Sunday, 20 May 2007

Most Beautiful City in the World

We went to friends for dinner on Friday. Actually, he's French and she's Swedish so, to be accurate, we went to theirs for cheese, meatballs and red wine on Friday. It was a get together in honour of their impending departure from Glasgow - in two months they will be living in Tunisia.

It was a gathering of academics, which is not as dull as it sounds. There were probably more doctors in the room than in your average A&E but if something goes wrong around this bunch you're hoping its a coup attempt requiring political intervention, rather than a deep cut requiring stitches. I used to find these groupings quite intimidating but have now grown quite used to my role as token housewife.

Anyway, a lot of the people at this gathering move around and so we got talking about where we'd all been - the good, the bad and the ugly. I was chatting to Tiger - born and bred in Oxford but with lingering Jamaican affiliations (mon!). He'd spent time in Cape Town and we were having a terrific time comparing notes on the beaches, mountains, sunsets, sigh....

'Yeah,' he said. 'It's so beautiful. I think it's probably the second most beautiful city in the world, mon.'

A stunned silence filled the room. My fierce loyalty to my home town is not a well-guarded secret and they could sense some tension brewing. Even Tiger looked a bit concerned when he tore his eyes away from his pina colada and noticed the guttural sounds emanating from the back of my throat.

'So what's the most beautiful then?' I growled.

'Rio.' he said, backing away slowly. Lucky for him our hosts stepped in, shoved a glass of wine into my hand and began regaling us of their tales in this South American idyll - something about the beaches, the mountains, the national beachware dress code - and 8 million people. I put my fingers in my ears and began to hum.

Eventually, two minutes later, they moved on to a discussion of other cities in the world. The rules of engagement were that at least two people had to have been to the city in question for it to make the honour role. Rio, Cape Town, Paris, Budapest and Istanbul all got favourable reviews. Islamabad was not so lucky. There were several also-rans in between - like Glasgow, for example.

But I still left feeling a bit insulted about Cape Town's second place.

I think I'll just blame that on Rio, mon.


lady macleod said...

Easy darlin', easy. I don't want to be reading headlines in the Scotsman detailing the meltdown of a South African woman run amuck in Glasgow!

Annie said...

I can just picture that Lady Macleod!

A lot of my family members have been to Cape Town, I shall have to add it to my 'must visit' list.

Melissa & Richard said...

Aah, yes, Cape Town! Here you have another South African Mum living in New Zealand ... Cape Town has something I've never seen or felt anywhere else! It holds a special place in many hearts!

Word Imp said...

I think it's got something to do with which places you've visited. Here in New Zealand we have some beautiful cities, but many New Zealanders who travel overseas are awe inspired by the beauty of the cities they visit. Often this is because the cities of most continents of the world have so much more history than ours. My favourite city is definitely not my "home" of Auckland. I have only visited a few countries and still haven't found the best - but I suspect it's probably Italian. Haven't been to Cape Town though!

The Good Woman said...

Hi Lady M - no meltdown imminent ye!
Annie and Word Imp - please go and visit, it really is a 'must visit' kind of place.
Hi Melissa and Richard - glad you agree!

aminah said...

oh I can catch up on my hametown via your blog!!

Sam said...

Stumbled across this blog and found your story interesting. If it's any consolation I find Cape Town more beautiul than Rio, by far. Rio is stunning and I would give it second place but for sheer physical beauty I don't think it's even close. Cape Town all the way! I think Cape Town is the most beautiful city in the world.