Cape Town holiday 2011 – Day 5

Around the Cape Peninsula

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Day 5 started early with a drive from Pinelands into Cape Town and through Sea Point to Camps Bay. We stopped off in Camps bay for a bite to eat and a walk on the beach. To be totally honest it did not seem very impressive but then again it was early in the morning. The beach was totally empty and we had a short walk on the white sand as the wind was up and it was a little miserable. The property in Camps Bay/Clifton is insane. Huge houses all packed onto the side of the mountain all looking to the beautiful blue sea. Whilst driving in Camps Bay we did see Paraglider’s launching from Lions Head. This is something we will have to do next time.

From Camps Bay we continued on to Llandudno and took a drive around. Once again there are many houses that look out at the sea all packed on top of each other. The beach was protected from the wind and we had a quick walk. We drove past Sandy Bay but the parking was full and so we did not stop to see what all the fuss is about.

We continued on to Hout Bay where we went to the harbour which smelt of fish and was rather nasty. Lauren bought a hat which I am sure was made in China. Hout Bay is not what I remembered as a child. We did visit some galleries but I was not too impressed with the Rebublic of Hout Bay. Maybe we did not explore enough.

On the other side of Hout Bay we paid our toll fee and started the drive up Chapmans peak over to Noordhoek. The drive up and over the Peak is stunning, the view, the engineering and the huge rocks in the chain nets that tower over you as you drive along. As the pass comes to an end there is a beautiful beach which welcomes you into Noordhoek.  Noordhoek is a quaint little village full of artists and what you thing of when you think of Capetonians.

From Noordhoek we took the road on to Kommetjie which does not have that much to offer but has a large white lighthouse that towers over the beach. The guide books and the sign at the lighthouse say that you can take a tour up the lighthouse but unfortunately the the staff never came back from lunch and so we sat and waited for nothing.

We drove on to Cape Point which was the main attraction of the day, another one of the Cape Town big 6. Along the way we past the location for our first holiday home, Misty Cliffs.

Misty Cliffs is a Conservation Village located within a larger conservation area of incredible natural beauty, and is surrounded by pristine ocean and mountains. The beautiful blue sea  on one side and the mountain on the other with its fynbos and boulders makes you feel like stopping and staying forever, to sit on a stoep watching the sea by day, walk on the beach in the evening and sleep with the sound of the waves at night.

From Misty Cliffs we drove on through Scarborough to Cape Point, paid the entrance fee and drove into the park towards the actual point. We were stopped and asked to park in the secondary parking spot and a buss took up up to the top. This was actually quite nice as we did not have to walk too far, especially since we decided not to use the funicular but rather to walk up and down.

Travellers Tip: Give yourself an entire day just to see Cape point national park. There is more than just the point. We did not give ourselves enough time and it was up and down and then on our way to Simons Town.

Cape Point is a spectacular sight and shows off God’s creativity, we unfortunately did not see any Baboons which made Lauren very sad as there are signs all over the show telling you to watch out for Baboons and urging people not to feed them.

We drove on, with False bay out in froms of us, the blue sea extending out with the Hottentots-Holland mountains in the distance.

We stopped in Simons Town hoping to check out a few of the numerous attractions in this Naval Town but unfortunately the town pretty much shuts down at 4pm and so even though it was light enough to be 1pm we could not do very much. We took a drive down to Boulders beach but did not feel too excited to have to pay a whole lot of money to stand in a crowd with hundreds of Americans and Europeans facinated by the African penguins that call Boulders beach home. Instead we walked along the quiet board walk where you too could see the penguins.

From there we drove on to Kalk Bay, through Fish Hoek. We had supper at the Brass Bell with my Folks, Sister and Brother-in-Law.

Having been to Cape Town before I was disappointed that we arrived so late and thus could not see any of the attractions that False bay has to offer.

Traveller’s Tip: Spend time in False Bay it has lots to offer, go and find it and then tell the world about it.

The roads from Kalk Bay through to Muizenburg are lined with old settler buildings including Rhodes Cottage and other historical buildings. There were road works that made it a little difficult to navigate but when we are back in Cape Town we will definitely do some more exploring on that side of the mountain.

So we waited around for 7pm to meet every one for supper. We did sneak into a restaurant to use a bathroom and to get changed into our night time going to a restaurant clothes, and I had to use the ladies with Lauren standing guard as the guys loo was occupied for some time :-).

The supper at the Brass Bell was very good, the food there is amazing and they believe in a good portion size. We had to take a doggy bag home. The Resturant is right next to the harbour, on the tidal pool. We had a great evening and we spent the latter part of the evening watching the waves crash up against the wall.

Traveller’s Tip: If in Cape Town, go to one of                    Brass Bell’s 5 Restaurants

Cape Town Holiday 2011 – Day 4

Day 4 Started with a little “lie in” and then we went off to the Constania Valley for a day of wine tasting. Constantia Valley is one of the Cape Town Big 6 places to visit. We left Pinelands and took the M3 but missed a turn off and almost ended up in Muizenburg. There are so many signs to Muizenburg but we never actually ended ever going to Muizenburg. We found our way onto the wine route via Steenburg Rd and the first farm we stopped at was Constania Uitsig, the wine shop and tasting venue was great. The staff were friendly and the lady behind the counter was full of quirkiness. We tasted thier range while she was having her first glass of wine for the day at 11am. We bought two bottles of wine and went on our way.

Tip for travellers to the Cape wine routes: Take a bottle of water and to drink while in the car as you don’t want to spit.

After Uitsig we raced along the route to get to Groot Constantia for the Cellar Tour and tasting. Groot Constantia is the oldest established wine estate in South Africa and was started by Simon van der Stel who was governor of the Cape.

The Name Constantia is thought to be named after Commissioner Rijckloff van Goens’s daughter in recognition of his help and support in obtaining the farm land.  Another theory is that the farm was named after the VOC ship “Constantia” which, was anchored in Table Bay.

Commissioner Rijckloff van Goens, a former governor of Ceylon and Council Member of India, visited the Cape while recuperating from an illness. He recommended to the Chamber of Seventeen, the governing body of the VOC, that land should be granted to Simon Van der Stel. After a visit by High Commissioner Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede tot Drakenstein, Van der Stel received title to 891 morgen (about 763 hectares) on 13th July 1685.  The land stretched southwards to the neighbouring free burgher farms of Steenberg and Zwaanswyk and to the north it reached as far as the wooded area named The Hell. The Wine from Constantia grew in status and in 1778 Hendrik Cloete (a twig on Laurens Family tree) bought the farm , the farm was in the Cloete family for over 100 years. Below are the important dates during the Cloete reign at Groot Constantia. A full list of important dates at Constantia can be found here and history here

1778 Jan Serrurier buys Groot Constantia and in the same year sells the farm to Hendrik Cloete.
1789 Outbreak of the French Revolution, which lasts until Napoleon seizes power in 1799.
1792 Henrik Cloete’s restoration of the farm is complete.
1795 The First British Occupation of the Cape.
1795 The German poet Friederich Gottlieb Klopstock composes Der Kapwein und der Johannesberger, Kapwein being Constantia wine.
1799 Hendrik Cloete (junior) becomes the new owner of Groot Constantia.
1803 The Cape comes under Batavian rule.
1806 The Second British Occupation of the Cape.
1811 Sense and Sensibility, a novel by Jane Austen in which Constantia wine is mentioned, is published.
1815 Napoleon is banished to St Helena after his defeat of Waterloo. On St Helena he was supplied with wine from Groot Constantia until his death in 1821.
1818 The wife of the late Hendrik Cloete, Anna Catharina Scheller, becomes the second woman to own the estate.
1824 Scheller sells the estate to her oldest son, Jacob Pieter Cloete.
1833 King Louis Philippe of France becomes the biggest buyer ever of Groot Constantia wine.
1834 Slavery is abolished, but slaves are apprenticed to their owners for a four-year period, i.e. Up to 1838.
1855 Sliver medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine at the Paris Exhibition.
1857 Les Fleurs du mal is published, a volume of poems by the French poet Charles Baudelaire, in which Sed non satiata praises Constantia wine.
1859 The fungal disease oidium tuckeri, also known as mildew or powdery mildew, is discovered in the Cape vineyards. In December it is also found in the Groot Constantia vineyards.
1860 A 10-year free trade agreement is concluded between Britain and France, under which French wines benefit greatly, to the disadvantage of Cape wine exports, including that of Groot Constantia.
1866 The vine disease phylloxera, caused by an insect called peritymbia vitifolii, ravages the vineyards of the Cape, including those of Groot Constantia.
1867 Silver medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine at the Paris Exhibition.
1872 Jacob Pieter Cloete is declared insolvent in the Cape Supreme Court.
1874 Two medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Vienna.
1875 Jacob Pieter Cloete’s oldest son Henry, and his two sons, become responsible for the running of the farm.
1876 Two medals are awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Philadelphia.
1878 A gold medal is awarded to Groot Constantia wine in Paris.
1881 Six awards are won by Groot Constantia wine in Melbourne.
1885 Groot Constantia is bought at an auction for the Cape Government by the Master of the Cape Supreme Court.

The Tour and tasting were informative and nicely put together although I did not find the wine that great and we did not purchase any wine. Groot Contantia is one of the big 6’s but is very commercialized.

We then went to the Constantia Valley Mall for a quick bite to eat before going off to Steenburg Wine Estate to meet friends for tasting for Kayley’s birthday.

We arrived at the wrong entrance to the estate but the security guards were very helpful. We drove the way they told us and wondered why there was so much security around the estate with electric fencing and security camera’s every 100m. On the drive to the correct gate we realized why as we drove past pollsmoor prison.

Steenburg is a very modern estate with a beautiful tasting venue, the atmosphere was great although again the wine was not that great.

We left Steenburg with very little time left in the business day but wanted to do at least one more wine estate and so made our way to Klein Constantia which was the best estate of the day and we bought a Vin De Constance. This wine was the famous sweet wine of Constantia that became world renown during the times of the Cloete era , and in 1980 was brought back by Klein Constantia. Read more about it here. The estate is beautiful and the tasting venue very homey.
To get back to Pinelend we took the back roads through Wynburg and got stuck in major traffic, should have got back onto the M3. Was a great day although to be honest the wine of the Constantia Valley, which is mostly white, is not really my type of wine.

Cape Town 2011 – Day 3

On Day three we found ourselves going back to the V&A Waterfront and since on day two we paid R60 for parking we decided to park in the R10 parking near the circle on Coen Steytler Ave and walk up on the road to the waterfront.

Cape Town Travellers tip: If you park in the R10 parking you can walk past the Cape Grace which is much quicker than walking on the road :-). 1.2km vs 500m

We started at the Shimansky’s Diamond Museum in the Clock Tower Mall, we had seen this on day one but were feeling a little sea sick and thus gave it a skip. The museum has a R50 entry fee which was waived as the museum had just opened. It was a great tour and ended in the most immaculate jewelry show room where they insisted Lauren try on a “My Girl” diamond ring that was beautiful but was R65 000. (click on the link above for more info.)

After that we went on to the Two Oceans Aquarium where we were in time to watch the feeding of the Rays and turtles in the I&J exhibit.  Due to the fact that is was christmas Father Christmas came and fed the animals. The Aquarium is a great place to go to with awesome exibits and is in good nic. Great place to go especially if you have small kids.

After the Aquarium we had a bite to eat at one of the Cafes and then went on the Wheel of Excellence that towers above the waterfront. It was a bit scary when we started as the wind was blowing and the cabin rocks back and forth when the wheel stops but the views from the top were awesome.

After getting off the wheel we thought that the weather looked great and thus thought a trip up the mountain to watch the sun set would be a great idea. We drove up to the mountain and had to park quite a distance from the cable way building but due to the fact that our tickets were bought online we just made our way up to the cable car which had no queue. There was a long queue of people waiting to go up for the sunset trip which is a little cheaper. We got onto the top of the mountain and started to walk and have a look at the the views from the top but unfortunately the wind came up and it was freezing, along with the wind came the clouds that make up the table cloth. We tried to see as much as we could but the cold was too much to bear and we thus went up to the cafe for some hot chocolate, coffee and cake. Due to the cold the Cafe was very busy and finding a table was very difficult.

We found a table that had a couple sitting at it but there were two free chairs which they said we could use, and we sat against the short wall. The couple were a brother and sister who were polish and they invited us to sit at their table, they were waiting for the ladies husband who was climbing the mountain. We had a great chat and they told us about their visit. The brother told us a funny story of how they had seen a rhino that was lying down but he said: “this would not make good photo so I step out car and shout at rhino with waving of hands and then rhino get up and I get very good photo and I is still living.”

The weather did not get any better but we wanted to watch the sunset so stuck it out just out of the wind on the steps outside of the cafe, but unfortunately in the end it was not up to us and the siren went off and everyone had to leave the mountain, luckily did get a few good pics.

Once down at the base of the mountain there was barely any wind and we made our way home.

Cape Town – Day 2

Day two in Cape Town started with a small breakfast at the V&A Waterfront before the boat trip to Robben Island for our Robben Island Tour.

Tips for Travelers to Cape Town – Book your tickets online then you do not need to stand in any queues or be disappointed if the boat is full. The only problem with Robben island is you book a particular date and time so if the weather turns then you will have to change your ticket which has an admin fee.

We finished our breakfast 15 minutes before the boat was due to leave and then when we got to the bridge that goes over the canal to the marina and dry dock the bridge was closed as a boat was passing by and we then had to run to get onto the boat. In the rush we actually went the wrong way and had to go back to be searched :-). We got onto the boat, Susan Kruger, and decided to go downstairs as we thought the sway would be less, as we got into the boat we realized that the boat was built in the 70’s and had not been updated since.

Tips for travelers to Cape Town – When going to Robben Island make sure you book you tickets on Sikhululekile, which name translates to ‘We are now free’, and not Susan Kruger as Susan is a little old and chugs along slowly with much smoke.

While chugging out of Table Bay I was able to step out onto the back of the boat that was a little scary and took a snap of Cape Town from the Bay.

The trip to the island was almost long enough to use the barf bags and we were thus very happy when the boat made its way into the harbour on Robben Island and we could get off the boat. Once on the island a voice came from the speakers at the docks telling us to move to the busses move to the busses.

Once on the busses we started the drive around the island where the guide gave us a history of the Island – what it has been used for and showed us the different sights, buildings and interesting areas.

The Limestone quarry above was very interesting as the guide told us how the cave was used as a University, Post Office, Kitchen and Toilet. The rocks were extremely white and it was understandable how this damaged the prisoners eyes. The pile of Rocks was started by Nelson Mandela on returning to the island for a reunion and fellow freedom fighters continued to add rocks.

The busses then stopped at the prison and the prison tour by an ex inmate started. The prison tour ended with a view of Mandelas cell and then a short walk to freedom and the trip back to the mainland.

We found the tour of Robben island informative but very matter of fact, there was no time to let things sink in and there was very little time to browse by yourself. I would suggest going to Robben island as it is a world heritage site and is an interesting trip.

Cape Town Holiday – Day 1

First day in Cape Town after we had had a great night sleep in the Adlard’s spare IKEA beds, is was a saturday and we made our way down to the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, we were early and thus missed the traffic and the crowds.

Note to those travelling to Cape Town, if going to the biscuit Mill arrive early to get a good parking and go directly to the organic food market otherwise everything will be busy and most likely finished.

The biscuit mill is awesome, a great idea and is uplifting a suburb that was a little bit of a slum. It is however rather overpriced.

After leaving the mill we went back to the Adlards and all went off to Kirstenbosch Gardens for a picnic lunch under the trees. The Gardens are awesomely beautiful and a great place for a birthday, wedding, picnic or just to chill out with beauty all around you. We walked parts of the Garden but they are fairly large and thus didnt do the whole garden.

Note to travelers to Cape Town, when going to the Gardens, go early and spend the entire day there chilling under the mountain and taking in the beauty that is South Africa

After the Gardens we watched an awesome sunset behing the mountain from Pinelands.