Posts Tagged ‘Cape Town’

Summer Holiday Pt. 3: Cape Town (30 Dec – 2 Jan)

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

After coming back from Zanzibar, we spent one night in Johannesburg to rest, re-pack, and wash all our dirty clothes from Kilimanjaro. Then, we flew down to Cape Town to spend New Year’s Eve there, since a bunch of friends from INSEAD were also going to be around, flying in from Europe and the US. We had booked the accommodation only on very short notice, and were lucky to still get a spare room at the same B&B that we stayed at on our first visit to Cape Town, Upperbloem in the Bo-Kap.

On the night of our arrival, we went out to Franschoek for dinner – our friends had been on a wine tour all day so we met them there out in the wine lands. It was awesome to see all of them again and catch up with what was happening – most of them we hadn’t seen since graduation over a year ago.

On the morning of New Year’s Eve, we didn’t do very much – the only thing that was on our list was to visit the cheese shop in Cape Town that we had read about in numerous articles. We both really like the South African artisanal cheeses, and in any article on the internet about South African cheeses, this cheese shop was mentioned. Getting there, however, we were quite disappointed – the selection wasn’t huge and the person behind the counter was the most unmotivated salesperson I have ever encountered. She wouldn’t tell us anything more about the cheeses than we could read on the labels ourselves. After this experience, I am so glad that our cheese shop here in Johannesburg, Cheese Gourmet in Linden, seems to be so much better!

In the evening, we went with all our INSEAD friends to Madame Zingara, which basically is a circus / variety theater show over dinner. It was a lot of fun, and we enjoyed spending New Year’s with our classmates like this – unlike last year, where we slept through New Year’s in Yangon because we had an early flight the next day.

The next day, after having slept off our hangover, we headed out to Kirstenbosch Gardens, which is said to be one of the most beautiful botanic gardens in the world. We walked through the park there, which contains around 9000 of the 22000 plant species found in South Africa, and is really very well set up. After having had lunch there as well, we headed out to Llandudno beach were a few of our friends were spending the day sunbathing. In the evening, the rest of the group showed up as well, and we had a very nice sunset picnic on the beach – a very nice finish to our visit in Cape Town, since the next morning we had to leave again for Johannesburg, where we had a few more days to spare before having to go back to work.

Cape Winelands (August)

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

It’s been a while since I last posted! That’s mainly because I’ve been busy, but also due to the fact that we haven’t done a lot of traveling since June until now. However, there were some small things before our current bigger trip so I’ll just try to catch up.

During the winter, J was working in Cape Town for a while and I used the opportunity to fly down twice to explore the Winelands around Cape Town somewhat. Both times we were lucky with the weather – the Cape winter rains stopped for the weekend so we were able to enjoy the outdoors. The region is very Afrikaner-dominated and with its vineyards and little towns really feels more like Europe than like Africa. Obviously, most of South Africa isn’t “real” Africa, but the Cape even less so than for example Joburg.

Given that we were mostly driving around by car, we didn’t do that much wine tasting. Instead, we tried to find as many good cheese as we could, which was also great and right down our alley. South Africa actually has a lot of very good artisanal or semi-artisanal cheeses, you just have to know where to look. A lot of the cheeses come from the Cape so we were right at the source.

In addition, we drove down the whale coast to Hermanus, which is a very pretty scenic drive along the ocean in any case, but made even better by the fact that you can see Southern Right Whales splashing around in the water there in the winter months – the whales come there to have their babies in the protected coastal waters, and swim out to the open waters in summer to feed.

On one of the weekends, we also had a small INSEAD meetup in Cape Town since a classmate normally based in the Middle East was stopping by – which was a very fun (and late) night out 🙂

Other than that, we didn’t do much – enjoyed the amazing scenery and the fantastic and still very affordable food 🙂 All in all, those two weekends were definitely worth it!

First Time in Cape Town

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Before we moved to South Africa, everyone kept raving about Cape Town – so of course we didn’t wait for too long before we went there ourselves to check it out. Our first trip happened only over a weekend (19-21 April), so we didn’t have time yet to check out too much of the surroundings, but we got a pretty good idea of the city, Table Mountain, and the cape itself.

We flew down on Friday night after work, so we got to our guest house in Bo-Kaap quite late and couldn’t really see anything of the town yet. On Saturday, we slept in, had breakfast on the lovely terrace of our guest house overlooking the city, and then went to check out a bit of the city close to our guest house, including the Bo-Kaap area with small colorful houses and cobblestone streets, Long Street, and Greenmarket Square.

In the afternoon, we then brought out our newly purchased hiking boots and hiked up Table Mountain. There are a number of ways that you can go up the mountain, including the lazy option of the cable car, and the most popular hiking route, Platteklip Gorge, which is described as steep, not very scenic, and crowded. Since we didn’t feel like taking the most crowded route up, we did a bit of research and opted for a slightly longer option, the Diagonal Route. It started not very steep, but after a while we had to scramble (i.e. use our hands to climb up some rocky bits) quite a bit. Moreover, it was not quite clear all the time whether we were still on what was meant to be the path – there was not really any signage. The vistas were quite amazing though, as we climbed higher and higher. We were also quite lucky with the weather – while we had left Joburg in the pouring rain, there was nary a cloud in Cape Town, not even the so called “table cloth” which hangs on Table Mountain a lot of the time and makes climbing up there less worth a while. Once we had reached the top (the “flat” part) of the mountain, it was much easier again to find the right way since it is much more of an actual path. We were also much much faster up there since we didn’t have to climb anymore (the few steep parts actually had ladders and ropes). To go down, we then took the cable car, which rotates around its axis so you can see in all directions – and it took only about five minutes to go down the same altitude that it had taken us more than three hours to climb up.

Quite exhausted, but also happy about our achievement, we went home to shower and relax and then went out to the V&A Waterfront to have some seafood for dinner – after all, one of the major drawbacks of Joburg is that it is not near any body of water.

On Sunday, we went down to the actual cape – which is quite some distance outside of the city itself. First, we visited the penguin colony at Boulders – they are such funny little creatures, awkwardly waddling around on the beach but super swift and agile when they are in the water.

Then, we went down to Cape Point, looking out on the two oceans (even though I learned since that the defined boundary between the Atlantic and Indian ocean is in fact a bit further east). Unfortunately, we had very limited time since our flight back was in the afternoon already, and we still planned to get lunch in Simon’s Town, so we had to rush. Said lunch then still had to be skipped due to a construction site induced traffic jam that took us half an hour, so we just had time for a quick sandwich on the way.

All in all though, it was a very nice weekend. Some pictures follow.

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