We believe that the best way to enjoy the British winter/spring is to spend as much of it as possible in Cape Town. Accordingly Jane and I booked a holiday here and arrived courtesy of Virgin Atlantic on Monday 8th February.
Although I’d booked on Virgin and had a Virgin ticket and flight number I actually travelled with South African Airways. Whatever! It got me here on time. Jane travelled on Virgin via Johannesburg and then on a British Airways ticket from Johannesburg to Cape Town; but actually flew on a Comair plane. She arrived in Cape Town shortly after me and we picked up our hire car, a very nice brand new Ford Fiesta, booked through Auto-Europe, but actually provided by Hertz. Is nothing what it says on the label?
Anyway, we found our hotel easily enough, actually a very nice serviced apartment, called Sunstays Lagoon Beach. It’s on a beach facing Table Mountain (see photo), and we were settled in by 1pm having landed at 10.30am. Later in the afternoon we travelled to the V&A Waterfront to have a look around. We checked out engagement rings, the ostensible reason for the trip, and then had a magnificent meal at
a restaurant called Belthazar, which had won South African steakhouse of the year award from2006 to 2008. Intrigued by the name I looked it up on Wikipedia and here are some of the possible sources:
• One of the Three Wise Men…....not convincing; no gastronomic linkage.
• George Washington’s horse…….close, but not for a steakhouse. Maybe if Belthazar had been George Washington’s favourite bull.
• Romeo’s manservant in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet……not even close.
• Godfather of Gargamel, one of the characters in The Smurfs….. This has to be it: especially as the waiters did have a slightly blue tinge.
(Stop!!!! Too much already. Ed)
Dinner was followed by a swift sortie around the supermarket in the V&A Waterfront for some essentials: milk, cereals, bread, butter, fruits, nail varnish remover, etc and then back to the apartment, and so to bed: at 9pm on account of fatigue. Neither of us having had much sleep on our respective flights.
Tuesday 9th February.
Woke up at 9am to a bright and breezy day and quite high surf on the beach outside. Made a slow start then decided to go to Simonstown to visit the penguin colony. The traffic was a
Reasons to be cheerful
Great food, great weather, great location.
bit slow but the weather was fine and the drive was quite enjoyable. We stopped off in a little village called Kalk Bay which had a couple of restaurants recommended in the guide book. We didn’t fancy either of the recommended establishments, nor any of the other alternatives nearby, so we headed off to Simonstown and had an excellent seafood lunch at Bertha’s in the harbour. Afterwards it was off to Boulders Beach to admire the penguins. Part of the beach is accessible to the public as a swimming beach and it was great to see the penguins moving among the humans. Later a dassie (hyrax: the nearest physiological relative to the elephant apparently. They look more like wombats to me, but judge for yourselves) arrived and showed no fear as it moved around the beach. All very charming.
Afterwards we took the scenic route back to Cape Town, driving over the mountain from Simonstown to the Atlantic coast, then back over to the False Bay coast, into town and out to our apartment on the beach. Dinner chez nous and so to bed.
Wednesday 10th February.
A lazy day. Slow start followed by a slow walk on the
beach, followed by lunch in the apartment then off to the V&A Waterfront to look at rings again. Then a great dinner right next to the harbour, watching a dragon boat practising (must be for Chinese New year on the 14th February as the Dragon Boat Festival is in June or July) and a couple of seals flapping about in the harbour. Then back to the apartment and a bit of UK soccer on the excellent sports channel.
Thursday 11th February.
Up early as we had to switch apartments. We’d booked a sea facing apartment for the first 3 days and a non sea facing apartment for the remaining 8 days. It turned out that the non sea facing apartment also had a sea view, oblique not direct, and was an even better laid out and equipped apartment: and 30% cheaper. Yippee!!!
Then we decided to drive to a place called Gordon’s Bay on the opposite (eastern) side of False Bay to the Cape Peninsula; recommended in the Guide Book as looking like a Mediterranean resort. We had an easy drive out of Cape Town on the N2 motorway nearly all the way, with a quick detour through a
resort town called Strand, then along the coast to Gordon’s Bay. It’s a lovely spot with clean sand and with the surf breaking some way offshore so swimming isn’t dangerous. What was conspicuous, by its absence, was that none of the houses had the high boundary walls tipped with razor wire that are common in the suburban areas of Cape Town; and indeed the place seemed very relaxed and laid back. We had a great seafood lunch in a tavern next to the beach then headed along the eastern flank of False Bay on a spectacular road above the sea past Koeel Bay. The next stop was another penguin colony at a place called Betty’s Bay. This was a much wilder location than the Boulders Beach colony with massive waves crashing on to the rocky foreshore. The African Penguin used to be referred to the Jackass Penguin and I now know why. The penguin’s call sounds exactly like the braying of a donkey, right down to the “Hee Haw, Hee Haw”, and with a similar volume. Afterwards we continued the drive along the coast before swinging inland and rejoining the N2 for a spectacular drive through the coastal mountains before
Jenks is the jackass in the blue shirt
dipping down to the Cape Flats for the drive back to the City. A great day.
By the way, if you want more detail on the maps, you can zoom in by pressing the + sign, and move left or right by clicking on the arrows. Also, you can get an overhead, satellite view by clicking on the button marked "satellite". Lastly, if you click on any of the photos you can get an enlarged image.
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