Cape Winelands Trip Report

Jan 14th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2007
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Cape Winelands Trip Report

I wanted to thank everyone on here for the excellent information and help in planning our wine and culinary expedition to the Cape Winelands. Our trip was truly amazing. We honestly couldn't imagine how beautiful South Africa was and how friendly all of the people we met were.

We spent 5 nights in the winelands, 2 nights at Sanbona Game Reserve, and 2 nights in Cape Town. We are definitely on track to plan a nice and long vacation to Cape Town again this year.

I quickly threw up our pictures and very brief commentary on our blog and i'm going to expand upon it once I get caught up with work.

If your interested photos and such are at

ast13 is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 10:47 AM
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Thanks for your blog and photos. Glad you had a great time. I've also booked Akademie Street Guesthouses for our stay in September. Thanks also for your candid restaurant and winery reviews. Do you recall the name of the seafood restaurant in Fish Hoek?
Patty is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 11:12 AM
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Thanks for the report ast13 - sounds like you had a great time. It was nice to see the pics of the Akademie guesthouse - we stayed in the same cottage when we were there last Febraury. We really enjoyed Katherine and Arthur, and found them to be so helpful. Did they leave you a bottle of sparkling wine in the 'fridge, and did they still have their 2 dogs (Woof & Alice) and 3 cats (Mother, Lulu and Chalky)?

cynstalker is offline  
Jan 14th, 2007, 11:17 AM
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You'll have a great time at Akademie Street. It's wonderful. I plan to add some more detailed info on the meals we had, but we honestly had no bad meals.

The place in Fish Hoek was called the Fish Hoek Gallery Restaurant. It was right on the beach and fairly busy when we were there. The prices were very reasonable (or at least by US $ standpoint).
ast13 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 01:22 PM
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Hi, ASt13 - thanks so much for the report.

It comes at an opportune time for me as i'm about to book a SA trip for July for me and family, comprosing 4 nights cape town, 2 nights Grootbos, 3 nights Hog Hollow, and 3 nights addo/Shamwari.

Thanks especially for the tips about Jo'burg airport - we're due to spend a few hours there en route too.

how did you find travelling around at night especially in Cape Town? - i'm a bit worried about security after all I've read and heard about it.

what would you like to have done in Cape town that you missed out on?

What did you do that you wouldn't bother with?

What would you do again?



annhig is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Cyn - yes they still have their dogs and cats and yes they left the sparkling wine in our fridge which was very nice.

Ann -
At night in Cape Town I felt perfectly safe. We walked around the waterfront and it was fine. We found the taxis the restaurants and hotel called for us were fine. Everyone we met was friendly and helpful. We had dinner one night in the city bowl. The city bowl is dead at night. We walked around a little to the neighboring bars near Savoy Cabbage that were pretty busy but otherwise the area is dead. We also walked around Kloof St. the one night and felt fine, just like any other big city like NY, DC or Philly. If you stay in the nicer areas, you shouldn't have problems.

Going to South Africa I was prepared for the worst. Everything people told me was how dangerous it was. The right wing/left wing stuff i'd read on the net scared me a bit. A simple Google search brings up some crazy stuff. But honestly, when we got there after the first day I realized someone probably is not going to jump out of a car and shoot me walking down the street.

The interesting thing was how many South Africans asked me how crazy US crime was and if we were scared. They also asked us how all Americans were so thin. So clearly, the media is feeding both countries a lot of junk.

The barbed wire, electric fences, etc. are a little uncomfortable, but I did not feel unsafe at all. Clearly there is a crime problem in South Africa, but I witnessed none. I'd imagine if you do something stupid, bad things can happen, but it is the same in the US or anywhere else.

As for Cape Town, we were there briefly. The winelands are a must even for a day. Its a beautiful drive. Great food. Good wine. The cape point tour we took was nice, but I felt rushed. If I did a tour, i'd do a half day. The full day tours are long.

I think next time we will just drive our rental car down to cape point and hit up a few things on a nice leisurely day or even two. I'd like to spend a few hours at Kirtsenbosch Gardens since its so nice.

For future trips, we hope to go to Robben Island, head up table mountain and go into a township.

The only thing i'd skip is the Waterfront. Maybe go down for an hour, but its essentially a shopping mall and Europe and the US have those a plenty.
ast13 is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 12:56 PM
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Hi, ast,

Thanks for the tips about Cape town it was very reassuring.

do i gather that you had a hire car [we will have one from the 2nd day of stay to the end] but used taxis to get around Cape town? we are staying at the Waterfront [3 free nights at the Radisson with 2 at Shamwari] - would you suggest getting taxis into cape town at night? What restaurants can you recommend?

Thanks again for the report -

regards, Ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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Ann: I have had the hotel call and arrange a taxi for whatever time I needed it. The driver will then usually give you a card and you can call or have the restaurant call (if you are dinning) to get picked up.

It is a wonderful city and very easy to get around.
PredatorBiologist is offline  
Jan 18th, 2007, 05:50 PM
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We had a car rental for the trip. In Cape Town we parked it and used taxis to get around at night. We drank quite a bit so that was our primary reason of using taxis, plus I didn't really want to deal with parking and driving at night and getting lost.

The taxi rates did vary a lot. Marine Taxi who our hotel used was half the price of the other taxi companies the restaurants used. But in general, a trip from the waterfront, to say the city bowl was $5 or so. And you let the hotel or restaurant call a reputable taxi for you and they generally show up in a minute or so.

During the day, we drove around and it was fine.

As for restaurants, Savoy Cabbage was my favorite trip meal. Manolo was also very good. If your looking for a very good meal, I recommend both.

ast13 is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 06:50 AM
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hi, Ast,

thanks again for the tips. i hadn't thought about the alcohol angle, but if cabs are so cheap, it makes more sense than using up petrol.

Ill look up your two restaurants now!
annhig is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 11:30 AM
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ast13- We really enjoyed your report on the Winelands. We are spending four nights there in early October. Most people seem to go for the day from Capetwon so it was good to hear from visitors who were there for a while. We live near the California wine country and are very intersted in wine. We often travel to wine regions. How did you choose the wineries you decided to go to and/or tour? We have made appointments in the past at small family wineries all over the world where we can often have a rather small tour and/or tasting even out of the barrels. Is that possible in the Winelands? How many wineries did you try to visit in one day- three? Another question- We are flying from the west coast through London and then on to Johannesburg. After 24 hours we are leaving for a Safari in Botswana. Because of this we cannot lose our luggage. What would you suggest we do- carry on some- which is hard????? Thanks for answering all questions.
zinfanatic is offline  
Jan 19th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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zinfan -

I spent quite a bit of time researching the wineries. I contacted the different wine routes and used the net to research. What I tried to do is go to places that are not widely available in the US. Since there isn't a huge amount of SA wines in the US, it wasn't terribly hard.

I mainly used the Platter Guide as my start for my research and selected a number of the highly rated wineries (if i'm travelling 8,000 miles I better get some tasty wine) and went from there. The wine routes had decent maps and other information.

You'll find the main winelands are Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. There are also other wine regions near Cape Town but those are the big ones and all close by. I tried to plan a quick day in each area. We hit about 3 wineries a day.

There are a number of small wineries. I tried to get barrel tastings, however when I was in the area was their holiday time so many winemakers were on vacation. I don't think the barrel tasting is as popular in South Africa as in the Western US so i'm not sure how many you'll be able to find. I did find that the winemakers were easy to contact via email and were very accomodating.

My blog lists most of the wineries we visited but feel free to email me at [email protected] for additional detailed information. I could make some recommendations on some wine we had based on your wine preferences (i.e. oaked whites verus non-oaked whites).

As for the luggage, i'd recommend making sure you have travel delay insurance and carry on a day or two of clothes. That way if your luggage is delayed you can buy some clothes quickly.
ast13 is offline  

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