Friday, November 8, 2013

Fish Hoek, South Africa

November 5 - After leaving Capetown we stayed outside of Fish Hoek on the southern peninsula for 4 nights.  We had an apartment thru AirBnB which was very nice except for the highway noise.  The first night we walked the beach and then we drove to Kalkbay for a great dinner at the Harbor House.  I had the angelfish and it was superb!
November 6 - We had our first rainy day!  Drove toward the Cape of Good Hope (the most south westerly point of Africa) but it was raining so much we decided to do the cape another day.  We did stop at Boulders beach in Simon's town and watched the African penguins.  They were formerly called Jackass penguins because of their donkey-like braying call.  They  are in their molting season so they were not very active.  During this time of the year they lose their down feathers so they do not get into the water.  The month before this molting season they gorge themselves since they cannot hunt to eat.  We drove along the western coast to Chapman's Peak, a very scenic highway similar to Hwy 1 in California. It is a toll road, fairly short, for under $4, and we did it going to Hoek Bay and coming back.  The views were fantastic.  While in Hoek Bay we had lunch at Mariner's Wharf, a famous restaurant in this area.  I had the Mariner's Curry which was just OK.  Not as good as the Harbor House.  By the way, the rain stopped when we started up Chapman's Peak, thank goodness.
November 7 - Beautiful clear days so we drove to the Cape of Good Hope via the scenic route out of Simon's Town called Red Hill which is a very curvy road up and over the mountain.  The Cape was beautiful today.  We took the Flying Dutchman Funicular up to the lighthouse and back down and walked the light keepers trail to Cape point.  On this trail we encountered many baboons.  They were sitting along side of the trail and on the trail.  After a brief lunch in the car (you can not eat outside because of the baboons) we hiked to the ocean via Dias Beach and stuck our feet in the water and took lots of pictures.  There were 250 steps to get to the water but it was worth it.  Fairly tired, we went back to our apartment and walked to town for fish and chips takeout.
November 8 - We all wanted to go back to Cape Point and it was a beautiful day so we headed back down. Since we bought the Wild Card Pass (similar to our National Park pass) we got in for free.  We drove to Oliphantsbos nature reserve in the park and saw bontebok (a beautiful rare antelope) and some ostriches.  We went for a short hike to the water.  Then we drove to Cape Of Good Hope and took some pictures at the sign where all the tourist go.  After leaving the cape we stopped at an Ostrich farm.  I bought some food and fed Clyde, the ostrich.  We ate lunch in Simon's town at the Salty Dog.  We had fish and chips except Bernita who had a chicken sandwich (she does not like fish).  Tomorrow we leave for Hermanus.
Pictures: our apartment in Fish Hoek, views on our walk near apartment, view out of our bedroom, boulders beach, penguins, Chapman's peak drive and view, mariner's wharf, entrance to Cape of Good Hope, hike to Cape Point, looking up to the lighthouse, baboons on trail, the two of us at Dias beach, walking up the steps from the beach, bontebok, the four of us at Cape of Good Hope, me feeding 'Clyde'.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Cape Town

We arrived in Cape Town on Nov. 2.  The weather was beautiful and sunny.  We flew on Skylink operated by South African Air.  We decided to get a taxi to take us to our accommodations.  We were pleasantly surprised at the cost - only $270R ($27.90).  Our driver was Sullie and he went very fast thru the streets.  Bernita was hiding her eyes.  We got our accommodation thru AirBnB and we were very pleased.  We had a two bedroom apartment in a great location, within walking distance from the V & A Waterfront.  We had a nice balcony with great views of the sea.  That first night we walked down to Main St. and had a buffet dinner at Giovanni's.  Dean bought me a dozen roses.  He is so romantic!
Nov. 3  We walked down to the waterfront and bought tickets for Robben Island.  Since our tour was at 1 PM we had time to kill and we hailed a taxi and went to Green Market Square.  This shopping area is an assortment of local crafts for really cheap prices.  I bought salad tongs and a picture. We went back to V & A and had lunch at Ocean Basket.  Dean had pickled calamari and seared tuna.  I had pickled calamari salad and mussels.  Very tasty.  Then we went on our tour of Robben Island.  There is a 30 minute boat ride then we had an interesting tour with a former prisoner at the island.  We saw the cell of Nelson Mandela, the different cell blocks, a chart of meal allocation for prisoners and the exercise grounds.  After the tour of the prison we took a 45 minute bus ride around the island.  It was all very interesting.  That night we had a nice glass of wine back at the harbor and dinner at Giovanni's again.
Nov. 4 - We took the big red bus tour of Capetown.  We stopped downtown to talk to the visitors center then we headed out to Table Mountain.  Table Mountain is one of the new seven wonders of nature and the most visited spot in South Africa.  The cost is 205R apiece (about $20).  We rode up the cable car and shared a lunch of Ostrich sub and cold fries.  Worst meal we have had in South Africa.  The cable car rotates 360 degrees so everyone has a good view going up and down.  We walked for about 45 minutes on the top and took pictures.  Great views!  We finished our bus tour at the waterfront, had a glass of wine, and had an early dinner at Ocean Basket again.  This time I had calamari steak and Dean had the kingclip.  Both were very good.
Nov. 5 - We hired our favorite taxi driver to run us around downtown trying to find a car to rent for the next 9 days.  Avis was full so we went to Hertz.  Thank goodness they had a car.  So we went down to Fish Hoek for our next stay in this area.
Thoughts on Cape Town: beautiful city, everyone very nice and helpful, V&A waterfront lots of fun and entertainment, but lots of traffic and very noisy!
Pictures:  Dean on the patio of our apartment, Green Market Square, entertainers at V&A Harbor, Robben Island Museum, former prisoner giving tour, Mandela's cell for 18 years, entrance to Robben Island, Table Mountain entrance, cable car and views, Dean on hike at Table Mt., signs at V&A (we are a long way form home!)

Skukuza, Pretoriuskop, and Petra Mt. Resort

Finally getting time post.  We are south of Cape Town now so I am two posts behind.
Last post we were leaving Lower Sabie.
Oct. 29: We left Lower Sabie for Skukuza Rest Camp.  We had our last breakfast braai at Nkuhlu picnic area where there were lots of monkeys and baby monkeys.  They are very adept at stealing food quickly.  When we got to Skukuza we were too early for checkin so we used the Internet.  Poutney's and us shared a two bedroom, two bath bungalow which was very nice.  Skukuza is the largest rest camp with the most amenities - three restaurants, golf course, airstrip, post office, bank, large store.  I would highly recommend this rest camp.  We all went to eat at one of the nicer restaurants tonight.  Dean and I had the kingclip fish which was very good.  
Oct. 30:  We took a short drive in the morning around Skukuza.  It was very rewarding since we came upon a family of wild dogs.  They played in the road, walked very close to our car and then walked down the road like they owned the place.  There was only three cars around.  The wild dogs are on the endangered list so seeing them was a real treat.  After our morning drive we drove to Pretoriuskop.  It was my turn to drive and I picked some very, very rough gravel roads.  We were very glad to get to our last camp.  Nobody wanted to go out that afternoon since we had such a rough trip.  We are again sharing a three bedroom, two bath bungalow with the Poutney's.  This was our least favorite camp, probably because we were all getting tired and there is ot much to do here.  They did have a beautiful pool.  Dean and I didn't go on the next morning drive (Oct. 31).  Instead, we took a long walk around camp and had breakfast at the restaurant.  Poutney's went but didn't see much.  Too bad, because it was Ron's birthday so it would have been nice if he would have seen something neat!  That last night in the park I went with the Poutney's and saw elephants, rhinos, kudus, impalas, warthog, the usual animals.  Still no cats!  We cooked our last braai and Dean and I split a wildebeest steak.  It was very good.
Nov. 1:  We left the park the next morning and headed north on the Panorama route paralleling Kruger.  This route goes thru the towns of Hazy View and Gaskrop in the mountains with many view points and some waterfalls.  We stopped at God's Window which is a popular viewing area.  There were local artisans selling their products.  I bought an African mask for about $5.  Then we went back to Gaskrop, toured the silk factory, and had a wonderful meal at a Portuguese restaurant.  Dean and I had calamari rings and they were wonderful.  We drove over to Pilgrims Rest, a historic gold mining town, but it was too touristy for us. So we circled  down the mountains, thru the town of Sabie, to our stop for the night - Petra Mt. Resort.  This is a former religious retreat that is now accepting overnight guests.  It was quite lovely except for the monkeys who got into our room and stole my granola bars and cookies!
Nov. 2:  We set out early for the airport which was not too far away but we are still not use to the traffic and driving on the left.  Of course, we got there very early but we were glad to say goodbye to our van and not have to worry about driving for awhile.
Pictures: monkey and baby at picnic area, wild dogs, klipspringer, Pretoriuskop gate, bungalow, leaving Kruger, beautiful lunch of calamari rings, Dean and I on the Panorama highway, Petra Mt. Resort.