Friday, August 26, 2011

African Trip Review -- Cape of Good Hope Drive

As noted before, we decided to do the Cape Drive on Sunday.  After an annoying encounter with the Eurocar people, we were on our way.  We were using the Frommers South Africa 2010 book as our guide.  As we headed out of Cape Town, we stopped off at the University (CTU).  We wanted to see the University and the Rhodes Memorial.  The school is on the hill, which would have been problematic if I went to school there -- was quite lazy as an undergrad.  CTU was built on land donated by Rhodes -- the statue recognizes his generosity.  I haven't read to much on him, but the little I have leads me to believe he was quite the imperialist -- I could be wrong though.

Next as we continue south through the suburbs then out to the bay.  We drove through Muizenberg to St. James tidal pool beach with some beautiful multicolored bathing boxes.  The beach looks quite rocky from this picture, but that wasn't the case.  The beach was separated from the main road by train tracks -- it is a quick train ride out here from Cape Town...but an even quicker drive.  There were so many families out and about enjoying this wonderful weekend at the end of summer.

We continue a few minutes further south to Kalk Bay which is full of little antique shops and traditional beach town souvenirs.  We didn't spend much time in this little down, but there was some nice art pieces that would have been horrible to get home.  There was a little Cuban place and far be it for me to turn down a mojito in a cool little bar with tobacco hanging from the ceiling.

While we enjoyed our mojitos we watched a cricket match (I believe it was the world cup of cricket, or some such nonsense.  There were several people in this bar (can't tell from the pictures) watching the match.  I'll pretend it is my bad posture and the pattern on my shirt that makes my belly look bigger than it is....ugh.

The next stop was Simon Town -- this was my favorite stop along False Bay -- so much better than Kalk Bay.  You all know I'm not a big seafood guy -- I love sushi, but once fish is cooked, I'm not a big fan.   The fish was so fresh -- I do love the places that are right on the water and the menus are on chalk boards - gotta love super fresh food.  This place had a nice selection of fish. I opted for the Mahi Mahi, and I forget what MS had.  They had several different sauces -- a spicy plum, a curry, ketchup, homemade tartar and a few that we weren't 100% sure what they were.  We tried all the ones we knew though.  The chips were pretty damn tasty too.  The best part, it was served in butcher paper, eaten on a  picnic like table and served with bottled beer.  Loved it.
We knew the emperor penguins were just a couple kilometers down the road.  I must admit, I was shocked.  I (mistakenly) thought emperor penguins would be huge.  I was expecting (slight exaggeration) them to be about 1-1.25 meters tall -- something that a Batman Villain could train to wreak havoc upon Gotham.  
Nope, these little guys might have been .25 meters.  I still enjoyed seeing them -- hell any animal that is traditionally in a frozen wasteland that has made their way to a warm sub tropical climate and thrived is good in my book!
Continuing down the Cape we didn't run into any more towns, basically we after Boulders Beach (penguins) we were at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.  It was surprisingly barren -- I don't know what I was expecting, but it was pretty rocky and scrub brushy.
 The water was so blue.  Again, I'm not a water guy either, I can't swim and I don't like getting splashed (even in the pool), but this water was so inviting.  Up until this point I had only seen penguins in Africa, no other animals (unless I was eating them).  The Baboon! sign greeted us as we entered the park -- I was excited to see my first African animal in the wild.  I knew that baboons (all primates) can be a bit aggressive -- and I sure as shit didn't want to end up like Charla Nash, I would stay clear of all baboons, chimps, apes, gorillas and anything of the like (although only baboons were in the area).





 I like this beach photo -- I had no idea I'd see ostriches here.  This photo makes it look like I'm a lot closer than I really am.  Ostriches will kick your face off, and I'll have no part of that either.  MS kept saying "get closer".  Fuck that.  It's still a pretty cool picture and not once was I afraid of getting sliced.
ARGH! A BABOON!!!!".  MS thought that was quite hilarious...and I must admit, I did too. We still find ourselves saying "ARGH a BABOON" from time to time and laughing quite heartily. 

The drive up for the next 5k-10k looked like the Pacific Coast Highway -- beautiful but I'm a little jaded: a pretty coastal road is a pretty coastal road.  We had two options to get home, cut inland a bit (adding about 10 minutes if that to our drive) and staying along the coast and going over Chapman's Peak.  I don't like heights as much as I don't like water, but much less than I don't like fish.  We went the Chapman's Peak route. I did ask MS to be extra cautious was we went along the route -- as one small hiccup could send the car careening over the small brick "guard rail" to our firey/watery grave.  The drive was amazing.  MS drove expertly and surprisingly we didn't run into much traffic.  I won't get into the details of the road, as you can see that in Wikipedia yourself.  The views were amazing and a bit intimidating. 
The guidebook recommended we stop in Hout Bay at the Chapman's Peak Hotel for what they described as "the most delicious calamari, on the veranda".  While we don't take the guidebook as the bible we figured we'd give it a try. 
It wasn't like calamari we see traditionally in the US.  It wasn't heavily battered thin rings -- it was THICK strips of calamari, lightly breaded and seasoned with a light garlic lemon butter.  We opted for the smaller appetizer size because we just wanted a larger dinner in Cape Town.  We also ordered a couple glasses of Chenin Blanc to go with our app.  I do wish we had ordered a couple of entree portions of this appetizer - it was so damn good. Right on Frommer's, this is the best calamari on the planet.  Absolutely love it.  
We watched the sunset as we finished our Chenin Blanc and reflected on an amazing day.  This day was truly once in a lifetime opportunity.  A lovely nicely paced drive through some beautiful country.  If you are in Cape Town you must take this drive as well. I leave you with a picture from the south suburbs of Cape Town - a small town called Camps Bay (quite an affluent suburb).  I cannot wait to do this drive again sometime soon.

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