Robben Island or Winelands-Capetown

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Aug 28th, 2005, 03:43 PM
  #1
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Robben Island or Winelands-Capetown

If you had to choose between the two,which one would you do and why? I will be there the end of Nov. I love visiting historical sights and enjoy winetasting too. I am surrounded by some of the best wineries here in Calif. and like to visit them in other countries as well. Please share your experiences, good and bad.
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Aug 28th, 2005, 04:11 PM
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CarlaM,

WOW what a question. The two events are so far apart in terms of interest as well as time needed to complete that if you have only one day available you will have to choose. My opinion is that you should try and accommodate both experiences as they are such valuable events to be party to in their own right.

Heres a cop out from my side and that is if you have two days available then do one event a day and dont miss any of the two.

Another suggestion would be to book yourself onto a private tour or for that matter maybe a self drive journey into the Stellenbosch region in the very early morning. Leave Cape Town at 08h00 so as to be in Stellenbosch by 09h00. You should be able to cover at least 2 or 3 wine farms as well as see parts of Stellenbosch by 13h00. You should also be able to take in the breathraking scenery as you travel around the winelands region. Thereafter I would return to Cape Town and go on the Robben Island journey on the 15h00 ride. This is definitely possible to do. Please note that if you decide on this plan of action then you HAVE to prebook your Robben Island journey.

Assuming the above idea is not up your alley all I can say is that if you have sufficient interest in both places then you have a tough decision on your hands which even I, as a pretty experienced tourguide in Cape Town, would not know how to advise you. Robben island is a very moving experience and if you have a sense of interest in our history it is a must do event. On the other hand the winelands are beautiful and different to Napa. The wines of the Cape are excellent and well priced too. You will be able to taste wines freely on all farms and you certainly wont have the "Napa crush" as I call it of lots of people running after the same wine tasting glass as is the case in the very commercialised Napa region these days. In summary the winelands are quite special.

With the above said I am not being funny when I say that if you dont do the "both journeys in one day" suggestion that I have made I really mean it when I say "flip a coin". #39;(

Hope this helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Aug 28th, 2005, 04:25 PM
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Carla,

One option would be to visit Robben Island in the morning on the 9am ferry, and then to spend the afternoon in Constantia. There isn't nearly as much variety as in the Winelands proper, but it will cut your travel time considerably. The Constantia wine estates are the oldest in the Cape, so there is some history there as well.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 28th, 2005, 08:20 PM
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You have two excellent answers. I know Calif winecountry well and I would say you can only see Robben Island there in SA. So that would be my choice if pressed. But I agree with both posters - you have time to get a little of the wine experience. You could have lunch at Constantia Eustig <sp?> for example.
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Aug 28th, 2005, 08:22 PM
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I wanted to add - I used several private guides in CT and it is really worth it. They do the driving and you get the insider's perspective. You can also get exactly the trip you want this way, especially when time is precious.
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Aug 29th, 2005, 01:58 AM
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As has been said, these two experiences are SOOO completely opposite that it really depends on what is more important to you - both are memorable and worthwhile experiences.

With my interests in history and people I would choose Robben Island over the winelands BUT I'm not a wine drinker AND we can hop to France so easily from the UK that (although their winelands aren't the same) the winelands is not such a unique proposition. Same for you being in California - though the South African wines are nothing like the Californian ones and much more like old world wines such as French ones.

We made sure we had time to cover all of our interests in Cape Town - we gave ourselves 6 nights in Cape Town and 3 in the winelands.

We enjoyed all our experiences immensely.

Robben Island was more than just a "museum" to me because the tours are given by former wardens and former prisoners. To see these men working together gives a real hope for the future of SA which still has a long way to go economically and socially. Apartheid may be long gone but all it's effects are not.

The winelands are spectacular - the landscapes are absolutely stunning. For those who enjoy wine, the tastings are great too.

If you can go with a guide (such as Selwyn) you can get the most out of even a short winelands tour.
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Aug 29th, 2005, 02:50 AM
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Hello,

I'm very interested in wine and wine-tasting, and as I grew up 30 minutes south of the Napa Valley (in Marin) I'm very familiar with the wineries and style of wine-making in California. IMO, the style of wine in SA is much more similar California than it is to France (New World vs Old World). There are definitely some SA varietals that you won't see in California, so you may want to seek them out given your limited time.

If you want to do a little wine research to help you make up your mind, visit www.platteronline.com The Platter Guide is SAs's 'wine bible' and there is plenty of information about wineries and tasting opportunities in both the Constantia region and the Winelands proper.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 29th, 2005, 03:14 AM
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Jasher
I can't comment from personal experience because I don't drink wine but Pete does as does my sister... we have all visited Napa and Sonoma and found the wines there very different from those available in France - we've spent a lot of time in some of France's wine areas over the years.
We found many of the reds in South Africa much more like those in France than anything at all we found in California.
But that's just our experiences with the wines we tasted and the vineyards we visited.
It may be that we tasted/ visited atypical vineyards either in SA or in Napa/ Sonoma.
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Aug 29th, 2005, 03:18 AM
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PS Pete was very keen on the SA varietal pinotage which I think is a combination of pinot noir and hermitage that is unique to SA.
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Aug 29th, 2005, 03:23 AM
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Kavey,

I think there may have been some confusion -- the wines in CA are definitely very different from those in France! I think all three regions are quite distinct, but that overall SA winemaking tends to follow the New World (CA) style rather than the Old World (French) style. Obviously this is a generalisation, and some SA wineries are moving towards a more Old World style, and this is probably what you (or Pete) were picking up on.

I think it does depend very much on where you go -- I found both Old World and New World style wines in SA, though the majority were New World. With Carla's limited time, I would recommend perusing the Platter Guide and seeking out wines which offer a greater contrast with California.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 29th, 2005, 03:29 AM
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Yes, pinotage is pinot + hermitage -- this was one of the varietals I think is worth seeking out because it's unique.

Cheers,
Julian
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Aug 29th, 2005, 04:07 AM
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Yes, we did find the wines in SA much more like the traditional French reds than we were expecting according to reports from friends who had been to SA in previous years - perhaps it's a current trend there or something?

We did indeed find CA wines very different indeed.
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Aug 29th, 2005, 06:43 AM
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Hi Carla,

I am also from the Bay Area. Our visit to Robbins Island was a highlight of our entire visit to SA. The tour is given by a former inmate and is very moving and educational.

We spent a couple of days in the wine country as well and thought it was ok. We make it a point of visiting wine regions all over the world (Italy, France, New Zealand, and of course here at home). While there was wonderful food and accommodation, and very scenic, I did not think the wines themself were all that special. I'd skip it next time for more safari time!

Judy
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Sep 15th, 2005, 08:24 PM
  #14
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Thanks for all your input. Looks like I will be able to do both now as I was really torn between having to choose. 10 weeks to go!
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Sep 17th, 2005, 01:46 PM
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That's great, Carla!
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Oct 1st, 2005, 08:46 AM
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Has anyone on this board used Selwyn's services? There is a possibility I will consider him for my upcoming Capetown visit.

Carla
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 08:53 AM
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Carla
Many posters here have and have posted here about it though some are no longer active, I think.
Having been corresponding for a couple of years with Selwyn prior to our trip, he had already suggested we get together. It then ended up being a GTG as [email protected] and her husband were in Cape Town at the same time and so was Alison, with her husband and two adult kids. Selwyn decided to take all 8 of us out for the entire day, gratis, but did the same stuff as he does for his customers.
We got an insight into the area that we would not otherwise have got and if I went again, I would not hesitate to book Selwyn's services (commercially). I'd also recommend him to anyone looking for a highly personalised and quirky tour. Selwyn doesn't do the pat, everyman tours that many guides offer - he gives you an insight into HIS cape town - that's the difference.
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Oct 2nd, 2005, 10:56 AM
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Carla:
I have not used Selwyn's services, nor have I been to Capetown but that is not going to stop me from adding my 2 cents! Originally I started planning a trip to SA but then shifted it to TZ for the migration. I have continued reading the SA posts anyway because I want to visit it in the future and I am sure that I will. I would book a guided trip with Selwyn in a heartbeat. I think that it would be a shame to miss the opportunity.
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