While growing up in Natal, Durban always had the feeling of a dated city. Like retro theme park or a sticky swimming pool flooded with flashbacks in beach mosaic and the smell of sunscreen SPFs. A summer nostalgia for South Africans who used to swarm in from middle country. The vaal flocks of GP number plates. “Are those all doctors?” But slowly the city seems to be shedding it’s past prime plastic and reinventing itself. It still keeps that warm retro charm but after walking the new promenade, exploring brave new coffee shops in industrial umbilo and seeing rooftop gardens on downtown city blocks, you get the feeling the city is becoming alive again. Durban doesn’t have a large network of creative types supported by advertising and media houses like in Cape Town or Joburg who are normally the fuel behind interesting city concepts. A lot of Durbanites migrate to Cape Town craving creative stimulation. But many of these new Durban projects are started by people who’ve studied art in Barcelona or have had a software company in San Francisco making apps for Apple. And they’ve realised that there’s nothing wrong with applying new ideas in your home town while surfing in boardshorts over your lunch break.
Some places I enjoyed while I was there: Factory Cafe in Umbilo (@TheFactoryCafe) for Coffee. Haibo for Drinks. Freedom Cafe for Lunch. And ‘Upstairs’ in Florida Rd for a cool bar to hang with friends.