It’s a long way to South Africa. Our best flight option was 31 hours with a 10 hour layover in Frankfurt. Luckily, we landed midday and we’re able to train into town for some wieners (like REAL frankfurters) and beers.
On we go and touchdown in Cape Town. The 30 minute drive from the airport takes you through the Cape Flats. A grimy extremely rough place. A place that’s like Juarez, Mexico dangerous. As we rounded around the imposing Table Mountain the city came into view. It’s beautiful. Brand new, sparkling, well cared for, first class modern city. Our Uber took us past a brand-new glass and steel hospital, with a Virgin Athletic Club on the 5th floor overlooking the highway and the bay. Wait, where did the desperate poverty go? It’s a weird place.
Landing in the morning we had no choice but to fight the jet lag and rally. Luckily Uber is basically free in Cape Town (a ride in town cost about $1.30 each way) so we headed to the V&A waterfront to get our bearings. Our love from Cape Town begins. The food everywhere is exceptional. The drinks are expertly crafted. The service is fantastic. The prices are cheap. It’s like San Diego but 80% off.
That afternoon the winds blew just right giving us a great view of the “the tablecloth” as clouds gentle roll off the mountain.
Just as we are settling into this paradise (and our duck confit eggrolls and local bottle of Pinotage) we are snapped into the reality of Africa. A disheveled mostly white but still “colored” woman ask for some food off our plate. Before we could react our black waiter came out to shoe her off. She then exploded into a rant about immigrants taking jobs from locals. He was being called out, accurately it seemed. Africa is a complicated place.
The next day we joined up with about 10 other DU students for a trip to Stellenbosch the capital of South Africa’s wine country. South Africa makes great wines. South Africa has been making great wines since before America was America.
At Lanzerac, we learned about the famous Pinotage grape. Developed in the 60’s it is a cross between Pinot Noir and Meritage grapes. A delightful wine that can range from smooth to complex. Lanzerac planted the first Pinotage vines in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch.
Our second stop at Graff had mediocre wine but an amazing facility with a million-dollar diamond necklace in the jewelry store.
The next day, Tuesday began the DU class trip.
We visited GOLD, a African Experience. Basically a Cape Town’s version of Casa Bonita for adults. Super cheesy, but really fun.
We took a drumming class and Kristin danced with the crew.
The Test Kitchen
As we looked forward to our adventure months in advance, Kristin set her sights on a reservation at The Test Kitchen. A five star restaurant, ranked as high as 26th in the world. Reservations are almost impossible to come by. Luckily, we were able to book months in advance, and here we go… Punctuated by two distinct experiences, the Dark and the Light dinner is an event. On the dark side, literally a room with barely enough light to see, cocktails are paired with a tastings from around the world. Highlights were the dishes from Scotland, South Africa and India. It was all amazing.
Then through a trap door we are taken to the Light. A bustling bright restaurant, we are served the more traditional restaurant experience.
Wine parings, another 8 courses, the whole deal. A variety of fresh foraged mushrooms? Awesome. Our after-dinner treat was a glass of vin de Constance, a sweet white wine that was Napoleon Bonaparte’s favorite.
No visitor to Cape Town missed Table Mountain a “New 7 Natural Wonders” of the world.
Accessed by cable car 3,000 ft high provides quite a view of the city.
The was so nice, we got to enjoy it for hours longer than expected as the cable car closed due to high winds. Kristin didn’t know she was about to be stuck up here.
We also spent a day touring “The Cape” seeing Africa’s only penguins.
We toured the Cape Reserve seeing wild ostriches while visiting and hiking on Africa’s south-western tip.
A short hike provided breath taking views!
Check out the surfers in the bottom right. There’s no land between them and Antarctica!