A few weeks back I was casually reading our daily itinerary; a fairly comprehensive run down of what’s in store for us. It had all manner of useful information like: when and where ATM’s could be found, when we needed to provide our own lunches and which camp sites had pool and/or bar facilities. All the really important information! So when I read “get dressed up for wine tour” I went into immediate panic mode. As any overland traveller will know good clothes, even average clothes are ridiculous things to pack. I’m in Africa and I had an “I’ve got nothing to wear crises”. Hilarious I know. Luckily we had a few weeks before said “dress up” gear would be required so great – a valid excuse for us girls to go shopping……but in Botswana? As it turned out finding something ‘nice’ to wear wasn’t difficult at all; even though what I purchased is something that I probably wouldn’t even try on if at home.
Retail therapy – done! And you must take into consideration that when we stop at a location we generally only get about 45-60 minutes to do banking, buy lunch, do cook group shopping and take care of all other personal bits and pieces so fitting in changing rooms was time critical indeed. Nothing like a bit of impulse buying every now and then.
Wine district here we come. Our base for the first three days in South Africa was a town called Stellenbosch; our wine tour booked for the second day we were there. Nursing a slight hangover the mini-van picked us up (looking lovely if I do say so myself) for a short drive to the first of four vineyards. Over the course of the next 8 hours we sampled a minimum of 26 wines, a selection of whites, reds, roses, desert wine and even a glass of champagne. I won’t tease you with all the specifics other than to say that the Viognier at Fairview Estate was a clear winner. Fairview estate in general was a winner as they provided free cheese tasting and Mike and I were sure to get more than our fair share of that. Pretty sure we got about 10 people’s share of cheese. Each.
We had a lovely day, met some new people, tried lots of different wines, and soaked up the beautiful South African countryside. Back in town though the party had only just begun.
1. All dressed up for the wine tour, Stellenbosch, SA
2. Fairview vineyard, my favourite, Stellenbosch, SA
3. The group, wine tasting, Stellenbosch, SA
4. Dieu Donne Vineyard, Stellenbosch, SA
5. Stellenbosch, SA
Apart from having hundreds of vineyards Stellenbosch is also where all the YOUNG people hang out. Seriously the average age of our group was a decade; no make that considerably more than a decade, older than the average party goer in Stellenbosch. It was so noticeable we even asked where all the old-ER people hang out. Apparently they don’t exist. (Young) people watching became very entertaining for us that night. The only possible outcome, we all decided, was to get absolutely rip-roaringly plastered and have a brilliant night. So that’s exactly what we did.
(Time allowed here to go check out Facebook and all the horrendous pictures we have been tagged in).
After Stellenbosch it was time to hit Cape Town and our base for the next 8 days (owing mostly to a cancelled/rescheduled Malaysian Air flight). We weren’t particularly upset about being in the same place for so long; in fact we were looking forward to it. A chance to see Cape Town at leisure, sort our bags/all possessions out and get ready for Argentina. We had one more massive night out on the town which literally did us all in, stumbling back to the hostel just before 5am.
(Again time allowed here to see all the incriminating evidence on Facebook)
6. Final night drinks, the girls' before photo, Cape Town, SA
7. Final night drinks, Mike, Chris P, Kat and I, Cape Town, SA
8. Final night drinks, most of the gang, Cape Town, SA
A few of the ‘better’ photos from that night. lol
9. Table cloth mountain, Cape Town, SA
We had decided not to climb up table mountain on the first afternoon we were in Cape Town; big night on the town to follow, and we had the luxury of several more days than any-one else in our group. When day 2 dawned a bit misty and then day 3 even more we began to appreciate the nickname “table cloth mountain”. It’s incredible how great the weather can be at the waterfront say, but the mountain be closed only a short distance away because of high winds. We still had great hope of getting up it at some point the only question was when? We needn’t have worried on the weather front – the rest of the week was glorious 35+ degree C temperatures. Only problem was a small case of stomach upset for me which I won’t go into details but trekking up table mountain – essentially 2 hours of straight up climbing the day after a bit of vomit action in 37 degrees almost killed me. Please don’t ask us why we climbed up at 11am in the morning when there was absolutely no shade anywhere up the path. Crazy. But the views up there were worth the agony and after a small snack in the café felt re-charged enough to walk back down again. Who needs a cable car anyway?
10. Look what I can see .... on top of Table Mountain, SA
11. Penguin time at Boulders Bay, SA
On our penultimate day in South Africa, we treated ourselves to a road trip. I wanted to go to Cape of Good Hope, the furthest south west point you can go in Africa. It seemed to complete our journey – Cairo to Cape Point - nicely. So we hired a car and took off down the coast. First stop; penguins at Boulders Bay. We spent about 30 minutes watching them, well do not a lot really – we had wanted to see them swimming around their little beach cove but standing up sunbathing seemed to be the only activity of the hour. Every now and then one would tease us by waddling down to the surf line but then only get its feet wet before returning up the beach for more sunbathing. There were a few very cute fluffy babies giving themselves a sand bath so that was great to see. Next stop was Cape of Good Hope and the required picture in-front of the sign displaying the exact longitudinal/latitude positions followed by a very chilled out dinner on the sea front.
12. Sun Set, West coast peninsular, SA
One of the best coastal roads just happens to be on the west coast peninsular so as the sun started to set, we found a great spot half way along it, right on the cliff edge to enjoy the view. Not that we need any more photos of sunsets/sunrises mind, but seeing as we refrained from including one in the last blog entry – there is one included in this one to add to our collection.
By the time we got back to the hostel that night Mike and I were the last remaining people from our tour. Each day we were forced to say good bye to another friend, the group getting ever smaller until Mike and I found ourselves on our own. It was a strange feeling; awesome to be independent travellers again but missing our new friends at the same time.
One thing I will say after a week in Cape Town – I am over 8 person dorm rooms. The snorers, talkers, door bangers, late night party goers, incessant bag openers at all hours of the night - you know who you are. Dare I say it – but bring back the days when we were in a tent. We got our own back on our last day by getting out of bed at 3.05am to catch our flight and no – I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt when turning on my bed side lamp. Payback’s a bitch.
We love Africa. We loved our tour, the friends we made, the places we visited and the experiences we shared with them. We even loved camping, long driving days and the hectic pace. We’d love to do it all again; we’d love to come back one day.
Pero tiempo para ir! Aqui llegamos de America de Sur. (“but time to go – here we come South America”). Or something like that anyway?
P.S. The next blog will be entirely in Spanish.