The Wild Coast ~ A beach retreat

After our first action packed days in Cape Town we jet setted off to East London, a hop skip and a jump up the coast.

My Aunt has a beach house in a secluded part of the Wild Coast called Haga Haga where we joined a good portion of my extended family for some relaxing days on the beach and had some serious down time.

Upon arrival, I took Mr. T. out to the “Cubby Hole”, the lookout in the back garden that overlooks the ocean.

He turned  to me and said: “We’re here for 5 days, right?!”, to which I said “Yup!”. Ahhh…I could hear him start to unwind already. This is his kind of vacation. Do nothing and chill. A reprive from the heavy sightseeing schedule of the previous few days in Cape Town!

Very rustic and down to earth, the house accommodated all ten of us with ease. Meals were amazing and homecooked over open flame most of the time. Some by choice, some not. As it turns out on our evening to cook (we all took turns with meal duty) the power had been out for the entire day and we ended up having to cook our roast over the “braai” – South African for BBQ! In a classic case of “this is Africa” the power went out at 9:00am and was only sorted out and back on at 11:05pm!! We took it in stride and made steaks out of the roast and we all had fun with it!

It was the perfect five days of hanging with family. We even got in a round of golf that was more like hiking.

Mr.T. had to haul our golf clubs through thickets of forests and ravines (in 28 celcius weather!)

Of course we rode in the back of the “bakkie” (truck) as is customary in South Africa, much to Mr. T’s skepticsm

One morning we got to enjoy dolphins while sipping morning coffee from the beach lookout. This shot is to show you how close they were to the waves.

They were fascinating to watch as they worked as a group to feed.

Constantly working in a circle, they would surround they fish and swim closer and closer to catch their breakfast.

What an amazing way to start the day!

Our agenda for the week included lots of lazy days under the beach umbrella and playing in the Indian Ocean. This is the merry tribe making our way to a secluded swimming beach for the morning.

 

 

The rocks along the coastline are really interesting. Over time they all seem to have very weathered with distinct striations in perfect straight lines.

When the tide came in we would have to move camp, and this is how Mr. T. would move everything without getting burnt along the way!

We spent hours explore the countless rock pools right on our doorstep.

All in all it was amazing family time in a serene unspoiled setting.

We all left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready for the next adventure which took us up the coast for a week in Durban!

 

 

 

A New Year ~ Welcome to 2012


New years day. The start of something fresh. Endless possibilities ahead. One can’t help but dream of all the things you will accomplish in the coming months.

I realize we are over a week into the New Year, but here In Africa internet can be hit and miss, so this post has been delayed ~ Sorry!

For Mr. T. and I our year started with ticking off one of the official New 7 Wonders of Nature: Table Mountain! This title, recently bestowed, is fitting for the iconic flat topped mountain that is the backdrop to every worthwhile picture of Cape Town.

There are a number of ways to ascend the mountain, including various hiking routes of varying degrees.

If you’re not too concerned whether or not you see the year through you can climb the sheer cliff like these guys (look closely at the blue and red specks on the cliffs!):

Or hike up through this canyon. Which takes the better part of the day just to get up.

Mr. T. and I took the 10 minute ride in this:

The Aerial cable car that has been taking fascinated tourists up the mountain since 1929. Although back in those days it wasn’t sponsored by Visa. When I was younger we went up the mountain with my parents and this is the car that took us then:


Here is Cedric the gnome with his ticket:


Unfortunately, one can plan everything except the weather and as is quite common with table Mountain there was a “table cloth” of cloud covering the top, which hampered our view. Nonetheless we had a splendid time enjoying the diverse flora and fauna on top of the mountain.

The wild Watsonias grow in abundance

These little guys are called Dassies. They scurry in and out of the rocks and are quite adorable.

Mr. T. and I enjoying the edge of the cliffs..gets your adrenalin going in some spots!

Yes, That’s the city below me!

Our next stop was the Rhodes Memorial.

Dedicated to Cecil John Rhodes, a colonist who left his mark on the early South African political and economic landscape with such feats as starting the De Beers Corporation. Constantly wanting to further the British Empire, Rhodes dreamt having a railroad from Cairo to the Cape that would run through nations all under British rule. This dream fell short by only a handful of countries never under British rule. There are 49 steps leading to the top of the memorial, one for each year of his life.

Our New Years Day was topped off with a little bit of South African Culture.

Mango Groove was the hottest group back in the 90’s here in South Africa and I remember listening to their stuff on the radio lots. Well I thought what better way to get Mr. T. immersed into the culture than a bit of South African music. Playing at the stunning Kirstenbosch gardens under the African sunset we enjoyed a picnic while grooving to the sweet sounds of penny whistle and some true African sounds.

By the end of it we were all up with the entire crowd getting into it. Here’s Mr. T. and my cousin groovin’ away!

What a wonderful start to the year!

 

 

New Years Eve in Cape Town

New Years Eve was our third day in Cape Town and we had a check list of places we wanted to tick off the list before we rang in the New Year.

Taking the famous Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain was at the top of the list, so off we dashed bright and early. Arriving at the cable car we saw a mass line up that was not moving…oh dear, not a good start. We parked the car and were nearly blown off the side of the mountain.

Well as it turns out they were shut down until the afternoon due to high winds, and for good reasons – those cable cars would have been doing full rotations around the cable had they been running.

Cedric the Gnome kept being blown off his perch when taking his picture with the city in the background!

Well, with this hiccup in the plan we decided to take a drive over to Signal Hill. Offering similar stunning views, Signal Hill gives a great vantage point for the whole city.

We had a great view of the World Cup Soccer Stadium.

After admiring the city from above we stepped back in time for a visit to the Castle, the site of the first settlement at the Cape. In 1666 the Dutch East Company felt it would be prudent to build a fort to protect themselves and their interests at the Cape of Good Hope from the British. 

Interesting to note that the Castle was built right at the waterfront, however today it stands about 10 blocks back from the water due to reclaimed land and development into the harbor.

Exploring this type of historical site is just up Mr. T’s alley, and we were quite pleased to know there was a tour starting within 15 minutes of us arriving. Mr. T’s first request: can we please go with the English group?!? Haha! A quick aside: he has been fully immersed into Afrikaans since arriving as my Aunt Caroline (who we are staying with in Cape Town) often switches between English and Afrikaans within a conversation. I must say he is picking up the lingo quite well as we go!

We started off with the firing of this little cannon. Don’t let it’s size fool you! I blocked my ears and still had them ringing for at least 20 minutes afterwards. So for me it didn’t matter whether the tour was in English or Afrikaans, I couldn’t hear a thing!

Having a walk around this significant historic site was a great reference point for how The Cape, and more over, South Africa got settled.  Much of our history reflects back to the Cape being a refreshing station for ships on their way from Europe to the East on the trading routes.

After our history lesson for the day we picked up my cousin from the airport and headed to Blouberg (in English: Blue Mountain) beach for a late lunch. We were told to eat at Moyo’s a fun authentic South African restaurant on the beach.

With some GPS challenges, we finally found it and gosh we were glad we persevered!!!

The patio “chairs” and “tables” were surfboards and underneath was a wading pool that was calf deep! So AMAZING! What a way to cool down after a hot drive in the car. Honestly that was the best.

With views of Table mountain behind us and authentic South African fare on the menu life couldn’t get better! We sampled Springbok Carpaccio ( thinly sliced raw buck meat) – so flavourful and tender. Mr. T. was weary at first about eating raw meat in Africa but he loved it when it came, and we lived to tell you the tale about it :)

 

My cousin Serena ordered fresh oysters that were caught that morning.

Mr. T. and I were trying to think of an equivalent restaurant theme that would work in Canada – the closest we could come up with was sitting on snowboards with snow underfoot. Somehow it’s not that appealing and we didn’t think the concept would fly so well!

The New Year was rung in on the beach with fireworks and stars over head. A stark contrast to the cold and chilly New Years’ celebrations back in Canada!

Happy New Years Friends. May you be blessed in 2012!