Addo Elephant National Park

Day fourteen: We spent the night of day thirteen in Jeffrey’s Bay only because we had too much fun in Knysna and the oh so interesting Monkeyland (ūüďʬ†what? ‚ĆõÔłŹ¬†you’re closing?? but…but…but..! Yes, we were the last ones who had to be escorted out, duh! obviously¬†ūüė≥). Despite driving fast for one and a half hours and trying very hard to ignore the stunning beauty of the Tsitsikamma Forest which seemed to nuzzle both sides of the road (waa-haaa-sob-sniff), twilight was looming and there was no way we were going to reach the Addo Elephant National Park before the sun waved bye-bye for the day. A quick search on the internet, a short call and yay, we found somewhere to spend the night! Our room had a view of the ocean (see below) but seriously, it was a bit hazy because the only thing we could see were plates full of huge pieces of deliciously fried fish. We were starving! Forget tired, our growling stomachs needed some serious feeding. A restaurant called the Kitchen Windows Beach Restaurant, was highly recommended and just happened to be almost around the corner. Wow! What an amazing place. The ambience, the friendliness, the sea almost at your feet, the fingerlicking good food, and the wine! Hic. The W.I.N.E!!! Oh! My! Goodness! Slurp. Burp. Hic. Oh, and they make a mean whiskey Dom Pedro too! We¬†only managed a few one glass each…Shhh!

 

The morning of day fourteen was nice and sunny, with a gentle breeze removing toast crumbs fanning our cheeks while we ate breakfast. We were really excited about our next adventure (toot-toot-parp! Elephants!), so much so that between tea sipping and jam on toast, we managed to find somewhere to stay for the night. So with SatNav dearest up to date, we pointed the car in the direction of the highway, promising not to stop until we reached Addo. After surviving heavy morning traffic through Port Elizabeth, sniffing the sea for the last time on this trip, then hop-bopping on an ancient and very patchy tarred road, and finally,¬†with wheels spitting gravel and dust on the dirt road leading up to the guest farm, we reached the welcoming gates of De Old Drift (below). It was hot, hot, HOT! Sssst! We were so tempted to jump into the sparkling pool, clothes and all, but we settled instead for a complimentary bottle of ice-cold water (glugg-glugg) as we had a date with some elephants. The guest farm has a large citrus orchard, is next to the Sundays River and is surrounded by raw nature. One could also see some bucks wandering nearby. The farm also lies in the pampas (basically in the middle of nowhere), and the only sounds reaching our ears were lots of sssss’s and other strange insect noises. This prompted one of us to ask about the snake situation because, you know, there are some milky-white¬†hairy¬†delicious¬†foreign legs wearing shorts and sandals now here…She assured us that the whole property was¬†surrounded with electric fencing, so if and when a creepy crawly, slither-roo or any other hungry gnasher touched the fence, then ZAPP! it was off to animal heaven. Okay, we believe you…not. We checked all the nooks and crannies of our lovely quarters, but found nothing, not even a spider. The delightful young lady was right. Unfortunately we had no time to dawdle as we still needed to drive by the “don’t-blink-or-you-will-miss-it” petrol station before we reached the park. We intended to do a self-drive tour then join a group for a guided sundowner tour.

 

 

Addo Elephant National Park

The park does not only have elephants, and it was quite surprising to see such a variety ¬†of wild animals freely roaming around. The were Greater Kudus, Plains Zebras, common Warthogs (with babies) and¬†Black-backed jackals, to name just a few…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and of course, the Southern African Lion, sitting in the shade, posing and preening…

 

 

 

 

The HIGHLIGHT, African Bush Elephants. Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got green bush in my tummy. Elephants eat a lot. Really, A LOT! Bushes, trees, grass, plants, any vegetation they can get their trunks on. Vegetarians. They also drink a lot, which means that they’re always near water of some sort. Hmmm, all that green stuff and they’re still sooo big. Scary big. Oh nooo, this person prefers to be a carnivore, thank you very much…hahaha!

 

 

 

 

It was very interesting to see the interaction of the whole herd towards the little ones, and especially how cheeky these young ‘uns were! There was the littlest one, hiding under one of the adults, then coming out to tease his bigger “brother”, and then running for it before big brother wacks him…(last pic) ūüźė. It was so funny! What a wonderful and fantastic day! We were so near to them that it was sometimes scary, but after giving us the BIG eye, they carried on as if they didn’t just scare the shit¬†hell out of you.¬†Amazing animals! Amazing experience¬†‚̧ԳŹ There’s nothing more pray, pray humbling than having one or more of these “gentle” giants surround your car…just for a sniff…¬†

 

 

 

 

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Hoo-hoo-a-a-cheep-cheep: Monkeyland & the Birds of Eden

Day Thirteen: After an interesting night spent with strange-looking spiders lurking in the toilet and heavy insect repellant smells still clinging to the hairs of our nostrils, we said our good-byes and headed off to our next “we-do-not-know-where” destination. We used the national highway that takes you all along the beautiful coastline and through one or two national parks, a few lush and indigenous forests, many towns and quaint villages, about ten rivers and three large tranquil lakes. This was one of the most interesting and greenest roads we’ve travelled on so far. The highway cuts right through the centre of the town of Knysna (pronounced NIZE-NA) and after driving along the Knysna River, we were so impressed that we decided to stop here. ¬†It was hot. Ssstt! We parked next to an old “Choo-Tjoe” Trolley (see below) at the Waterfront-Knysna Quays then hurried over to get some much needed shade, and ice-cream. We peeked into a few delightful little boutiques and curio shops, strolled along the marina with its bobbing boats and fancy yachts, then stopped to admire the famous lagoon. We were quite sad that we were not able to spend more time here, but we put it on our bucket list for next time. Oh, and we almost, almost ended up buying a big fat diamond engagement ring. She said…!Yikes! ūüėĪ¬†Let’s get outta here…

 

The interesting statue below is carved from cypress wood. The Berlin Pub near to it sold ice-cold German beers, but was totally ignored by the German. The other one wanted to sip that bitter yucky stuff just for some relief from the plip-plip-plip heat, but…DRIVING!!

 

Knysna Yacht Club with part of the vast lagoon which flows into the Indian Ocean

 

 

Monkeyland

Only about a forty-five minute drive from Knysna, and just outside the beautiful holiday resort Plettenberg Bay (“Plett” as it’s lovingly called), is a free-roaming (fenced) primate sanctuary called Monkeyland. It covers about twelve hectares of indigenous forest and has several private nature reserves around it. The best and only way to see everything in Monkeyland is to book a walking safari tour. Done and dusted! As we sat outside waiting for our safari guide, a brown squirrel monkey jumped out of nowhere and bounced on the head of an unsuspecting “sipping-a-drink-female. Le Moi! Okay, so the curly wispy afro did look like a wild bush and the sipping-through-the-straw was a bit loud, but still, there was no reason to scare the living daylights out of an afro mop(pet). A wanna-be blood-curdling scream gathered at the bottom of my dry-from-shock throat but that got stifled just as quickly when the sun-tanned guide appeared and said “howzit everyone”. It took quite a while for my thumpity-thump booming heart to settle down, but all in all it was an amazing experience, retrospectively. The trembling legs even managed¬†to cross a swaying rope bridge, alone! Only one person at a time could walk that bridge¬†ūüźí¬†ūüźĶ

Our guide was fantastic and had a great sense of humour. The safari is very informative and extensive with a lot of walking, talking, ooh-ing and aah-ing. You can look, but not touch, even if the animals are curling around your feet (or jumping on your head). There are more than seven hundred primates and we were lucky to have seen ten of the eleven species in this wonderful monkey paradise. Yes, they are all ex-captives brought here to be physically and emotionally rehabilitated, then left to¬†be free in their natural lifestyle. Strangely enough, almost none of the monkeys here are from South Africa, probably not even from Africa at all. Click on these amazing photos for further information…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Birds of Eden

The Birds of Eden is a free-flight bird sanctuary under a fifty metre high mesh dome, is right next to Monkeyland, and also a rehabilitation aviary for more than two hundred and fifty species of formerly caged birds. Here you will mainly find African birds, but there are some also from South America, Asia or elsewhere, and one or two unknowns. There are no guided tours, but it’s an easy two kilometre walkabout at your own pace through two or more hectares of beautiful forest and waterways. As for the birds! Oh my word! The first one as we entered the sanctuary was cheeky enough to shout a big “Hello!” to us. Another tried to peck our toes, or walk on our shoulders and yet another tried to chew my ear! To crown it all, a bird also pooped on Le Moi! Eeeew! A very good day hahahaha. As the saying goes, if a bird poops on you, it brings luck. Well, I agree!

 

The hadada or hadeda ibis below is probably the loudest screaming bird ever! They’re like everywhere in your garden and the noise starts before the cock crows. Early!

 

 

 

 

Male and Female Golden pheasant or Chinese pheasants. The men are colourful and the females a boring brown. Why, mara, why??

 

 

 

Red-shouldered macaw “picking”. It refused to leave us alone, following us until we managed to “hide” up a tree-house. Funny!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knysna turaco (Tauraco corythaix), a local!

 

 

Please stay off the grass – a Scarlet ibis that can read…and obey ūüėā

 

 

 

 

 

White-faced whistling ducks. The German spent what felt like hours with these lovers, and the not so impressed loser watching them canoodle in front of him. Aw, shame…

 

 

 

Flamingos and Spoonbills are not so easy to get this close to in the wild, so it was nice to have this eye-to-eye with them.

 

 

Chinese goose – not a species for the Christmas roast…oops!

 

A Black swan (Cygnus atratus) is also not found everywhere…

 

 

 

 

 

A town gathers to burn a witch

There are many reasons why a witch just has to be burnt, and yes, it still happens in our day and age. We were quite excited and did not want to miss this blazing opportunity so we brrr…braved the night cold and marched along with our neighbours and many other townspeople up to the fields near our house. We were heading for the tower, a very big and high pile of dead wood, which had taken a day or two to put together. The moon was full and the witch tied to the stake at the top of the wooden tower must have been casting her last spell. She was now ready to burn!¬†The children from the voluntary fire brigade all fired up their torches and, as we all looked on, set the giant heap on fire.

There‚Äôs something mesmerising about flickering flames and it gets even more hypnotic as the fire grows, not so? This is one of the oldest annual traditions typical to our area and no, the witch is not a real live person. Duh-uh! In fact our witch looked more like a male scarecrow wanting to hug the moon hee…heee. It is also not celebrated everywhere in Germany and there are two versions of this custom, called the “Funkenfeuer”. The one that seems most popular is that it is a relict from an old Germanic-Pagan custom to drive the winter right outta here! Like, like, LIKE especially when standing in a cold field and feeling the heat eminating from the fire, hoping it stays this warm…like please…forever. Some-one does not like winter ūüĆěūüĆ쬆The others see it as a ritual between the ending of the Shrovetide (carnival) and the beginning of the long fasting period before Easter. This or that, it’s a lovely tradition which brings us all together even though we know that the winter can sometimes last longer than your Easter eggs. The “Funkenfeuer” in our area is also always on the first Saturday after Ash Wednesday. Other areas do this on the Sunday.

A fire this size takes very long to burn. L.O.N.G. We stay put, with our eyes on the witch scarecrow thingy. It is sort of goose-bumpy seeing it slowly tilt towards the ground and threatening to fall down in one whole piece. Nooo! Stay up! Stay up! Yeah, a couple of crazies around here. You see, it’s seen as a bad omen if the witch scarecrow thingy falls down before exploding or burning out completely. Plopps! Well, our one did fall but they pushed it right back into the fire. Burn, baby, burn! See, no problem. Bye-bye bad omen. Hello Spring. Phew! Give me a beer ūüćļ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cape Agulhas to Mossel Bay

Day twelve, with a dozen impressions. Last night was our first sleep ‚Äúalone‚ÄĚ in this very big country. We survived, hee-hee! Our room for the night, with a full view of the ocean, was a very large honeymoon suite, with beds for four people (???), a couch, dining area and TWO bathrooms, both en-suite. Just the definition of their en-suite was a bit puzzling. The one at the end part of the room had an open air shower (no roof) with big leafy plants. It looked more like a tickle zone. The other one…hmm. A bathtub on a raised bed full of white pebble stones and big enough to swim a lap or two, a basin and a toilet all squatting right there in the middle of the room. No walls. No privacy. Orgy? Cough-cough. Oops! So one of us decided to go get tickled and meet some crawling thingies, and the other turned on the taps and foamed bubbles almost to the ceiling. We slept well. The morning sounds of splashing waves, chirpy (and thirsty) birds and sizzling bacon started the day off well.Honeymoon Suite, Oceanview Guesthouse in Struis Bay (Struisbaai), Western Cape, South Africa

 

Cape Agulhas

This is the geographical tip of Africa and also the point where the two oceans, the warm Indian and the cold Atlantic, meet. The different ocean currents, winter storms, high roaring waves and strong winds have caused many a ship to perish in this area, estimated at 150 so far. We did what most tourists do when here, we posed! Hee-hee. As you can see, it was quite windy, but we walked all the way, and back, from the southernmost tip of Africa to the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse. The whole area has a boardwalk so it‚Äôs easier than tramping on stones or clambering over rocks. Shh, we did that…we clambered…

 

The R319 Road

This incredible regional road was both a bit scary and exciting. Scary because it was very empty. We did not see any human being for miles on end, just naughty monkeys with hanging toolilys. The roads stretches on and on…and on…yawn, seemingly never-ending, but we stopped a lot to admire the wonderful nature and of course, the birds. It was not easy just getting out of the car as we were so scared of stepping on snakes, but thankfully none of them wanted to meet with us. After about a hundred or so kilometres, the road ends, in the middle of nowhere, and joins the N2, also in the middle of nowhere ūüėú¬†We took the national road because we were undecided as to where we would like to stay overnight, so wanted to find a place before it got dark.

 

Mossel Bay

We reached the small coastal town of Mossel Bay, the half-way stop along the Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. After an almost three hundred kilometre drive we were tired, hungry and happy. Before we could enjoy the beach sand between our toes, we had to search for a lodgings first. A few calls later we found a B&B on the hilltop overlooking the town and with a lovely view of the sea. Room good, parking nasty. Imagine sinking down from the street above and having to curve into a narrow parking space with thick pillars everywhere. It‚Äôs easy, said the old man (owner). Yeah right, then you park the car. He did. The next day he offered to ‚Äúunpark‚ÄĚ it for us, probably because the burning clutch whiffs and smoke was making his dogs bark in terror.

Mossel Bay is also known for the renowned oil-from-gas project which started in the apartheid era when the threat of oil sanctions (or higher prices) against South Africa were looming. There are quite a few natural gas stores off the coast of this harbour town. It was interesting to see the town where my father spent a lot of his time and knowledge as part of this project in their early days. We did not linger here longer than necessary as there were other exciting stuff waiting on the road ahead. Stuff we were not so sure of¬†ūüėä

 

The Garden Route: Penguins, Whales and a fantabulous Sunset

Day eleven: Eleven is a good number. We woke up early, more due to excitement, packed our bags and sniff-sniffed¬†our teary good-byes. We were leaving the comfort-zone of a very warm and wonderful family, where we were¬†spoilt rotten and entertained beyond measure, to embark on a¬†two week¬†road-trip adventure. This¬†was a spontaneous decision and we had no time to¬†plan any¬†details¬†as to what and where. So with a “local-but-not-so-local-anymore” woman¬†in the driving seat and a German GPS reader sitting next to her, we pointed the rental car towards the highway and drove out of the bustling city towards the coast. We were now excitedly beginning¬†a memory-making trip along one of the most beautiful coasts in South Africa, the wonderful¬†Garden Route.¬†No strategy, no blueprint, just drive, stop where we find it to be interesting¬†and find somewhere to sleep before it gets dark. Simple, methinks ūüėá It was not even an hour before our first stop. Well, more like a “OMG this is so¬†WOW, where can we…there, over there…quick…STOP!” If it was possible we would have pulled the car over¬†every ten metres or so, that’s how impressive it was, but the verge of the road was very narrow and no stopping allowed. There were¬†one or two¬†nice parking spots before and after¬†Gordons Bay though, and as you can see from the following four photos, we were rewarded with wonderful and breathtaking sceneries. Click on pics for info…

 

Stony Point Nature Reserve at Betty’s Bay

It’s only a 30-minute drive between Gordons Bay and the little coastal town Betty’s Bay, but with a few more “ooh-aah” stops in-between and getting seriously lost trying to find the Penguin Reserve (yes, it’s a village and yes, it is possible to get lost in it), it was almost¬†mid-day when we reached Stony Beach. It was also very windy and the air a bit nippy. No matter, because there they were, welcoming us with curious eyes, the Dassies (Rock Hyrax).¬†They were nearer to us than those on Table Mountain and so cute that one had the urge to¬†pick one up for a little cuddle. These are wild animals and their environment should be respected, especially when their babies are around, that is why we kept our distance. Zoom-zoom!

The Nature Reserve is more known as one of the biggest¬†breeding colonies of the African Penguin in the world. Not only the¬†penguins, but on the outlying rocks,¬†three species of Cormorant birds also breed here. You will not find anywhere else where you are so close to the Penguins¬†in their natural habitat. It’s also not crowded with humans so one can enjoy the natural sounds of crashing waves, braying birds (they sound like donkeys) and oinking bird calls. Simply amazing! Oh, and¬†believe it or not, the reserve was previously a¬†whaling station which stopped operating¬†in the mid-1950’s.¬†Two African Penguins chose this site to breed, and the rest, as they say, is history.¬†Nature happened and won. Also keep your eyes open, as there are “pooping-in-flight”¬†seagulls (plop!), sneaky¬†lizards and other crawling thingies too. Enjoy the photos!

 

Hermanus

Here you can have a whale of a time hee-hee. Seriously, Hermanus is a beautiful¬†bustling coastal resort enveloped in¬†mountains and where one can do whale watching without a boat. Yes, the Southern Right Whales come here every year (July to December) to breed and to rear their offspring. Nowhere can one sit on a rock or bench to¬†watch whales that are¬†often¬†as close as only ten metres from the shore. Please don’t worry about missing a whale sighting. Go ahead, browse¬†in a tourist shop or have coffee and cake, BUT keep your ears open. When you hear the sound of a kelp horn, stop what you’re doing and run to the shore. Hermanus has the only Whale Crier in the world! No, not the sobbing kind, but a man with a kelp horn and a good set of lungs. This whale crier “tradition”¬†started¬†as a publicity stunt in 1992 to alert the public when whales were sighted. It has become a tourist attraction and is¬†part and parcel of the whale watching season. We were there in January, so did not see any whales ūüėě

After some lunch, freshly caught fish of course, and a long walk around the town, we set off towards the south. Driving¬†through a few¬†amazing nature reserves, we headed for the Danger Point Lighthouse near Gansbaai. We were too late, entry was closed, and soon it would be dark.¬†Time to look for overnight accommodation. It was easy. A¬†phone call later and we had a room. The only thing is, it was an hour and a half away. We agreed to drive without any stops…but…

…as you can see below, the sun was already setting. We just had to stop! Added to that we were forced to drive¬†a¬†major detour route because a lot of roads were washed away by¬†heavy rains in the weeks before. Fortunately we were getting nearer to our lodgings in Struisbaai. We were also hoping to see more of the sun setting.

Sunset at the R319 close to Struis Bay, Western Cape, South Africa

AND WE DID! After motoring at full speed (legal of course…okay, just a bit faster…shh) we reached the coast. Stopping with screeching tyres and spitting gravel, and¬†an¬†excited GPS¬†man¬†almost¬†falling out of the car, we had thankfully arrived just at the right moment for him to take these fantabulous and amazing¬†sunset photos at¬†the southernmost tip¬†of Africa. Oh. What. A. Day!

ps: Without stops and all that nice stuff, the journey would only have been about three to four hours. It took us the whole day, from sunrise to sunset, and we enjoyed EVERY single minute. We were pooped and so ready for bed! Tomorrow is another day. ZzzzzzZ!

 

The Cape of Good Hope: Pleasing, Playful, Passion Gaps.

Day Ten: Aaah! this is the life *happy dance* Our front teeth are still intact, the weather is good, health even better¬†(so much¬†delicious food and…uhm…fermented thirst quenchers) and best of all, the exchange rate is very, very good. You’re probably wondering about the teeth mention. Well, nowhere else in South Africa will you find so many people sporting¬†a front tooth gap like¬†here in the western Cape region. The Passion Gap, also known as the Cape Flats Smile. This is a¬†debatable¬†phenomenon because it’s not clear¬†why the four top front teeth, whether healthy or not, are deliberately removed. There are arguments about it being¬†fashionable, traditional, or for health reasons, or because the fishermen did it, or peer pressure, or just because it is so, but the one reason that seems to stick is: that it’s mainly for sexual reasons. I’ll just leave it right here. These gaps are mostly adorned with gold or pearly white artificial teeth, or left as is. As I have a¬†front tooth¬†covered in¬†gold (it’s just a third of my tooth), many presume that I too have a Passion Gap. Hahahaha! Nooo, the gold bling-bling thing was just me being a rebel at the age of 21 (official coming of age at the time) and also just because I could¬†ūüĎć All my¬†dental work was also completely sponsored, which made my decision to shine¬†easy. Regrets? Never!

Oh, as this is also¬†our last day in the beautiful city of Cape Town, our chauffeur for the day, ¬†brother dearest, is taking us to one of the “must see” areas in the region. So yabba dabba doo, off we go, to the good old Cape of Good Hope.

Cape Point 

The drive down to Cape Point from where we were staying is very scenic and interesting. After a bit more than 95 minutes, we reached our destination.¬†The attraction¬†here (other than a restaurant and curio shop) is to reach¬†the top of the “new” Cape Point Lighthouse. The old lighthouse was built too high up the cliff which caused problems for the sea farers as it the light could not be seen from the sea below, especially when it was foggy. The new one is a bit lower, and has¬†the brightest light of¬†all the country’s lighthouses. You have to leave your car at a parking lot as it’s not possible to drive up to the top. Only too right! Too much beautiful flora and fauna¬†will be damaged by exhaust fumes and engine noises. You have two options to get up there: take a deep breath and climb those steps as you can see¬†in the photo on the right (it only takes about fifteen minutes…apparently…but some short person did not believe it) OR¬†you can opt for¬†the Princess and the Pea route ūüĎłūüŹĽ (fairytale yes…but still) and use¬†the Flying Dutchman, a funicular, like we did. See, Mister armed-to-the-teeth ūüď∑ūüď∑ is still fresh and now ready¬†to start clicking.¬†We used the steps on the way¬†down, which was much better as we could¬†extensively explore the interesting areas we’d seen from the top.

The next few photos depict the Cape of Good Hope (with Diaz beach – left photo) with¬†such an amazing rocky coastline, which also seems to fascinate the little black lizard. Contrary to popular belief, the Cape of Good Hope is NOT where the two oceans, Indian and Atlantic, meet, nor is it the southernmost tip of Africa. It is however the most south-western point of the African continent. Diaz beach is “only”¬†twenty minutes of wooden steps away from the top of the cliff but worth it. Here you will mostly be alone to enjoy thundering waves or the soft beach, or maybe not. A¬†few¬†hungry baboons might also suddenly show up. They’ve been eyeing you on your way down, so will be expecting¬†a picnic party. Seriously, they can be very aggressive and will stop at nothing to get hold of your bags! It is safer¬†not to carry anything and better anyway because climbing back up is strenuous and almost three times longer than going down.

As the whole area is a Nature Reserve, you will find many beautiful and unique flowers and plants. There are also lots of snakes, or why would there be such an ominous warning?! We fortunately did not see any. Blrrrr!

We expected to see baboons but definitely not any ostriches! There were so many roaming on the rocky beach (not the Diaz) and the three of us were alone here, so it sometimes felt a bit scary. An ostrich would suddenly run towards you then stop in mid-trot. After a while animals and humans felt comfortable enough with each other, so much so that they (the animals) started prancing and flaunting in front of the camera! The fun ended for us when three bus-loads full of noisy tourists stopped by. We left immediately.

On the drive back we followed the False Bay coastal route and, near Castle Rock, were so lucky¬†to see¬†fishermen returning from the sea with their catch¬†of the day. The lively¬†exchange between the “givers” and “takers” seemed to be over in no time. Fresh fish needs to be transported in time. We walked between the anchored boats and cooler vans, taking in the smells (not recommended) and¬†wishing¬†we had a cooler bag or something so as to buy a fish or two.

We passed¬†through beautiful and/or attractive¬†towns like Simonstown, Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay then¬†stopped over in¬†Muizenberg. You know you’re in Muizenberg when you see the colourful wooden beach huts on the beach. They are¬†one of the most photographed objects and found in¬†many¬†travel and/or other brochures and advertisements. Muizenberg also has a¬†vast beach which is very popular because it is shallow and most importantly, WARM. One can stroll on the beach, scream on the water slides, take surfing lessons, do the catwalk (a 3km coastal walk) or explore the town and make merry. Why not take the train which runs all along the coast between¬†Simonstown and¬†Muizenberg. The railway line is almost on the water and it’s amazing. Try it!

Last but not least, the tourists! Heehee…

At the Cape of Good Hope - South Africa

 

 

Bo-Kaap, Birds, Braai and an ice-cold Beer

Day nine: We do not know what day it is anymore and that’s okay. Okay, one of us will always know what day, time and…whatever…but he has settled in very nicely to the laid-back and now-now-just-now culture of South Africa. Time? Punctuality? Hmmm…What’s that? Hahaha! As we say in Afrikaans, “m√īre is nog ‘n dag”. In other words, life goes on, OR tomorrow is another day.¬†Sister-in-law dearest was taking us out and about, and the first stop was the colourful Bo-Kaap.

Bo-Kaap

This is one of the the most picturesque suburbs of Cape Town which lies on the slopes of Signal Hill, is near to the city centre¬†and, depending on where you stand, has¬†amazing views of the very famous Table Mountain. The first thing that hits you while looking for a rare parking space are the brightly painted and quaint little houses. A beautiful sight for inquisitive eyesūüĎÄ We walked mainly along the Chiappini Street which to us was the most colourful street. Each house has it’s own little charm and the residents are probably “tourist numb” by now. Imagine having all these camera clicking people day in and day out staring at your cute little house…hee-hee.¬†We were also stopped by an elderly man who warned Mr. Click-Click (he has one of those big fancy ones) to be careful and watch his camera as he had seen too many tourists been robbed in the area. We thanked him graciously but could not get our heads around it¬†as the streets were almost void of people. He meant well though, but¬†our¬†fingers were cramped and our knuckles white from holding on too tightly onto our possessions.¬†Jokes aside, this area is a major tourist attraction not just for their colours, but also for the history of the people. Most residents have ancestors who were slaves brought to the Cape by the Dutch from as early as the 16th century. They hailed¬†from other parts of Africa, as well as Asia,¬†Indonesia, Java and Malaysia. The Bo-Kaap was¬†formely¬†known as the Malay Quarter and the people as Cape Malays (probably now too, but it’s not politically correct anymore).¬†As mentioned before, not all are descendents from Malaysia, but the name stuck. They’re also very famous for presenting one of the best and oldest carnivals in South Africa¬†every year¬†since the mid 1800’s. It’s called the “Kaapse Klopse” or just “Klopse” or once again, the politically incorrect version, the “Coon Carnival”. The Dutch gave their slaves only one day off per year, on the 2nd of January, and allowed them to celebrate however¬†they wished. They would thus dress up as minstrels, sing and dance, always accompanied by drums, whistles, banjos and other instruments. This tradition has survived both slavery and apartheid and is one of the best and biggest highlights in Cape Town. Think Rio de Janeiro, but only think, because it’s better in Cape Town. Yes, someone is biased ūüėá They spend most of the year preparing this colourful event and we had a little taste of it while we were sitting and enjoying some delicious roti and curry at one of their traditional restaurants. A marching brass band came to practice in a park opposite to where we were sitting and the music was really enjoyable. With a dripping and sticky sugar syrupy koeksister in one hand and toes that could not stop tapping, we ended off our jaunt in the Bo-Kaap. By the way, a “koeksister” is a lovely South African dessert or just a nibble-at-any-time pastry thingy made from dough plaited and fried in hot oil. It is then dipped into a sugar syrup mixture while still hot, then left to cool. Some roll it in coconut too. For most of us in the family, it was our Sunday breakfast, dessert after lunch, tea and coffee snack and the last bite before bed. After all, the dreaded Monday was looming ūüė¨ Enjoy the pics! Don’t forget, click on them for more information.

 

Green Point

Green Point is a very trendy and hip suburb of Cape Town, with a¬†gay-friendly culture and¬†buzzing nightlife, which is also set at the foot of Signal Hill, quasi around the corner from Bo-Kaap. There’s this big square, red and white striped lighthouse squatting on a green lawn between the busy main road and the ocean. The Green Point Lighthouse, initiated by an English Sir, was built by a German immigrant and started operating in 1824 for the first time. Other than new lighting, the lighthouse has remained in its¬†original¬†form since then. After jay-walking across the main road (zebra crossings are decorations – it’s Africa) we entered a lovely park which seems to be quite popular.¬†The¬†Urban Park is big and¬†includes an outdoor fitness area, play area, adventure area and areas for all sorts of events like art, exhibitions and markets. There’s also a¬†Biodiversity Garden where we saw various birds and swimming thingies in the water.¬†Next to the Urban Park is¬†a golf course and next to that a large stadium. The “new” and famous Cape Town Stadium (with its own jail if you get naughty while in there) was built especially for the Football World Cup 2010 and¬†can also be viewed¬†from the inside.¬†We were too pooped to do a tour, but¬†we¬†had just enough energy to walk along¬†the very long and interesting promenade. Next time, maybe ūüėČ

 

Braai … and the Beer Drinker

It was a very hot and enjoyable day. Someone was also quite thirsty…glug-glug-glug…ūüėč A braai (barbie or barbeque for the ill-informed ūüėõ)¬† is what South Africans do. Always!!! Anywhere and everywhere in the world. Weather is irrelevant. It’s the event of all events. It’s the gathering of men around the fire and the women in the kitchen hahaha! It’s a man with a beer in one hand (he throws some over the braai) and a braai-fork in the other sort of thing. The braai boss. Seriously, women are just not allowed to braai!¬†As if we want to, so there! A braai is about food, people and fun! And the right fire lol…There’s always¬†a lot of everything: boerewors (South African sausage), meat (all kinds) and chicken. These are served with freshly cooked hot pap/mieliepap (maize meal stiff porridge), a tomato/onion gravy or relish, salads and other lekker stuff. Drink a¬†refreshing beer, or a glass of wine, before, during and after…YUM! Oh, and to South Africans a barbie is a plastic doll and a barbeque is a spice flavour. Just saying ūüėú