Published: May 29th 2012May 27th 2012
For about 3 consecutive years, I visited South Africa and only stopped in Johannesburg, however my luck changed when my boyfriend of 3 years Don, decided we needed some quality time and booked a 10 days trip to Cape Town in 2002. We began preparing for our trip three weeks ahead. Since I worked for a travel agency, I booked our trip through my company and had Don take care of the visa processing with the embassy. Being a diplomat and all, getting our visas was a breeze once the embassy had the tickets, hotel reservation and the bank statements needed to prove we were returning back to the country of origination.
It never ceases to amaze me the requirements for visas in my country (well foreign embassies in my country especially). By the time we were going on this trip, I had gone through two passports already with three South African visas, 4 United Kingdom Visas, 7 German Schengen visas, 2 American two year multiple entry visas, 3 Italian Schengen visas, 1 Swiss Visa, 6 multi entry visas to the Emirates and many other African countries entry and exit visas. The South African embassy required that I furnish proof
of employment, proof of funds to a tune of at least 5,000,000 (5 million shillings), return air ticket to Cape Town, fully paid accommodation for the duration of my stay, the name and contact of the company that would take us on tour and a completed application form with two passport size photographs and a nonrefundable visa application fee of 65,000 shillings ($35). Well I did not do all that (thank God I had a diplomat for a boyfriend), I provided my return air ticket, a completed application form and accommodation details, Don took my passport and put it in an envelope with his American passport, gave it to his driver and asked him to deliver it to the South African High Commission for processing (don't you just love it when people around you have such influence?).
I must say I loved it this time because I honestly did not have five million Ugandan shillings sitting there in my account waiting for a visa application. Anyhow, 2 days from the date of submission, Don came home with our passports visas included. We flew South African Airlines to Cape Town with an hour stop in Johannesburg to change planes. Don
arranged for one of their office drivers to take us to the airport the afternoon of the departure. Check in was quick through the diplomatic channels and soon we were aboard the South African flight bound for Johannesburg. Service on board was great, Don read a book and I pretended to be interested in the in-flight Magazine, but all the while imagining our time together in Cape Town, this was the first time we were travelling together and for an extended period of time outside of the country. He was just as excited but his demeanor did not show it, he always had a way with expressing his excitement that hid from the true feeling inside.
We landed successfully in Johannesburg, picked up our bags and waited for the flight to Cape Town. While at the airport in Johannesburg, we took time to have coffee and sandwiches at one of the airport coffee shops, I can't recall which one it was. The one hour went by swiftly and soon we were being called to board our flight to Cape Town: in Cape Town, we picked up our 10 day car rental from the rental company. We made reservations for
a car online three weeks earlier and chose a nice green compact car with great gas mileage, not that the gas was a problem then. Don would be the designated driver throughout the trip but once we picked the car, we both went "ooow!" it was smaller than it looked online. At 6ft 4in, he needed space in the car, we looked at each other in agreement, we need to take it back for another. But then a smile on Don's face indicated he had figured a way out. He opened the car, pushed the driver's seat as far back as possible and tried to get in as slowly as he can. The first try was a success and he was comfortable enough to drive, I asked him probably ten times from the airport to the hotel if he was comfortable and if he wanted us to change it for a bigger car, he smiled and went "honey, I'm fine and will you stop worrying? You will make my legs hurt just by thinking I'm uncomfortable". That was that and the rest of our trip was exciting as we got lost twice trying to find the directions to our beach
accommodation far north of the city and the V & A (Victoria & Alexandria waterfront).
Cape Town will always be among my favorite cities in the world. Located in the Western cape region, it is Africa's leading first class travel destination, attracting millions of tourists each year. If you have never been to Africa, but dream of going there, this would be a great place to start. The Garden Route
Composed of magnificent views of mountains, valleys, rivers, lakes, a great many species of birds, making it one of the best eco-destinations there is. It stretches from Mossel Bay all the way to St. Francis. In 2001 Don and I added this route to our holiday as a last minute thing. Our original plan included only the Wine Route.
The Route is approximately 280km from Cape Town and it offers visitors and residents who use it, nature's paradise itself. The route is filled with giant Milkwood and Yellow wood trees. Great many fields of Aloes and Bluebills and many other plants creating such a wonderful floral kingdom. As you drive through this route, your eyes is given a feast of large stretches of beaches, lakes, valleys
and nature reserves. You will visit Knysna before proceeding to Plettenberg bay, which is one of the cultural heritage sites.
While on this route you have the choice to go to the beach, hike, go on safari in Tsitsikama National Park or take a cultural tour in Plettenberg Bay or perhaps go surfing in one of the world's surfing hotspots. Fishermen, brace yourselves for an experience of a lifetime if you choose to go fishing. I mentioned earlier that the route has many species of birds, this offers the bird watching lover a whole new world. For the adrenalin seeker, if surfing does not do it for you, you can try white water rafting, grades 4 and 5 will get that adrenalin going for you. The Wine Route
The Cape Winelands Route is popularly called the 'Wine Route'. The Wine Route stretches from Paarl all the way to Robertson, a 45 minute drive will bring you to the heart of grape and wine lands and it's surrounding areas. The wine farms along this route are in Paarl, Franshhoek, Stellenbosch, Wellington, Tulbagh, and Robertson. These farms all lay in the Breede River valley offering the most outstanding scenery
with a dramatic backdrop of mountains.
Wether you appreciate wine or not, you will enjoy the stroll through the farms or visiting the wine cellars. There is wine tasting at most of the farms and for a minimal charge you can taste some of South Africa's finest wines. Don and I stopped at three farms; one in Franshhoek where we overnighted, the second in Stellenbosh were we bought two cases of red wine and the third in Robertson.
Excellent accommodation and restaurants are in Franshhoek were we spent the night. From down in the valley, the views are magnificent. Franschhoek is well known for it's wines, art, gallaries and great hospitality. I do recommend staying a night if you can, you will experience the town in a personal way. Try the Sparkling Wine Tasing, it is great.
Stellenbosch is another great town to stop and experience the culture and history and drink wine (smile!). This town is older than cape Town itself, it offers visitors a great mediterranean climate, historic buildings and most exciting, the wineries. You can join the wine maker on a tour of his cellar. "Travel is an exciting and adventurous passion, it is quite expensive but the reward outweighs the expense. If you can afford it, do it!"
There are more photos below