I have the Hubby to thank for my serious case of wanderlust. It was inevitable; his deep love for traveling is absolutely infectious! The Hubby grew up abroad for the most part and he had the wonderful opportunity of living in the most amazing places. Ever since he was young, he’s already had all these exciting adventures to countless far-off locations, with a solo backpacking trip to Antarctica included! 🙂 At the age of 35, he had conquered almost all the continents, all except for one : Africa.
So, to finally complete his foray to all 7 continents (and to tick off another one from his bucket list), The Hubby and I decided to book a trip to South Africa. I had never been there myself, and so I was teeming with excitement at the thought of venturing off into this unknown land.
(Warning : This is a long post! The city is just too beautiful for words and I fell in love with it…so pardon me as I couldn’t help myself!) 🙂
Upon arrival at Cape Town, one of South Africa’s 3 capitals and the second-most populous city there, I was in complete awe. Cape Town is a very progressive and breathtaking city! It is definitely one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to. Its charm is different from that of colonial Europe and oriental Asia; the romance of historical buildings like those found in Paris or Rome can’t be found here, neither is the edgy modernity of Hong Kong or Japan present. Instead…Cape Town’s beauty lies in its enchanting landscape.
Moving on to another must-do when in Cape Town, is a visit to the city’s many award – winning wineries and vineyards. People usually visit one vineyard after the other, sampling the wines and the food paired with them, breathing in the beautiful, relaxing atmosphere, and sometimes even getting a tour from the vineyard owners themselves.
Our first stop on the list : Rust En Vrede in the town of Stellenbosch, which is known as the wine capital of South Africa. This vineyard has been here in existence for 315 years!
Its wine was even chosen by President Nelson Mandela to be served at the Nobel Peace Prize dinner.
The quaint restaurant in Rust en Vrede has such a rustic feel. The display of equipment that make wine, alongside artfully arranged wine barrels made the place look and feel all the more authentic.
This is the outside of the restaurant where guests could just sit, relax and enjoy the surroundings and sample their good food and great wine.
Enjoying the breathtaking view while waiting for the food and wine.
The day’s specials.
Their main attraction for the day : Mild curry of Lamb with Couscous, with fresh heirloom tomatoes and coriander salad paired with a glass of their Estate’s Red Wine ’03.
The lamb curry was slow cooked and was oh-so-soft and tender, it was literally falling off the bones! Meanwhile, the couscous underneath it provided the different texture to compliment the soft meat of the dish. I loved how they used a lot of fresh herbs and spices from their garden for the salad; and how the heirloom tomatoes were so juicy and sweet, you would think they added sugar to it!
We loved this dish so much that I have learned to replicate it at home 🙂 I usually serve this when I have friends come over. It has become a perennial fave of The Hubby and my guests!:)
There is so much beauty and serenity in this vineyard.
I can live here forever! 🙂
Then we had to drive off again…to the next vineyard on our list. This was the view from inside our car.
Seriously, how can you not fall in love with this gorgeous landscape all around you? 🙂
Everywhere we looked there were lush mountains and vineyards!
And finally, we reached our second stop: Boschendal.
This is in another town called Franschhoek, which is again another South African wine haven.
Boschendal is one of the oldest wine estates in the whole of South Africa. This historically rich winery is noted particularly for its award-winning white wines. 🙂
That’s the Hubby and our tour guide / driver checking out the estate’s winery.
Our third and final stop, but still in the town of Franschhoek, was a luxurious boutique hotel called La Residence.
We were fortunate enough to get a tour of this magnificent 30-acre estate.
This ultra-glamorous hotel, where the rich and famous have been known to flock to, is nestled in the middle of vast vineyards and orchards.
They even have a beautiful, man – made lake right in the middle of their hotel overlooking the beautiful mountains.
For dinner, we decided to head out to this quaint little restaurant called Le Quartier Francais. This restaurant is part of San Pellegrino’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and just last year, placed 36th in the world. 🙂
The interiors of the restaurant were bright and modern, and added to the enjoyment of our meal.
Just a few snapshots of some of the dishes we savored…I brought the wrong camera then! 🙁
All these dishes were made by the Dutch-born, award-winning chef Margot Janse. Her creations were all beautifully presented and gastronomic to say the least!
The following day, we prepared ourselves for another drive outside Cape Town.
The view while driving along the ocean coast was just amazing! And because of that, we really didn’t mind the long drive!
Such breathtaking scenery on the way to our next destination.
We were so blown away by our surroundings, that we would ask the driver to stop the car every once in awhile just to take photos! 🙂
Everywhere we looked was a picture – worthy stop!
Our next stop : Boulders, a very famous tourist stop that is part of the Table Mountain National Park. It is highly popular because this is where visitors can see a lot of African Penguins at close range.
From just two breeding pairs in 1982, the penguin colony has now grown to about 3,000 in recent years!
Beautiful African Penguins wandering freely in a protected natural environment.
Last (but not the least) on our Cape Town must-do list was to see the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.
These two are definitely must-sees! Visitors to the city do not leave Cape Town without seeing these two geographically and historically relevant places.
So after a couple of hours of driving, we finally reached the Cape of Good Hope!
You are looking at what is believed to be the southernmost tip of Africa, which if you check your world map, is the southernmost part of the earth! 🙂
Tourists walking up and down to get the best view of the Cape of Good Hope.
Such unbelievable, awe-inspiring, majestic view from up here.
And located very close to the Cape of Good Hope is its “twin brother”, the other significant tourist attraction : Cape Point.
This is the exact area where two of the earth’s oceans – the Indian and Atlantic – actually collide!
Notice that white line in the middle of the ocean where the edge of the cliff is pointing? That’s the exact point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet! 🙂
And after all that long driving, walking and hiking, the Hubby and I were famished to say the least! And what better way to end our day than with a delicious South African seafood meal? 🙂
At the Two Oceans restaurant located at the top of Cape Point, we ordered the biggest seafood platter in the menu! There were freshly caught giant lobsters, grilled prawns, baked mussels, and fried calamari on a bed of lemon and saffron rice. The seafood tasted even more delicious because we were dining right smack in the middle of the 2 oceans (the Indian and Atlantic) while enjoying the cool sea breeze! 🙂
Whew!!! And this ends the first part of our trip to South Africa! 🙂
Cape Town provided just the right mix of modernity, beautiful landscapes and African culture…It was definitely the right place to start!
Our African adventure is far from over though; stay tuned for the wild, second part! 🙂