29 November 2007

whales are good food....

ooooops, that was supposed to be whales and good food ;-)


Bloody Sunday everything's closed... bah... we went to Raka, hoping they were open, but nope. Closed on Sunday. Bummer...

Now in Hermanus, having lunch at SeaFood at the Marine, this really posh place with a nice view of the sea. We sort of picked the first place we saw, as we were both quite hungry and wanted to get lunch out of the way before heading towards our backpackers' and whale watching and stuff. I guess we should have known it would be really posh judging from the outside and the finely-dressed parking lot attendants... didn't think they would let us in either, considering how we were dressed ;-)

Anyway, food. They had a two-course lunch for 155 Rand (or so) – which is quite up there by South African standards, but, well... we've paid more for lunch in Norway. And we were hungry :-) It's really strange how we quickly assimilated to the price standards here though... I'll discuss that later... Anyway, I ordered fish cakes as a starter, and boyfriend of feitpingvin ordered tomato soup. We both ordered “rich man's fish and chips” as the main. Being the non-driver, I ordered a Birkenhead lager to wash it all down with; it was very nice! (Birkenhead is a local microbrewery that we also tried to visit but they were closed for a private party. Bah.)

Mmm... excellent fishcake! You can see that it's actually made of chunks of fish, not some kind of pasty over-starchy stuff. Boyfriend of feitpingvin's tomato (tomato and basil actually) soup was also very tasty..

fish cake

tomato soup

As for the main course... wow! The best fish and chips I have ever had! I stopped caring about the price of the meal after this – this was amazing stuff! The fish was nice and crispy on the outside, with a thin layer of batter, and the fish itself was cooked perfectly – neither too cooked or too raw. Just perfect. The chips were nice and crispy and not too heavy (though rather filling, ugh :) See how beautifully it was presented...

fish and chips

We had coffee afterwards... that was a bit of a downer. It was quite thin. South Africans are good at a lot of things, and not-so-good at a lot of things, and coffee is one of those things. I kind of expected better at such a posh place. I guess not...

The afternoon was spent watching whales along the shoreline. There were quite a few whales out and playing, but none of them were jumping out of the water, which was kind of a disappointment. Well, one of them started jumping out of the water when we put our cameras away... typical...

whale tail

Southern right whale

We went to Annie se Kombuis (Annie's Kitchen) for dinner; they serve traditional South African food. It's a cosy little place with rustic décor, where the menu you get is a list of the offerings written on a chalkboard. Kind of neat...

I was in the mood for something fish, so I got fish soup as a starter, while boyfriend of feitpingvin ordered mussels. To go with my fish soup, I ordered a glass of Hermanuspietersfontein (local winery) Sauvignon blanc. It was served in a huge glass, filled to the top. And it was very delicious ;-)

So was the soup. It was a fishy tomato-y broth with lots of bits of fish. Boyfriend of feitpingvin's mussels were also very nice, served with a wonderful very garlicy sauce...

fish soup

Our main course was the ostrich pot – tender and tasty ostrich neck pieces in a wonderful sauce, served in a little black pot of RoF doom. Sweet potatoes, green beans and rice were served with the stew...

ostrich potjie at Annie's

We had the following wine with our main course:
Hermanuspietersfontein Swartskaap 2006 (100% Cab franc)
color: deep blue-violet
nose: prunes, raisins, cloves
palate: full-bodied, slightly acidic and bitter, flavor of cherries, spices, anise, licorice. Good match to hearty meat dishes and stews, steaks, grilled meats
grade: :-) +

Mini Wolfgang samples the local wine at Hermanus!

After dinner, we went back to the backpackers' to watch the rugby match between South Africa and the US... we both konked out at some point... SA won though (and eventually won the World Cup) :-)

25 November 2007

in vino veritas...

It's the truth. South African wine is fantastic! :-D

This was a happy day for everyone, especially Mini Wolfgang! It was the big wine tasting day! Woohoo!

But first, we had some morning drama. We were eating breakfast and boyfriend of feitpingvin heard a strange sound in the Moroccan room. He took a quick look and came back to the breakfast table, saying that a dove had managed to get into the room and was trying to fly out through the window, and that the dogs were rather curious. We grabbed our cameras as this was a potential charming photo op, and you could hear that something going on. But then suddenly... silence. We went to have a look, and the only thing you could see was Floyd with his nose buried in the sofa, with feathers flying everywhere; you could hear a muffled growl and chewing. Ugh...

Floyd had managed to capture the dove, and it looked like he was eating it. Who can blame him though... the doves like to get at his and Roxy's food dishes (placed outside). He was chomping and growling and shaking his head, releasing feathers... the cover on the sofa was stained with blood and bird crap, and after moving the sofa, we found the poor dove on the floor, badly injured... poor ting had to be put down, it was best that way...

We never expected that we would see this kind of a kill. Lions killing buffalo, sure, if we were lucky. But a dog killing a dove? Very freaky. It was kind of grotesque, but at the same time, overwhelmingly funny...

Darn, I could use some wine now ;-)

Robertson is the second largest wine producing region in South Africa, and is part of the Route 62 wine route, the longest in the world (and one of the most underrated activities in South Africa).

Our host at Robertson Backpackers was also our driver/wine guide. I'll just use his first initial (K.) as I'd like to avoid using people's names on blogs, even though his name is on his webpage. Anyway, considering it was Saturday and most places closed early, we managed to hit an impressive 6 wineries. Now keep in mind that I swallowed most of what I tasted, and what I ended up writing in my little notebook (if anything at all in the end) reflects this ;-)

It was kind of dangerous going to this place first, as it seemed to “ruin” us for everything else ;-)

Rusticus produces their wines the “old fashioned way” - quite literally. The owners (the Busch family) use restored antique wine-making equipment and machinery, with minimal use of modern technology. I don't know to what extent making wine this way makes the difference, but the wines here are beyond fantastic...

Mini Wolfgang visits Rusticus Winery!

(more cool photos of Rusticus on my flickr site)

This wasn't in the original plan, but K. hadn't visited the place before and it was along the way to the next stop, so why not?

The Robertson area is known for more than just wine. Among the other things Robertson is famous for – thoroughbred horses. Part of the Arabella estate is a stud farm. The horses we saw there were beautiful.

Mini Wolfgang visits the Arabella Wine Estate!

They're set right by the Breede River; it was very beautiful there. It's a popular picnic spot...

Mini Wolfgang visits Viljoensdrift Winery!

De Wetshof Estate
We tasted the best dessert wine ever – the Edeloes 2001. Too bad they didn't sell it, though they did let us take the bottle with the remaining contents – that was cool :-)

We did buy a bottle of a 2005 vintage to store though; can't wait to drink it :-) It was almost a disaster. The bottle we bought turned out to be defective, and it took several phone calls and several De Wetshof representatives trying to figure out where we were (we had been travelling here and there). But eventually, they caught up to us when we were in Johannesburg. We exchanged the bad bottle for a good one; everyone was happy :-)

Oh, we also bought a bottle of their lovely rosé wine...

Mini Wolfgang visits De Wetshof Estate!

Bon Courage
We were served a very lovely sparkling wine (cap classique), something we would have loved to take home with us had it been possible. Stupid, selfish fucks who keep the liquids ban going :-(

We had a very tasty lunch here – salad with smoked chicken and avocado, oranges, pineapple, nuts, and feta. This was washed down with sparkling red grape juice...

This was our last stop. They had a very lovely “Life from Stone” Sauvignon blanc.

Mini Wolfgang visits Springfield Winery!

We relaxed in the back yard when we were done with the wine tour, and Floyd (the proud hunter) and Roxy got their obligatory belly rubs. After drinking a small can of Lesothan beer (geez, more to drink? ;), I wanted to go for a walk. Boyfriend of feitpingvin didn't want to come along, so I explored the area on my own... no problems whatsoever. In fact, I noticed that there were very few people who had the typical high fences and/or walls and barbed wire. Everything was open, and you had the feeling of safety and tranquility. It was such a nice feeling...

And the area is sooo beautiful! Mountains, valleys, new flowers to let the world that spring had arrived... lots of birds... good stuff!

When I got back from my walk, I played with the dogs some more, and then we had a delicious red chicken curry for dinner (home cooked by our hostess), along with some of the wine we bought on one of the visits (don't remember what we had, and we didn't take notes). We also shared the remaining dessert wine. Darn, that was good stuff!

12 November 2007

my new career?

Once again, we had a lovely ostrich egg breakfast :-)

ostrich egg breakfast!

I forgot to write in the 27/09 report that when we returned from dinner at Jemima's, we found the Irish couple that we met at Viva Safaris staying at Backpackers' Paradise, sitting in the common area. So we chatted with them for a while about what we had been doing, and made temporary plans to meet up again in Cape Town...

The 28th of September, 2007 was the start of a potential career as an ostrich jockey. But before my big debut, we visited the rest of the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm. We started by driving out to the actual farm area, where we first passed a bunch of baby ostriches of varying ages. Baby ostriches are freakishly cute. They look totally clueless and their bums are whiteish and baldish and really strange-looking. And then we got to see the adult ostriches – the big males with their red beaks (their beaks turn red during mating season) and lots of females. One of the females was really snappy with her beak. It made for interesting facial expressions and thus interesting photos...

freaky ostrich

We were given a quick lecture about ostriches, and the one thing that has glued into the depths of my brain is that the eyeball of the ostrich is 60 grams, while its brain is 40 grams. Otherwise, they're raised for meat (ostrich meat is very lean and healthy and tasty), feathers (boas, dusters, hat decorations etc.), and leather (wallets, purses, belts, etc.).

We got the chance to hold an ostrich egg, to get a feel for the size and weight. We were also allowed to stand on the eggs; they tolerate quite a lot of weight! In a building, we got to see an incubator with a baby ostrich on its way to come out of the egg. It takes them about 8 hours to get out!

And then it was almost time for my big debut! We went to this show area where they first brought out a big male ostrich, put this bag over his head, and started showing and describing his body parts – neck, wings (wow!) etc. After that, they were looking for people who 1) wanted to only sit on the ostrich, 2) wanted to ride the ostrich. Surprisingly, I was the only one who wanted to ride. Well, boyfriend of feitpingvin wanted to ride too, but he was borderline at the weight limit for riding (75 kg). So he just sat on the ostrich. Only one other guy was willing to sit.

For riding, I had to first sign a disclaimer. Fine, whatever. Then they brought out an ostrich, and instructed me on how to get up on it. A patch feathers on the ostrich's back had been plucked to make a sort of “saddle” (ostriches have thick skin), and I sat on that. It was a really neat feeling sitting on the ostrich; they have very soft feathers and it was funky-neat to feel the feathers on my bare legs! The ostrich handlers told me to hold on to the wings and lean back, and then suddenly wooooooooosh! The ostrich was running. Fast. And I was hanging on for dear life :-) Wheeeeee!!!

I got a certificate for my efforts hehe...

After my big debut, we watched some real ostrich jockeys in a little race. Cool stuff. Though I'm sure I can kick all of their asses :-)

To reward myself for a great debut, I bought myself a really funky ostrich leather purse at the gift shop. And a cute little t-shirt. Boyfriend of feitpingvin bought a really nice ostrich skin wallet. Hindsight is 20-20; I wish I bought more stuff while I was there. Not that we had any space in the luggage for it or anything, but still...

Next on the agenda was Robertson, so we headed out on Route 62 in that direction. Our lunch stop was in Calitzdorp (the port wine capital of South Africa), at Die Dorpshuis guesthouse and restaurant. We both ordered the "Klein Karoo Special" - smoked ostrich with potato salad, bean salad, Greek salad, and red beets. It was nice having a cold lunch for a change, and the food was very tasty. The bean salad was especially delicious. We washed this down with a lovely homemade ginger beer.

Before lunch, we stopped at the Calitzdorp Wine Cellar and tasted a few of their wines. They were OK, but not spectacular, so we didn't buy anything. The woman working there seemed kind of indifferent, and we weren't really motivated to stick around... better luck next time...

Our next stop after lunch was Ronnie's Sex Shop. The story about the place is in the link. My own evaluation – ummmm... it's quite a place. Ronnie is quite a character, but really rather harmless. If you're driving along Route 62, I highly recommend a stop here...

After Ronnie's we had another stop, though a more gruesome one. There had just been an accident where a car drove off the road and flipped over. Several other people had stopped to see what was going on, and the cops were already there investigating and getting information, witness observations, etc. It was a really weird accident; there were skidmarks on the road and based on the skidmarks it was hard to tell what really happened, other than the driver must have been driving very fast. This accident was just as bad as some of the others we've seen, where the front of the car was completely crushed and the windshield was shattered...

We arrived at Robertson Backpackers at some point in the afternoon, while the sun was still shining. They have a big backyard with a nice green lawn there, and we decided to just stay there and relax for the rest of the day and evening. The rest of the house was quite cool too – especially the "Moroccan room" where you can sit and chill out to some music, and even smoke a water pipe if you'd like.

The couple who run Robertson Backpackers have two dogs – Floyd and Roxy. They are such characters! The very moment boyfriend of feitpingvin and I showed up, they demanded attention, and immediately rolled on their backs and spread their legs out in the hopes of a belly rub. And being the sucker that I am, I rubbed their bellies. And played the "grab the rope" game with this old tattered dog rope; Floyd was especially eager. It was actually quite fun running around barefoot on the lawn, playing with the crazy dogs.

We had a lovely braai for dinner and the following wine:
Swartberg Reserve Pinotage 2005 (from Kango Winery
color: deep red-violet
nose: very ripe cherries, hint of herbs
palate: hint of red apples, red grape peel and black currants, pleasant tannins. Goes nicely with red meat but should not be paired with fatty red meat.
grade: :-)+

08 November 2007

Cango, Cango, Kango!

Guess what we had for breakfast? Guess! Guess!

Hah... scrambled ostrich egg! :-D With cheese, tomato, and toast. Yoghurt, cereal, juice and coffee (or tea) was also included in the breakfast. Yum!

Ostrich egg is quite interesting, with a richer flavor and texture that was nothing like chicken eggs at all. I really enjoyed it. Ostrich eggs are supposed to be the most unhealthy thing from an ostrich you can eat because of the high cholesterol level. Otherwise, ostrich meat is very lean and healthy. And tasty :-)

Cango Caves! We had been looking forward to this for quite some time. And of course we were going to do the adventure tour!

The adventure tour involves a lot of crawling in very narrow passages, climbing up “chimneys,” and sliding through “postbox slots.” The caves are warm (18-20 C) and very humid, so you get very sweaty, and it can be somewhat problematic if you're asthmatic, so if you are asthmatic and want to do the tour, it would be a good idea to take your inhaler. Be sure you wear lightweight clothes that you can climb in, especially when the humidity and sweat make the clothes stick to your body, good shoes, a headlamp if you have one, and keep stuff to a minimum – no big camera bags like boyfriend of feitpingvin and I had. (It went OK, but it was rather annoying.) You'll crawl around on the cave floors and sometimes it will be wet, but you won't get very dirty. We were surprised over this...

Alvin going through "The Postbox"

The only time I had a little bit of trouble was when I climbed up the chimney, because of my shoulder injury. Fortunately, I managed...

I'm glad I didn't get my fat ass stuck in the narrow passages. But people getting their fat asses stuck in the narrow passages has happened; early this year, this woman went on the adventure tour. Despite being warned not to. She got stuck in “lover's lane.” For 10 hours. Other people were trapped because of this. I can only imagine how badly it sucked for them...

We had actually talked about this with our hostess and her family in King William's Town, when we mentioned we were planning on going to Cango Caves. They said “she was enormous!” and even gestured to indicate a very wide girth. We also asked some of the people working in the information booths at Cango Caves, and they were all like “well, you know, she was warned...” and generally kind of polite about it. Our guide, a petite and fit young woman, was not very diplomatic about discussing that particular incident. She mentioned that rescue workers brought food to the people who were trapped by this woman, and that as they were passing the food along, the woman asked for a muffin, and everyone was screaming "what?! You want a muffin?! The last thing you need..."

So now there's soap and Vaseline readily available to the guides hahaha...

And there is now a disclaimer in the information pamphlet for Cango Caves – you have to be lean and fit to do the adventure tour. I don't see the disclaimer on the Website though... weird...

The caves themselves are very beautiful and fascinating. You have to see it to believe it...

Cango Wildlife Ranch
Our next stop was the Cango Wildlife Ranch. We were quite hungry, so we had lunch first. We went to a restaurant called "Turtles" - there was an enclosure with a pair of tortoises nearby. I photographed some swallows that were darting about the dining area, and then we sat down and ordered lunch. I ordered the crocodile filet, and boyfriend of feitpingvin ordered the crocodile ribs. It's not every day you get to eat crocodile!

While we were waiting for our food, I noticed something going on in the tortoise enclosure. So I went to have a closer look, and... well... the big tortoise was up on top of the other smaller tortoise. He was humping along, and making this really strange noise. I snapped a few shots and went back to the table; we could hear him from the table. They went on for quite some time, and the tortoise underneath kept trying to get away. We later learned that both tortoises are male, and that the big one is named Bonk and he likes to bonk everything ;-)

bonking Bonk

Anyway, our food arrived, and as usual in this country, everything looked great and the portion was enormous! And the taste – YUM! Crocodile is neutral like chicken, though with a “fishier” taste. This crocodile was very tender, and marinated with a very nice flavor. It was served with rice, vegetables, and salad.

crocodile filet

The ribs, which I got to sample, were quite different from the filet, which comes from the tail. The ribs had a more “meaty” flavor and different texture. They were still quite delicious ;-)

crocodile ribs

After lunch, we had a guided tour of the ranch. There were way too many people on it. Other than that, it was nice. We saw lots of birds, some crocodiles (including one that jumped up from the water to grab some meat from this guy's hand), lemurs (including one with a baby), meerkats, large cats, and other cool creatures.

Kango Winery
After our visit to the ranch, we headed back into town so that we could do a tasting at the Kango Winery before they closed. The winery is within walking distance of Backpacker's Paradise, and as we weren't in a hurry, we stopped by a few shops to find a hat for boyfriend of feitpingvin, to replace the one the monkeys stole from him at Moholoholo. He managed to find three ;-)

Hmm, I just realized I didn't tell that story. The quick and easy version was that boyfriend of feitpingvin left his hat in the car when we went into Moholoholo. The window was open slightly, and it was apparently just enough for the monkeys to get in, take the hat, and take off again. So when we returned to the car, no hat. It was unlikely someone in the area would have stolen it. Just the darn cheeky monkeys...

OK, back to the wine. Wow, for a little winery in a semi-desert region, they make some really nice wines! Mini Wolfgang was having a good time – the friendly staff made sure his tasting glass was never empty! The white wines were very nice and refreshing, and the reds were brilliant, especially that blend we had with our dinner at Jemima's. We bought a bottle to take home to Norway, as well as a bottle of Swartberg Pinotage Reserve.

Mini Wolfgang visits Kango Winery!

On our way back from the winery, we stopped in this one fancyish shop that sold ostrich leather products and big, fluffy boas. I bought myself a beautiful white boa, with brown flecks. “Au naturel” - boas come from the wings of female ostriches and that is the natural coloring. It is absolutely gorgeous. I can't wait to use it!

We ate dinner at Paljas Restaurant. We each ordered ostrich liver paté as a starter; this was very nice. I had the Moroccan chicken with lemon, garlic and chili for my main course, and boyfriend of feitpingvin had the Cape Malay chicken curry (“Bo Kaap-style”).

ostrich liver paté at Paljas Restaurant

Moroccan chicken at Palja's

Cape Malay-style chicken curry at Palja's

Our wine was the Porcupine Ridge Sauvignon blanc 2007
color: too dark to see
nose: gooseberries, hint of grapefruit peel
palate: dry and refreshing with flavors of gooseberries and citrus fruits. OK with spicy food, but not the best choice. Otherwise a very lovely wine.
grade: :-)+

Hahaha, we're sitting in the outdoor area, and there's this stage out here for shows and whatnot... one can only imagine... ;-)

07 November 2007

getting to our routes - from the Garden Route to Route 62

Ya wanna know what? There's nothing better than waking up with your eye glued shut with yellow, crusty pus. Let me tell ya... and once you chisel that layer of pus away, out oozes more yellow, gooey pus. Isn't that just peachy?

Dammit, where did this eye infection come from? All the sand from yesterday? Dodgy pillowcases? Hmm... this is not good...

The Jeffreys Bay Backpackers didn't serve breakfast so we had to go and find a café to get something. I was feeling rather miserable, so I didn't even write down the name of the place where we had breakfast. The meal was called "Biker's Breakfast" though (maybe someone will recognize the place based on the name?) – eggs and bacon and toast and probably other things I don't remember because I was too out of it and didn't write it down. I'm also a bit peeved that I didn't write much down, as the owner or manager (I think) of the place told me where I could go to deal with the eye. I was whining about it, and he was really nice and all like “oh, go to this pharmacy, it's just around the corner, ask for S., he'll take care of you!” So we went to that pharmacy, found S., and he gave (well, sold (for 20 Rand)) me a little tube of ointment and everything was hunky dory. Wheee! I had to use it three times a day for the next few days, but once I started using it, everything got so much better!

We were now on our way to Oudtshoorn (a main stop along Route 62). This was an action-packed journey. Some of the highlights along the way (along the Garden Route):

Stormsrivier/Storms River. It's easy to see why this place is one of the most highly recommended stops along the Garden Route. We had a walk over the bridge, and took pictures of the breathtaking scenery.

We also had lunch at Rafter's Restaurant – ostrich bobotie, washed down with mango juice. It was delicious! Bobotie rules! Everyone should eat bobotie – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! We also got to see part of the village, with it's funky colorful buildings...

Bloukrans Bridge. This bridge offers the world's highest commercially operated bungee jump. No, I didn't jump ;-) I would have considered it had it not been for the darn eye...

Birds of Eden. Birds of Eden is the largest free-flight bird aviary in the world. It is full of plants and trees and lots of other good places for the birds to hide. You know they're there, even though you don't see them. You can feel their little beady eyes piercing right through you. Good stuff... :-)

I kind of feel bad about making boyfriend of feitpingvin come here, as our visit here gave us too little time to go to the elephant park next door (if we were to make it to The Heads). I had seen lots of birds already and we visited a bird park last year... and he has never interacted with elephants. Next time I guess... :-/

The Heads at Knysna. The views are breathtaking! They even have a webcam


We arrived at Backpacker's Paradise in Oudtshoorn early evening. It's quite a big place – the common room and dining area are huge, and it looks like there are a lot of rooms in general. Our en-suite room was big and cosy-looking. It's supposedly one of the best backpackers' in all of South Africa. I must say that I agree with this!

We ate dinner at Jemima's Restaurant; this place was recommended by a trusted someone on the Lonely Planet message boards (hey, thanks!). We didn't order a starter, but we were given a starter/amuse bouche anyway – spinach, mushrooms, and feta in phyllo pastry along with sourdough bread and a sun-dried tomato pesto. This was delicious!

spinach, mushrooms, and feta in phyllo

My main course was the “tandem” - a steak duo. My duo was of ostrich and springbok, prepared medium rare. This was served with an amazing port- and cranberry sauce. And “parmesan potatoes.”

"tandem" of ostrich and springbok

Boyfriend of feitpingvin ordered grilled Karoo lamb. This was served with a puff pastry “pot” (with a lid and everything) filled with leg of lamb. He also got a portion of “parmesan potatoes.”

grilled karoo lamb

Our meals were simple, but very delicious. It was just what we wanted. The meat melted in our mouths...mmmm. South African meat, especially the game, is just wonderful.

The wine we chose to quaff with our meal was out of this world:
Kango Winery Cabernet sauvignon/Merlot/Shiraz 2006. Local wine!
color: it was too dark to see
nose: prunes, raisins, alcohol
palate: anise, cloves, cranberries, apricot and raspberry finish. It's very “different” and difficult to characterize. It's a great all-around wine for pairing with food (especially red meat) as well as drinking on its own.
grade: :-D

I managed to stir some interest, as I was feverishly writing notes at the table and taking photos of the food. First, there was a Danish woman who asked (in Danish; boyfriend of feitpingvin had asked her earlier, in Norwegian, if she was Danish) if I was a food journalist. And then the couple who were at the table next to us asked the same thing. I just told them I was a silly amateur who likes to write silly things and post silly photos in her travel blog... ;-)

Getting paid to travel around South Africa and the rest of the world to write about food and wine would be a really cool job though! :-D

We chatted with the couple for a little while; they were on their honeymoon. She is a wine buyer/sommelier in Scotland. She said that she loved South African wines and that there were so many fantastic wines available. The problem was that they were inexpensive. Too inexpensive. Such that even with the markup in say, a restaurant, people always associated low price with bad quality wine. This shows that many people who go and buy wine don't know shit about what they're buying and drinking, but what can one really do to resolve this problem?

06 November 2007

heading out to sea...

We woke up rather early once again. To give the birdies the paparazzi treatment, of course. Some of the more interesting specimens included an African paradise flycatcher and a scarlet-chested sunbird. And of course there were tons of little yellow weaver birds darting around here and there. Yes, I really do get excited over stuff like this. Yes, it annoys the hell out of boyfriend of feitpingvin ;-)

Birds weren't the only thing we saw. From the veranda (on the 2nd floor of the house), we watched as the groundkeeper washed our car. We didn't ask for this, so we were pleasantly surprised over the situation. The car was quite filthy, especially after the dustbath it got at Sani, and we had been thinking of taking it to a car wash. This kind gesture made our lives a lot easier. He got a nice tip for this! :-)

Breakfast was a big, delicious affair, as expected. We started with some lovely oatmeal; I had mine with fruit and some yoghurt. This was followed by a cheese and mushroom omelette, bacon, and kudu sausage! Kudu! Oh, it was soooo good! Why can't I get stuff like that here? *sigh*

We had a good chat with our hostess and her son about where to go along our route. Among the places that were recommended – Stormsrivier and The Heads at Knysna. We were also ordered to do the adventure tour when we got to Cango Caves ;-)

I didn't write very many notes for this part of the trip. We stopped at Grahamstown for lunch. Grahamstown has a lot of nice old buildings, but I wasn't really in the mood to photograph anything. We ate at Dulcé Café. I ordered grilled vegetables with cheese and tomato-basil sauce (I was in the mood for something vegetarian), and boyfriend of feitpingvin ordered tortillas. Both were lovely :-)

We arrived at Jeffreys Bay and settled into our accommodation – Jeffreys Bay Backpackers. It was OK; a bit on the expensive side for what we got, considering it was a backpacker place. Our room was en-suite, and the passageway to the bathroom/shower was very narrow. We're not that big and we had to squeeze through. It was also very obvious that Jeffreys Bay is known for surfing, as the backpackers' was very set-up for people with surfboards.

It was very windy there when we went out for a walk. Windy and somewhat chilly. I tried photographing seagulls that were kind of floating in the wind, but they kept floating away too quickly. Heh. Plus there was sand blowing on my lens and in my eyes, and that's not cool. The beach is surely a very nice to be when the weather is good - the sand is nice and white and the water is bright blue and inviting. We did see this one guy getting into the water, so I can't imagine the water being that cold. Either that or he's a crazy Scandinavian ;-)

We ate dinner at The Mexican, a sort of pseudo-Mexican restaurant. We had jalepeño poppers for our starter and the seafood platter for two for our main course. The poppers were OK but not really what I wanted at the time... couldn't really eat them, so I gave them to boyfriend of feitpingvin, who gobbled them down with no problem whatsoever ;-)

The seafood platter – dang! Is this for 2 people or for 10? ;-) The Neverending Seafood Platter of Ring of Fat Doom. Let's see... fish, mussels in sauce, prawns, calamari, rice, pommes frites... lots of food. Lots of tasty food. This was quite good... but very filling!

tasty seafood platter

Our wine was the Hill & Dale Sauvignon Blanc 2006.
color: (it was too dark here to be able to see this)
nose: honey melon, green apples, slight pear, green pepper, and lichee
palate: fresh, almost the feel of carbonation, flavor of melon, green apples. Slight «bite» in the aftertaste
grade: :-)+

A little observation - "everyone" here is white. Even the wait and bar staff (they are surf instructors/pro or semi-pro surfers by day, wait and bar staff by night). The city also seems very "we cater to the wealthy who want a beach holiday."

01 November 2007

traversing the Transkei

We got up as late as we possibly could before breakfast (served at 7:30 am) as to get plenty of sleep. This was kind of weird as we were used to getting up quite early. We ate breakfast quickly, paid our bill, and headed out towards King William's Town. This was going to be the drive from hell and we needed to start as early as possible. Eight hours of driving. Yuck.

I didn't write any notes for this trip before we got to the guesthouse, so I'm relying on my Teflon memory. We took the N2, a route that included the Transkei. It was very isolated there. We passed several small villages made up of brightly colored houses and rondawels. It was kind of scary driving through these areas at times, as there were cattle and goats on the road here and there, as well as small children and other people...

little blue houses II

We also passed a few larger cities, including Mthatha. However, there were few places where we could actually stop. There were very few gas stations along the way, and there weren't any obvious places (that we could see) where it was realistic to stop and have lunch or get out and stretch our legs. When we passed the cities, the roads were crowded with cars and people. It was kind of unnerving to see people piled out on the highway like that. There were hawkers galore, there were people waiting for minibusses, holding cards – CE, XA, CB, XE, etc. We had no idea what any of these codes meant. If anyone knows, please say something ;-)

Fortunately we had water, biltong, and that bread we bought in Lesotho to survive on until we got to our guesthouse in King William's Town, where we had booked dinner. Not having coffee was really difficult though...

We finally did have a stop at the Nelson Mandela Museum in Qunu (yes, I know how to pronounce it correctly, with the click). Qunu is the village where Nelson Mandela grew up and reportedly enjoyed some of the happiest moments of his life; it's about 25 km from Mthatha. The museum itself was closed, I think, but we were still allowed to see the exhibit with a guide. Not only is there a museum on the premises, there was also a education center, accommodation, and a cafeteria. There were some school groups there when we toured the area. It was great to finally get out and stretch our legs. Unfortunately, we were unable to get any coffee :-(

We arrived at Panorama Guesthouse in King William's Town around 17:30-ish, tired and hungry. Our lovely hostess brought us some coffee, and we enjoyed that while sitting on the veranda, watching the birds (hah! Can't wait to get up early in the morning to see them!). Our guesthouse had a huge, lush garden with several birdbaths, and it was the same with the neighbor houses, and this attracted lots of sweet little birds. After relaxing and then washing up, we went to the dining room for dinner. We were really hungry now!

Our starter was butternut soup, with wholegrain bread on the side. It was one of the best butternut soups I have ever had, if not the best. No, it's not because I was very hungry. This was fantastic stuff! Hmm, I have to remember to e-mail her and ask for the recipe ;-)

The main course was lamb chops (or was it cutlets?) with pineapple, onions, and some soy sauce and curry, served with brown rice, mealie bake (I have to get the recipe for this too), and vegetables. All of this was so good! Lamb and pineapple are a great combination. Mmmm!!! There's nothing like a delicious home-cooked meal after a long, tiring day. We had a nice white wine with both our soup and the lamb. Namaqua. Bag in box. Don't remember the type of grape...

tasty lamb dinner

Dessert was a fluffy caramelly-minty mousse. I don't know what it's called but it's supposed to be a popular South African dessert. I'm not overly crazy about sweets, but this wasn't too bad, at least in small quantities :)

Oh, and all of this was 60 Rand! Totally unreal. If any of you reading this ever stay at Panorama Guesthouse in King William's Town, GET THE DINNER! :-D

After dinner we went up to our room to relax and watch TV (yay, Muvhango!). We also shared a bottle of wine:

Raka Quinary 2003
general info: 14% alcohol. 62% Cab sauv, 12% Cab franc, 2% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 3% Petit verdot
color: deep and opaque reddish-brown with hints of violet
nose: spices, red meat, dark berries, hint of tobacco and moldy sawdust
palate: spices, green pepper, asparagus. Full-bodied and powerful. Pleasant tannins. Aftertaste of red apple peel, grapefruit/pomelo finish.
grade: :-D

Oh, and we also washed our travel zip-off trousers in the bathroom sink. This was a dire necessity after yesterday's Lesotho dust bath. The water was screaming in pain as we put the filthy clothes in ;-)

And now Motswako on TV. Wheeeee!

"I suspect that this is based on science."

(taking a little break from the South Africa stuff to bring you this message)

Lords debate airline liquids ban

Isn't that precious?

There are lots of gems in this story, but my personal favorite:
"What damage can be done by 105 millilitres of liquid that cannot be done by 100 millilitres of liquid?" he snapped, testily.

This completely floored Baron Bassam. "My briefing does not extend to that," muttered the confused government toff. "I suspect that this is based on science."

Based on science. Isn't that special?