Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Africa & the Middle East
Reload this Page > Looking for a single, comprehensive trip report from Roccco & Scaredtodeath

Looking for a single, comprehensive trip report from Roccco & Scaredtodeath

Reply

Jun 26th, 2003, 06:58 AM
  #41
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
Rocco, I've been following your post and have really enjoyed your travelogues, but I question your seletion of the Ritz Carlton Battery Park. Battery Park was created from the landfill dug out during the construction of the World Trade Center, and is at the very bottom of Manhattan and is not well situated, in my view, to visiting Manhattan. Its a great business hotel, but you'd be much better off at the Ritz Carlton on 57th Street, from where you can walk to Times Square, Fifth Avenue, museums, Madison Avenue, restaurants, Central Park, etc. You will be heavily depending on taxis if you stay in Battery Park. Even if slightly more costly, you may want to consider the Ritz at 57th St, especially if you can get a view of Central Park. There is a reason why the Ritz in Battery Park is much less expensive than midtown hotels!
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 26th, 2003, 07:02 AM
  #42
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Thit Cho,

I just needed to book something. Some people need a cigarette, I, on the other hand, need to book!

I will continue to research and more likely than not, end up switching back to the St. Regis or Four Seasons.

The W hotel has pretty good prices, under $300 per night, but I don't think the rooms will be all that great.

The Muse Hotel has very good prices, also about $300 per night, but I am not impressed with the pictures and it doesn't hold the appearance of the 4.5* hotel it claims to be.

Trust me, I am just getting started with this one.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 26th, 2003, 07:40 AM
  #43
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
Understood, but remember, in Manhattan, location is key!
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 26th, 2003, 01:36 PM
  #44
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Rocco -
In many ways I have to agree with Thit_cho re location. While lower Manhattan has gotten lots of play after 9/11 with lots of interesting restaurants, shops, quaint streets, you might be better off staying at the Tribeca Grand (and the other Grand, there are two hotels, same owners) - if you want to stay downtown.
which is right in the heart of Soho/Tribeca.

Being downtown has it's advantages for some sights - Statue of Liberty (but you can't climb it these days), Ellis Island, the Seaport, galaries in Soho, Chinatown, the West Village.

However, being somewhere mid-town is a better choice. I've been in some of the rooms at the Four Seasons, and WOW - BIG! But I don't know at what rate these are available. And the St. Regis is the St. Regis, no problems with this one.

You don't seem like the type of person who will be jumping on/off the subway even if it's the best way to get around town, though you may opt for the buses - so it's going to be taxis for you and these can be costly especially if you get caught in traffic.

Hey, I live on the Upper East Side and my favorite restaurant is down in Tribeca (Capsuto Freres) to which we take a taxi that sets up back about $15 w/tip each way. Though as New Yorkers, even dressed "to the nines" have been known to hop the bus/subway if no taxis available. You do what you've got to do.

Well, at least for the time being, you've got something booked, but keep checking, and quickly, as you don't want to take too long and be locked out.
 
Reply With Quote
Jun 26th, 2003, 01:41 PM
  #45
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
YesltlsYesltls -

Thanks for the heads-up on the contacts re Botswana and Namibia, Wilderness Safaris - I've got lots of info and had our itinerary all planned when we had to cancel, but should situations change, it never hurts to have more contacts.

Same as to the air consolidator - I too have a good company that I've used previously, but this too "goes in the file."

Thanks again.
 
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 04:25 AM
  #46
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
OK...back to the original subject matter at hand.

PART VIII - The Selwyn Chronicles

Our third day in Cape Town began as the first two day, with a fabulous breakfast in the Azure restaurant at The Twelve Apostles. Over breakfast STD, was pouting that maybe I should go with Selwyn while she went off and did her own thing that day.

At 9AM we met Selwyn in the lobby of the hotel and then for the next 90 minutes sat together in his minivan in the parking lot just talking. Maybe it took Selwyn that long before he decided whether or not he really wanted to spend the day with us!

By the end of the 90 minutes, STD kept hitting me on the arm whenever Selwyn wasn't looking and telling me how much she loved Selwyn. "Isn't Selwyn the best?!", STD remarked an hour after meeting him. And here I thought that STD thought I was the best and it took me nearly 10 years to achieve such status.

Selwyn wanted to show us interesting things about Cape Town that others could not, that he only knew after living in Cape Town all his life.

Right in the parking lot of the Twelve Apostles, Selwyn pointed out a shipwreck nearby that we would have never known about otherwise. I don't remember exactly how many years ago it was, possibly 30+ years earlier that the shipwreck occurrred, but it basically parked a big fishing vessel right up against the highway between Camps Bay and Hout Bay. The government or the company that owned the ship tried to auction off the ship to anyone that was interested in it for salvage, but it would have been more expensive to remove the ship from the water than the salvage material was worth.

Consequently, the ship sold for 1 cent. The buyer, being a shrewd businessman, after some preparation, for the next many weekends, held "shipwreck parties" and Capetonians flocked to these parties and paid a hefty fee to attend these parties. He took that one cent investment and made plenty of money on the parties. After the parties finally died down, the businessman removed the necessary parts of the ship, but parts of the ship remained and were visible right from the Twelve Apostles Hotel.

From there it was not more than 1/2 a kilometer away that Selwyn showed us the lady that lived on the side of the road right outside Llandudno. She was either engaged to marry some very rich man or she had just married some very rich man when the man passed away. He had included her in his will and she should have been set for the rest of her life but because the will was not recorded, this woman was given nothing. For Americans, it was the equivalent of Anna Nicole Smith, for example, not getting a penny from her very wealthy husband and instead of ending up a big TV star, ending up a recluse that lived on the side of the road accepting handouts and cigarettes from motorists who stop at the side of the road to enjoy the view. 8+ hours later we would return to the site and the woman was still in her car, and it seemed like she hadn't moved all day or for months or years for that matter.

Selwyn attempted to take us to the top of some mountain in the Camps Bay area where everyday at 12PM a cannon or big gun was fired to memorialize those that died in some war or other, WWII, I believe. Unfortunately, because it was Youth Day, there was a barricade and we could not get up to the top of the mountain. We did see up there some huge new homes that were going up. I found the homes to be ridiculous. Beautiful new homes valued at 10 million+ Rand but with absolutely no land and some with boulders as big as the homes just waiting for a slight earthquake to be jarred lose and come crashing down on the homes. I believe this area was called Arcadia or Round Top, but I cannot remember for sure.

Selwyn showed us the heart of Camps Bay, an indentation right in the mountain above Camps Bay that when pointed out seems to form a perfect heart.

In the three hours or so that we were still by in Camps Bay but working our way back towards the City, we all kind of developed a roadmap for the day, or so Selwyn and I thought. The only mistake that Selwyn and I made was getting off to a late start and being too close to the Cape Grace hotel by lunchtime.

STD, never one for sticking to the original plan, at that point suggested that we all eat at "One" at the Cape Grace. Selwyn and I were not too fond of the idea because we knew that this would take a minimum of 90 minutes and would not return to the streets until nearly 2PM. This would really mess up our whole schedule and not allow a visit to Kayamendu (sp.?) or the Cheetah farm. Regardless, some personalities are stronger than others and to avoid a standoff, Selwyn and I yielded to STD's wishes.

"Why do you want to eat American food when you are in Africa?" was the question that Selwyn posed to STD but STD was insistent that it was not American food. Once it was settled we were at the Cape Grace within a couple minutes for a very nice lunch at "One."

Selwyn easily made the transition from the original gameplan to the newly modified game plan and did so like a champ, never letting an ego get in the way, more interested that his guests, or at least the one with the stronger personality, was having a good time. No problem, after 10 years I have learned to live with it and as revenge drag her along on safari and place her within three meters of hungry lions!

It was a nice lunch at the Cape Grace and there was never a single awkward moment of silence during lunch or during the 12+ hours that we spent together. How could there be such a moment with Selwyn and STD at each side. These two just love to talk! While I consider myself a normal to good conversationalist, next to these two I was a mute.

From the Cape Grace, with our day's schedule now completely compromised, we made our way over to the Botanical Gardens so STD could browse the shops and Selwyn and I could spend some time in the Botanical Gardens. It was overcast and a bit chilly but still beautiful. Although I had seen the Gardens last year in March, they are still a wondrous site. Walking through the Gardens I was reminded how out of shape I was and needed to start training again once I got home.

After nearly an hour at the Botanical Gardens, we made our way over to the Constantia and Claremont area. We stopped at the Vineyard Hotel just to see how it compared to the other hotels that we had seen in Cape Town. It was nice but nothing worth considering over the Cape Grace, Table Bay, Twelve Apostles or even Mount Nelson.

All during the day we spoke of current South African political affairs and a variety of other topics. While before I admittedly had a certain view of squatters camps and those that inhabited them, it was not until Selwyn showed me a laminated map that he had made up that my opinion started to change. On the map there were small areas highlighted. There were about six such areas that possibly made up 10-15% of all South Africa. It was only in those areas that blacks and possibly all non-whites were allowed to live permanently. For them to be in the city, they required a "pass", allowing them access to work.

So, of course now that there is free passage, people from these areas have come to the cities looking for work and there is rarely any work to be had and instead of going back to the areas that they were once banished to, most have stayed in the cities.

I was consoled at the fact that if I ever did buy a home in Cape Town, that if I bought in a completely developed area where there was no free land available that I would not have to worry about a squatters...er..."informal settlement" popping up in my backyard.

We did talk some about the racial politics in the USA and it did open my eyes that the USA was not much different than South Africa, just a few years further ahead. My own mother grew up in the equivalent of an informal settlement in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles, where the Mexicans that picked fruit were housed, a place called "Hicks Camp."

My father, although also Mexican-American, was more affluent (even I didn't have a new convertible Corvette at 20 years old!) and by the time my first memories were available, we were living on an exclusive street in San Gabriel, "Country Club Drive", where, as non-whites, and this as late as 1980, we would not be allowed to join the Country Club opposite our house.

Funny how memories like this escape a person after a few years. I did not feel persecuted by it all, but it was a good reminder that the racial politics of South Africa are not so different than the racial politics of the USA's just two or three decades beforehand.

From the Botanical Gardens, we spent some time in a neighborhood shopping center in Constantia where STD was able to enjoy going through the aisles and being amazed for the 99th time about how cheap the prices are in South Africa for food, and this at probably one of the more expensive ranch style supermarkets. I didn't protest when she bought sun-dried tomatos or dried fruit and I just hope that I don't find them in our suitcase when we go to Italy next May or June!

We saw another area called Mount Rhodes that had some very nice houses. However, there is a selling spree in Mount Rhodes and it seemed like 1/4 of the houses were for sale. Why? Because right across the road now, possibly less than a kilometer away, is the view of the very big informal settlement that has popped up in Constantia.

Many whites are heading out to the Somerset West area these days, completely reminding me of the white flight from Los Angeles in the last 10-20 years. Well, those whites that went to North Orange County or the Inland Empire (both areas within about 40-50 miles of Los Angeles) now need to move again. It is a temporary solution for some, I suppose.

By this time when we were in Mount Rhodes, it was already past 5:30PM. We wanted to get back to the hotel before 6PM so that Selwyn could join us for our included High Tea. Selwyn punched the petal to the metal and got us back to the hotel at about 10 minutes before 6PM and we all headed up to the Leopard Lounge for high tea.

We enjoyed the best high tea that I have had to date (and I have had high tea at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong and the Mount Nelson Hotel). Numerous artery clogging sweets were rolled out along with tea and coffee. There was a wonderful live entertainer right behind us and she played her keyboard and sang current songs such as Norah Jones music and the like.

By 8PM, when we were still going strong with Selwyn, STD ordered a plate of mussels and Selwyn and her chowed down on Mussels and fresh bread, while I continued to pick at whatever pastries were still around. Although we had all been together for 11 hours at that point, there were still no awkward moments of silence, although my head would be ringing for the next week (just kidding).

At just after 9PM, we decided that we better say our goodbyes unless Selwyn was going to come along with us to the Cape Winelands and the Lanzerac Manor. We had to checkout of the Twelve Apostles by 9:00 AM and still needed to pack, etc.

We bid our goodbyes, but not our farewells, and vowed to see each other again, whether it was on Selwyn's next visit to the USA or whether it was in two years when I will somehow run the Two Oceans (56K) Marathon in Cape Town.

Our day with Selwyn was a magnificent one and each STD and I really learned a lot from him. Plus, it was just another example of another fine Capetonian and only strengthened our desire to one day become at least seasonal Capetonians, ourselves.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 05:09 AM
  #47
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Thit Cho, Sandi and anyone else familiar with NYC hotels,

Do any of the following strike you as good bargains or great locations:

(The dollar amounts are for each of the nights that I am staying, October 30th, 31st, November 01st and November 02nd).

BRYANT PARK HOTEL
CITY CENTER
269.95 269.95 269.95 269.95

THE MUSE
TIMES SQUARE
269.95 209.95 269.95 269.95

SWISSOTEL NEW YORK, THE DRAKE
MIDTOWN EAST
279.95 239.95 239.95 279.95

BENJAMIN
MANHATTAN
289.95 289.95 289.95 289.95


HELMSLEY PARK LANE
ON CENTRAL PARK
319.95 319.95 319.95 319.95

FLATOTEL
52ND AT 6TH AVE
319.95 319.95 319.95 319.95

ROYALTON
MIDTOWN
329.95 299.95 299.95 299.95

SOFITEL
NEAR TIME SQUARE
329.95 329.95 329.95 329.95

IROQUOIS
MIDTOWN
349.95 329.95 329.95 329.95

KITANO HOTEL
PARK AVE AT 38TH STREET
369.95 309.95 309.95 309.95

THE PLAZA HOTEL
CENTRAL PARK SOUTH
380.00 380.00 380.00 380.00

STANHOPE PARK HYATT NEW YORK
UPPER EAST SIDE
389.95 389.95 389.95 389.95

OMNI BERKSHIRE PLACE
52ND/5TH
489.95 399.95 399.95 399.95

All of the above hotels advertise themselves as 4.5* hotels with the exception of the Park Plaza which claims to be a 5* but which is suspiciously missing from Conde Nast Traveler's Gold List.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 07:45 AM
  #48
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 209
We stayed at The Muse last year over Memorial Day weekend. We picked up a deal from Travelocity or Expedia for $159/night. Good location close to Time Square and the Theater District, but on a quiet side street. Rooms were nice and not too small for New York City, down pillows and comforters, robes and Philosophy bath products.
Nicci is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 08:04 AM
  #49
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
BRYANT PARK HOTEL -- good location, right on Bryant Park near Public Library, so close to Times Square -- a trendy hotel with a good restaurant (I work right across the park from the hotel)

THE MUSE -- don't know it

SWISSOTEL NEW YORK, THE DRAKE -- on Park Avenue, a good business hotel


BENJAMIN -- on Lexington Avenue around 50th Street, not a terrible location and I think most rooms are suites (also right near subway)

HELMSLEY PARK LANE -- good location right on Central Park, but not the nicest hotel on the park, but if you can get a park view would be worth it --great location near Central Park and 5th and Madison Avenue shopping


FLATOTEL -- never heard of it


ROYALTON -- older, historic hotel, good location near Times Square, but not a top choice


SOFITEL -- don't know it


IROQUOIS -- don't know it


KITANO HOTEL - terrible location on Park Avenue South -- isolated


THE PLAZA HOTEL -- great location and I think you'd be happiest here (right on the park, near shopping), but rooms can be small

STANHOPE PARK HYATT NEW YORK -- isolated on Upper East Side, very residential and quiet (not near subway but plenty of buses on 5th Avenue right by hotel)

OMNI BERKSHIRE PLACE -- way too expensive for midrange hotel
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 09:18 AM
  #50
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,549
Rocco,
thanks for your detailed trip report which has been fun to read...

On the NY hotels...The Iroquios (more traditions decor) and the Royalton (more modern decor) are across from each other on one of the mid 40's streets in Midtown close to Time Square.

I stayed in the Iroquious a couple of years ago it's a small hotel next to the Algonquin the room was nice enough but because it's a small hotel there are very limited amenities. The thing about NY hotels is that the rooms really are small even in nice hotels. Compared with the types of rooms in Capetown you don't get that much for your money.

Personally I wasn't thrilled about the midtown location...it has a very "office/commercial" feel and unless you're going to spend alot of time at Time Sq or the theatres I'd prefer something with more of a neighborhood feel.The Muse is a relatively new hotel very close to Time Sq...agian fairly small, it has a modern decor and has got good reviews, I've passed it but never stayed there. I friend of mine just went for drinks down at the Ritz in Battery Park she said the view from the bar was wonderful but I agree it is out of the way.

One more suggestion have you looked at www.quikbook.com as they often have excellent prices.

Hope that helps!
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 10:51 AM
  #51
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Rocco - Let me add my two-cents:

There are alot of new hotels that have opened in the past two-three years, many reconstructed from older buildings in existing business areas and with few exceptions the rooms are ok size, some might be very small, little closet space, and maybe only showers but no tubs or sufficient counter space in bathrooms. From your list, my comments:

BRYANT PARK - Was an office building, right across street (E.41St.) from Bryant Park and the Main Public Library (the one with the two lions on front steps). A Little Trivia Here: the vaults of the Library are under the lawn of Bryant Park, lots of valuables here. The Bryant Grill Restaurant is at rear of Library; I prefer the outdoor, though indoors is OK too, but a bit too noisy. A few blocks from 42nst St. Times Square. And half-block from 5th Avenue. It is on a commercial street. But a good location.

THE MUSE - Another new one, but have no info on this.

ROYALTON - Sister hotel of the PAROMOUNT, an Ian Shrager hotel, with Philip Stark interior, no doubt, very modern. Bet the rooms are small.

BENJAMIN - Formerly The Beverly, on Lexington Avenue, diagonally across from the rear entrance of The Waldorf-Astoria. Known for fact that they offer choice of pillows - they have about 25 you can choose from. This might also be the hotel that provides a "goldfish" (in bowl of water) if you miss the pet you left at home. There rooms seem to be decent size, but you'd have to check. Lots of other hotels along Lex Avenue, restaurants on Lex and Third, Second Aves. and side streets.

KITANO HOTEL - Park Ave. and 39th St. (I believe), someone said the beds were short, maybe because it is part of a Japanese chain. In a residential area of Murray Hill, great to live in, but a bit too quiet, though not far from things.

SOFITEL - On or off Broadway in the 50s, not familiar with what rooms look like. Sofitel is the French chain of hotels.

IROQUOIS - Probably been remodeled after the many years it's been at this location, but don't have any particular info.

FLATOTEL - This is a chain of hotels with properties around the world and are on the high end as to cost, a recent entry in the NYC market. They are suppose to be rather nice, but again no specific information.

Now for those I would put on list of selections to investigate further:

THE DRAKE (Swissotel) - Park Ave. at 56th St. Older hotel, remodeled when Swissotel took over. Rooms mush have been enhanced at that time and have read very good comments on this.

HELMSLEY PARK LANE - When Leona took over the chain, rooms were enhanced, but don't know current status. Though if large rooms and can get view of Central Park, might be a good deal.

THE PLAZA - Well, it's the Plaza. Now part of the Fairmont Chain (SFO Fairmont hotel), rooms are constantly refurbished. Alot was done when Mrs. Ivana Trump was running the place. Large rooms, excellent lines, plush pillows. Right at corner or 59th St. & Fifth Avenue. Can be a good "people watching place". Should get room facing Central Park of Fifth Avenue (not rear or 58th St). Remember "Eloise lived here" Across from FAO Schwarz, GM Building, Bergdorfs, few block North of Saks, Bendels nearby. And every and any shop you can think of is on E & W 57th Street. Great location.

OMNI BERKSHIRE - Believe this is 52 & Madison. You'd have to check room sizes, last I was there to visit a friend, room rather small. But again, all these hotels have been refurbished and lots of walls have been broken thru. Location is good.

STANHOPE PARK HYATT - As a Hyatt, at least they have the thickest towels in town. Supposedly Hyatt has the market on the heaviest weight towels in the industry. Believe the entire hotel was redone when Hyatt became owners. Right across from the Metroplitan Museum on Fifth Avenue, great views into Central Park if you get front facing room. You're right on Museum Row. Madison Ave. with lots of shopping and restaurants around the corner. Great side-streets as this is a residential area. You just never know who you might bump into on the street - used to see Jackie O often buying her morning newspaper. Lots of so-called "celebs" stay here or you'll bump into some at bar.

You might also want to check out The Mark Hotel - East.77th St. off Madison, lots of celebs stay here.
OR The Hotel Carlyle at Madison & 75th Street - think President Kennedy, Princess Diana.
Both are in residential areas, but close to restaurants and shopping, one block away from Central Park.

For those on/near Fifth or Madison Avenues, you san bus South on Fifth Ave, and North on Madison.

My choices would be Four Seasons, St. Regis, The Plaza, The Stanhope, The Mark, The Carlyle, even The Drake - these are some of the Grande Dame hotels in town.

There is, also, I almost forgot, Trumps International, at 59th St. Columbus Circle immediately outside Central Park and across street from new home of Time Warner currently under construction.

So many men, ooops, sorry, so many choices, not enough time to sleep at all of them.



 
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 12:22 PM
  #52
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
OK...I think I made some pretty good progress on my NYC Hotel.

I was at the Ritz Carlton Battery Park for $375 per night. However, taking the advice of others, I have switched to an Upper East Side Hotel, The Hotel Plaza Athenee, a smaller boutique style hotel that is rated very highly by a couple travel publications that I trust.

Including an early 10AM check-in, a continental breakfast each morning and a late 3PM check out, this Upper East Side Hotel is only $1,510 ($490 for Thursday and $340 per night for Friday-Sunday). The weekend rates are so good that I am almost tempted to stay one fewer night but, then again, I don't want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Ultimately, $150 extra is a small price to pay to spend an extra night in NYC, especially considering that I have not yet seen NYC (and developing quite the complex over not yet visiting...after all, how can I consider myself some sort of world traveller when I haven't even seen NYC yet?!).

The amazing thing about this all, is that by calling directly, I was able to save $100+ over what I would have paid on Quikbook.com.

The room at The Plaza Hotel Atheneee is only 300 sq. feet, but I don't think its worth it to pay an extra $200 per night for an extra 200 sq. feet of room size.

I will continue looking, but I am satisfied that this is a nice upgrade from the Ritz Carlton Battery Park. The Plaza Athenee is on 64th between Park and Madison.

Now I need to concentrate less on the hotel and more on my training or else they are going to reject me at the NYC Marathon but keep me around as one of the floats for the Macy's Parade!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 12:35 PM
  #53
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,916
Excellent choice. One of the best hotels in NY, in a great location and a great rate. You'll be between First Avenue (prime marathon watching spot) and the Central Park finish line, so if STD wants to watch you, you can select a corner on First Avenue (eg, Southeast corner of 68th and 1st).
thit_cho is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 02:41 PM
  #54
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Unbelievable...I just booked air from Orange County (SNA) to New York (JFK) for $207.00, total, per person.

So, this entire trip, including my NYC Marathon entry ($70?), air ($414) and four nights ($1,510) at one of the finest hotels in NYC is going to cost me just under $2,000.

I am getting pretty good at booking very nice trips for very good prices!
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 27th, 2003, 06:53 PM
  #55
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Roccco - Well, that was one that completely slipped my mind. Good choice and good rate, and great airfare.

Now just get on with your training and you're set to go, and hope for ideal weather Marathon Day.

I remember too many days that were way too hot - that's why over the years they've pushed it into November from mid-October; and then sometimes it rains. Well, you just never know.

Maybe we'll see you then.
 
Reply With Quote
Jun 28th, 2003, 06:41 AM
  #56
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
PART IX - The Cape Winelands

We were very sad to be leaving such a wonderful hotel but it was time to say goodbye to the Twelve Apostles Hotel so we could make our way to the Winelands for a single night at the Lanzerac Manor.

Last year we were scheduled to stay two nights at The Grande Roche but after getting stuck an extra night in Zimbabwe after our flight was cancelled we decided to cancel the Winelands and spend our final four nights in Cape Town, instead of three in Cape Town and one in the Winelands. I didn't want to cancel the Winelands for two consecutive years, although I really loved the Twelve Apostles.

We enjoyed our final breakfast at the Azure restaurant and then met our tour guide downstairs a blonde guy in his early 30's that looked like actor, Kevin Sorbo, of Hercules fame.

It was his own tour company but he usually farmed out the Winelands tours. His true specialty was deep sea fishing and his personality didn't really seem suited to Winelands tours.

We zoomed from one wine estate to the next before having a nice lunch, al fresco, at about 1:30 PM at some nice little restaurant in a wine estate. Before 3PM our "all day" tour had concluded at the Lanzerac Manor. He offered to take us to another wine estate but it didn't seem like a sincere offer and nobody had anything further to gain. While I am sure this guy was great at the Deep Sea Fishing, he didn't seem well matched to Wineland tours.

We thanked him for the tour and rushed to our room to freshen up before a 3PM tour at the Lanzerac Manor, but not before booking two hour massages in our room at 4:30PM, followed by 8:00PM dinner reservations.

There was two other couples our age on the tour, one Austrian and the other German. We basically did this same type of tour last December at Concha Y Toro in the Winelands outside Santiago, Chile. This tour at Lanzerac was really inferior and not nearly as picturesque as the one in Chile that went into much greater detail. Also, quite honestly, while South African wine is good, Chilean wine is better.

After the tour, we sat down with the other two couples and I bought a bottle of the Chardonnay, which was the only wine out of the eight or so that we tasted that was worth repeating. Although the other couple was good for another couple bottles, we had to run off for our massages.

Waiting at our door were the massage technicians. They set up right in the room and even our standard room at the Lanzerac Manor must have measured close to 600 sq. ft. (55+ sq. meters), so spare room was not a problem.

We started with one hour of reflexology (advanced foot massage) followed by one hour of full body massage.

The massages were good but not great and they were very expensive compared to the prices, for example, at The Michelangelo in Joburg and at Vuyatela.

Dinner at the Lanzerac Manor was only average. Unfortunately, because it was low season, the best restaurants in the area were closed.

More frustrating than the average food at the Lanzerac Manor's restaurant, however, was the service. Our waiter was very good, but the busboy, a Xhosa man, looked like he was lost in space and the waiter actually had to bus his own table.

I am glad that I saw the Winelands but I definitely would not want to spend more than one night there. One of the couples that we had our Winelands tour with was actually spending all their Cape Town time, 3 or 4 nights I think, in the Winelands, with no time in Cape Town, so some people do really enjoy it.
I would not hesitate to stay at the Lanzerac Manor again, but I would not eat dinner there again.

It was then off to our room for the night to get a little rest before our 7:30AM checkout and our 9:45 flight to Hoedspruit for our stay at Vuyatela.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 29th, 2003, 07:06 AM
  #57
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 987

Rocco,
Am taking copious notes as my husband & I are planning a trip to Cape Town in the fall.

Did want to comment on your NYC Marathon. I assume you already have been accepted for the race? I believe the race is closed for 2003 already.

Also, I ran the race in 2000. I am a 4 hour marathoner, and there were NO taxis at the finish line. It was a mad house. Subways were so full we decided to walk the 30 plus blocks back to our hotel downtown. Not much fun after running a marathoon.

So I would advise a hotel located near the finish at Central Park as a priority. You may need to get back there on your own two feet.
Queenie is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jun 29th, 2003, 09:09 AM
  #58
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Queenie,

I was already accepted into the 2003 NYC Marathon. It was really easy to get in this year, especially for people on the West Coast & Hawaii. I think the acceptance rate was 85% for Californians and I was one of them.

I don't know how far the Plaza Athenee is from the finish line but I will research that one further.

I did see some great rates for the St. Regis for AAA members, and although not a AAA member, I will gladly pay $70 or whatever the membership rate is in order to get rates as low as about $375 per night at the St. Regis, especially if it is closer to the finish line.

The Plaza Athenee is on 64th Street between Madison and Park.

As far as my running goes, I am so far only a 5 hour marathoner, but that is because I need to drop 50 pounds. My PR is only a 5:07:07 at the Rock N Roll Marathon in San Diego, but if I train right and eat right for the next four months, then I will be aiming for a PR at the NYC Marathon.

This will be my 4th marathon. After doing the L.A. Marathon, the Rock N Roll Marathon and the Vina Del Mar Marathon (Chile) last year, this will be my first and only marathon of 2003. I will then try to run three or four marathons in 2004 before attempting the Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town on March 26, 2005.

Thanks for the advice about the marathon finish. I will research it further.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 29th, 2003, 09:22 AM
  #59
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,553
Queenie,

I found this map showing various hotels in the Upper East Side:

http://www.mustseenewyork.com/maps/n...otels-map.html

Although the Plaza Athenee is not shown, it looks to be perfectly sutuated on 64th between Park and Madison. Considering that 65th runs through Central Park, it should be just a few blocks to the Plaza Athenee.
Roccco is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jun 29th, 2003, 01:09 PM
  #60
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Roccco:

From the finish line you can crawl across the park straight to your hotel which is 1-1/2 small blocks from the exit at 65th St. & Fifth Ave.

Seriously, it's a rather easy walk across the park from the finish line. You'll be fine.
 
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:34 PM.