Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Déjà vu - the holiday continues

To start again where I left off, I'm going to do a quick rewind and get you up to date as to where we have been what we have and haven't done for the last fourteen days.

to start Not too much has happened and pretty much followed the following routine...

       Walk to the beach
                                         Drink tea
                                                             Walk back from the beach
       Walk to the beach
                                         Drink tea
                                                             Walk back from the beach

As I said nothing very much happened as one day rolled nicely into the next.........

Seagulls on the beach
Moonscape view from our apartment

No Shoe but Kwak in hand
But then the weather turned a bit nasty in Fish Hoek so we duly hopped in the car and peddled off to Cape Town to do the touristy bit - nothing nicer than being a tourist in your own country.So moving right along; the day continued after a nice scenic drive to end up at the V&A Waterfront, a bit of a stroll through the shops then onto lunch at Den Anker where we had an excellent steak tartare starter and then a mussel pot for mains, but the highlight of the lunch was the beer I had, it was a Belgium beer called Kwak, now the highlight is that if you want to order said beer you have to give in your left shoe as a hostage until you return the glass, the shoe is then brought back to you.

Then we wandered on down to the docks where we took a place on an hour and a half sunset cruise on the Cruise IQ catamaran - Peroni, this is nothing new for us as each year we go for a sail on either the Sister yacht Tigress or this time on the Peroni

Picture Of Peroni from their webpage

Oil rig in Cape Town Harbour

Lowlight of the day was that one of the mendacious ATM machines decided that Pam's credit card was invalid or some other pathetic excuse and swallowed it never to be returned, but we were not deterred, nothing stops us on a mission.......

Seeing as it was such a nice evening after the cruise and not really wanting to head out into the traffic we stopped by the small open air amphitheater in the waterfront to listen to the days performances (these incidentally are all free and you can walk in or leave as the mood takes you)Started off with the OBE - Omega Brass ensemble, a very accomplished group of disadvantaged kids that have been introduced to music as a way of keeping them occupied and out of mischief after school and now perform as a brass band ensemble, this was followed on with Christmas carols with the Salvation Army Band - I am not a big fan of Christmas carols ('nuff said) but Pam really enjoys it so I do a bit of suffering for her, This was then followed up with the Cape Town Highlanders (much more up my street) - But I must say all in all it was a very entertaining time. 

Salvation Army 
Then it was back to........

       Walk to the beach
                                         Drink tea
                                                             Walk back from the beach

Then along comes the next highlight of the holiday, friends of ours Tanya and Vaughan invited us to yet another night of Christmas Carols.... Just got to love those Christmas Carols..... at the Cape point Vineyard where they incidentally also hold a Thursday market, but anyhow back to the concert.... There was a young South African performer by the name of Nadine who performed a very nice repertoire of music and a few carols as the sun went down and we all partook rather generously of the local wine and food that was on sale.
All proceeds from this performance went to a local charity that allowed 350 disadvantaged children to be fed for a year.

Cape Point Vineyard

The stage is set

Nadine and band

And yes you guessed it....

       Walk to the beach
                                         Drink tea
                                                             Walk back from the beach

Some where in amongst this there was a bit of excitement on said beach .... the siren went off which sounds like an air raid warning or a call for the dead to arise, a shark was spotted close to shore..... people mostly rush out of the water, but a few more foolhardy souls  stroll out and then proceed to argue with the life guards - I say let them stay in the water, get eaten and provide us with a bit of (gory) entertainment reminiscent of the roman games.
Fish Hoek does have a protective net, but we still have to evacuate in case a shark manages to breach the net and comes wandering around looking for something to chew on.
Shark Information Boards

Shark Net being brought back in at night

       Walk to the beach
                                         Drink tea
                                                             Walk back from the beach

Christmas Eve... No..... No carols this time, but an invitation to a crayfish (Cape Rock Lobster) dinner with champagne on the rocks with our friends Tanya and Vaughan.
What an awesome dinner that was sitting on the rocks eating fresh crayfish (Vaughan had caught them that morning) while the surf broke around us and the sun went down, absolutely terrible we had to suffer so, but I suppose someone has to do it.
Pam with lobster 

Pam, Vaughan, and Tanya

Looking towards the back of Table mountain


One of my Rock creations

Tanya with rock creation

My rock creation to the sea gods

Yet more.......

Christmas Day..... NO!!!!....... NO CHRISTMAS CAROLS!!!!!....... But off to Christmas lunch at the Rickety Bridge Winery estate in Franshoek with my sister Marganne, her husband Brian and one of their daughters Robyn, Absolutely fabulous!!!!
As a closing bonus to the lunch I managed to secure a pair of Rickety Bridge Teddy bears for Pam and Robyn.
Pam, Brian, Marganne and Robyn

Rickety Bridge Winery

Franschoek Valley

Rickety Teddy

And so the Christmas Day ends, tomorrow I am not quite sure what is going to happen - (more on that later), and then Friday the big trek home starts again with another ???? KM to go.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Déjà vu - Déjà view

Prince Albert - Wednesday 11th December to Friday 15th December Fish Hoek, Cape Town

A drive with a view, whew and what a view, we have driven the Swartberg pass before but it never fails with its awesome views, one feels your eyes aren't big enough to take in the whole expanse of scenery and huge vault of the sky above your head, let alone the mind numbing drops to the valley below, the journey up and over is about 26 kilometers but it takes us nearly 2 hours.

The journey incidentally from Prince Albert where we started the Swartberg pass and the onward to Cape Town once over the pass just under 600km took us nearly 8 hours, we had to stop for calls of nature, tea and scones and lunch - this is slow traveling at its best, we are true aficionado's of slow travel.

And now it is onto 16 days of lazing on a beach, basking in the sun, of course a lot good food and wine and maybe a bit of sight-seeing.

And 1572km later - the journey is not yet halfway through:

I will not bore you further with with long wordy descriptions but rather a few photos:

Onto the Swartberg pass

View through the car winscreen

View from the pass

The road we have traveled

Onward and upward

Rock formations

A road with no edge

The road behind

More rock formations

Polana Restuarant in Kalk Bay, our first dinner in Cape Town

View from the Polana

Fishermen at Kalk bay Harbour

View from our flat

Fish Hoek beach - 18:30 in the evening

Fish Hoek beach - 18:30 in the evening

Fish Hoek beach - 18:30 in the evening

Fish Hoek beach - 18:30 in the evening

Fish Hoek beach - 18:30 in the evening

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Déjà vu - Another long and winding road

And so it came to pass, another year has thankfully ground to an inevitable end.

Once again we are heading back on the road for another long winding road trip to Cape Town and beyond, why Cape Town again you ask, well firstly it is a nice long drive, and secondly other than the Pilanesberg it is the only other place I like in South Africa, well other than the Karoo through which we will pass en-route.

The route will follow thus; Johannesburg - Gariep Dam - Prince Albert - Swartberg Pass - Fish Hoek (Cape Town) - ..... - Prince Albert - Graaf Reinett - Nieuw Bathesda - Gariep Dam - Johannesburg (bleuugh)

Firstly lots and lots of packing, Pam likes to travel large, me, I need a shirt, swimming shorts, shorts and strops (canvas sandals) oh and a tooth brush.

So we will drive and drive and drive ...... And drive.....

600km down the road to our first stop at De Stijl hotel at Gariep Dam

Our room at the De Stijl Hotel

View from our room

The view from our room was spectacular, albeit that the dam is very low due to the drought being experienced in South Africa at the moment.

Gariep Dam seen from our room

The front side of the wall showed just how badly the water level had dropped since our visit of last year due to the drought now being experienced across the country.

Gariep Dam Wall

A rather vertiginous look over the overflow side of the Gariep dam wall

The next day we set off for our next stop, that being the town of Prince Albert another approximately 500 km down the road, now I can't be too accurate on this as we have a propensity for minor detours en route, I.e. We deviate off the main road into other little towns such as Richmond to have a peek around and to purchase much needed victuals such as biltong (dried beef or game meat) to sustain us on the long drive.

Unfortunately there is a lot of road maintenance going on on the road, so this involved stop-go places, and we were often held up for 20 -30 minutes - good leg and back stretch opportunity and a photo opportunity - apologies for the bluish photo! my camera decided to go on the blink and later I had to do a minor reset of all settings.
During the trip, we found the need to stop in at Beaufort West for some scones and jam all washed down with a vanilla milkshakes then we hit a rain storm, not as bad as our last trip that was to all intents and purposes a prelude to the gates of hell but pretty bad all the same.

Stop / Go 

And then onto Prince Albert, I don't have words for this exquisite little town, it is all I could ever want in a small Karoo town, peace, quiet, a museum, excellent food, and we can walk the streets safely day and night.
It does however get a tad hot, as seen in the below photo at 07:30 in the morning it had already reached 26C / 78F and this is on a day that is mostly cloudy with massive storms the day before.

The museum of Prince Albert is now housed in a ex-residence, and also proved to be a very interesting visit during the morning

Prince Albert Museum

Dinner was had at the Gallery restaurant on the upper floor of a building called the Seven Arches (See Below) as always a gastronomic affair, of figs and Gorgonzola cheese to start, then Pork fillet with ginger for Pam and a Kudu fillet for me.
I then had a trio of homemade ice cream for desert

Starters of figs and Gorgonzola

Pork Fillet

Kudu Fillet

Seven Arches and Gallery restaurant

The below photo is the self catering cottage we are staying in called Karoo View

Our cottage

And now to catch up to today this being Tuesday 10th December, we strolled around Prince Albert for most of the morning doing a bit of shopping and sightseeing and maybe just a bit of trying to walk off last nights dinner but then stopping in at the lazy lizard for scones, apple tart and tea to sustain through the morning.
And this led to a discussion on what was for dinner, and lo and behold what did we spy on said menu, none other than a plough mans platter, chicken, cheese, lamb, figs, salad and bread etc ( see below) after enquiry we requested to have it prepared and packed up for collection at 17:00 to be taken back to our cottage for dinner again to be washed down with a very passable Sauvignon blanc from the local area

We then went for another stroll around the town to walk off dinner and to get some exercise, we did think there was going to be another big storm tonight, but all it produces was a rather spectacular sunset.
And as I sit here on our patio looking out into the pitch darkness and typing, it is 20:21, the temperature is a mild 24C / 72F

Tomorrow we set off again hopefully crossing the Swartberg pass, and onwards to Cape Town, for us approximately a 6 -7 hour journey of about 500 - 600 kilometers again accuracy does not count because of said deviations to sniff out interesting places to see and eat.