Welcome back, Lisa

Sep 13th, 2002, 10:00 AM
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Part 4. This very long and is not posting so I will have to split it up further. We flew back to Johannesburg and then on to Cape Town which is one of the most spectacular cities in the world. For some reason, this is the most difficult part of the report. I say that because it is not a simple task to find words that can adequately capture the magic of Cape Town. Around every corner is an incredible view of mountains and beaches. As incredible a feeling that one gets when one is in the wilds a nature reserve, one gets an equally special feeling in the midst of the majestic scenery of Cape Town.

We had 5 and a half days in Cape Town and this still does not give one enough time. In our college days, we used to spend 6 weeks in Cape Town in the summer and never had a minute when we ran out of things to do. My husband grew up on the slopes of Table Mountain and we know Cape Town very well, so we decided to act as our own tour guides and rented 3 VW microbuses. We were extremely lucky with the weather as Cape Town in winter can be rainy and miserable but we had perfect weather for most of the time and even had beach weather.

We stayed at the Sir Francis (www.sirfrancis.co.za) where we have stayed on a number of occasions. As always, we had a great stay at VERY reasonable rates. It is in a convenient location, but you do need a car. It is 5 minutes by car from the Waterfront and Sea Point and has a magnificent view of Table Bay Harbour and the surrounding suburbs. It is a block of flats (apartments) which has been converted to a hotel. Each apartment has a full kitchen, bathroom, 1 bedroom and a small living room/dining area with a comfortable sleep sofa. Best of all is the balcony where you can sit and watch the sunrise. There is a tiny pool which is great in summer but we did not make use of it this time. The apartments are serviced and for an extra charge there is a full breakfast. I have always found the staff there to be so helpful, accommodating and friendly and they go above and beyond to be of service. They will even go grocery shopping for you if you need it!

Selwyn, thanks for your advice and recommendations. I really wanted to try the Africa Café and the Kosteater that you recommended but those plans fell through and I’ll explain why, later.

We did a lot of shopping in Cape Town and I think our group contributed substantially to the economy. Even still, after we all got home, everybody was sorry we did not buy more.

Sep 13th, 2002, 10:03 AM
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Part 5:
We accomplished a tremendous amount on our first day by starting quite early. We drove through and stopped off at all our old stomping grounds of Sea Point, Clifton Beach, Camps Bay, and Llandudno. It is hard to choose which one has the more spectacular scenery. At Hout bay we went on a short ride on a catamaran, one of the many outfits which have trips out in the bay to Seal Island. There is a small craft market at the harbor as well as good shopping at the Kraal Gallery. It is amazing to see how much Hout Bay has been developed over the last 20 years. We also popped into Snoekies for some “snoek biltong”. We then went on as much as the Chapman’s Peak Drive as we could and then backtracked to go though the Constantia area to Boyes Drive and then through Muizenberg, St James, Fish Hoek and Kalk bay where we had lunch at Kalkies. Selwyn, thanks for the recommendation. Our group was enthralled by the spectacle of the fishing boat unloading their catch and amazed at the prices for a whole fish. We loved the fried snoek there but I don’t think our friends appreciated the “slap chips”. (barbarians!)

Then on to Simonstown and Boulders to visit with the penguins. We were very disappointed to find that they have built decking to provide a viewing platform and keep people away from the beach with the penguins. You used to be able to swim on the beach with the penguins, but I guess with the popularity of the site, it is necessary to protect the penguins.

After that , it was on to view more wildlife and the interesting vegetation of Cape Point. As we were getting out of our van, two of the teenagers were still in the van with the sliding door open. A baboon hopped in and started going through our stuff. I think the workers there must have already gone off for the day and I was alternating between laughing and panicking at how we were going to get the baboon out of the car and if he would grab anything. Fortunately, he grabbed an apple and not one of the kids and took off but later another baboon did the same thing to another car and they could not get him out. He ripped through all their stuff and unpacked their bags and threw it all over the parking lot.

Some of our group walked up the hill and others took the funicular to the top where we spent some time being blown around at the lighthouse at the top. Unfortunately, by the time we came down, the great gift shop at the bottom was closed but they do have some good souvenirs there if you manage to be there during opening hours .

We were still not ready to call it a day and so drove on Ou Kaapse Weg and through some more of the suburbs, back to Hout Bay. We stopped at an amazing market which had huge, very beautiful stone carvings and I was dying to buy one to put in my garden but I thought it would probably be madly expensive to have it shipped. They must weigh tons.

We ate at the Chapman’s Peak Hotel and had our first “not great” meal of the trip. All the seafood was deep friend and soggy and what seemed to be the start of a pattern, service was slow. We decided that none of the restaurants could cope with the number of people in our group which was always around 20 – 25 people as we met up with family. We never waited less than 2 to 2 and ½ hours for our main course and this was one of the restaurants which did not give bread, so we were starving when our food eventually came at around 10 pm.

As you can imagine it was a long day but a spectacular one.

I apologise if this is a very long report, but feel free to skip any or all of it. I’ll try to make the rest of it shorter. If I have not yet answered some of the questions that people have asked I promise to get to them.
Sep 13th, 2002, 03:20 PM
Selwyn Davidowitz
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Hi Lisa,

Thanks very much for the trip reports. It certainly seems as if you had a wonderful time but then who would not have such a great time when they visit South Africa. )

A quick point as far as the penguin colony at Boulders Beach is concerned. There are 4 beaches at Boulders and on the first beach viz. Foxy Beach one CAN swim with the penguins. What has happened since you last were at the beach is that the entrance that you came through is not the old entrance but the new one. If one uses the old entrance then you automatically start off at Foxy Beach and that then lets all see that they could swim with the penguins. Please note you will never get near these wonderful birds while you swim in the sea but you certainly will get relatively close.

I am very pleased that you highlighted this problem in your mail as 99% of those who visit the penguin colony dont find out about this unless they are told.

I wonder if you were here last time round when there simply was a rope on the beach and penguins stood on one side while humans stood on the other side? Even though I like the ramp concept those truly were the good old days but alas they dont exist anymore.

I agree with you about your friends who did not eat the "slap chips" at Kalkies as I believe they really lost out on a REAL Cape Town experience.

Looking forward to the rest of your report.

Once again a HUGE THANKS for publishing your fact filled adventure and I am looking forward to reading the rest of your trip report.

Selwyn Davidowitz
Sep 14th, 2002, 03:27 PM
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Lisa, as an ex Capetonian I loved your report so far. It is indeed difficult to express in words the beauty of CT. Waiting to read what you did the rest of the time. You sure had a jam packed first day. What kind of things did everyone buy and where??? I hope to visit again soon.
Sep 16th, 2002, 01:21 AM
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What are slap chips and snoek biltong?

Thanks for posting your reports!!! I hope to go to SA next year.
Sep 16th, 2002, 07:42 AM
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Slap chips are "soft/infirm" french fries/chips that you eat with fish or seperate if you want to. Snoek is a "domestic" fish (as far as I know you only get it in SA) which has a very distinctive taste. Biltong is close to beef jerky(sp?), I believe. I can't remember the snoek biltong but the shark biltong that we bought at Snoekies (as well as Hermanus) was as salty as you can get.

Then, of course, there is "droë wors" (dried sausage) with the same background as the biltong, however, you only use beef, etc for this.

It is all very lekker.


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