RHKKMK'S First trip to South Africa

Oct 18th, 2009, 02:42 AM
  #41  
 
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Excellent report; sounds like you're covering more than a small amount of territory. Also glad that you've seen both the upbeat and less-than-upbeat sides of the country. When you get home (or before, for that matter), you might want to check out the Soweto Gospel Choir, an amazing group who come from a township near Jo'burg similar to the one you visited.

--rizzuto (from downtown NYC)
DonTopaz is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 03:32 AM
  #42  
 
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Bob, alienating Fodorites everywhere The smart ones bailed out on the GTG. Can you imagine being Selwyn and finding yourself trapped with Bob for many hours? Ghastly! Plus, those poor penguins. Walking, standing and swimming merrily along when the shadow of the POB darkens their spring.
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Oct 18th, 2009, 04:53 AM
  #43  
 
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What a great report! Loved especially the description of the cliffside drive--if you say it's the best one you've ever taken, it must be very grand indeed. Glad to hear you're both enjoying yourselves, and that another Fodorite provided you with wonderful hospitality.

I agree with Don that you should check out the Soweto Gospel Choir. Nothing beats seeing them in concert, but their recordings come darned close.

Ignore the Panda's remarks as His Royal Crankiness is attributed to the bad weather of Boston and he's still licking his wounds over the Sox' disgraceful exit from the finals for the Pennant...

Please, more report, sir....

BC, doing her best Oliver Twist impersonation and enjoying SA vicariously through friends
bookchick is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 05:21 AM
  #44  
 
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Looking forward to hearing more
cybor is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 07:43 AM
  #45  
 
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I knew I never should have started reading this report. Now we have to put South Africa on our itinerary. Maybe we can time a trip with an upcoming soccer tournament, or similar . . . ?
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Oct 18th, 2009, 08:30 AM
  #46  
cw
 
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Terrific descriptions--I almost feel as though I'm riding along with you.
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Oct 18th, 2009, 10:14 AM
  #47  
 
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The wonderful memories are returning as you write ... and some new information, as we never had the opportunity to go to a Township. Thanks so very much for the excellent detail ...

Like cw I feel as thought I'm riding along with you.
taconictraveler is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 03:57 PM
  #48  
 
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Cape Town and environs is one beautiful place, isn't it? Warts and all. Hope you get a chance to go to Robben Island. A microcosm of man's inhumanity to man.
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Oct 18th, 2009, 05:32 PM
  #49  
 
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Tengohambre-forget soccer, visit SA for the rugby. The Springboks are the best in the world.
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Oct 18th, 2009, 06:56 PM
  #50  
 
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I'm with you all the way, though you don't appreciate the People's republic of Cambridge. We all have our cross to bear.
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Oct 18th, 2009, 09:51 PM
  #51  
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Sunday


Another fabulous sunny day, but very windy as is the norm at this time of year.

Breakfast is down stairs… I have the continental which is a small buffet and K has the omelet….

We do some internet and then drive into town to the waterfront at the V&A (Victoria and ALFRED) waterfront area. We park easily in a garage across from the complex and walk through a craft building before heading to the City Sightseeing Bus terminal nearby… We take the red route which is primarily the city tour (120 R each). There is also a blue route which tours more widely.

The full route took slightly over 2 hours.. The time we spent with Selwyn was enhanced by this tour. We sat on top of the open air bus. It was warm and windy. The recording was excellent in both content and quality.. We wound our way around the city streets, traveled up to the cable car base for table mountain ( a huge flat mountain which is one of the backdrops to the city). The cars were not operating because of the wind… We had decided before hand that we would skip this anyways…. BTW, the bus is a hop on hop off, with buses coming every 20 minutes. The tour concluded with a drive through Kalp Bay, which was very busy on this sunny Sunday…

The bus returned to the V&A and we got off and sought out the Capetown Fish Market Restaurant for lunch. We sat at the sushi bar and chose dishes as they passed on the conveyer belt. It was ok, but not fabulous. 361R

After lunch, we spent quite a while in the CaRRoL BoYeS shop. She designs items in pewter here in Capetown… We made several purchases.. Maeri had suggested this shop to us… From there we headed to a meeting spot to meet Maeri and Bruce for tea. We went to the champagne bar in Woolworths…. Not the USA Woolworths…. We had delicious rooibas tea and cakes. We spent about two hours with them… Bruce gave us lots of suggestions for our next few days travel along the garden route, starting tomorrow… We said our goodbyes and were off to some more exploring in this area..

Near the beginning of this report I made two mistakes. First I guess I was less than complimentary about La Splendida, our hotel…. I should say it’s not bad at all, just not to the expected standard for a hotel with daily cost of over $200 sans breakfast. The location could not be better and there is secure parking--- both very necessary…
Secondly, I gave an initial impression about the V&A waterfront that was less than complimentary. I was partially right… Simply put, it is a huge mall, uniquely housed in several buildings, BUT its location at harbor side is truly unique…. IT IS a destination not to be missed…

We returned to the hotel and had some beer/wine and left to dinner at Theo’s, just up the road---163 Beach Road. We had a delicious meal: 1 kilo of shrimp with butter/garlic and chili/oil dipping sauces for me; a rack of ribs for Karen, plus sides of spinach and squash….Dessert was a lemon tart with custard for me and a custard for K…. 318 R—very reasonable for this quality..

Bed

Capetown lived up fully to it’s reputation… It is truly a magnificent vibrant world class city..




Monday --- on the road
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 18th, 2009, 09:57 PM
  #52  
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we are sorry to be leaving capetown today

robert this is a destination for you.. the kids would love it and the beaches are fabulous... put it at the top of the list....

no pandas here, thank god...
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Oct 19th, 2009, 02:53 AM
  #53  
 
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Great update. I'm glad to read you're enjoying yourselves and the scenery and that the weather is cooperating, too. Of course you passed on the cable car ride--since Karen did the zipline, it would, I think, pale by comparison!

Looking forward to the next installment,
BC
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Oct 19th, 2009, 04:58 AM
  #54  
 
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WOW sounds fantastic, now doubt we can hear more when we see you on the 31st!
Having a decorating disater B&K (ie Muffin aint painting quick enough) so the des res may be a little less des.....
Smeagol is offline  
Oct 19th, 2009, 05:31 AM
  #55  
 
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Thanks for the detail Bob - it really brings back memories! Looking forward to the next installments - and the photos.

Cyn
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Oct 19th, 2009, 12:55 PM
  #56  
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our B&B suite in plettenberg is as nice as the Penn...
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 19th, 2009, 01:27 PM
  #57  
 
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The good news is that he's ruining this forum and not the Asia forum. the bad news for you Africa Forum Fodorites is that he titled this his "First" trip to SA. That means more tedium and boredom may be on your way. Where's Spygirl when we need her?
Gpanda is offline  
Oct 19th, 2009, 09:21 PM
  #58  
 
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Stellar report Bob with all the details that we like. Just sat down to the computer here in Japan and have caught up to here with a delightful read. Your great personalities make travel a lot more interesting and fun. Aren't you glad you left the Panda home this time around. It sounds like he is getting very jealous but of course to proud to admit it,lol.
Keep it coming!

Aloha from Japan!
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Oct 20th, 2009, 12:45 AM
  #59  
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Monday --- on the road

At Bruce’s suggestion we were up bright and early (at least early for us).. I went downstairs first and ordered our breakfasts and also the free internet sign-on. In the hotel you have to pay about $20/day, but the restaurant offers an hour or two free internet and it works fine from our room. So each day I was given a free hour or two… K is stuck in an eggs benedict rut and I returned to the bacon, cheddar and mushroom omelet, which was huge this day.

We said our good-byes to the staff in the restaurant and did a bit of last minute packing and were on the road at 8:30..

Bill for 4 nites: 6280 R (~$900). A bit stiff for what it is, but location, location, location…

The drive through the city was very light going in our direction…. The day was spent almost entirely on the N-2 highway. Leaving Capetown is very lovely with the fauna and mountains. Soon we were in cattle and farming areas, again with rolling hills… The crop colors made the view dramatic. Wheel cuts through in the tall grasses were dramatic. This continued almost for the whole drive. We drove past small towns along the way but decided to stick to our route in order to arrive in Plettenberg Bay at a decent hour…. The drive was 6 hours. There were a number of slow roadworks all along the way which slowed us up…

We had a lunch stop just before entering Heilelberg. The Blue Heron Farm Shop was an oasis of culinary excellence… What a find. Our lunch was opened faced sandwiches made on homemade natural bread with flax seeds, smothered in cream cheese, with smoked chicken and bacon, plus home sun dried tomatoes…. YUM, YUM… The plate had a number of small salads on it too: curried tomatoe pasta, potatoe salad and green salad, plus a colorful flower in the middle. I don’t know when I have had a tastier sandwich. We ate in the flower festooned courtyard and the service was very attentive…This is a must stop for anyone in the area!!!

The farm shop had many homemade bottled items for sale, including fantastic homemade breads, preserves, candies, condiments, baked goods. This is a must visit shop while on the N-2.

BTW, this road is a 4 lane highway, a 2 lane highway, a 3 lane undivided highway, depending on where you are. The road surface is excellent..

We drove through 2 other towns stopping only briefly. At least one we will return to for a better look around.

By mid-afternoon, we arrived in Plettenberg Bay, our seaside home for the next three nites. We had pre-booked into the Halcyon House B&B on a bluff with water views. The directions were spot on and easy to follow. We pulled right up to the front and after 6 longish hours we were here. Immediately we knew this was a perfect choice. The building is a large house in a residential neighborhood. You enter the house though a lovely garden. The rooms are large and bright. The furnishings are relaxed and welcoming. Rooms flow from one to another. There are many sitting areas and nooks. The enclosed small pool is picturesque, although its probably a bit too cool to use it…lots of wind again.. BINGO---one of our best finds ever.

We are greeted by Charles, the owner’s son. He is 30ish and informative and welcoming.

He shows us around a bit and acquaints us with the running of the B&B. Then we are taken upstairs to our suite—The Kingfisher… WOW… that is all I can say. The rooms are lux, huge and extremely comfortable. There is an anti-room with chairs, etc, just outside the suite which is large and for our use if we wish…. You enter the suite through huge French doors. You are in a long light wood cabinet lined dressing room with an arched white washed domed ceiling. The room has many drawers and full length cabinets, including a built-in desk where I now sit with the computer. In front of me is an arched window looking out onto the balcony and from it I can see the sea… WOW. I judge the room to be 25 feet long and 12 feet wide---huge. There is another desk/table area which becomes K’s dressing table.

To the right are French doors as you enter the dressing room. This leads to the huge bed chamber, with king bed, three comfy chairs, a full wall folding glass door out onto the main balcony, a set of French doors out onto the side balcony-- the balconies ring the room.. The décor is formal, white and a deep blue. The drapes are lush white with deep blue accents A lovely bouquet of red/orange roses are artfully displayed on a side table… The art work is local. A white mohair throw adorns the bottom of the bed… HEAVEN… My words do not convey the lux or décor of the rooms.

The house has 3 other smaller double rooms for rent, all decently decorated.

The main balcony has one bar stool and a decorative corner wrought iron art deco table, perfect for K’s morning coffee.

Off of the dressing room, you enter another suite---the bathroom suite. The main room is huge, perhaps 20X30 with a huge Jacuzzi tub in one corner, double sinks and elaborate sink stands on opposite walls. The left wall has a small window through to the shower room which is again huge, perhaps 5X15.. To reach the shower room and toilet room you walk down a short marble/stone corridor of maybe 15 feet. The whole bath is floor to ceiling stone and marble. The whole suite has floor heating and there is a/c as well.

Every room is bright with windows on at least one side. Most have a daytime screen for privacy and a night shade for privacy as you can see through the screens at night. It seems no expense or thought has been spared in the building of this house.

We have the 2008 pricing of 3135 R (about $140/nite) for the 3 nites including breakfast.

Charles offered us a drink upon arrival and delivered to the room a local fresh beer for me and a large glass of wine for K, plus three different nibbles: cashews, flakes of local beef jerkie and chips. We enjoyed these on the balcony. He told us that nitely they welcome guests just after 7 in the lounge for conversation and cocktails. There is a pool table in the lounge/bar area.

We settled into our new very large digs, sat 1/2 in the room and ½ on the balcony and drank our drinks…. I did some wi-fi (free and fast) and at 7ish we went downstairs for a drink with Charles and his mother Judy Bestor. The bar is open on a an honor system and is very reasonable, but the welcome drink and the evening gtg are complimentary.

Judy is more than charming, about our age and a south African born of English stock. Her husband died in about 2004 shortly after the renovations to the house were completed.

Conversation was lively. Last nite we were the only guests but tonight the house will be full .

They suggested a “local” place for our dinner---Rod and Reel. It’s about a 5 minute drive back up by the N-2. PERFECT… just the kind of place we wanted: local, laid back, simple food---delicious--- Fillet of beef with fries, spinach and squash for me, a combo of calamari and hake for K with the same add ons. 2 desserts.. no booze—199 R. even better.

Back to the B&B where the frogs were chirping like mad… more internet and part of this write-up and crash…

Upon our return we found a tray with bottled water, coffee makings and two cordial glasses and a large bottle of a creamed liquor… nite cap..



Tuesday Oct 20


A wonderful nights sleep…. Extremely quiet.

Breakfast was set for 8:45. I was up about 7:30. Internet. Laze about..

Breakfast was set up on the patio next to the pool under a roof. The large main table was laden with all kinds of goodies: cereals, yogurts, fruits, jams, toast. We started with cereal and yogurts, plus red grapefruit for me and strawberries for Karen. We each ordered an English breakfast (grilled tomato, small Portobello mushroom, also grilled; scrambled eggs for me and sunny side up for K; fresh croissant each…toast, lovely fresh juice in a champagne glass, fresh coffee and tea… another WOW…. BTW, our small round table was set like an English tea setting, with tons of silverware, lovely linens, flowers, etc. Charles cooked and waited on us with great efficiency.

We were introduced to the charming domestic, Grace. She has a smile from ear to ear and a very firm triple handshake. We love her immediately. She has been with the Bestors for years.

K is anxious to get moving…. More later
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 20th, 2009, 03:22 AM
  #60  
 
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This sounds delightful! B, how are the roads over there? When you mentioned roadwork, I wondered what was going on--resurfacing?

Panda, once again the green-eyed monster raises its unattractive head--your jealousy is clearly coming through. Also your fear. If you were to appear over there, it's likely they view you as a escapee from a big game preserve, despite the fact that to the best of my knowledge, panda are not hunted on the African continent....
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