From the exterior of the market there is no real way to make out what is inside, but walk up any of the passages, and you are entering a mixed world of imported curios, beautiful jewelry, and knocked-off brands. The market square is cobbled, and the passages are narrow enough that the colorful canvas roofs of the tents touch each other in most places letting only a little direct sunlight reach the stones.
Greenmarket Square is one of the central squares in Cape Town, located a few blocks Northeast of the Parliament Buildings and South of busy Strand Street, the main artery that runs through the city center. Most tourists stop here during their stay in Cape Town as it is an excellent place to buy something uniquely different to take home as a souvenir or gifts once home – the secret is that you can buy a lot of things in a short amount of time, so it does also make it convenient.
The market vendors come from all over Southern Africa, and I would mistakenly assume that tourists assume that they are all South Africans. While most are from Southern African countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi & Mozambique, you will find a select few from Kenya and even West Africa.
These individuals have often come to South Africa seeking a better way of life. If you start a discussion with them, you will hear stories of being driven from Mugabe’s Zimbabwe as the economy collapsed, or having moved to South Africa to support a family still at home in Malawi. The fact alone that these individuals have moved to Cape Town to make a living makes you think how long they plan to stay and how often their market stall takes a new nomadic owner.
A visitor should know that prices at this market are negotiable, and the first number is often very high. A returning tourist to Africa always knows that no price is final, but I am not sure if everyone expects to be able to bargain for better prices at Greenmarket square. Bargaining is expected, so join in and have fun. If you are looking for the best prices, Sundays are the better days and trying to drop the prices to half of what is asked initially can be achieved – but then again, as a tourist think that perhaps you should pay up a little while having fun with the merchants of this beautiful tourist market.