Cape Town, South Africa: A City Surrounded By Unbelievable Beauty ( Part III)

Cape Town, South Africa

My favorite cities have the same things in common:

  • Unique cultural experiences
  • Spectacular food
  • Efficient transportation
  • Beautiful sites
  • Excitement

Cape Town knocks each category out of the park.!  The City’s beauty alone is enough to fill an entire post.

Home to the majestic Table Mountain, there aren’t many places that I would rather spend my time.  It is too hard to adequately describe Table Mountain’s beauty, just know this, if you question the existence of GOD you won’t after visiting.  The site is spectacular.
Table Mountian, Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountian, Cape Town

 

After leaving Table Mountain, stop by Boulders Beach for lunch and to hang out with some animals that you would never guess could weather the South African heat !

Boulders Beach, South Africa


Boulders Beach, Cape Town

Beyond its beauty, Cape Town is home to hundreds of great restaurants.  With so much to try, this great City is where I really stepped out of my culinary box.  At Mama Africa ,in Cape Town’s party district, I ate the most delicious appetizer: crocodile!  It was grilled and seasoned to perfection!

Crocidile, Mama Africa, Cape Town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also had the game kabobs consisting of (warthog, ostrich, and springbok).

Game, Mama Africa, Cape Town , South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The food was amazing and the drinks were flowing all night.

 

In addition to the amazing food, the house band kept the party going and several of my companions jumped at the chance to join in the fun.

Mama Africa , Cape Town, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We couldn’t spend time in Cape Town without taking the 60 minute ferry ride to Robben Island to visit the site of the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela and many other political prisoners were held.

Robben Island Ferry Ride , South Africa

 

Robben Island, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surprisingly, the island is now home to a few hundred people, including former prison wardens and former prisoners a like with a school, church and grocery store.   The actual prison is now a museum, visited by millions of people each year.  Being on the island is a humbling experience.  What really adds to the overall experience is that the tours are guided by former political prisoners.

 

Our guide was imprisoned at Robben Island for six years for his participation with the African National Congress (ANC).  He shared his experiences and even showed us the actual cell that he was held in.   We also viewed the cell that Mr. Mandela was held in during his 18 years on the Island.  (pictured)

Nelson Mandela's Prison Cell, Robben Island , South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visiting Robben Island was a sobering experience  and as we left, we felt hopeful about South Africa’s bright future despite its troubled past.  Having a wine tour booked following our visit to Robben Island worked out to be a wise idea!

 

In 45 short minutes we were in Paarl sampling sumptuous wines and unbelievable chocolates.  South Africa’s vast wine country is beyond gorgeous.  The rolling hills lined with grapevines as far as the eyes can see, with jagged mountains framing the horizon, create a picturesque setting.

 

Wine country, Paarl, South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wine was fantastic but the absolute star of the day was the meal that we enjoyed at an onsite pizzeria.  The cow feta and spinach pizza, chicken livers, brie and tomato sandwich and the lamb baguettes were unbelievable.

Chicken Livers and Lamb, South Africa

 

I truly recommend spending no less that half a day in wine country.  With hundreds of independent producers you are sure to discover something great.

When the sun rose the following day we were greeted with great coffee and the sour realization that we would be heading back to the states in a few short hours.  But leave it up to my crew to make the very best of it by going shopping!

Cape Town’s Green Market located in the City ‘s downtown district is massive.  Despite the fact that many of the vendors are selling the same trinkets, you can find some really good deals and some unique items if you take your time and explore.

Cape Town Green Market, South Africa

Feel free to haggle but make sure you shop with Rand, the local currency ( it just makes it easier ).

 

A few short hours later we loaded our luggage, headed to the airport, and made the 17 hour journey back to the states.

 

South Africa is an unbelievable country.  I cannot wait to return in a few years.

Have you traveled to South Africa?  Tell me your story here.

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Sonoma Valley, CA : A Wine Lovers Paradise

Sonoma, CASo our first trip to San Francisco, CA was amazing. Thankfully, we made time to get away from the City to explore Sonoma Valley.  We opted to take a guided tour of three wineries offered by San Francisco Sightseeing Tours.  The company picked us up at our hotel (Union Square Hilton) and we began the 1 1/2 hour journey to Sonoma.  We were welcomed into Sonoma by miles and miles of rolling hills and landscaped wineries with small well-kept homes on both sides of the street.  With temperatures about 20 degrees higher that San Francisco, the weather was perfect!  The first winery we visited was Cline Cellars.  Cline is a small vineyard with very approachable wines.  There was something on the menu for everyone.  The prices are reasonable and they were very generous during the tasting.  We liked the following wines:  2012 Cool Climate Pinot Gris, 2012 Ancient Vines Zinfandel, and the 2012 White Cashmere.  On the grounds of the Cline Winery lies the Mission MuseumSonoma, CAThe museum documents the Mission system in California.  It seems like a funny thing to have a museum which highlights a major historical religious movement at a vineyard… but it works somehow.  We enjoyed walking through the museum.

After leaving Cline, we visited Sebastiani Vineyards for another tasting.  Sebastiani has some of the oldest wine barrels made from red wood trees.  We tasted several wines and really liked the 2012 Eye of the Swan which is a white wine with great nutty flavor.  The wines were fine but the jams and mustard were even better!  Be sure to check out the gourmet foods section for great gifts and special treats at Sebastiani.

We took a short break for lunch in downtown Sonoma.  The downtown area consists of a quaint square filled with shops and restaurants.  We elected to have lunch at Basque Cafe, a cute local bakery offering sandwiches and pastries.  Our food was terrific and we had the pleasure of sharing a table with two very lovely ladies.  We traded travel stories and discussed a number of other lighthearted topics.  Meeting people on our trips enhances our experiences every time.

After lunch, it was off to my favorite winery Chateau St Jean .  Chateau St Jean was the largest and most beautiful vineyard that we visited.  The grounds were covered with rose bushes and magnificent trees. We really we enjoyed the wines and the tour was the most informative of the three.  The guide explained more about how the wines are produced and how the vineyard operates than any of the other vineyards we visited. We purchased several wines from the Chateau to include a 2011 Pinot Blanc and a 2011 Pinot Noir.

We had an amazing time in Sonoma.  We elected to visit Sonoma instead Napa Valley based on reports that Sonoma was less commercial and more of a relaxing experience.  We look forward to visiting Napa in the future.

If you are planning to visit Sonoma feel free to e-mail us.  If you have visited, share your experiences here.  

 

Happy Travels,

Jen

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