Africa, South Africa

Capetown Part I

After our safari adventure (read here), Sarah and I went to Capetown for a week.  We were extremely lucky because our cousin Chris had been living there for a year doing research so he already found the best spots and knew the inside scoop to the city.  What is there to say about Capetown that hasn’t already been said and written about?  This city offers it all and I mean all.  In ten minutes you can go hiking on a mountain and see spectacular views of the city and ocean; in forty minutes you can go wine tasting at some of the best wineries in the world; in an hour you can see penguins on the beach; and in two hours, you can go diving with great white sharks.  Capetown felt like the perfect mix of California and Europe; it’s probably one of the most gorgeous cities I’ve ever been to.

If you want to do everything that Capetown and the surrounding areas has to offer, I would recommend staying for a full week.  We did so much in Capetown that this post had to be divided into two parts.  For our first full day in Capetown, we decided to wake up early and hike up Table Mountain.  We took the Platteklip Gorge trail which was a short but steep hike with the most gorgeous views of the city.  Once you’re at the top, there are other trails you can take around the table top.  We decided to get beers at the café instead.  Later that night, my cousin took us to his friend’s braai which is basically our version of a BBQ.  Every guest brings their meat of choice to the braai so it’s also like a potluck.  There were meats at this braai that I had never seen or eaten before.  Much to my surprise, my favorite was the ostrich sausage.  I quickly found out that South Africans love their meats especially when they are dried like jerky.  Meats and good wine!

For a belated birthday celebration, Chris and Sarah treated me to a day at the wineries in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.  They know me so well!  Franschhoek reminded me of Sonoma while Stellenbosch felt more like Napa.  Both are stunningly gorgeous with acres and acres of vineyards and the stark backdrop of the mountains.  We went to some of the best wineries in the world and because their currency (the Rand) dropped so much while we were there, it was super affordable for us.  My favorite wineries were Haute Cabrière for their champagne tasting, Tokara for their property and views, and Delaire Graff Estate for their restaurant and their wines.  Going to these wine regions reminded me so much of the wineries in Chile.  They are both so vast and with relatively no crowds.

Chris’s friends took us to The Spice Route in Paarl which is another wine region.  The Spice Route reminded me of Chelsea Market in New York City.  It’s a destination where there are different places to eat, to shop, and to drink.  It’s a great way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon.  I recommend sitting outside at La Grapperia, order a bunch of thin crust pizzas and share them.  For dessert, head over to DV Cottage Cafe for some homemade ice cream.  The peanut butter is to die for.  Make sure to do the chocolate tasting at DV Artisan Chocolate and the wine and charcuterie tasting at Richard Bosman’s Cured Meats.

One of my bucket list items was to go great white shark diving in South Africa and I was able to check that one off.  We went with White Shark Diving Company in Gansbaai which was a two hour drive South of the city.  It honestly wasn’t the sharks I was afraid of, it was the frigid cold waters.  We wore wetsuits of course and had to be in the water for about 30 minutes.  It was all worth it to see the great whites up close.  Some of them were 4 meters longs which is 13 feet for all you Americans out there.  It’s one of those experiences in life that you can’t explain it to people.  You’re part terrified, part mesmerized that you are that close to a great white.

Stayed tuned for Part II of our Capetown adventures…