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Entries about capetown

S Africa Days 8-9: Fire and Food Porn

After a few long days, we slept in today. We were supposed to visit Robben Island by boat, which we were both looking forward to, but Mike was having a flare up and needed to rest. So I spent the day at the Wharf, by our apartment, shopping and exploring my own. Shopping is usually better on my own anyway. I had made reservations for dinner about six months in advance at the Test Kitchen, a restaurant on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list. Unfortunately, Mike was too sick to go. I thought about going on my own but honestly wasn't in the mood. Instead, I went next door to the One and Only and had the chef's tasting dinner at Nobu. One of the great things about South Africa is the exchange rate. This dinner would have cost me about $250 in Dallas but in Capetown, it was only about $100.

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Mike was feeling a bit better the next day, our last day in Capetown. He wanted to do a little shopping so instead of going to the Wharf, I had the bright idea to find a market I'd heard about downtown. We took a taxi there and were dropped off. The market turned out to be more of a local shopping market with clothes, shoes, etc rather than a souvenir or craft type place so we didn't stay long. We thought we weren't far from the apartment so we started walking in what we thought was the right direction. It was most definitely not! While we were lost, we came across some shady dudes who made us pretty uncomfortable. Luckily I spotted a taxi and almost got myself run over trying to flag him down. He stopped and took us back to the Wharf.

We did some shopping and stopped off at Mike's favorite tapas place for drinks on the patio overlooking the harbor. While we were there, there was a fire onboard a ship in the harbor. I don't think anyone was hurt but it caused quite the uproar for a while.

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After the excitement died down, we headed back to the apartment to get ready for dinner. We had reservations at La Colombe, a French restaurant outside of Capetown in the Cape Winelands. This restaurant was previously on the Top 50 Restaurants in the World list and it definitely deserved that award.
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One last night cap at the One and Only, a bit of packing, and we were once again ready for a good night's sleep.

Posted by zihuatcat 12:06 Archived in South Africa Tagged south africa capetown Comments (0)

S Africa Day 7: Seal Party on the Cape

This was the day I was most excited about....we were going snorkeling with Cape Fur seals. It was an early morning start as we drove to Hout Bay to meet our guides. When we arrived, we were fitted with heavy duty wetsuits and boarded our boat to head out for the trip. Some seals were hanging out in the harbor.
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It was a beautiful ride out to Seal Island. Once there, the guides went over safety information and then gave us free time to snorkel with the seals. They were incredibly interactive and entertaining but the little buggers were so quick, it was impossible to get a decent pic.
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We were given about an hour to snorkel but the water was so cold, even with the wetsuits, that Mike and I could only stay in about 30 minutes. We retreated back to the boat and warmed ourselves with some hot chocolate.
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The Cape peninsula is scattered with beautiful beaches throughout. On our way back to Capetown, we stopped off at one, Fish Hoek Bay, for a little souvenir shopping and fish and chips at Mariner's Wharf.
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We got back to Capetown and as we parked the car, we realized that Table Mountain seemed pretty clear today. Mike suggested we take the opportunity to visit since visibility is such an issue. We didn't want to miss it. So we got cleaned up and drove over.

Table Mountain is a plateau that sits about 3,000 ft above Capetown. There is a cableway that takes you to the top where there is a restaurant/bar and a viewing area with multiple platforms. The views from the top are outstanding (so is the wind).

From the bottom
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In the cable car on the way to the top
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The cables at the top
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The restaurant/bar at the top serves wine and beer, too. They would never do that in the US.
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These brazen birds were everywhere, much like grackles in Texas.
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View of Signal Hill, where signal flags were used in prior times to communicate weather warnings and anchoring instructions to ships. Now, every day at noon, the South African Navy fires cannons from the top of this hill.
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View of Capetown Arena, built for the 2010 World Cup.
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View of Lion's Head, a 2,195 ft peak.
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View of Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
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We stayed for a few hours on the Mountain and the clouds started rolling in.
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We decided it was time to go as we certainly didn't want to get in a crowd trying to get off the Mountain.

We had a lovely seafood dinner while listening to music that night at Pigalle and our standard nightcap at the One and Only. It was a long day and we were ready for bed.

Posted by zihuatcat 10:38 Archived in South Africa Tagged south africa capetown Comments (0)

S Africa Day 6: Penguin Party on the Cape

Our plan was to start the day off with a visit to Table Mountain but unfortunately, the clouds and weather were not cooperating. This is a very common problem with visiting Table Mountain so the general travel advice is to check every day and fit it in when you can. Today was not that day.

So instead we drove to Simon's Town, a small coastal town about 20 miles south of Capetown. If the weather had been clear, the drive would have been a beautiful one along the coast. For us, the drive was drizzly and long due to construction on the two-lane road.
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We arrived in Simon's Town, where the weather had cleared, a little hungry so we decided to stop off at the Seaforth Restaurant for some lunch.
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We had a beautiful view of the water while eating lunch and passed the time watching people enjoy themselves on the beach. I have no idea how they were able to tolerate that cold water.
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From the restaurant, we walked down the road about a mile or so to Boulder's Beach. This area is a safe home for African penguins, animals that are on the verge of extinction. The colony started with just two breeding pairs in 1982 and has since grown to over 3,000 penguins.
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We left Boulder's Beach and continued south on the Cape to Cape Point, stopping off at an overlook along the way.
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Cape Point is the highest peak on the Cape Peninsula. To reach it, you park in a lot below and ride the Flying Dutchman Funicular railway to the top.
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Flying cormorants with their funny looking webbed feet.
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Mike hiked to the top to see the view from the lighthouse, which was built in 1860. It's no longer operational as it was built at too high an elevation. It was frequently not seen by ships because it was covered in clouds.
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Down from Cape Point is the more well-known, Cape of Good Hope. This is the point on the Cape where ships round the peak of Africa and change direction from south to east. It's commonly thought to be the southernmost tip of Africa; however, the southernmost tip is actually Cape Agulhas, where we visited from DeKelders.
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It was getting late in the day so we started back to Capetown. The GPS, which had worked perfectly up until now, decided to take us on a short cut. This short cut was a one-way dirt road that got so narrow at times the bushes were scratching our rented BMW. I cringed when I heard the scratches and felt the potholes. We could see the highway up ahead. Yet when we finally got to the end of this road, there was a locked gate separating us from the highway. We had no option but to turn around and go back down the rut of a road.

Once we made it back to Capetown, we cleaned up and took a taxi to dinner at NV-80. I had a delicious steak and Mike had some beautiful prawns.
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We ended the evening with a nightcap at the One and Only Hotel next door.

Posted by zihuatcat 12:21 Archived in South Africa Tagged penguin africa capetown Comments (0)

S Africa Day 5: Wine Country

Finally feeling somewhat rested, we left Cliff House in the morning. We were driving to the winelands, specifically Franschoek, spending the day there, and then heading on to Capetown for several days. Driving in S Africa is quite easy once you get used to the steering wheel on the right and driving on the left. The roads are well-marked and well-paved. It was a beautiful drive and we stopped at an overlook above the town of Franschoek.
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Although the surroundings were beautiful, the town itself was crawling with tourists. There was slow traffic, difficult parking, and crowded restaurants. I was starving, however, so we stopped off for lunch before our wine tasting.
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The wine tasting we chose was a vineyard just outside of town called Rickety Bridge. A beautiful setting, amongst the mountains, where we sat on the porch and tasted five different wines.
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They had a red that was our favorite and we ordered a case to be shipped home (which we later split with our friends who took care of the dogs for the three weeks we were gone). It was getting late in the afternoon and we wanted to reach Capetown without a lot of traffic. We arrived in Capetown about an hour later and made our way to the wharf area to our apartment at Lawhill Luxury Apartments. We had a beautiful, two-bedroom apartment with a balcony overlooking the water. I loved the artwork and tried to figure out how I could smuggle the wild dog picture back to the US.
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This is the One and Only Hotel where would go for a nightcap at the bar before heading home each night.
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The view from the parking lot was of cloud-covered Table Mountain.
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We wanted to explore the wharf before it got dark so we freshened up and walked around the area to find dinner as well. These locks were just down from the apartment and are used to adjust the water level as boats enter and exit the marina. We caught a small boat exiting as we were passing by.
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We walked around the wharf a bit, just checking things out and getting the lay of the land.
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We settled on a tapas place for dinner and sat upstairs on the deck so that we could people and boat watch.
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After dinner, we stopped off at the One and Only for some of my favorite Havana Club rum then collapsed into bed in anticipation of a few busy days ahead.

Posted by zihuatcat 15:03 Archived in South Africa Tagged africa wine capetown Comments (0)

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