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March 05, 2013

Cape Town’s Fan Walk – a strip of fun

The pedestrian bridge over Buitengracht Street is a feature of the Fan Walk. All photos by Lynnette Johns

Excitement for events at the Cape Town Stadium ignites hours ahead of time, as thousands of fans stream to Green Point. Restaurants, coffee shops and bars do a roaring trade, as they fill bellies and quench thirsts. The Fan Walk was built as part of the stadium plan, linking public transport routes to the stadium.

The Buitengracht Street bridge is a photographer's delight, giving one views of the mountain and the ocean in the distance. It can also be seen as the link between the old part of the city to the more vibrant Green Point party strip.

On 16 March, it will be the turn of the Cape Town Carnival to take over the Fan Walk. The theme for 2013 is African Legends, celebrating South Africa's and the continent's rich cultural heritage. The carnival has become synonymous with bright colours, energy and flair. 

The 2.6km pedestrian Fan Walk starts in Darling Street and ends at the Cape Town Stadium, and there are many places of interest along the way. For example, the Prestwich Street Memorial remembers the remains of more than 2 500 people, unearthed during building excavations in 2003.

The Truth coffee shop at the Prestwich Street Memorial

The bones were said to be that of slaves and poor people who were buried in unmarked graves.

Even on days when there are no events, many people, schoolchildren, commuters and tourists, use the length of the walk, stopping along the way for refreshments. Murat Yilmaz opened the Silver Moon deli months before the 2010 Soccer World Cup and says business has always been good, but it gets better on event days.

The Silver Moon deli, one of the many eateries that stay open on event days

Because it is a pedestrian mall, he says many passersby stop for at his shop for lunch and cooldrinks. "We close at 5pm, but on event days we stay open until the start of the show. It was a good decision to open here," Yilmaz says.

A number of new places have opened along the way since 2010, adding to the constant vibe and general hum of the city. The Hemelhuijs restaurant opened its doors two-and-a-half-years ago. While the restaurant does not lend itself to wild revelry, it has found its place along the walk.

Elizna de Waal, manager of the Hemelhuijs, says being situated along a the Fan Walk is good for business. "We don't stay open till late, but because we are on a pedestrian mall many people walk by and come in. On event days we definitely feel the vibe," De Waal says.

At weekends many people use public transport and stroll down the walk to the Green Point Urban Park, stopping along the way to either buy goodies for a picnic or to have lunch.

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