There was a Tuesday holiday in India for Republic Day, and so I decided to take Monday and the preceding Friday off as well, giving us a few days to travel to South Africa. What an amazing trip! Kerala is called God's Own Country, but the person giving the name most likely never visited Cape Town. The scenery is unmatched by any place I have ever visited, the people are friendly, the food is delicious, the area is filled with people from all over the world and the cost of things is reasonable. We stayed three nights in the wine lands of Stellenbosch, and two nights in the city of Cape Town. Honestly, we should have stayed all five nights in Stellenbosch, as driving into the city was not a hassle and the wine country was lovely.
The South Africa Wine Lands
The Wine Lands are less than an hour's drive from Cape Town. Once in the valley, you feel the weather change from the (almost) cold coastal wind, to the gentle, cool breezes of the country. The views are spectacular and the wine is inexpensive. We stayed at Devon Valley, just outside Stellenbosch.
Amazing room at Devon Valley
Devon Valley room's view from the bathtub
Penguins of Betty's Bay
We got out for a drive that first day, but did not venture into Cape Town. Instead, we headed down to the other side of False Bay, driving the coastal roads of Pringle Bay and Betty's Bay. We saw a sign in Betty's Bay about viewing penguins and decided to check it out. The penguins were funny to watch and we enjoyed a break, drinking tea just outside the bird sanctuary.
Old gas pump wear we took a break in Betty's Bay
Inspecting the color of the SyvlanVale wine
The Devon Valley hotel has its own wines, SylvanVale Vineyards. One of the staff barkeeps, Luvuyo (which means happy in Xhuso) let us sample some of the wines and went over the vineyard history.
Part of our wine tasting took place in Franschhoek, a neighboring town
The famous spot for penguin viewing is Boulders Bay, on the south-east side of Cape Town. If you have a car, I recommend skipping this spot and checking out Betty's Bay's penguins. This is more of a tourist trap and therefore the charm is absent. But, there are some places to get a bite to eat, whereas Betty's Bay is a bit barren.
Penguins at Boulders Bay
Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky shoreline which has claimed many ships. Boats would come close to the shore to cut their shipping time, but many would run into the jagged boulders of the Atlantic. A lighthouse was erected atop Cape Point, 250 meters above the water, in 1860. Ships forty miles out could see the light, but the lighthouse was built too high, as it was usually covered by fog. When the Lusitania wrecked in 1911, it was decided to build a lighthouse at less than half the height.
The original lighthouse of Cape Point
However, the rocks along the shore are not the only dangerous things in Cape Point. You have to keep an eye out for baboons!
Baboons are not only dangerous, but hideous looking too
Seriously though, the scenery is beautiful. It was a perfect summer day to check out this site.
View from the old Cape Point lighthouse
The Cape of Good Hope
And, there is a signpost next to the lighthouse which points to major foreign cities, giving the distance to each of them. It was fun to see how far it was to some places we had traveled.
9,296 kilometers to Delhi, 12,541 kilometers to New York City
Anjali looking toward India
And, then there is the city of Cape Town. We had a great time at the V&A Waterfront, taking in a live show while enjoying libations. The market close to our hotel was fun to shop within and we ran into some interesting characters. I even got to talk to Nelson Mandela on a phone made of gold (see the colorful dude in the photo below). And, we took a sky tram up to the top of Table Mountain. That part I was less than enthusiastic about, since I do not like the method of transport. Table Mountain was windy and cold, but it provided some awesome views of the city.
Crazy guy in the market
V&A Waterfront, watching boats
Watching a band perform on the V&A Waterfront
View from the top of Table Mountain
Cold and windy on Table Mountain
A Short Trip
The only negative I can say about our vacation was the amount of time we had. Cape Town requires more attention than one week, and it was hard to enjoy all its offerings in four days. But, we were happy to have experienced what we did and we hope to return some time in the future.
Self portrait one afternoon in Camps Bay
Sunset over the Atlantic