Cape Town Pics!

             So, here are the photos from our Cape Town trip - We had a very good two weeks starting with 3 nights in the Stellenbosch winelands and from there we went to Cape Town and the fun continued! (We are going from top to bottom, so please, if you have already checked, scroll down and see if I have added since then, also I think if you double click on one you can go to a slide show type view but you won't get the writing) - Can you guys tell I miss scrapbooking? We are really excited to be able to share all the fun sights of Cape Town with you!
The bus we didn't miss! We came from our house to the nearest transportation hub in South Africa and the bus left at 10am. We had to hitchhike to be the first one's out of the country when the border opened and then took a taxi to arrive at the bus stop with 15 minutes to spare! That was the begining of our adventure. Then, we spent 23 hours on this bus, arriving at Stellenbosch then next morning at 9am when the adventure continued.

This photo from the bus was interesting, note the tin shack village in the foreground and the golf course for fancy people in the background. It seems that is very representative of many places but really of South Africa.
The view from the mountain pass going to Stellenbosch - Table Bay and Cape Town

There were so many cute little sidewalk cafes like this in Stellenbosch - it was quite idyllic!

The whole Cape Town area and many other places in South Africa have very ornate colonial architecture, there are a few examples that we tried to capture the "feel" with, here is the begining of them in Stellenbosch.

The University of Stellenbosch Art Museum, I liked the soil profile

Another Art Museum that was interesting - but not interesting in the way that sculpture outside is!

Our room and a couple of outdoor pics at Roland's Rendezvous where we stayed in Stellenbosch. Roland was nice - but a bit of a character!

Roland's collies watching Shane swim

Our room was behind those sliding glass doors, the gardens at this place were beautiful!

View of the Jonkershoek Valley - Stellenbosch

               The first winery we visited on night we came in, was a boutique winery called Lanzerac - one of the first wine farms in Stellenbosch and even was (I think) the first winery in the area to be ran by a woman. It also has a fancy-schmancy hotel, a spa with this crazy new treatment called "Dr. Fish" where you pay a lot of money to have fish suck all of the gross stuff off of your feet or wherever. We went all out on this one, with a cellar tour, wine tasting with cheese board pairings and we even had dinner at their 5 star restaurant! They also had a cigar and whiskey lounge, beautiful landscaping and owls:-)


 The photos below are from our second day in Stellenbosch, we went to Rustenberg winery - with a beautiful estate that I unfortunately did not get a good photo of. We followed it with a lovely lunch at the Culinary Arts school's outdoor cafe and we finished with a cellar tour and wine tasting from Die Bergkelder - which is not a wine farm but the facilities are used cooperatively to make several different brands of wine.

The bottling plant when we went through was bottling the label "Two Oceans" a commonly know "good value" wine that is often seen here. Die Bergkelder's flagship brand is Fleur du Cap which of course, we tasted. If you look at the photo of the "Mountain Cellar" (made because it is too hot in S.A. to age wines properly with a normal cellar) you can see that there are multiple rooms - for the tasting we went into a different cellar room for each wine. We finished with a "Noble Late Harvest" which is a late harvest chenin blanc grape that they allow the botrytis fungus to grow on to take out the water and concentrate the grape flavor, it was an incredible dessert wine and didn't taste like mold at all! 

These pics are from our last day in Stellenbosch where we did a guided wine tour, really nice because there are so many wineries, most out of town, and we didn't have any other way to get around, also, they had air con! For the tour we visited several wineries that were very nice, not huge, good wines, beautiful and even historic estates. Thelema, La Motte, Glen Carlou, Warwick and Muratie. These wineries were not only around Stellenbosch, but also the quaint little French influenced town of Franschoek, the driving was quite scenic - and on the bigger version of the photo with the statue, you can see Franschoek written on the mountainside.

As you can see we are actively enjoying trying to become wine nerds! We've even learned about some of the wierd "oaking" stuff. Overall, the white wine of South Africa really blew us away. I know they don't get so much South African wine up there, but this summer, if you are so inclined, keep in mind that a  chilled Savignon or Chenin Blanc from S.A. comes highly recommended. We also learned that South Africa has several of its own unique varieties of grape, but one that is really well known. Pinotage, is a cross between the Pinot Noir grape and another one to help it grow better here. It has a very unique and complex taste and is reputed to have only lovers of it and haters of it - with no one in between!

 We took the train between Stellenbosch and Cape Town and stopped at an interesting winery on the way: Spier. Not the best wines, but their picnic fare was good, they also had several interesting projects including one to help begining artists get started, where they give them a canvas and then sell whatever they paint on it and then give the money to the artist so they can use it to buy more supplies and begin their career. They had a cheetah preserve, so, we got to see cheetahs too. They are really into sustainability, and have their own water proccessing facility and a line of organic wines. We really liked their chandelier made from recycled wine bottles!

The next four photos are of the amazing super-gourmet Farmer's Market that we went too. Not too many basic vegetable stands, but a lot of value added gourmet food like the cheese. We bought a few things so we wouldn't have to depend so much on restaurants, and then we enjoyed sharing them!This pink flower is called a protea, it is very common in the region. I believe it is from the very unique and biodiverse ecosystem around Cape Town called Fynbos. It is kind of the trademark flower of the area, and I thought they were really cool looking!

A few shots from Phantom, the Artscape theater - that seemed a lot more modern than some of the renovated old world-style theaters we've seen before. Then of our little relocated appartment, it was very close to the "City Bowl"/ city center. We had a little balcony with great views of the bay on one side and Table Mountain on the other. I was a bit freaked out to bust out the camera at the hostel. And we had too much fun with Penny and Janek's family; regretably, it didn't come out then either.

Oooh - Shane got to choose his sushi as it rotated past him!

So, the photos below are from our super-tourist day. We started by walking to the famous "Waterfront" where we met the bus tour thing. The photo of the canal with the fancy houses was from the walk. We just thought they were pretty, and crazy! People live there! Then we went up to Table Mountain. It has a pretty famous cable car, they said it was built in the 20's, but I didn't know they had VISA back then! I went a little crazy on the botanical photos on the top of Table Mountain, there were so many interesting plants that I hadn't seen before. Hopefully, some of you will also find them interesting, I was trying to capture a bit of the ecology from the top of the famous landmark. There, of course are also the best views of the city, the city's landmarks, and the Atlantic Ocean. Look for Robben Island, the Greenpoint Stadium (from the 2010 Soccer World Cup), Lion's Head mountain and Signal Hill.

Can you believe this is Africa?

Going up...

Shane liked the Lake Superior one so much that he made me do it again!

 The way we would have hiked if it wouldn't have been so hot!

The coolest plant! Seriously.

Gotta love this handsome guy!

We know, we should probably be in an ad for REI

Shane said it was a pretty smart marketing strategy for VISA to get in family photo albums. This was going back down.

 The bottom of the mountain and the cable car station.

Then, we went to Camp's Bay, a beautiful beach on the (super-cold) Atlantic Ocean. You can actually see it from the top of Table Mountain too. They told us that A LOT of celebrities like to go there. Hopefully, some of them got a chance to see us!

Does anyone know what these are?

 No, we did not have a small feast of mussels - sorry...

The top of a kelp forest

A view of one side, the mountains are the part of "the backside" of Table Mountain, and they are called the "Twelve Apostles" even though we were told there were actually 17. You'll see them again.
See, wading - not swimming, temperature water. Even though it was really hot.

It's the handsome guy again with the other side of the bay in the background.

Another view of Table Mountain and if you look closely you can see the cable car

There are The Appostles

And this is some of the highest value property in Africa!

So, we then took the bus into the city center to check out some of the cool and historic buildings-

St. Georges Cathedral

 This is called the "Slave Lodge" it started as a place where they boarded slaves before they were sold, but has since been a brothel, jail, the first post office and a few other things I can't remember - if those walls could talk!
A parliment building
This was a whole strip of carvings on the wall of a building, that depicts the history of South Africa

In the city center there are actually these historic gardens called "The Company Gardens" again there were some really nice plants there - and shade!
 A ficus tree

Donated by the embassy from Japan

Christmas Cactus tree?

Look at the clouds coming off of Table Mountain - they call this the "Table Cloth" we are glad we made it up and down before the clouds came

District 6, grown up in weeds - this is one of the more prominent physical relicts of aparthide that is in the city.

Check out the clouds on top of the 12 Appostles too, same view - a little later...

Greenpoint lighthouse and the stadium they built to hold the 2010 World Cup

I know this was a terrible photo, but we finished the day with some tapas in a little cafe on the waterfront with lovely harbor views - and we had our first bottle of wine with dinner actually in a restaurant (where we paid for the whole check ourselves). This somewhat fancy bottle of wine was the equivalent of US$12!

We spent one day taking the train down the coast of the Indian Ocean - you can see the train... pretty wholesome place. We actually saw someone steal another guy's cell phone when we were on the way back. The photo below is us in the first class car:-) But it was a lovely ride, the tracks run along the ocean, so when you found a clean window to see through it was beautiful! We went down to Simon's Town where they have a colony of peguins, you have to pay to see them - so, we didn't end up paying but we did have lunch at an adorable (and delicious) Tibetan Tea House and Art Gallery - thinking of you Liz!

 View from the train
Cute Oceanside house

At the tea house entrance

Tea house garden

Meditation room

Shane like the singing bowls!

Food with a view

If you look closely you can see the little black dots on the rock across from where we were, those are the peguins - on the other side maybe you can see the boardwalk that you have to pay for.

Find the penguin here - he struck out on his own, so I could get a cute photo

Beautiful beach there though

Then, we went swimming

And generally beach bumming for the rest of the day!

Shane went to Castle of Good Hope for the changing of the gaurd 

The weeds are attacking the castle!

This is where Nelson Mandela stood for his first public address as president

"Buy a flower off a poor girl" This is the flower market in Cape Town, they do actually use an interesting variation of a cockney accent to hawk their flowers and a bouquet is only R20 which is less than $3 US!

Shane's Waterfront friends

So, we went to the "Two Oceans Aquarium" and got to see the penguins there! We got to see the penguins below that aren't actually African but the other ones are African penguins - we got to see them being fed. I liked the photo where it looks like they are listening to the woman's presentation about them! We thought it was interesting to see creatures in the aquarium from both the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans.

Does this remind anyone of Happy Feet?

This was really fun - it is a kelp forest, check out the Camp's Bay pics where you can see the top of the kelp forest. This exhibit was really soothing because the kelp was waving with the current and they played relaxing music too.

Look! We found Nemo :-)

And then we ate fish for dinner... Oh, what a world-

The last day we spent perusing Greenmarket Square, a famous, open air market with many interesting items for sale and many vendors willing to bargain. Unfortunately, this was the end of our trip and we are still living on a PCV budget so I was only able to take pictures! But they had some really interesting things, including jewelry, batiks, carvings, masks from everywhere in Africa and a lot more! We thought about you all as we purused the selections and wished we could have real grown-up jobs, so that when we go to Cape Town we can get everyone the perfect gift - unfortunately we're not that awesome so please settle for being thought of:-)

 We fininshed the day by sharing a meal with Nick who is the son of Penny and Janek (you know, they saved our vacation...) He is really interesting and has been living partially outside of the traditional economic system of money and trying to subvert the current system by creating a currency of talent exchange - Sorry I can't talk much more about the details, but it was really interesting to hear about. Also, we ate at the Eastern Food Bazaar (twice) and loved it, they had great eastern food of many kinds and it was such a great value. The three of us were able to stuff ourselves on less than $15 USD!

So, this is it, the last pics of the trip - we left the showers, pools, beaches, real grocery stores and Ju jit su and flew back to Durban and then schelpped back on the busses from there to home. As you all know from reading our blog, the public transit is an adventure in and of itself but...


(of the Cape Town Adventure) - stay tuned because of course, there will be another vacation sequel...