JK: The Canadian Euro-Africa duo reunited again! This time it was on South African soil -- of all places -- after a string of good fortune landed us both in the same country for respective business meetings (mine Johannesburg and Mélanie's in Pretoria). What a surreal experience it was to see each other in a totally different place -- and what a place! The Western Cape did not disappoint. Stunning is about as accurate a word that I can think of to describe Cape Town and its environs.
Our 3.5 days together were spent exploring the coast and the wine country by rented car. Despite the fact that the South Africans drive on the "wrong" side of the road, not to mention the perpetual warnings about car-jackings and theft, we managed quite nicely. The drive to the edge of the continent at Cape Point was other-worldy, reminiscent of some of the dramatic coast-lines and blue waters of the Mediterranean. Some of the beaches looked absolutely glorious, despite the uber-frigid Atlantic water temps.
Hanging with the African Penguins at Boulder beach was a highlight. The penguins came dressed in their best dinner jackets...(ok, weak joke, sorry). Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope were spectacular, although the winds were so monstrous that the svelte Mélanie was almost hurled into the air on our climb up to the summit (slight exaggeration for dramatic effect). But no wonder there have been over 600 documented shipwrecks around that bend over the last 400 years.
We also headed inland to Stellenbosch to do "the posh thing" and taste some wines. Actually, we were more into finding spectacular locations to have a nice meal accompanied by good wine and tremendous views. We were especially lucky at the Sylvanvale winery (pic below, taken from the winery's restaurant terrace). I should also add that South African wine was a revelation to me. Yum.
And just in case you're wondering, we did not fall victim to South Africa's infamous crime (although we do think the wheel on our car rental was punctured on purpose one night; fortunately we did not have to deal with the problem until the following morning -- in daylight). Ironically, the only time I was "threatened" was in Paris at the airport train station awaiting the TGV (Thalys) back to Brussels. I was approached by four totally emaciated mid-20 something men in broad daylight on a relatively busy platform. I could not understand what they were doing, since clearly it would have taken all four sets of their atrophied arms to pick up my 20kg suitcase. After encircling me (not kidding) they pulled out their customs official badges, as if they were the FBI. It was a bizarre public spot check of my bags and passport. I must have been looking particularly swarthy after the 10.5 hour flight from Joburg. ;)
For our "best of" pics (note: not all are yet uploaded), click here.
For all our South Africa photos, click here