Our time in Cape Town was rapidly coming to a close. Would we get to the top of Table Mountain? It would not happen on June 29 as this was our full day wine tour. I know, I know but someone has to do it. The South African wine industry is actually doing very well according to our tour operator. Apparently, in the last year wine sales were up over 30% (I believe we nudged that up to 31%). I have to say that our intensive research during our stay of South African wines certainly explains why. Almost every wine we tried was excellent to superb. It is amazing how many wineries are located close to Cape Town. The weather forecast was predicting a somewhat cloudy and rainy day which was perfect for checking out some wineries so off we went.
Our tour operator Sim was graced with only Anna and I that fateful day. Excellent a private wine tour. In total, we toured three different wineries Anura, Tokara and Vergenoegd (I cannot even pronounce that last one sober). Each were completely different in their character. We were treated like royalty at each. At Anura we had a sampling of locally produced chutney, a superb selection of cheeses and a sampling of six different wines as well as a tour of the wine cellar. Tokara Winery was itself a work of art with stunning architecture and a world-class restaurant. They also produce a pretty mean brandy. We also sampled six wines at Tokara. The final winery Vergenoegd was one of the oldest having operated for about 270 years. Of interest they do not use any pesticides but prefer to use a duck (the name of many of their wines is Running Duck) who apparently love to ingest insects on grape stocks. This final winery honestly produced some of the most consistently great and smooth red wines I have ever tasted. We also sampled six wines here as well. It is a good thing I am completing this post after the fact as I’m sure if I did it that day it would not have made much sense. Please do yourself a favour and try South African wines at your local liquor store. I decided to bring back a Tokara 2009 Directors Reserve white wine and a to die for Vergenoegd 2004 Old Cape Colony port wine. if you are interested in trying these give me a shout but be quick as I cannot promise the wine will age any further than the end of this July.
In addition to our tours of the wineries, we also visited the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschoek. Both of these are very attractive towns located within 45 minutes of Cape Town. They themselves are worth a visit. We had a wonderful lunch in Franschoek which has many internationally known restaurants and is a culinary paradise and walked around (Anna shopped) in the beautiful university town of Stellenbosch. It has many beautiful buildings in the old Dutch colonial style as well as a stunning Dutch Reform Church seminary.
What a fantastic day we had! After another spectacular dinner we fell into sleep wondering if changing occupations to a sommelier was soon to be our next career path.
June 30 found us starting to get organized for packing for our departure the next day. We spent a good portion of the morning doing this and were not sure if we were going to fit in all of our purchases without extra bags or charges. We decided to open another bottle of wine and not worry about it. As we completed packing we walked outside of our B&B and noticed that the top of Table Mountain appeared clear. We quickly hailed a cab and drove up to the base of the mountain. Our taxi driver pointed out that the sign at the entrance of the base stated that the mountain was closed. We couldn’t believe it. We told him to drive on anyway and were thrilled when we saw people in line purchasing tickets. The cable car trolley moves at remarkable speed and you literally get to the top of the mountain within five minutes. We were so glad that we were able to get to the top. The views were absolutely spectacular. We were able to spend two hours with quite clear conditions just enjoying the views and walking along the top of the plateau. At one point we laid on a boulder and just stared blankly at the beautiful cloud formations thankful to be alive. I swear Anna had the widest and happiest smile pasted on her face on top of that mountain. This was the final big adventure of our trip and we simply immersed ourselves in the experience. Of note you can vote for Table Mountain as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. We certainly will place our votes.
July 1 was our last day in Cape Town. We were certainly going to miss this beautiful and vibrant city. We secretly promised ourselves to come back and enjoy it again some summer. Even though we had experienced many of the pleasures it had to offer there is no doubt another trip would be filled with new adventures we spied during this trip. We also agreed we would come back and stay with Meryl at our B&B. She, Lulu the dog and her staff were an absolute delight and we both felt we treated like family. Our final couple of hours were simply spent walking along Camps Bay Beach and hiking out to a small outcrop to lie on boulders (I know it doesn’t sound comfortable but it truly was) listening to the Atlantic Ocean crash up along the rocky shoreline. What a fitting end to our trip.
Our journey home consisted of two overnight flights with a brief stay at a day room at the Sofetil Hotel during our London layover (thank you for the great suggestion Teresa). I certainly did not feel as tired coming home as I had when we departed. We arrived back in Calgary July 2 at about 8 PM. It was nice to see my father and sister Lucille at the airport to greet us and transport us home. In addition to my previous Galapagos trip this ranks as the best travel experience I have ever had. I simply look back in wonder at all of the varied and engaging experiences that we had. Truly we felt blessed.
I will likely have a final post to list the top 10 experiences we had during this African adventure. In that post I also just want to say a few words about Richard Berry. Please check back.