Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cape Town ate my curlers

That's really the only negative thing I have to say about Cape Town. Granted, I've had these hot rollers for about 5+ years so its quite possible that they were on their last leg anyway and decided to ka-put while in one of the most marvelous places in the world, but who knows. They're gone and I just ordered more off amazon.com (I love Amazon Prime!).

So here's my Cape Town weekend re-cap:

On Friday night, I met up with Will and we had a drink on the V&A waterfront, where it was chilly but fun to sit outside and watch the boats come in to dock. Afterwards, we went to the Whisky Festival, which was really fun. It was all types of whisky - blended, single malt scotch, Jack Daniels, and even Bailey's. Will stumbled across at least two new single malt scotch brands that he really liked (BenRiach and one more...) and I tried quite a few single malts, only finding a few that I could say "That's nice" after a very small sip. At the end of the evening, I walked out with a big bottle of Bailey's (a gift to the ladies in attendance) and Will and I decided to eat Italian on the waterfront.

Saturday we woke up and enjoyed the extensive breakfast included in the hotel rate. It is a-mazing. It is a huge breakfast buffet of fruits (raspberries - yum!), pastries, deli meats (SALAMI!), cereals, and all sorts of juices (strawberry! mango! guava! pineapple!). In addition to the buffet, you order off the menu so you can get eggs, omelettes, french toast, etc. Every morning I got a fried egg with bacon and potatoes (my fave breakfast), which meant if I ate late enough, there was no need to eat lunch. Good planning, huh?

Beth and Adam were also in Cape Town for the Marine ball so on Saturday and Sunday we spent time with them. We were all set to go on a whale watching tour, but due to the extreme windy weather and the whales leaving Cape Town, we decided to skip it in favor of the wineries in Franschhoek. We visited 4 wineries (Chamonix, Dieu Donne, Grande Provence, and Franschhoek Cellar) with the most expensive tasting costing $2.50/person.

Franschhoek Cellar: Our first visit. An amazing space and nice tasting room. The most expensive at R25/person (about $2.50) for 6 wines (3 white, 3 red). All the wines in the tasting room were on sale for about R10 ($1!) and the most expensive being R50 ($5). Unfortunately, we weren't big fans of the wine and didn't buy anything here except a magnet.

Per their recommendation, we went to Chamonix next, which is a great rustic wine farm with fantastic wines. Their tasting was R20/person for 5 wines, but they were all very very good.

Per their recommendation, we went up the road to Dieu Donne, which was amazing. Here it was R10/person for 5 wines and the cheese plate for 4 people was R120 ($12) so each of us enjoyed wine and cheese for the low price of $4/person. The wine was great, but the cheese was incredible. The platter had swiss, cheddar, feta, and mozzarella along with strawberries, tomatoes, cucumber, and other veggies. It also had two amazing cheeses - a soft farm cheese made with berries and then this AMAZING spring onion cream cheese that was heaven on earth. I'd drive back there just for the cheese. The best part about this winery is that you sit outside among these amazing mountains and its just so beautiful.

Per their recommendation, we made our last stop at Grande Provence, which is AMAZING. It reminded me a lot of Napa in terms of how the wine tasting room was set up and their food pairing. It was truly gourmet. Again, the tasting plus food pairing was R50/person and it was amazing stuff to eat with the wine. I loved it here. We bought enough wine to have it shipped back to Pretoria. We will definitely return here, potentially to stay a weekend to spend more time in wine country.

That evening, we attempted to go to Table Mountain, only to find gale force winds at the top (pics of that excursion soon). Instead, we went to Lion's Head and watched the sunset over the ocean. We then went to the beach and took some more windy pics.

For dinner, we attempted a place on the beach, but screaming babies and black colored tuna in the sushi made for a hasty departure. We then used one of my grantee's recommendations and went to Tank in Cape Quarter for amazing sushi. We really liked Cape Quarter as its this courtyard set up underneath this huge tree so you can sit outside and enjoy dinner under the stars but not along a busy street. The sushi was similar to what we'd have in the states. I'll admit it wasn't the best sushi I've ever had, but I liked the variety of the sushi rolls which you don't really find here. Plus it was fresh fish, which is sometimes hard to find in sushi places. Plus our total bill came out to $60, which for starters and about 8 rolls of sushi, is pretty incredible.

On Sunday, we decided on a late brunch and then walked down to the water front to do a speed boat tour along the coast of Cape Town. It was so fun, plus we saw dolphins, penguins, and seals in addition to getting an amazing view of Cape Town at 70mph. Afterwards, we hung out on the waterfront where a fun Irish festival was going on. Irish music, irish wolfhounds, irish dancers - what's not to love?

That evening, we decided to go to Table Mountain at sunset, which to our surprise, is a buy one-get one free event so it only cost Will and I $14 for a cable car trip up the mountain. At the top, we enjoyed champagne while watching the sunset. So incredibly beautiful - I can't wait to share pics! We also saw a guy wearing an Atlanta Braves jacket, which then resulted in us meeting a whole group of people from Atlanta. I asked if anyone had a Chick-fil-a chik'n biscuit in their pocket, but no one did. Boo. Ironically, these people attend the same church as Christy and Steph - what a small world! Anyway, Table Mountain at sunset is an absolute must. I just could not believe how amazing the view is from up there!

Afterwards, we headed back to Cape Quarter to eat at Andiamo, a great little outdoor italian restaurant. I got soup and spaghetti with meatballs and I must say - it was delicious! I have yet to have spaghetti and meatballs (or meat sauce for that matter) that was similar to what I'd get in the states and this was spot-on perfect. We'll be back. The best part? All 4 of us had soup and a main course plus wine and the total bill - with tip! - was $40. WOW. $10/person for an amazing dinner.

I must point out there is a Tapas place in Cape Quarter that has a spanish style menu so we may head back there to try their guacamole, nachos, and other spanish style food (chorizo! yum!).

All in all, I gotta say - Cape Town is amazing! It is so relaxing there plus I feel safer there than I do here in Pretoria (although I feel pretty safe in Pretoria). It seems less expensive than Pretoria too. I love the variety of activities and the beauty of the town and surrounding region. If I could move there, I would in a heartbeat.

When we come back, I think I will prefer to stay on the waterfront, especially in fall/winter, just because I felt like it was centrally located with plenty to do there without needing a car. Plus cabs were readily available and the hotel we stayed in was so nice and included a breakfast so good, you could take away the cost of breakfast and lunch from your budget. We're staying more downtown during the New Year, but now we know our way around town a bit and know that you can spend a great day entirely at the waterfront.

P.S. Domestic flights in South Africa don't have the crazy liquid rules, which means I carried my wine purchase onto the plane with me, no problem!

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