Dec 17 - New picture albums posted

Sue's uploaded three new albums, from our travels from Richards Bay to Simon's Town and local areas. Enjoy!

Dec 13 - Stellenbosch

Breakfast was at The Rambling Rose country kitchen and deli in Montagu; great coffee there. By 10:00 we were in Robertson, just in time for the first tasting at the Robertson Winery (+++). A further short drive away is the town of Stellenbosch, the heart of wine country, where we checked into the Ryneveld Lodge, nearby the downtown area. In the early afternoon, we drove a short distance out of town to go exploring a few more wineries. Lest anyone think the crew of Infini are all unmitigated drunkards, as I recently explained in an email to a friend of ours, South Africa is world renown for their wines, and we considered it our civic duty to go wine tasting to at least a few of the many hundreds of wineries in the area :). I think you could spend a verrry looong time trying to visit the many wineries here, as well as put a serious dent in your pocketbook. For our last visits, we chose to go to the Beyerskloof (+++), Delheim, and Tokara (++) wineries, and our wine cellar aboard is now well stocked. Later, we walked around town and found a nice restaurant for dinner; there are dozens of them, and planned for our return to Simon's Town tomorrow; our walkabout is coming to an end! Not a moment too soon; the roads are more congested and booking a hotel room is more difficult, as well as more expensive, as it is now officially the high season for tourists and most folks are on holiday.

Dec 12 - Montagu

Part of the Garden Route is Rte 62, and going off that road one can go thru Barrydale to get to Montagu, our destination for the evening. We stopped at the Barrydale Hotel, well known for their very good food, and had a delicious lunch. Nearby is Hardys Memories of Africa. Hardy explained that he used to be a trader in African art and curios and for many years had a shop in Cape Town. His shop in Barrydale is more like a museum, and Hardy is encyclopedic in his knowledge. We thoroughly enjoyed learning about many of the thousands of pieces of art found there, many of them rare pieces not found anywhere except in museums, but all for sale in his shop. Sounds like a sales pitch, but, believe me, it's a unique experience and Hardy seemed willing enough to share and answer all our questions. We bought a large wooden bowl, not anything that unusual, but priced very well and a beautiful piece. You can see Hardys at www.memories-of-africa.myshopify.com. Our lodging in Montagu was at the Somerset Lodge, and David was quite the congenial host. In the late afternoon we drove the short distance to Ashton, where we visited the Van Loveren (+++) and Viljoensdrift (++) wineries; wine tasting in most wineries takes place until 5:00 PM. Thereafter, a quiet night in a comfortable bed; what else could we ask for?
Pic: The drive was scenic our whole trip!

Dec 10 & 11 - Knysna & Tsitsikamma (Bungy jumping)

We had to bypass Knysna heading west to Simon's Town as the weather conditions wouldn't allow entry thru the narrow channel bordered by the hills east and west called "the Heads." There have been many shipwrecks here while attempting to navigate the shoals in less than optimal weather, so close attention to navigation (and weather) is paramount. We chose the easier route; promising ourselves we'd come back and visit Knysna by car. The town is a busy one with lots of tourists, and we drove to see the Heads yesterday (it was a very calm day) and did some sight-seeing around the waterfront. We stopped at the Knysna Yacht Club for lunch and enjoyed the local hospitality. We also met up with Dave & Marion of sv Kilkea II who are staying at the club docks while they have some alternator repairs done. Our reservations for these two days are at the Lagoon Lodge, just off the main drag, with a balcony view of the water but far away from the crowds. This morning we drove about an hour to the Bloukrans Bridge near Tsitsikamma so Matt could bungy jump with the folks from Face Adrenalin. The Bloukrans River valley bridge is the highest bridge in Africa, and the bungy jump of 216 meters is said to be the highest bungy jump from a bridge in the world. Matt strapped on one of his two Go-Pro cameras, held on to his other one, and Sue and I each had cameras. Face Adrenalin also filmed and took still pictures, so Matt has abundant memories of a world class jump. Well done! After lunch at the Lookout Restaurant on the beach in Plattenberg Bay, we returned to our lodge, whereupon Matt decided to go kite boarding as the winds are up and there were five other kiters using a nearby beach. Fun and games (and abundant energy) here....

Dec 8 & 9 - Wilderness and Mossel Bay

Want to see one of the oldest trees in Africa? It's located in the Wilderness National Park and is about 800 years old. What about a forest that looks like the continent of Africa? Yep, that's also in Wilderness and is called the Map of Africa, near Hoekwil, just off the N2. A river flowing around a hill outlines the forest and it appears just like a map of Africa. Wilderness is about 7 miles from George, on the N2 highway towards Knysna. Heading onwards, we found Mossel Bay a very mellow place. Everyone we met was incredibly friendly, and strangers wanted to know where we were from, how our travels were going, and gave us a bit of information about their home town. We walked the Cape Saint Blaize Trail under and around the lighthouse and marveled at the scenery. The local churches and museums were well kept up and added a bit of historical perspective. While we were browsing thru a number of antique and crafts shops, Matt booked to see the great white sharks with White Shark Africa, saw 5 great whites, took a bunch of videos, and spent about an hour in the water in the cage ($110 USD PP, food included!). There are lots of restaurants and bars in town for food and libations. We stayed at Asgard Valhalla Guest House (27 44 691 1075) overlooking the bay. It's a 130 year old house converted to a B & B; funky but very mellow. The folks there couldn't have been nicer, and the daily breakfast was excellent. On the way out of town, we stopped at one of the artist cooperatives (can't recall the name... but it's next door to the White Shark Africa shop) met the proprietor, Hein, and bought some beautiful gifts at very good prices. Overall, just really good vibes in Mossel Bay.
Pic: Looking back at the light house and where we started our hike at Cape St. Blaize.

Dec 7 - Cape Agulhas and Swellendam

We packed the car this morning and were on the road by 0900. Off the N2 highway, our first stop was Cape Agulhas. As we mentioned in a previous entry, this Cape separates the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, and is renown thru the centuries as a dangerous place to transit. Storms and rogue waves have taken their toll and many a shipwreck has occurred around the area; we felt we had to stop by and pay our respects. A marker has been placed to mark the official dividing line between oceans, and we walked the nearby rocks and tidal pools. After, we drove to Swellendam, staying at the Aan de Bergen Guesthouse (topnotch; call Annatjie 082 902 8720). Dinner was at the Drostdy Restaurant. I had the chef special: ostrich, springbok and kudu prepared in a carmelized fig sauce...delicious! Sue's fillet was very good, and Matt's traditional African dish of chicken curry, lamb stew and bobotie was also outstanding. The malva pudding with cream for dessert was excellent; cart us out of here....The view of the nearby Langeberg Mountain range was beautiful, and, of note, the historic building of the restaurant/museum also houses a Coca Cola memorabilia collection. Overall, a highly recommended stop!

Dec 6 - Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope

We took the short drive to Cape Point in the afternoon. It's situated within the Table Mountain National Park and located at the southwestern tip of the continent of Africa. We should have read about the area first, as there are many trails to hike and places to see; a full day would be well spent, as well as a better allocation of funds; it costs $11.00USD/PP entry fee. To quote one of the many informational pages about the Cape, "Named the ‘Cape of Storms’ by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488; the ‘Point’ was treated with respect by sailors for centuries. By day, it was a navigational landmark and by night, and in fog, it was a menace beset by violent storms and dangerous rocks that over the centuries littered shipwrecks around the coastline." In 1859 the first lighthouse was completed; although rebuilt and relocated to prevent ships from misinterpreting how close to approach the Point, it stands at 249 metres above sea-level on the highest section of the peak and its light can be seen up to 63 miles (101 km; 55 nm) out to sea. After parking the car, we hiked up to the lighthouse. It was a short walk, but our legs still felt like jelly - we are so out of shape! Lots of folks took the Flying Dutchman funicular, a cable car/railway that makes the run back and forth to the top (R55 return. R45 single). The views from the lighthouse are spectacular. The wind was blowing strong (surprise!) and the seas were covered in whitecaps. Lots of other tourists were there, everyone taking pictures. After, we had a bit of sushi at the Two Oceans Restaurant (good stuff) before driving to the Cape of Good Hope. More amazing scenery. There are lots of hiking trails, picnic spots, places to camp or go mountain biking, beaches to explore, shipwrecks to find, or just enjoy the fynbos and do some bird watching. We even came across some ostrich while visiting sand dunes, a mother and her two chicks, with dad nearby. Although only there a half day, the area is well worth a visit.
Pic: Momma and babies have the right of way...we backed up to let them go by.

Dec 5 - High wind warning...

We drove Matt to Muizenberg today so he could go kite surfing at Sunrise Beach. This is considered one of the premier spots to kite around here and it didn't disappoint. At first, it was just he and a couple of other kiters in about 25 knots of wind. A few hours later, it was getting a bit crowded; about 8-10 people on kites and winds of 25-28 knots. Meanwhile, I had a follow-up appointment in Fish Hoek with Dr. Klopper, DDS and we drove back and forth from the beach to town. By mid-afternoon, we returned to the marina after having picked up our laundry, relaxed a bit, and met up with the folks from Kite (Jack & Zdanka), Hokule'a (Jake & Jackie) and Smoke (Davey) at happy hour. Back aboard for dinner, I briefly turned on the wind instruments...it's been howling...I shut off the instrument in about one minute; it had read 46.6 knots! Sue figured that while she was preparing dinner it must have been blowing 45-50 knots. High winds, indeed.
Pic: It was hard to keep track of the moving target (Matt) in the swell and waves.