Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What an awesome way to end Lent and celebrate Easter!

... In the Mother City, Cape Town with my mom, dad and youngest brother, Brendan.

Here's where I get to do my bit for SA Tourism and wax lyrical about what is truly one of the most amazing cities in the world. Mountains, beach, winelands, history, shopping, arts & culture... there's nothing that Cape Town is lacking in, and I'm probably sure I'm missing out a few key categories.
But, here goes...
There's no way I could possibly capture it all in words, so I'm going to let the pictures speak for me, with the odd note here and there to let you know what you're looking at.

This is how early we had to be at the airport. The sun was only just putting in an appearance as I took this pic from the restaurant window. I should mention here that I had been on my fast for Lent for about 40 to 50 days and only had that day (Holy Thursday) and the next day (til 3pm - Good Friday) to go. So while everyone else tucked into their bacon, eggs and toast I had eggs and chips. I'd given up booze, meat, fish, wheat and the obvious ones like chocolate and cake, - all the good stuff, and was left with veggies, fruit, dairy, eggs, tofu and legumes/nuts etc. I knew that I would make it gracefully to the end. I do it every year, but I will say that as you get older and look forward to that glass of wine with your dinner in the evening, it seems to get tougher and tougher not to feel a little sorry for yourself when you see others "indulging". It was also with mixed feelings that I left my beloved cat, Sabrina, in the care of my landlady (Shelley). I knew that she'd do a fantastic job of looking after her, but knowing that Beena's only been living with me for ±8weeks and was still adjusting to her new home, did worry me quite a bit. I knew she'd miss me and that made me miss her even more. I bought her a little radio so she wouldn't feel too lonely, topped up her clean kitty litter and made sure that Shelley knew where to find her food etc.

Well, we arrived in Cape Town without a hitch and met Brendan at the airport (he flew from Johannesburg where he now lives and works), collected our hire car and headed straight for our accommodation in Camps Bay. I'm told that we were blessed with 6 of the most stunning days (weather-wise) that Cape Town has seen in a long time, especially for this time of the year. As you can see, we had nothing but sunshine the whole time. You're looking at pics of our B&B and the views of Cape Town from all angles.

In the many, MANY times I've been to Cape Town I've never been able to go up Table Mountain. Just my bad luck, whenever I've gone the weather has always been a bit dodgy. But this time, clear skies and no wind meant that we could take the cable car up the side of the mountain all the way to the top to take in the breathtaking views, enjoy a light lunch and do a bit of shopping.

If there's one waterfront / harbour place you get to visit in your lifetime, make it The V & A Waterfront in Cape Town. Great vibe, live music on every corner, unbelievably good food, a wide variety of things to do, even seagulls that steal your fish and chips right out of your plate. That's one of them, checking out my chips in the bottom right pic. I bought the most amazing African dresses from the craft market... *happy sigh*

I've been once before, but I was happy to go to Robben Island for a second time in my life to see the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life. (He was incarcerated for 27 years, but 18 of them were on the island and the rest were elsewhere.) A ±45minute ferry ride takes you out there, and then a bus tour takes you around the island and an ex-political prisoner takes you through the prison facility. The bottom left pic is the lime quarry that has left Nelson Mandela partially blinded after years of crushing lime stone for no reason other than punishment. The lime wasn't used for anything after it had been crushed. The bottom right pic is of his 2m by 2m prison cell. The bucket on the right was his toilet and the blankets on the floor were his bed. Failure to fold them exactly as prescribed (seen in the pic) would result in solitary confinement.

That's the ferry that took us to the island (a former leper colony before it became a prison for political prisoners during the apartheid era). Looking at it like this, you would never believe that such pain, torture and suffering took place here. The pic in the top left corner is of an old Taiwanese wreck and the one on the right is the view of Table Mountain from the island.

Cape Point was truly one of the most amazing places I've ever been. It's the southern most tip of Africa where the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean meet. I've been to Cairo too, so for me it was really cool knowing that I've been to the Northern and Southern most tips of the continent. In the bottom left pic you'll see one of the many stinky baboons that hang out there waiting for scraps of food that dumb tourists feed them. (READ THE SIGNS PEOPLE! Don't feed the animals! Sheesh.) My brother and I walked all the way to the top in no time at all, but my folks took the little shuttle because it IS a little tough for the older folk to get to the top without being puffed out. The drive there and back to Camps Bay was stunning... Little seaside villages with quaint antique shops and book shops. *sigh* We stopped at a fish and chip place and had the BEST piece of battered fish I've ever eaten in my life... wait for it... FOR TWENTY RAND A PIECE! Practically for free. That's $2 (USD) a piece guys. Buttery, flaky hake in crispy, puffy batter. There are no words, seriously.

On the Sunday we popped into church for Easter Mass. The choir was pretty dismal but we felt good none-the-less knowing that we'd made it to the end of Lent. I had actually broken my fast on Good Friday evening with a double cheese burger and a scotch/soda... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. Sweet freedom, you tickle my tongue and warm my belly.

We decided to save the best for the last day and booked a one-day tour of the Stellenbosch winelands, with a guided long walk through the Delheim vineyard, several wine tastings and a stop for lunch at one of Stellenbosch's posh little restaurants. I can't tell you how much I learned about wine, grapes and wine-making in that walk! I have a whole new appreciation for the poetic, philosophical process that is wine making. I love that kind of shit! It's right up my alley. I can now spot a Cabernet Sauvignon leaf from a mile away, or a "Cab Sav" leaf as we wine connoisseurs fondly refer to it. And in the bottom left pic you'll see the Pinotage vines soaking up the sun. Pinotage (just so you know) is a grape variety indigenous to South Africa. in fact it was created in a lab by a bunch of scientists keen to create a grape that would thrive in our climate. A well-known, regular variety that thrives here naturally is Chardonnay, so look out for a good SA Chardonnay when you're out and you won't go wrong! (Delheim's Chardonnay "Sur Lie"... Mmmmmmmmmmmmh!)

And finally some random people pics... My mom, dad and Brendan at the top of Table Mountain in the bottom right pic. Me at the top of Table mountain in the top left pic and Nisha, Shivani and me partying at Cubana for Nisha's birthday on Saturday night.

God, I love that city.


noodle said...

Sounds like you had an awesome time. And you're looking great my friend, I say screw wheat,that shizzle just makes us puffy.

Rachel said...

Great views, looks like a dreamy place to visit AND LIVE SO NEAR TO!!!!
Hey, how come no pics of cool, sexy WINNIPEG on your blog?!?!?!

Carmen Gabriel said...

Noodz: I've actually given up on the wheat now... I think I might "treat/torture" myself with ONE wheat thing per week (on the weekend), but I've cut it out completely during the week. For someone like myself who loves to bake and cook, doing without wheat is tough. BUT I feel like a million bucks when I do stay away from it...

And Rachel: I've been writing The Mother Of All Blogs about Winnipeg! I have so many pictures from Nes' camera and mine that when I got back I was so overwhelmed. I didn't know WHERE to start... I'll be blogging it as soon as I feel I've done it justice! I missed the snow more than ever last night when I woke up in a pool of sweat after forgetting to set my aircon. GROAN!!

Gail Streak said...

Sound gr8!

Gail Streak said...

Sound gr8!