South Africa Part 2

Firstly, thanks for your patience while I sorted out some technical difficulties, aka my laptop died and I had to replace it. I’m now back so let the blogging continue without further delay…

Hubby managed to stock up on some much needed work clothes. I was quite impressed with myself and only got two cardigans from Zara (sadly for some silly reason Zara still hasn’t opened a branch in Perth). I must admit having been to Zara in both Melbourne and Sydney, the Cape Town store is so much better.

Naturally we had to visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. We used to live really close to it and spent many a sunny weekend munching on picnic treats bought at the local Woolies enjoying the view. I wish I could bring it with me to Perth as I so miss the mountains and the beautiful plants.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Mountains! Oh how I miss mountains! The view from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

Photo by Michele Reid

The beautiful shades of green was a welcome sight after the drab olive green and dry landscapes of a hot summer in Perth.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Beautiful Kirstenbosch.

Photo by Michele Reid

Guineafowl grazing on one of the lawns.

My brother and sister-in-law were officially doing the legal part of the wedding at a home affairs office on Valentine’s Day. Not the most romantic venues, but that was coming a few days later. I have to admit, I was super impressed with the home affairs office in Paarl. They really tried to make it a special day as it was Valentine’s Day and decorated the room with hearts and flowers and even had a staff member take some photos to email to them later on! Her mom and both my parents were also there so it ended up being quite an event. Afterwards we decided to stop for lunch at one of the nearby wine farms and enjoy some of the sunshine that managed to break through the rainy clouds. In the end in was quite a beautiful day and the newly-weds ended up feeling quite special.

On our way home we decided to stop by Butterfly World as Hubby hasn’t been there yet. They’re now home to a few more critters including parrots, spiders, lizards and some adorable marmoset monkeys. Of course they still have beautiful butterflies fluttering about.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A beautiful butterfly with glass-like wings.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

Photo by Stephen Reid

One of the beautiful feathered friends at Butterfly World.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A lizzard comes to say hi. Many of the animals have been rescued from illegal smuggling and have been given a home at Butterfly World.

Photo by Stephen Reid

How cute am I?

After a few days hanging out in the city and Rondebosch area we headed to my home town of Somerset West for the all-important wedding. We were staying at a family friend’s place in Gordon’s Bay and in typically the wind was howling (major disappointment for me who had dreams of soaking up some sun on Bikini Beach).

My mom treated me to get my nails done and I had the bonus of catching up with my high school bff’s mom (she did my nails). Dinner was another highlight as I got to sink my teeth into Mike’s calamari and chips. Now we’re not talking normal chips, but proper, delicious, mouth-watering slap chips. No one in Australia seems to make slap (which means limp in Afrikaans) chips so I enjoyed each and every one of them. Probably not the best meal to have the night before your brother’s wedding, but damn they were good!

The wind continued to howl all through the night which didn’t bode well for a good night’s sleep, but we were up bright and early to get ready. I was a bit worried about the wind as the wedding was held outdoors but luckily it was well protected from the elements. It was quite emotional for me as we’re quite close. The ceremony was beautiful, my sister-in-law looked stunning and I got to see my grandparents again for the first time in ages.

Naturally no wedding would be complete without a party. One of my brother’s close friends is a chef so he created the delicious food and we got to toast the new couple with some very good local beer. As the ceremony mostly included immediate family and closets friends, we decided to have an after party later that night at a very good friend’s house for the family and friends who couldn’t attend. It was an exhausting but wonderful day and I think everyone had a great time.

I’ve always wanted to go visit the Cheetahs at Spier and I was delighted to find out they recently moved almost right across from where the mall is (don’t worry, they are located on a large piece of land and get to run around every day). The Cheetah Outreach program really is quite amazing. They’re breeding Cheetahs to help increase their numbers in the wild. At the same time, they’re also trying to educate people and make them realise how few wild Cheetahs we sadly have left. They also breed Anatolian Sheepdogs to place with farmers to protect the herds against Leopards and so ensure the farmers don’t kill the Leopards.

Photo by Stephen Reid

A Cheetah soaking up some sun.

We opted to pay the extra money and have the opportunity to stroke one of the Cheetahs. While we got to stroke him the handler gave us some more information on Cheetahs and the work they do at the Outreach. We found out that the Cheetah we were stroking is actually a celebrity and has appeared in numerous adverts and films. He also goes around to local schools as part of their education programme. He didn’t seem to mind us one bit and just lay back and slept. They really are such beautiful animals and I just can’t comprehend why anyone would a) want to kill them and b) wear their skins as clothing. Trust me, it looks far better on the Cheetah than on any human. (As a side note, if you go expecting it to look like a zoo or a safari park, you’re going to be greatly disappointed. It’s a Cheetah breeding programme and that’s what the emphasis is on, not touristy entertainment. Also, it’s best to visit early when they open as most of the animals are either nocturnal or tend to sleep in their little houses or long grass during the day. I would definitely recommend it as it was an amazing experience and the money goes to a really good cause).

On my to do list in Somerset West was a visit to Vergelegen Manor House. It was a beautiful day and we decided to meet my brother there for some lunch. We got to stroll through the original Cape Dutch manor house and the beautiful gardens before settling down for some lunch overlooking the mountains. Unfortunately we’re not big wine drinkers so didn’t go wine tasting.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Vergelegen Manor House is built in the Cape Dutch style.

Photo by Stephen Reid

At Vergelegen Estate with the beautiful mountains as a backdrop.

We also managed to squeeze in some yummy lunch with a family friend in picturesque Stellenbosch. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t playing with and it was bucketing down. The window wipers on the car we were borrowing then decided to completely stop working which made driving around a bit scary. But after some delicious lunch the weather cleared and we could safely make our way back to my brothers before they took us out to dinner. It was a bitter sweet dinner, as we had lots of laughs but I also had to say good bye to them as they were heading off on a short romantic honeymoon the next morning, which meant I wouldn’t see them again before our flight.

Photo by Michele Reid

A Cape Dutch styled building in picturesque Stellenbosch. Unfortunately the day we went to visit it was pouring down with rain.

Photo by Michele Reid

Mooiberge (meaning beautiful mountains in Afrikaans) Strawberry Farm. This little farm played an important role in my life growing up in Somerset West. It meant fresh, deliciously sweet strawberries when it started to get hot. It meant summer for me.

Our two weeks in South Africa was over way too quickly and before I knew it we were back on the plane heading home. I was happy to sleep in my own bed again and have Ms Mia Shanti Priya snuggling up to us, but it’s always sad saying good bye to family. Thank goodness for modern technology! I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t text or call my family every now and then.

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South Africa – Part One

Earlier this year we were lucky to travel back to South Africa to attend my brother’s wedding. It was great seeing family members again after a few years and I was especially grateful to be able to spend a few days hanging out with my brother.

A must for us was to have dinner at our favourite restaurant in the whole world, Kitima. It’s located in the old Kronendal homestead which is a beautiful Cape Dutch farm house. We have been coming years and have never been disappointed. They serve delicious Thai meals and boast an extensive wine list. The atmosphere is perfect for a romantic evening and luckily this time round we could afford to splurge a little bit.

Image from www.kitima.co.za

The beautiful manor house. Image from Kitima’s website.

Image from www.kitima.co.za

The bar area inside the restaurant. Image from Kitima’s website.

Hubby has always watched the guys paragliding off Lion’s Head when we were enjoying some sundowners at Clifton when we were still living in Cape Town. I’m absolutely terrified of heights, even flying is a traumatic experience for me (and who ever happens to be the poor soul having to travel with me!) I decided that if he’s going to do it, then I will have to do it too. On the proposed day, the weather wasn’t too good so I was quite relieved when the company decided to postpone our trip. Unfortunately for me the following day was a beautiful sunny day. We headed up to Lion’s head but the breeze shifted which meant we had to take off from Signal Hill. There were already quite a few people strapped into their harnesses and taking off with their pilots (we were doing a tandem one as we’re no experts). I could see Hubby getting really excited while I tried to swallow down the lump in my throat and ignore the pit in my stomach.

Photo by Stephen Reid

The view from Signal Hill over Cape Town and Table Mountain.

Hubby disappeared off into one direction with his pilot to get into his harness while my pilot got me to sign the waiver that in case anything happens, I knew it was dangerous and don’t hold them responsible. At this point I was starting to wonder just what exactly I was thinking when I said I would come with. I was busy trying to get into my harness when I saw Hubby and his Pilot getting ready to take off next. Imagine my shock when I realised a) he didn’t even say goodbye and b) I’m about to see my husband jump take off from quite a height and would that flimsy looking parachute be able to keep two grown men afloat in the air. Before I could shout any romantic parting words he was off. He disappeared for a few seconds before reappearing, floating gently above Sea Point.

My turn was next and as you can probably deduct, I survived. It wasn’t actually so bad. My wonderful pilot tried to point out some sights but looking down was not the smartest thing I did, so I focused more on the container ships in the distance. When we were about to land he suggested we do something a bit more adventurous. Not wanting to be called a chicken, I went with it and we did some pretty sharp corkscrew turns. I couldn’t keep it in any longer and let out an almighty scream. My poor pilot thought something was wrong and as we came in to land I could hear the other people who landed just before me laugh. But it really was quite to be floating up in the sky and I would most definitely recommend it to anyone, even if you’re afraid of heights.  Unfortunately the breeze wasn’t very strong that day so we couldn’t be up there for very long (actually, it was a good thing for me because I think I reached my paragliding quota a minute or so before we came in to land). Hubby could have stayed up there all day I think.

We also decided to go have lunch in the city one day and meet up with my brother before the wedding (he works in the city). We strolled through the historic Company Gardens (a great place to escape the summer heat in the city) while keeping an eye out for squirrels. Some of my earliest childhood memories are of coming to the city and visiting the museum (which is situated at the top end of the gardens) and buying a packet of nuts to supposedly feed the squirrels. The poor squirrels often got a raw deal with me stuffing my face with most of the nuts.

Photo by Michele Reid

The Company Gardens in Cape Town.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Cape Dutch architecture in the Company Gardens.

We had a quick walk down Long Street and also a stroll through Greenmarket Square. This used to be the best fleamarket in Cape Town, but sadly almost all of the original stall holders have gone and in their place are stalls selling the same African curious as the one next to it. You used to be able to buy great clothes, some real, authentic South African wares, CD’s, homewares and jewellery (I still wear a silver toe ring I bought there 16 years ago! I wear it every day so how’s that for quality?

Photo by Michele Reid

African masks. Australian quarantine officials will have a field day with these!

Photo by Michele Reid

Beautifully carved wildlife.

Photo by Michele Reid

My favourite, beaded animals!

We decided to have lunch at one of the restaurants on the square and the food was absolutely delicious (complete with local boutique beer). We returned again just before we left to take my mom to lunch there.

Photo by Michele Reid

A Victorian building in Cape Town’s Long Street.

Of course I indulged a little while we were there. You can’t expect me to not enjoy at least some of the delicious foods available. A little ritual Hubby and I had when he was studying for his MBA was to go have some Marcel’s Frozen Yoghurt and stroll around in the Waterfront. The Business School is located right in the Waterfront so I would meet him there after his classes and we had a bit of a date munching Old English Toffee (mine covered in Astros and his chocolate chips) while watching the seals playing and the sunburnt tourists. I so wish I can find an equivalent here in Perth but so far every frozen yoghurt I’ve tried have fallen far short. We got to stroll through the waterfront and watch the seals playing about in the harbour with beautiful Table Mountain as the backdrop.

Photo by Stephen Reid

View over Table Mountain and the Rich and Famous’ apartments and yachts in the Waterfront.

Photo by Stephen Reid

Ferrymans Taverns is a favourite spot for tourists and locals on a sunny Friday afternoon.

Photo by Michele Reid

Best frozen yoghurt in the world. Oh Marcel’s how I miss you!

Photo by Michele Reid

A seal enjoying the afternoon sun.

Photo by Michele Reid

A giant beaded elephant stands guard in the Waterfront.

Photo by Michele Reid

Adorable beaded African dolls.

Part Two will follow shortly.