A Travellerspoint blog

Out of (South) Africa

Return to Cape Town then onto Rome

sunny 70 °F
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We returned to Cape Town to finish our SA trip and stayed at The Lions Guesthouse as before. We were surprised by Anthony and his mom who upgraded us to a suite and charged us no more than we had previously paid per night. Here is a view of the neighborhood:


And then they invited us out for dinner at the Victoria and Albert Wharf. We meet dad, Herbert, for the first time along with mom, Sybil, brothers, Anthony and Daven, all of which we knew from our first stay. (I took photos but they turned out so poorly that I had to delete them..darn)! My photographer's license has been revoked.

Th weather was excellent during our last few days, so like all good tourists, we took the cable car to the top of Table Mountain (which you saw in my first CT entry). The views were stupendous, but you be the judge.

At the top: 9CE457512219AC6817F59C6602F173B0.jpg

A tour of the peninsula via the Blue Hop On Hop Off bus took us to Kirstenbosch, South Africa’s world-famous national botanical garden. It is set against the backdrop of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak and home to more than 22 000 indigenous plants. As part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. Not too much was happening this time of year:


Another stop included Camps Bay, a beautiful seaside community...something like Manhattan Beach but more languages spoken there. At Houts Bay, we found a yacht club that let us buy their burgee (pennant) for our freind, Nancy. Won't she be surprised...unless she is rading this blog!

Thinking of Michele, our daughter who is a cardiac care nurse specialist, i visited the Groote Schuur Hospital where the first human heart transplant was "successfully" performed. (It should be noted the patient died after 18 days). Steve took a walk...he was the brighter one. It was an hour too long and admission too expensive. If interested, you can see my assessment on Trip Advisor. Here is the original building:


And here is a replica of the operating theater:


And then as if all of this wasn't enough, we ended our time in CT with an invitation to a braai at the beautiful home of Ros and Colin. I mentioned in my previous blog entry that we met them on the wine tram. I commented at the time i really wanted to find a braai, a traditional South African BBQ. For this tradition there is beef, sausage, and other meats cooked over an outdoor wood burning grill, along with good company and wine. We had the pleasure of experiencing all three. Also in attendance was Colin's son, Ryan, his partner Cecily, and Ros' mom, Lilian. Mom and daughter own a recruiting agency specializing in the finance industry. The same profession as mine. It must have been destiny. If not, it was a great evening anyway.

We have been in SA during an advantageous time. The dollar strengthened against the rand. 1 USD dollar bought 10 rand, which made it an easy currency to work with. A really nice guesthouse cost no more than 60USD and an adequate one cost 32USD. A very good dinner for two was 25USD and that included a bottle of good wine! Our rental car was 25USD per day with unlimited mileage and 100% insurance coverage. I'm not sure if SA is marketing their country's tremendous value for tourists considering its natural beauty, welcomong people, and english spoken everywhere. It has been mentioned that it can be dangerous. We didn't find it so and, if you consider it hosted the last World Cup without incident, doesn't it suggest something different?

I am not Pollyanna andI recognize SA has its own problems, especially for the native Africans (and coloureds) who suffered under apartheid. It is disconcerting to see burglar bars on doors and windows, multiple locks at entry, and ubiquitous ADT security signs. The country still has many political issues to address, not the least of which is what follows the grave illness of Nelson Mandela. If you have never read Nelson Mandela's autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, i urge you to do so for a reasoned perspective of the recent history and what might lay ahead.

Our next stop is Rome. We will surely miss this country but are already planning our return. (And I found my music in the recordings of Miriam Makeba. It is never too late).

Posted by Dayts 11:10 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Franschhoek...let me count the Ways

Wine area

sunny 63 °F
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Franschhoek is in an unbelievably beautiful town in the heart of the wine area. And if that isn't enough, Steve found a wonderful B&B, www.thecornerhouse.co.za. Upon arrival Dick greeted us with a glass of wine. Then later, his wife, Daniele came to give us a hug. Before we left, we felt as though we had made a new friend. She is an amazing woman as you will see. If you are interested, You can find my review of the Corner House on Trip Advisor. Here are the doggie greeters, James and Marta...

We were here to sample the wines...and we did! We used a number of forms of transportation to explore the wineries. On bike where we made it to Mont Rochelle. 30AD24D72219AC68173B9599334507CA.jpg

And by tram where we meet Colin and Ros from Cape Town (more about them later in my final CT blog). Together we visited Rickety Bridge, Dieu Donne, and Gran Provence.

And by horseback where we visted Glenwood: 314C50B32219AC68171983C4019E5F05.jpg. The horses seemed to enjoy the ride, as well...lots of cantering.
Here are some more shots of the area 319133922219AC681739A4026A4DD7D3.jpg 31B1DA7A2219AC6817695EDD25CCD5A3.jpg. All in all, the sauvignon blancs, Cape Classique sparkling wines, and Glenwood's chardonnays worked for me. The pinotage (pinot noir and hermitage), shiraz, and cabernet sauvignons worked for Steve. I mean, really...what's left?

And if this wasn't enough we had several other experiences that made our stay here so phenomenal. We had a port tasting with Daniele and her friends Francois, Pat, and Peggy along with some lively and candid conversation. The next day we went with Daniele to the township where she donates time and resources. With some financial support from her home country, the Netherlands, she built a preschool for the township kids. Here and at her home, she tutors them in reading. And there are two women in the shanty town that she helps in various ways. Macey who is raising children who lost their mother to aids and Auntie Betty who takes in mothers in need. Several people had suggested we take a township tour but Steve and I were sure we would feel like voyeurs. Instead with Daniele who is liked and respected, it felt very comfortable to visit these women and hear their stories. And for my former DPW co-workers, the projects in Chester prepared me for this.

The finale to our stay was serendipitous. We met some other friends of Daniele's the night before we left for Cape Town. I mentioned to one, Deon, that I was very disappointed that I hadn't heard any music. As it turned out, he was a warden at Drakenstein Prison where they were having a Tribute to Tata Madiba (as the South Africans refer to Nelson Mandela) the very next day. Deon offered to meet us so we could get admitted to the event.
Drakenstein Correctional Facility was formerly known as Victor Verster Prison and was where Nelson Mandela spent his last 18 months of incarceration. Madiba started his walk to freedom in the facility in 1990. Some of those who were there to welcome Madiba when he was released shared their memories as they retraced their steps back to Mandela’s historic release. Here are Steve's comments: " there were 600 to 700 Africans. We were one of several minorities. The first tribute was by the man that drove Mandela out of the prison after 27 years in custody most of which was on Robben Island. Lots of singing, some impromptu from the audience some from choirs. CB was there dancin' with the best of them. It was actually a very moving experience after I got over my initial shock of going to Prison. Everyday is an adventure, some more than others."

Posted by Dayts 01:43 Archived in South Africa Comments (2)

From Port Elizabeth west to the Franschhoek Wine Valley

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We stayed in the Richmond Hills section of PE where there are plenty of cafes and restaurants. Most got our business. We didn't connect with the city like we had with Cape Town. If it wasn't for a fortuitous meeting on our flight from Buenos Aires to Joburg , we might have written it off completely. Nicole is a resident of PE and was full of suggestions which were all on the mark. And while we were in her city, she met us for dinner, gave us two excellent bottles of wine, and took us to her lovely home to meet her family. Now that's PE friendliness and what we will remember! Here is our only picture of the city....

To return to the wine area outside CT, we took the scenic R62. Again, the beauty of this country amazes us. Our interim destination was Oudtshoorn, a town made famous for its ostrich farms, in fact it has the world's largest ostrich population. The town became very prosperous near the end of the 1800's when the feathers were very popular fashion accessories. That time is long past but many farms remain...this time to raise the ostrich for its meat. That is about as much as can be said for Oudtshoorn. We hightailed it out of the town after one night although we found an excellent restaurant called Jemima's. Here is what Steve had for dinner...

At breakfast the next morning, we were given a tip about an interesting biker's bar enroute to the wine area. 2CBEF7A62219AC6817A77C0891FC1909.jpg
As the story goes, the sign originally read "Ronnie's Shop" until a friend played a prank and added "sex." The rest is history. Ronnie was there along with his son that runs the business. They said the paraphenalia hanging around was donated by patrons. Here are some of the donations...l2D0C79832219AC6817A8D1BF971DD0D0.jpg
Everybody knows about this place and they all stop. Ronnie even has his own label brew. If you ask me, he was just a clever marketer.

At the end of the day, we entered the beautiful village of Franschhoek but that's for the next blog.

Posted by Dayts 22:20 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Garden Route Travels (cont'd) onto Port Elizabeth

sunny 17 °F
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We passed beautiful scenery on the way to Knysna,a lovely town on a beautiful lagoon along the Indian Ocean. We found a great B&B, the Knysna Manor house, and decoded to stay for several days. On the way there we saw cattle, sheep, goats, sheep.and ostrich. It was clear we would eat well here...and we did. This area is known for it's oyster beds which are commercially farmed and enjoyed throughout the world. I ate my share.

Then onto our next stop in Jeffreys Bay (Jbay to the locals). We lucked out finding a backpackers' hostel. With a private room and bath 100 yards from the Indian Ocean at $35 per night, we were joyous. Check it out...
And for you surfers or surf lovers, this is where you overlook. Supertubes, the world's best pointbreak. (Any fans of "Endless Summer"? The waves are just incredible and the sunrises...well here you can see...
I didn't want to leave but we had to move onto the Eastern Cape to Port Elizabeth for a few days. Since we had a car rental 100% insured, we decided to take a day for a self-guided tour of Addo Elephant Park. Many locals highly recommended it even though we had explained that the safari experience didn't seem to be for us. Thank heavens we followed their suggestions. It was a really fun half day drive. Here's Steve commentary to our kids:
"Now that's an ELEPHANT!!! We had just spotted a group of 4 or 5 Elephants in the trees about 400 yards up the hill and thought we were doing pretty good. Then this Big Boy comes sauntering down the road right at us. Carol says " close the window ", so I do. All he had to do is whack the midget car with his trunk and we'd be airborne. But what the heck the car was locked :-)."

And this: "Subject: THEN THERE WAS THIS BAD BOY!!!
He had just put his head down and I decided not to ask him to pose again. This is a Cape Buffalo hiding behind the bushes, actually we were hiding. He was as big as the Elephants with what I'm told can be a mean disposition. (Read personality like someone I'm traveling with). His horns probably weighed more than the car, but again the doors were locked.
We had a great self directed safari in the Addo Elephant Nat'l Park, 500 square kilometers of beautiful wilderness. A great day with lots of animals.
Now onto the wine area for some serious adventure."

Posted by Dayts 11:40 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

A Mini Safari and Garden Route Travels

West Cape to East Cape, South Africa

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Everyone seems to come to South Africa for the fabulous safaris. (In fact we were told in Cape Town that they were surprised we wanted to visit the city...and to our way of thinking, what a mistake that would be not to visit)! So we signed up for a two day safari figuring we could always extend the stay. We tried to take pix but we are lousy photographers and you want to watch the animals, not the camera. Here is the best of the lot:


The photos of the giraffes, elephants, rhinos, lions, springbok, kudu, white-tailed wildebeest were terrible but to see them live and in action was very cool. You know, your typical house pets. We missed the op when the elephant tore down a tree with his bare trunk. Or when the momma giraffe and her baby munched leaves from a eucalyptus tree. Or when the lions were having a pow wow in the middle of the field. I think nature photography is not our thing. We'll buy the postcards.

While the accommodations were quite nice and comfortable, there was no heat. Here's what Steve had to say:
After a 6AM wake up and cold ride through the jungle looking at Elephants, Rhinos, Giraffe, etc. , we high-tailed it out of the bush.
Luckily we happened upon an Oasis, the Graham Beck winery (Carol's new favorite sparkling).
The rest is history!! Here's the proof...

After the safari,we felt the call of the ocean over th call of the wild. The Garden Route, is the N2 freeway, that runs along the ocean from the Western Cape into the Eastern. This is an incredibly beautiful drive that passes lovely little villages, harbors, and the Indian Ocean. We had osters in Mossel Bay although mussels might have been more appropriate. Since this was a British Colony, one drives on the left side of the road. Steve is doing a fabulous job. Even to the point he can steer with his knee. An early stay over was in the charming little town of Swellendam. Here is our chariot and chalet:


Along the route, we encountered some distant relatives. We invited them to dinner and here they are:

To be continued ...........

Posted by Dayts 08:39 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

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