Another paradise - Capetown

Last Saturday I finally had the opportunity to visit the last continent on my list: Africa! I have visited all the others several times but Africa took me quite a while although I had always this dream to go on a trip through Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to visit several national parks, maybe even work with animals for some time and enjoy the wild and the wide landscapes. Since this plan hasn’t happened yet, I wanted to get an idea of the culture and the feel of the country.

So there I was – boarding a plane towards Cape Town – the beautiful city at the south-western coast. I was even more excited because I was able to visit the home town of a dear friend who had told me many many stories about Cape Town and how beautiful it was. I had heard so many things about this city – good and bad things – but the good ones always won the battle and so I thought about things to do during the 48 hours I had in town.

One thing I absolutely HAD to do was to go up Table Mountain and enjoy the stunning view of the western cape and the city. And since I’m a passionate wine drinker, I wanted to visit the wineries around Cape Town and try the exquisite products right where they are being grown. And since you know me already, my camera had to come with me to shoot some (hopefully) stunning pictures in the land where people say the light is superb.

The good thing about South Africa is: it’s in the same time zone as Germany and so I didn’t have to fight a jet lag. After almost 11 hours, I finally landed in Cape Town in the early morning and went straight to bed to catch some sleep before heading out to see things.

After resting well for 4 hours, I took the bus to the water front and took a stroll around the many nice coffee shops, restaurants, shops and tourist attractions. It was Sunday and the area was pretty crowded. People were enjoying the sun, having drinks or musicians would play on the street and make people dance to their sounds. If you watch the video, you can get an idea about the lovely vibe around this place.

Later in the afternoon I wanted to visit Table Mountain and I took a cab to get me to the cable car station. The cab driver was wonderful – he told me many things about the history of the city and he also suggested to take a detour for Signal Hill. He said that it was a great spot to take pictures of Table Mountain and the bay area. He was absolutely right: The views were spectacular and I shot a couple of nice panoramas as well as a hyperlapse video which you can see above.

After that, he drove up to Table Mountain were I took the cable car to go up top. I can’t really describe how it felt to be standing on top of Table Mountain. It was awe-inspiring – the weather was perfect and the view…just wow! There were a couple of clouds on top of the mountain which made for perfect shots and although it was pretty windy up there, I really enjoyed every second of it.

After 1 hour of roaming around and shooting away, I went back down to meet with some friends to go for dinner. One of them suggested to go to the Hussar Grill and we had one of the most amazing steaks I’ve ever tasted. It was sensational: tasty, rich, flavorful – our waitress was absolutely lovely and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I say the check…it was SO cheap! Now I understand why people always say that the food in South Africa is amazing.

For the next day, a friend had gotten the car from some local friends and he planned to go on a wine tour through Stellenbosch. What a perfect coincidence – that was exactly what I had wanted to do and luck for me, he let me go with him.

The next morning my friend, two other buddies and I met at 8 am and left for Stellenbosch. After a nice breakfast on the highway, we finally got to the wine lands and I couldn’t believe how beautiful the countryside around Cape Town is. Mountains, hills, one winery after the other, trees, little lakes…the beauty of this place has no limits. I had gotten some tips about wineries from a couple on the plane and so we looked for these spots.

The first winery was Warwick north of Stellenbosch: a beautiful place with a nice traditional dutch architecture, a stunning garden, a little lake and a picnic area. We were so impressed that we decided instantly to stay and do a tasting. Yolanda was amazing – she told us everything about the winery, the wines and the history and she did it with so much passion and commitment – it was truly inspirational.

After a great first tasting, we hit the road again and ended up at Marianne a little further south. The small winery was so different although right around the corner from Warwick and the views from the terrace were great…so we decided to stay and do the Biltong tasting: a combination of dried meats which are a specialty in South Africa and wines. It was really stunning to see, how the wines work well together with the different meats. After another great tasting, we went back on the road and drove towards Stellenbosch for a quick stop at a local supermarket. After a short drive-around in the city center, we headed back south towards Somerset West only to take a left behind Stellenbosch and entering a very secluded and lonely little road through the mountains. This road brought us to the first of three tips, I got from the man on board our flight: Hidden Valley.

It was already noon and so we decided to have lunch at the restaurant of the winery. That was the best decision I have made in a long time. Not only was the restaurant on an elevated spot facing the Stellenbosch wine area and revealing the most spectacular views…it was also beautifully designed. The interior designer must have won an Oscar in interior design (if something like that even exists) – that’s how beautiful it was. The food was excellent, the service was excellent and the presentation was superb. After enjoying ourselves during lunch, we also took the wine tasting which came with assorted pralines…yet another stunning combination which led to the acquisition of a couple of bottles of great wine.

It was already past 4 pm and Hidden Valley was closing down…so we decided to visit the next winery on the list: Ernie Els. The famous golf player had created his very own paradise with this winery. It was modern, lush, luxurious, comfortable, a combination of wood, steel and glass in a traditional and beautiful building with a view to die for. Unfortunately we were too late for a tasting, but we got a welcome drink…a beautiful Chenin Blanc which also went into my bag as something to take home and make me remember this remarkable day.

The last winery on the list was still open and so we drove up the lavender framed road to yet another absolutely stunning building – the headquarters of Uva Mira Winery. The last tasting began and we sipped our wines on a terrace looking down on false bay and Somerset West while the sun was slowly going down. It almost felt like a dream…

After that last tasting, we decided to drive to False Bay to enjoy the sunset at the beach and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day. The waves came crashing in while the light got more orange. In the background the full moon had already risen and the clouds above the mountains had a light pink color…it was almost too good to be true. After shooting away on the beach and breathing in that wonderful air, it was finally time to drive back to Cape Town where I ended the day – and the trip – with a nice meal. The next morning it was time to go and believe me – I didn’t want to. Fortunately the flight route took me south out of the coutry just to turn right and fly over the Cap Of Good Hope and the beautiful coastline. It was truly an experience I will never forget.

Humberto & Umberto

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