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Archive for April, 2010

Don’t have to be Bel Air for Delaires

no the glasses hadn't been full...

After the bracing dip, there was just about enough left of the afternoon for a little wine tasting. With the clock against us I put aside Rustenberg winery for the next day and we randomly chose a place signposted on the motorway. With my usual customary notice of ‘quick turn right, no left here’ followed by bluster and grumble from the other one, we turned into Delaires and were waved on way up the flower bedecked driveway by security.

view from the entrance looking out

Stepping out of the car was like stepping into an episode of Brothers & Sisters. A grand terrace was abuzz with lunchtime diners eating under oversized shades, while statues lined the entrance to the minimalist lobby whose massive bronze doors yielded a vision of monochrome and display cases stuffed with De Graff diamonds. It felt like being one of those pesky Bros & Sis illegitimate kids welcomed into the fold of the richWalker family but with no sense of entitlement. Luckily, we were whisked away by a Sally Field type martyr, our affable and friendly wine waitress and on the terrace of the wine lounge she put us at our ease explaining how everything worked. We hid our backpacker roots and tried to affect a Conde Nast traveller non chalance hoping that our shorts and trainers attire could be passed off as the idiosyncrasies of the geeky rich.

In reality, no-one cared, least of all us, being too mesmerised by the views. Even the wines were secondary to the seductive wiles of earth’s natural beauty, its mountains blushing pink under the steady gaze of the afternoon sun.

We were most content.

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Motoring to Stellenbosch

the indian ocean it was not

Stellenbosch, in the heart of the wine lands was our next stop and the site of our most fancy accommodation, De Kraal Lodge (see reviews also). Set among botanical gardens, our room was massive with bijou living area and a welcome bottle of wine and the place had a pool too. Hot from our non air con car, I was well up for a dip, until I wagered a toe in the water and shrieked like a big girl’s blouse. It was the coldest water ever. I tried again to knee deep and ran back out, the other one thinking it hilarious. I was determined though and third time lucky I flung myself in, flailed like an out of control Octopus, screamed, gasped, tried to act casual, gave up and ran like crazy out (note: there wasn’t anyone else there).

After that, of course I harangued the other one mercilessly that he had to try it too and he did get in eventually, by which time a few years had passed, we’d endured a conservative government, Ferguson had retired from United (now languishing in mid table) and Les Dennis had finally cracked a joke that was funny.

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A Dassie. A what?

Before adventure though, here’s a wildlife fact. Ever heard of a Dassie? I hadn’t. This is what it looks like. It’s formal name is a Rock Hyrax.

On closer inspection a bit rodenty for my liking

It lives on Table Mountain and across Africa and the Middle East and is closely related to an elephant apparently. Go figure.

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Wandering atop Table Mountain

Just one of the world cup stadiums (or is that stadia?)

Relieved, I leave the restaurant, toilets and gift shop compound to find the other one and we wander about around the immediate area, skirting the edges of the mountain, marvelling at the pristine views of the sea and coast. Peering over one of the ledges, I spy the top of a head but know not to panic, I’ve seen the signs. This is not the madness of a man driven to the brink about to throw it all away but the madness of a man who runs abseiling trips down the rock face. Crazies. The other one can’t bring himself to look.

Hmmm just how crazy am I?

Rocky paths pick their way through the fynbos strewn across the mountainous range amd into the distance beyond. I’m surprised as I’d imagined TB to be an ‘arrive, take some pics and leave’ kind of place but instead it’s a wilderness gem with possibilities to hike a number of different trails, though I’d be sure to find out the exact hearing range of the siren device that if it goes off means get off the mountain nooooowww. That might be the time to make friends with the abseiling dude.

With the wind whipping up, we potter for about another 45 minutes finding the views of the city, Robben Island and the new World Cup stadium before returning back to the car and the next part of our adventure.

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Cable car to Table Mountain (TB)

Clear skies and a later start than intended but we rocked and rolled off towards Table Mountain before any sulky grey cloud could decide otherwise. Cars lined the vertiginous approach forcing us to park quite far from the entrance, but, having already booked our tickets online we smugly passed the lengthy queue, huddled under the large umbrellas thoughtfully provided. Joining the queue for cable cars I had to navigate a puddle of vomit causing me to gag and wonder just how bad this ride was going to be. An hour later, I was about to get my answer.

Up up and away...

The doors of the rotating, Swiss engineered car slid open and everyone piled in, racing to get o a window. As it started up I felt a lurch in my belly and grabbed the other one’s hand, ironic given that he’s the one with the vertigo. The climb was steep but slow and really not that bad but still I focused on the rock approaching rather than the city diminishing. The sides of the car rotated (or was it us?) either way one minute you were looking out the window, the next out of nothing – literally. One part of the car had no window at all to offer even more enticing views. I was happy with the window…

Less than ten minutes later and we emerged on to Table Mountain and hurrah I needed the loo… Honestly, my bladder. Not a life of intrepid exploring for me…excavating the Pyramids, ‘sorry, old boy before you crack open that tomb, just a moment’ or about to conquer Everest, ‘whoa, hold your horses there, just got to go pee’ (actually not sure if you have ‘special arrangements’ in very cold places?). I lay down the challenge to medical science to find a human adult bladder smaller than mine…

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A longer evening ahead of us then planned, we hit Long Street early. First stop, Daddy Cool at hotel Granddaddy’s, and it’s a quick one. We look in and leave. Maybe we were too early or it was cool once, now it just seemed clichéd, all disco ball and velvet, home to a suited crowd who’d just finished work. Undeterred, I venture back up the stair as I’d heard whisper of another place on the roof. I was on to something as the carpet turned to Astroturf and we found ourselves on the roof flanked by Airstream caravans among which were scattered sofas and tables. Again, it was dead but we left making a mental note to check it out on our return to Cape Town.

we can all play at mcdreamy now...

Back on Long Street, we remembered seeing a place calling itself a 90’s bar that had to be worth a laugh right – I mean what’s one of them?

It seems a place with pool tables. Lots of them.

How silly of me, smack of head, the 90’s was synonymous with pool, no? There was a bar in Old Street, its name escapes me but its unisex toilets were the talk of the town. That must be it.

Turns out it was student night so we stayed for the novelty (we so wouldn’t make it past the door in the UK!) and the 8 rand beers. I’m sure the

let the carnage begin!

Manchester Utd vs Bayern Munich game and a bunch of good looking lesbians had nothing to do with the other one’s reluctance to leave. He was probably just happy in his role teaching me how to hit a pool ball and making sure I kept them on the table.

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Abort Table Mountain

As Table Mountain is on our way back and the cloud has lifted we ‘nip in’ to see what’s doing. The approach could be billed Little Chapman if you ask me as we climb steadily and eventually park just feet away from the mountain’s edge. Optimistic though we were, we should have thought about the wind. The cable car is closed, not even Swiss engineering can defeat the elements. A few pictures and home James then.

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