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!

 

 

 

 

Penguins in Africa?!

Friday Dec 30 – Victoria and Alfred Waterfront was the destination for the morning, and with the sun shining off we went. The weather has been so spectacular. Sunshine all day with a typical Cape Town breeze which keeps you nice and cool. The V&A is right in the harbor basin and is a delightful collection of buildings with a myriad of shopping, restaurants and entertainment of every variety. We strolled through the craft market stalls, and took in the sights and sounds of street performers. Mr. T. even spotted his first Rhino :)

The Wheel of Excellence was next up, have no idea why they call it that but anyhoo..

It gave an amazing view of the waterfront, Table mountain and the World Cup Soccer Stadium. The cruise ship in port was The World. An independent ship that offers cabins for “purchase” and fortunate souls live aboard and travel the world. What a terrible way to spend one’s life?!?!

I need to introduce a little travelling companion that is tagging along. Cedric the Travelling Gnome is tucked in the camera bag and every so often likes to pop out and have a photo op.

So here is Cedric with Table Mountain. And here he is with the Wheel of Excellence. He thought the ride was excellent!

By the afternoon it was getting VERY warm, so we hopped in the car and travelled to Simonstown. About an hour south along Table Bay, where we found the most amazing beach. Boulder Beach is littered with massive boulders and in amongst the boulders a colony of about 3000 African Penguins have made themselves at home. For the admission price of a latte we enjoyed a swim in the most stunning setting with penguins!! They are the most adorable creatures. Waddling around on beach in amongst everyone. It’s all too cute. There was a lot of snoozing going on in the African sun.  
Obviously the day of belly surfing the waves had taken it out of them!

As we were leaving this goose came honking down the beach making the biggest racket as she paraded her flock of little ones past everyone! 

 

 

 

 

Inspecting the toes :)

 

 

 

 

On the way home we took a different route and ended up seeing this amazing Vista of Table bay.

Oh I love Cape Town….

Happy New Year Friends!!

 

 

Touch down in Cape Town ~ Let the adventure begin!


We have arrived in Cape Town! Two days into our trip we have sorted ourselves with an internet connection and settled into the swing of things, including pulling out into traffic on the left hand side of the street. Mr. T. has a near heart attack every time!

Well, let’s just say 20 hours of flight time is madness. Throw in a 5 hour lay-over in London and you have no idea whether you are coming or going. When you get off the on the other side your body is not sure what meal it’s supposed to be eating, all you know is the clock says it’s a meal time…so you eat!

I  must say the flight with British Airways was great, and I’m not sure if I was delirious from flying for so long but I do remember saying that the food was pretty good!

We landed at 6:30 am Thursday morning and without missing a beat my Aunt Caroline whisked us off to the farm “cause we have to deal with a horse drama”, oh boy – welcome to Africa! 

My cousins’ horses got into a fight and got caught in the barbed wire fence – drama in the biggest way. So there Mr. T. and I are, looking like we’ve been dragged through a bush backwards after 30 hrs of travelling, about 5 hrs of sleep between the two of us, assisting with a horse emergency surgery.This was the “surgery room”.The little guy standing next to me was holding all the surgical tools on the tray, acting as the table. This is Africa! 

Oh did I forget to mention Mr. T. doesn’t “do” horses…thinks they have it in for him! He was standing way back with the camera!

After all the horses had all their appendages back in place, Caroline took us off on a trip around the wine region.

Wine tasting and sightseeing with our own tour guide for the day was the best way to get our bearings. We went to the world renowned town of Stellenbosch.

This historic town is home to some of the oldest wineries in the country and the scenery is nothing short of stunning. The Cape Dutch architecture is very distinctive with grand facade’s and thatch roofs.

I just love how all the white buildings look so striking against the blue sky.

Friday morning we headed out to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Watch for the next installment featuring swimming with penguins and the Victoria and Alfred waterfront.

Cheers!

Lift off ~ An adventure awaits

Mr.T and I are Africa bound! That’s right, we are headed to South Africa for a month!

So just to give you the heads up there will be more “lifestyle” than “design” for the next month in the posts as I bring you highlights from our travels.

This truly is a dream come true for me. Ever since moving to Canada 15 years ago with my family I dreamed of the day I would one day take my future husband back to the country where I was raised.Well the day has come and in a few hours Mr. T. and I will be starting the looong journey to Cape Town. The stunning city that I proudly say I was born in (at the Wynberg Military Hospital no less, thanks to my dad being an air force pilot – a story for another day) and a place that so mimics the lifestyle of the place I now call home ~ Vancouver. The ocean, the mountains, the vibrant culture. I can’t wait.This trip will take us all around the country. Experiencing all that South Africa has to offer. And you dear friends are along for the ride! I’m hoping to share lots of pics and stories to have you share in the adventure.

They say that when you live in a place you don’t often do the things that are right at your door step. In all my years living in South Africa I never went on a true “safari” and I am excited to share this “first” with Mr. T.

So be sure to stop in often and journey with us to the amazing country that is South Africa!

Leaving one’s life for a month takes a bit of planning and logistics, hopefully I’ve remembered everything that needs taking care of! The plants will probably thrive under my mother-in-laws care and attention – I’ve neglected them these last couple months. It’s great knowing the house is taken care of with them here.

Right now I have to double check my packing list and be sure I have the sunscreen…oh did I forget to mention it’s summer there?! That’s right we are dodging winter in Vancouver…the snow can fly anytime now ~ we are outta here!

Toetsiens (Till we see you again!)