vinegar, and wrapped in newspaper. Now there are tables and a covered section so you can get out of the wind if it’s blowing, which it does in great chunks of the year in False Bay.
Parking in the harbour – like anywhere in Cape Town – can be a trial, but a quick-witted parking guard had it all sorted. “I can give you parking on the pier,” he said, “or I’ll hold that spot for you there,” he said, pointing at the gap left by a departing car. We took the gap. “I can feel in my heart that you are going to give me a ‘blue’ (R100 note) when you come back,” he said.
We immediately called him Tony Soprano.
Uncle Max likes taking his visitors to Kalky’s. “People say, ‘Ag, let’s try so-and-so’ but I always manage to steer them here instead,” he says over a huge platter of snoek and chips. And why not? It was some of the best fish and chips I have ever eaten and would remain so even if Kalky’s was marooned in some city street instead of on the quayside in one of the world’s prettiest harbours. (I’d upload a picture but the Nikon’s mini USB cable is sitting above the cats’ water bowl, just where I left it before running for the airport on Thursday.)
Afterwards we walked on the pier and looked at the smart fishing boats. Unlike many fishing harbours here where quotas, poaching and hard times are hurting the fishing business, Kalk Bay bustles with activity, and its fleet of clean, well-loved boats indicate that things might not be easy, but at least they are okay.
Well, almost OK.
Back at the car, we tipped the Soprano car-guard – and then watched as a large and feral bully with glassy eyes beat him and then bit him until he handed the cash over. A small and ugly turf war began brewing. The police – who like to eat here too – were not around to sort it out, and neither was the harbourmaster anywhere to be found.
The feral won.
Clearly, this trouble goes on all the time as no-one seemed too fussed. One bystander offered to get the money back. “Pay me fifty bucks and I’ll beat him up for you,” he said. Bless.
This kind of thing is bad for business. There are a couple of restaurants here – some high-end – all of which were packed with diners and tourists, and nary a security guard in sight. Solving the problem rests on the shoulders of the restaurant owners. South Africans might be somewhat hardened to this kind of crap, but Brits and Germans and Americans and Japanese are not.
And it’s a pity, because Kalk Bay harbour is one of the world’s great dining experiences.
Kalk Bay has always been infested by vagrants and troublesome drunks. It has become progressively worse with the passing of time and the police will have to round them up regularly if they want tourists to have pleasant dining experiences in the area.
I wonder what the Ward councillor has to say for him/herself.
Dont blame the police for not being there, you caused the fracas. When are you going to learn that you DONT give them money. They wont be hanging around there for nothing?
Neat story and wish I’d been there. But Chappies in Hout Bay, and Fish on the Rocks, both hold a dearer place in my heart. Or, rather, gut.
Returning to your earlier question about cool railway stations, I visited Edinburgh Waverley station last month and, as a festival of steel and rivets, is peerless. The terminus in Dakar is a lovely one, too. But my favourite is Balatonfoldvar in Hungary. Just lovely.
Chappies is a fine spot, indeed. But as a harbour, Kalk Bay takes the biscuit.
Please send photos of Dakar Airport …