It has been a bit of a roller coaster year with lots of very busy days followed by days and weeks of no action at all!
I would like to share some of the highlights with you:
Firstly my Encounters with Wild Life and Nature!
Back in Feb, I was enjoying a meal with the Butin’s from the States on the Deck at The Two Oceans Restaurant when we were rudely interrupted by a group of very cheeky Baboons. I kept them at bay with a spray bottle and a broom until the Alpha male pitched up and was not overly phased by my brave attempts with said weapons. Just as I thought I was going to lose my stand off with Big Daddy, he decided to jump on to another table and proceeded to eat all the patrons food and roar at them with his mouth full of their food, how rude was that?! Needless to say while John and I were busy taking pictures of this spectacle, Mary was inside arranging a nice safe table in the restaurant! It was a bit scary but I think it was probably the highlight of their Cape Peninsular Tour, if not their entire trip to Cape Town!
White Shark Adventures very kindly offered me an opportunity to do a Shark Cage dive, which I fairly hesitantly took them up on! It really turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life! I kept on wondering to myself why I was not terrified out of my wits, it was a truly surreal experience. It was so good I went back for another dive, which I think lowered my body temperature a bit too much which rendered me a bit useless, but once I managed to get into some warm dry clothes with the help of a friend I was fine. I tucked into the snacks on board and then enjoyed a lovely wholesome meal back at base. They showed us a video of our experience and I was a bit horrified to see a shark chewing at the corner of the cage while I was in it! A word of advice, take sea sick tabs and take warm gear to get into when you are finished with the dive. I really recommend Shark Cage Diving, particularly with White Shark Adventures, they are very professional and know what they are about.
The Whales were out in full force and I enjoyed a couple of very good sightings off the Cliffs at Hermanus and from the various beaches around The Cape Coast like Blouberg and Boulders. I took a group of crew from Eidelwise Airlines on a Boat Based Whale Watching tour from Simon’s Town and they all had a great time watching a huge female and her calf frolic in the water, it was a highlight of their Cape Peninsular Tour
Another fantastic viewing of the Whales was with the Wolf girls. While their mom and dad were working I took Sam and her sister horse riding and for a ride on a boat to see the Seals on Duiker Island. Well we got much, much more than we bargained for, the Seals were upstaged completely by breaching whales and a school of Dolphins, what an amazing experience that was, and such good value, all for the cost of a Seal Boat trip!
The flowers were beautiful this year, the day I spent frolicking in the flowers with the Heller’s at the West Coast National Park really stands out for me. It was a glorious day and the flowers really put on a tremendous show for us!
Memorable Private Tours
Peter and rosemary Stutchbury brought their daughter Jessica and son in law Adonis and their little grand daughter Sophia out for a few private tours around Cape Town, very much aimed at letting Sophia have a great time and then we enjoyed a Garden Route Tour and focused on child friendly destinations. Plettenberg bay Beach was a hit as was the Fairy Sanctury at Swellendam, the Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve was a good place for child friendly Game drives.The accommodation at Air Del Mar on the Beach in Mossel Bay was really great as always. The other accommodation which they really enjoyed was Schoone Oordt in Swellendam and the Sir David Guest House in Bloubergstrandt which is always a hit with everyone!
My Turkish Delights
I put together a very customized series of private tours for a group of six young Ballet Dancers and their four minders. Tthe girls were out here to partake in a Ballet Competition in Montagu and I believe they walked away with all the prizes. They had a very busy 4 days in Cape town and saw just about all there was to see including a San (Bushmen) experience at !Kwa ttu, a Safari at Buffelsfontein Game and Nature Reserve and a Township Tour. They also enjoyed their City Highlights Tour complete with a Horse and Carriage ride and their Cape Peninsular Tour. Have a look at these pics!
I discovered some lovely new spots in the Stellenbosch area recently, the one is Babylonstoren which is the most beautiful wine with one of the most incredible gardens, full of vegies, fruit,cacti, herbs, you name it, it is a total mind blast, you could spend a whole day there. I discovered it with Jerry Evans and friends who really loved it. Tea and muffins in the conservatory was a huge hit too! Another spot is Amazink Live, an amazing display of singing and dancing in a Township in Stellenbosch, it really is worth going to!
Things to Celebrate
Table Mountain is now officially one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature! Cape Town has been declared as one of British Airlines top long haul destinations! You see, it is not just me who thinks that Cape Town is such an incredible place!
That is it for me for one day. Please feel free to write a review of your tour with me on Trip Advisor if you have not already done so. Please also follow me on Face Book, you will get an almost blow by blow account of my travels with the Cape Splendour traveling Suitcase. I wish you all the very best for the festive season and new year and really hope to Share The Splendours with you in 2013!
I recently had the privilege of sharing the Splendours of the Cape with a group of friends and relatives from Miami who had come here to celebrate Marian and Cesar's daughter's wedding in Giants Castle. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/27/fashion/weddings/sarah-odio-andrew-torlage-weddings.html
On Monday the 28th we were lucky to enjoy the Cape's weather at it's absolute best which made the Peninsular Tour rather spectacular. They were very fortunate to see Zebras, something you do not see to often and a bunch of baboons doing what baboons do best!
On the way home we dropped a few off at Table Mountain and they were lucky enough to see the sun go down and the city lights of Cape Town come on, all for half price, what a bonus!
On Tuesday we headed to Hermanus via Apple Country stopping along the way to admire the amazing view at the top of Sir Lowry's pass. We enjoyed a very scenic wine tasting and some Boules at La Vierge. We had time for a stroll along the Cliffs and a bit of shopping in the picturesque village of Hermanus before having a very good lunch at Lemmon Butta overlooking the Bay. Unfortunately the Whales must have been visiting elsewhere that day, but that did not stop Maria Elena from collecting Sea Shells and other bits and pieces from the beach down at the Old Harbour and having a whale of a time! We then headed back via the spectacular coastal route stopping along the way to admire the Stoney Point Penguins which really impressed the group no end!
We met a fascinating lady who had made a Penguin from Beach Debris and was making an ecological statement about how beach debris, particularly fishing line kills Penguins.
Wednesday was a free day and I arranged for four of the group to go on a Township Tour with Cape Capers, something which induced very mixed emotions but everyone was very happy to have done it. Another 4 went horse riding on Noordhoek Beach with Sleepy Hollow, unfortunately the two ladies took a bit of a tumble but were happy how this was handled by Sleepy Hollow. Thankfully, there were no very serious injuries!
On Thursday we headed off for a Wonderful Winelands Tour, our first stop being Amani where the Assistant Wine Maker gave us a very interesting Cellar Tour and Barrel Tasting which was great! Next Stop was Spier where some visited the Cheetahs and others tasted wine in their new wine tasting facility which was impressive. After a drive through Stellenbosch we had lunch at The Kitchen at Maison, a very new restaurant on the Maison Wine Estate. The setting was superb, in the garden alongside the Vines, sitting around huge wooden Tables and the cuisine was absolutely excellent, every one enjoyed it and absolutely raved. It was hard extracting the group from this paradise. It was even harder dragging them from the pleasures and delights they found in Franschhoek later, the Art Galleries, and Chocolate shop and all the other little Souvenir shops and Boutiques, they just loved Franschhoek!
On Friday I took 6 of the group for a City tour which included Table Mountain, the Company Gardens and a stop at the Green Market Square Flea Market, we had an enjoyable lunch at the V&A Waterfront before I bid 5 a fond farewell and took Richard for a leisurely walk through Kirstenbosch Gardens, a lovely way to end a pretty busy week!.
It was really a pleasure sharing the Splendours of the Cape with the group which on most days comprised 14 happy travelers, 14 took me about 10 out of my usual comfort zone, but it was great fun. Willy of Tour De Force Drove us and I must commend him on his driving skills and his accommodating easy going manner. It was great working with him! I Hope to see all or some of the Miami 14 again some day!!
Orla and Damien and I spent a while back in March fine tuning what they wanted for their Honeymoon tour of Cape Town and the Garden Route. They wanted some time to be structured with tours and a lot of free time to do what they wanted. The end result was the Honeymoon of their dreams.
They spent two days in Cape Town with me visiting Table Mountain, Robben Island, the Peninsular, for them the highlights were Table Mountain and The Yellow Mellow Water Taxi between Kalk Bay and Simon's Town. They had two days on their own to explore Cape Town at their leisure, which they enjoyed thouroughly.
Maidens cove with Sir David On top of Table Mountain Cape Point with Sir David
We were treated to a true South African Braai at Louise's,(our mutual friend) which they enjoyed hugely. For the first leg of their Garden Route Tour they stayed at The Sir David Guest House in Blaauwberg, so as you can see we took Sir David himself out on some or our jaunts.
When it came time to take our leave of the Sir David Guest House we were compelled, sadly to say a fond fair well to Sir David and take the Cape Splendour Traveling Suitecase and head off to Botlierskop Private Game Reserve, which they enjoyed absolutely thoroughly! I left them Orla and Damien there for two nights and made my way to Mossel Bay. The Highlight for me was a game of golf at Pinnacle Point, What a Pleasure!.
Goodbye Sir David, we are off with the Damien and Orla at Stoney Point Damien and Orla at Botlierskop
Cape Splendour Traveling Suitcase
After two days at Botlierskop I collected the happy couple and headed off to Hermanus where I left them to relax and enjoy the quaint village with it's shops, Whales and really good cuisine. I was fortunate enough to take my Traveling Suitcase for an over night site inspection of The Mosaic Farm in Standford…What a delightful experience that was! On the way back to Cape to Cape Town we stopped off at La Vierge for a bit of wine tasting and then took the scenic route back to Cape Town, stopping along the way to visit the Penguin Colony at Stoney Point which is really worth the small detour, there are hundred of Penguins and the scenery is lovely.
I dropped Orla and Damien at the Primi Sea Castle in Camps Bay for the last leg of their stay and arranged for them to go Paragliding on the Saturday, which they really enjoyed thoroughly. I collected them on Sunday and took them to Kirstenbosch Gardens and Groot Constantia for a final bit of the Cape's Natural beauty and history. I was sad to say good bye to Orla and Damien, and they were pretty sad to leave our beautiful Mother City, I am sure they will be back!
I am happy to report yet another returning visitor in the form of Bettie Goud – Albers who shared the Splendours of the Cape with me back in about 2005 and 2006. We kept in touch through the years, in fact I think it was Bettie who got me going on Face Book, which is pretty much how we kept in contact.
Bettie and her new hubby, Rene, arrived excited but a little tired on the KLM flight late on Friday the 28th. It was great seeing her again and we chatted non stop until I dropped them off at the Westin. I picked them up on the Saturday all revived and refreshed and took them on a great City Tour. The Cable Car was not operational due to lousy weather but I took them along the very scenic contour road and to Signal Hill and Bettie took some really great Photies. We also stopped at my favourite spot looking over the Water Front and Die Bo Kaap. They really enjoyed the slow walk through the Company Gardens with it’s Squirrels and fascinating history.
We then went via Hout Bay to the Constantia wine Growing area and the first port of call was Constantia Glen. Rene is a bit of a wine fundi, and he loved the wine and the personal treatment received. From there it was off to Jonkershuis for lunch where we planned their Garden Route Self Drive holiday which was to commence on Tuesday! After that, it was on to Steenberg which was a bit crazy as the Lazy Locals on the Lawn had move inside because of the weather. They were having a very festive time which made the Wine Tasting a bit tricky but the chap did his best and it was a very different wine tasting experience indeed.
On Sunday we had a great time doing the Splendours of the Cape Tour, the weather was great and there were some really lovely photo opportunities.
This is Cape Splendour’s first entry in ‘The Chronicals of the Travelling Suitcase’
Some time ago, I was asked by the Cape Town Kennel Club to find accommodation for a group of International Dog Show Judges and a couple of their spouses and to share the Splendours of the Cape with them!
They are comfortably accommodated at Ruslamere Guest House and Spa and I had the pleasure of sharing the Splendours of the Peninsular with them on Monday 17th October and the Winelands on Wednesday 18th.
They really enjoyed their day on the Peninsular and were impressed with the lunch at Two Oceans even though it was hectically busy. They also enjoyed the Penguins and the Scratch Patch where they managed to buy a few souvenirs for the folk back home.
Richard was very proud of a deal he struck for a lovely stone carving, he managed to negotiate a price of R750 from a starting price of R1680.
The highlights of the day on the Winelands are almost too many to mention! The first was a very informative and interesting Vineyard and Cellar tour conducted by Riaan the wine maker at Hoopenberg in Stellenbosch. The Judges tasted a large variety of very impressive wines and made a couple of purchases.
At the Cheetah Outreach program at Spier we were treated to a real show. There were 4 new cubs finding their feet on their second day there. A little female cub put on a real show of dominance which the adult mail on the other side of the fence was doing his best to match, it was a total treat!
I think the real highlight of the day was lunch at Clos Malverne where Wendy recognized that a couple of diners at the next table resembled some folk, featured in some large photographs on the wall. I made a polite enquiry and it turns out that it was the first Wine Maker , Jeremy Walker and his wife and the pictures were taken about 20 years ago when they made and won prizes for the first wines at Clos Malvern! This was followed by another polite request which resulted in the very attractive young wine maker Suzanne Coetzee coming to our table and introducing herself and signing the bottles of wine which my Judges purchased. They were delighted!
That was all topped by a really stunning lunch! Most of the diners opted for the food and wine pairing menu which comprised of 4 courses with a generous tasting portion of wine with each dish as well as a glass of their bubbly to start off with. For R168 it was a total bargain. There was just enough time for a pop I at Tokara and a leisurely drive to Franchhoek which they all enjoyed thoroughly.
Some of the judges have been here before and some had not, but I know for sure that they will be going home with some really good memories of Cape Town!