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’s 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 🌞🌞 The 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 🍺

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cape Agulhas to Mossel Bay

Day twelve, with a dozen impressions. Last night was our first sleep “alone” 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’s 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 😜 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’s easy, said the old man (owner). Yeah right, then you park the car. He did. The next day he offered to “unpark” 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 😊

 

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 😇 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 😞

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 👍 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 👸🏻 (fairytale yes…but still) and use the Flying Dutchman, a funicular, like we did. See, Mister armed-to-the-teeth 📷📷 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, “môre 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 eyes👀 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 😇 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 😬 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 😉

 

Braai … and the Beer Drinker

It was a very hot and enjoyable day. Someone was also quite thirsty…glug-glug-glug…😋 A braai (barbie or barbeque for the ill-informed 😛)  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 😜

Hoerikwaggo, the original Table Mountain

Day eight and there was really nothing to w(h)ine about. It promised to be a lovely day so we decided to visit the very famous Table Mountain, which is only THE best mountain in the world *grin* and a must see. The mountain was first named Hoerikwaggo by the indigenous people of the Cape, the Khoi, which means “mountain in the sea”. Centuries later a Portuguese explorer, Mr de Saldanha, the first European and foreigner to climb the mountain, called it the “Taboa do Cabo”, Table of the Cape. Another century later a Dutch explorer thought he was the first to discover this magnificent table-looking mountain and the expansive bay at its feet, so he named the bay “Tafel Baay” which is Dutch for Table Bay. The mountain has been called “Tafelberg” since the first Dutch people settled in the Cape in the middle 1600’s. Table Mountain is the english version. Did you know that it is older than the Himalayas (six times older), Alps, Rockies (five times older) and the Andes and also one of the new seven wonders of the world?? It is also the only mountain in the whole wide world with a star constellation (Mensa) named in honour of it. The mountain is flat-topped (but only from one side) and when the top bit is covered with clouds, it really looks like a fancy tablecloth covering a huge grey table. And when the table is covered, it is not really worth it to go all the way up because you will see absolutely nothing below. Even if there is no tablecloth, cross your fingers because the weather can change faster than you buying a ticket for the cable car. Today the table was clear, the queues very long and the heat sizzling. The nice part about waiting in line is that this wonderful view of the city below (see the next four photos) is like an appetizer for what is yet to come. Believe us, your mouth will be a permanent gape and you will not stop saying !WOW! Please click on all the photos for a detailed description of what/where it is…

 

The Cableway

To get to the top of the mountain you have three choices: bike, walk (climb, crawl, wheeze) or use the cable car. The cable car is quicker, only about five minutes, but if the queues are long you could be waiting for more than an hour to board. Jumping the queue is only possible if you’ve pre-booked your ticket online, which is cheaper too. So for spontaneous visitors like us, all that’s left to do is grin and bear it … and hope that the lovely weather keeps up, as the cableway might not operate if weather conditions are unsafe. As mentioned before, this can happen in a tick. We were very very lucky! We did not have to wait too long and we reached the top (in one nervous piece) without screaming. Silly for Madame “Acrophobic” dearest to be such a scaredy cat (meow) because the cableway has not had a single accident since it started operating in 1929. Maybe the jelly legs was the result of the rotating floors (round and round and…) or the feeling that there are just too many people on board 🙀. I wonder if the current Queen of England was scared when she took the ride up way back in 1947…hmm. No matter, all is forgotten once you breathe in the crispy fresh air and catch sight of one of the most beautiful cities in the world sprawled out below, Cape Town. !Sigh! A very good and happy !sigh! By the way, going down is just as easy, but for those needing an adrenalin rush or something similar, there’s abseiling. Yes, you can tie yourself up and scrambled down the mountain. Blrrrr!

 

Fauna

There are many birds of prey and other species found on the mountain, and we managed to see two types, some red-winged starlings and an orange breasted sunbird. We also saw a few black lizards and other small creepy crawlies. What we did not see, or maybe did not look close enough, were porcupines, mongooses, tortoises and the very rare and endemic Table Mountain Ghost Frog. Oh, and we did not see any snakes either, thank goodness for that! OMG! We did not know that twenty two species of snakes lived on Table Mountain, and that at least five of them are the most poisonous in the world. Do the words Cobra or Puff Adder send shivers down your spine? I wore sandals for goodness sake *shudder*.

 

Flora

Table Mountain is part of the Cape Floral region, and has more than seven thousand plant species (more than in the Amazon jungle). Most of these are native (about 70%) and will not be found anywhere else in the world, like the Cape Fynbos (fine-leaved plants).

 

Views from the top

There are quite a few walking trails to choose from, but whichever one you take, it is not possible to see everything in the time that you are there. It can also be quite slippery and rocky in some areas, so be careful. It is also nippy up there. We walked mostly along the edges, then when we could go no further, we cut across to the other side. Then the table cloth started to come down, and we were all alone out there (we ventured a tad too far off the beaten track), so we made our way back. The “under the clouds” experience was a bit scary though, but we did not panic. They do check if anyone is in danger and they make sure that everyone has left the area before closing…

 

The Baboons and the Dassies

There used to be lions and leopards roaming on the mountain but they were shot, killed, or whatever, so do not exist anymore. The Baboon population started growing and so did the city of Cape Town. The more the city expanded up the mountain, the more the baboons moved down towards the suburbs. They were clever and quite cheeky, and found it easier to get food directly from the rubbish bins or houses in the area. One can argue about all this, but encroaching on their natural habitat was never going to be good. They have become a sort of menace to humans and animals, so much so that there are special squads armed with paint ball guns to keep them away from the suburbs. Baboons are apparently more brazen than criminals because they climb through any window, barred or not, and go on a food rampage in the kitchen! Hmmm…an empty stomach knows no bounds…

The cutest animal and the unofficial mascot of Table Mountain is the Dassie (rock hyrax). We saw quite a lot and they did not seem to be scared of humans. One very excited young man could not contain his excitement at seeing a “real live badger”. I think he even tried to make a selfie. Impossible and dangerous. We had a zoom-zoom lens so managed to take some amazing shots. Enjoy!

 

Hic-hic and baa-baa

Day seven: Vineyards. Wineries. Distilleries. So much to see, so little time. We will not talk about the weather again because it changes quicker than a tossed salad. Between brushing our teeth and tying our shoe-laces, the skies went from clear to cloudy and now it was drizzly. Taking this into account, we decided to visit a few wine estates around the corner.

Diemersdal Wine Estate, Durbanville

The heavens opened up as soon as we arrived, forcing us to scamper into the first building with an open door. Dripping wet and shivering, we asked if we could taste some wines. No problem, so we were escorted to their lovely and cosy tasting room. Diemersdal is more than three centuries old, has a view of the Table Mountain and lies in one of the Cape’s oldest wine regions. There were many wines to be had, but we only ordered eleven. Oops! One of their staff was German so it was nice to sip and chat. We also found out that the owner of our favourite wine shop in Germany would be visiting them the next day, so we arranged for her to include the wines that we liked in her purchase. We loved the “8 Rows Sauvignon Blanc” best and the “Pinotage Reserve 2012” was also lekker! The sun shone by the time we were finished, so we walked around and admired the Cape Dutch buildings and gardens for a bit before driving to the next farm.

 

Fairview Wine and Cheese, Paarl

A very interesting story is that while cultivating new land not so long ago, prehistoric stone tools were discovered, proving that hominids lived here more than 700 thousand years ago. The first wine produced on the farm was only in 1699. Another interesting and funny little detail about the farm is that in the 1900’s their wines were prescribed by a doctor…for sick children! It was a strong dessert-style mixture, and only to be taken by the teaspoonful. Phew! The farm was also previously called Bloemkoolfontein (Cauliflower Fountain). A mouthful, even for me, so glad that they changed the name to Fairview ✍. We sat in an amazing tasting room a glass wall on one side, where one could see their maturation warehouse and cellar. Barrels and barrels of delicious wine in the making! We chose eight different wines to taste and these were served with their very own produced goat cheeses. What a culinary delight! Like they say in German, Gaumenschmaus 😋 This made us hungry for more, so after finishing with nibbling and sipping, we had lunch at the adjacent Goatshed Restaurant. It was…Wow! Not only do they produce their own wine and cheese, but also beer. All foods are fresh and home-made. They also have goats E-I-E-I-O

 

The Goat Tower at Fairview Wine and Cheese, Paarl

The owners, Cyril and Beryl were visiting France when they fell in love with goats’ milk cheese. They were inspired to start the first goats’ milk cheese production in South Africa. They bought Saanen goats (Swiss origin) which are known for yielding a lot of milk. These arrived on the farm in 1980. With help and assistance from an Italian who settled in South Africa after WW2, the cheesery slowly developed into what it is today. Saanen goats do not do well in hot temperatures, so all the sheds have sprinklers on the roof to cool them off. These cute and entertaining ones in the photos below are only a few of the thousand or so kept on the farm. We admired them for ages, especially being stumped by the male sitting in the middle. His horns were bigger than the “door” but he managed to get them through anyway, and just in time to stop the lady coming down from the top. “You cannot pass me” he seemed to say. Men!! A few minutes later the other lady came down. As they say, there’s power in numbers girls, so they rushed past Big Billy and joyfully hopped as soon as they reached the grass below. Nyeh-Nyeh! It was really funny 😂 E-I-E-I-O, with a baa baa here and a baa baa there, here a baa, there a baa, everywhere a baa baa…we headed off for home 😆

 

Fairview Wine Estate (left) and Ruitersvlei Wine Estate, Stellenbosch (right). We could not visit the latter…you know…too many cheeses make legs go wobbly…oops!

 

On the way home, just a block or two from the house, we saw hundreds of Egyptian Geese at the lake. They migrate there every year and according to residents, are quite a pest. They are tolerated though…