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Cape Town, South Africa: Arrival and Wine Tasting

Dinner in Cape Town

Dinner in Cape Town with Darren and Rob.

Getting to South Africa

It took four flights to get from Chania, Greece to Cape Town, South Africa.  Despite my comfy seats, I didn’t get much sleep because the turbulence over Africa was intense.  For hours.  Despite all the flying I do, turbulence remains my nemesis – it terrifies me.  Somehow, we lived.

As the sun came up, my eyes were glued to the window and I sat amazed that I was looking at Africa.  Africa!  I saw red dirt plains and jagged mountains rising up spontaneously forever and ever stretching to the horizon.

Arrival in Cape Town

Darren was there at the arrivals gate in Cape Town International Airport.  A friend!  What a sight for sore eyes.  A big hug and we were on our way back to the city where I am staying in a hostel just down the street from his apartment.

Prior to my arrival in Cape Town, I made the mistake of reading the U.S State Department’s page about South Africa.  This reading, as well as the accumulated “education” about South Africa that I have received as an American via schooling and media convinced me that I was about to enter a war zone where my bag would be snatched, my body violated, and my life threatened before sundown.  So, it was quite a surprise to see such a pleasant city unfold before me – beautiful, clean, and orderly.

In the evening, Darren, his partner Rob, and I strolled down their lively street to a bustling restaurant where we enjoyed wine and great food and perfect warm weather with just the hint of a breeze.  I tried a vegetarian version of Bobotie, the national dish of South Africa made with lentils (normally minced beef), egg and a mild curry.  After dinner, we meandered the promenade beside the Atlantic ocean while runners and bicyclists sped past.  The scene actually reminded me a lot of San Francisco.  Except a lot warmer.

Wine Tasting

Wine tasting in South Africa

Wine tasting in South Africa

Yesterday we spent the day touring around the area of Stellenbosch, the second oldest European settlement in South Africa (founded in 1679) and about a 45-minute drive from Cape Town.  The area is home to hundreds of wineries with the stunning scenery of the Great Drakenstein and Stellenbosch Mountains as the backdrop.

South Africa is most famous for it’s Pinotage red wine.  It wasn’t to my liking but it is distinctive.  I entertained Rob and Darren with my unsophisticated, but I contend accurate, tasting notes of the various wines: “wet cat”, “vulture piss” (I am not 100% sure of the accuracy of that one), and “leather purse”.  After two rounds of tastings I was pretty loopy and when I started telling stories about my past encounters with cowboys it became clear that I needed to eat.  Fast.  Anything to shut me up.

After lunch we did two more tastings at beautiful wineries and finished off with coffee and scones at a berry farm.  Very civilized!

In the driveway of the berry farm I nearly stepped on a humongous spider that appeared alive but paralyzed.  His abuser was close by – a spider hunting wasp that took no time in dragging the victim to her burrow.  There she will lay her eggs on the body and the spider’s body will be a living host to a new life.  Amazing.

The day was full of wine, surprises and beauty.  And drunken cowboy stories.

Photos of the Day:


  1. Love this! You know, in all the time I lived there, I can hardly think of a time I felt unsafe. Exercising the same caution you would in any city anywhere in the world seemed enough to me. Have fun, and I really hope you make it to the east coast, Durban is awesome!

    • Ellen, The contrast between the warnings provided by the U.S. and the actual feeling of safety on the streets here is really pronounced. Any big city has it’s crime and being cautious as you said seems to be working for me also. Hope to make it to Durban too!

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