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Cape Town: Wines, Scenic Drives and Sharks!Author: Carolyn Boyle (More Trip Reviews by Carolyn Boyle)
Date of Trip: May 2015
This review describes a 5-day/4-night stay in Cape Town, South Africa. It is primarily a journal of how we spent each day, including web links to tourist information web sites and maps.
Although our visit was the follow-up to a cruise, we thought that Cape Town is a highly interesting destination in its own right; it is worth spending some time here pre- or post-cruise, especially if you are interested in wine. We chose an accommodation and transportation package because we wanted to visit a number of areas that are well outside the city, we would be tasting a lot of wine and we are not used to driving on the left.
Stellenbosch Valley, Franschhoek Valley, Paarl, Cape Peninsula, Chapman's Peak Drive, Riebeek Valley, Shark Cage Dive
John and I (Carolyn) are retired Mississippi State University professors in our mid-sixties, who currently reside in central North Carolina. Both of us are natives of New Orleans and, as such, are interested in good food (and wine!) and good times.
We have traveled extensively worldwide and enjoy both land tours and cruises; often our trips combine the two. On cruises, we prefer DIY port tours, private tours with other CruiseCritic.com roll call members or shared public tours. We favor nature and wildlife tours that involve snorkeling, SCUBA diving or hiking. In particular, we will hike for miles to see waterfalls, volcanoes, caves or other interesting geologic features. We also enjoy lighthouses, forts, castles and anything else we can legally climb up on for a good view.
REVIEW OF THE TRIP
CAPE TOWN DAY 1: MON, 05/04/15 (0VERNIGHT ON SHIP)
Today our ship arrived in Cape Town; we would have a whole day in Cape Town, followed by an overnight on the ship and disembarkation tomorrow morning. Although Cape Town is reputed to be a beautiful sail-in, the entire area was shrouded in fog and eliminated the hoped-for views of Table Mountain. We did see some seals swimming in the harbor.
We would be touring today with Kyrt Krauss, the co-owner of the Sea More Express Guesthouse (www.seacapetown.com), where we would be spending our post-cruise days in Cape Town. The ship docked at Duncan Dock and we met Kyrt outside the cruise terminal at 9:30 a.m. Because of the bad weather, Kyrt wisely suggested that we defer our planned tour of the Cape Penninsula to another day and to tour three wineries in the Stellenbosch Valley instead.
Our first visit was at Die Bergkelder (www.bergkelder.co.za). Prior to our tour and tasting, we had time to tour the Wine Museum, which features antique wine making equipment and panels explaining the history of the region. Our tour began with a walk through the Maturation Cellar, which houses 20,000 oak barrels. This was followed by a short video about Die Bergkelder and a tasting of five Fleur de Cap wines in the alcoves of the “Cellar in the Mountain”, dug into the slopes of the historic Papegaaiberg. The cellar contains 500,000 bottles and a number of interesting old French oak maturation casks that are carved with scenes from the history and founding of wine making at the Cape. Next we toured the modern production facilities and finally we tasted some of Die Bergkelder's brandies and liquors. This tour costs R40 (US$3.20) pp.
Our next tasting was at the Asara Wine Estate (www.asara.co.za). Here a tasting of five wines costs R50 (US$4) pp; we shared our samples so that we could taste ten wines. This winery is situated on a lovely lake with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. We bought two bottles of wine here: the Bell Tower Estate (Bordeaux style) and the unusual White Cabernet. Kyrt would take those to the Guest House to await our arrival there.
The final stop was Neethlingshof Estate (www.neethlingshof.co.za), whose entrance features a beautiful Stone Pine avenue. Here we first ate lunch at the Palm Terrace restaurant. That restaurant is outside a historical Cape Dutch homestead, surrounded by the Bottelary Hills and the Papegaaisberg Mountains. There was also a friendly cat looking for handouts. I had the panko-crusted fried sole and John had the seafood platter with linefish, calamari, mussels and prawns. Of course, those dishes had to be accompanied by a nice glass of Neethlingshof Chenin Blanc. After lunch, we had a tasting of six wines at R35 (US$2.80) pp. We again shared the samples so that we could taste 12 wines. While we were enjoying the tasting, we saw a group of passengers from the ship who were touring the cellars.
Back on the ship, we enjoyed a multicultural African musical and dance performance by Masala (www.rhythmworkshop.co.za). There was an interactive part of the show: plastic tubes and sticks were waiting for us when we arrived in the Cabaret Lounge. The tubes were various colors and lengths to produce six different notes. The audience was coxed into playing rhythmic music by striking the tubes.
Dinner tonight concluded with the traditional Parade of the Baked Alaskas. After that, we finished packing and put out our baggage to be reclaimed tomorrow in the terminal building.
CAPE TOWN DAY 2: TUE, 05/05/15
This morning, we disembarked the ship and met Kyrt at 9:00 a. m. for another day of touring. The weather was still not the best for scenic views, so he recommended that we do more wine tastings (an easy sell for us!): one in the Franschhoek (French Corner) Valley and then two in Paarl.
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