Arrived in Johannesburg after a long flight which thanks to a combo of leaving during the day rather than late at night and 2 babies who took turns screaming non stop for 14 hours, involved little to no sleep. Then an easy flight to Cape Town. Loved our hotel, the Queen Victoria. Amazing large beautiful room with a view of Table Mt. Great location very close, 3 min walk, to Waterfront but not directly in it. Wandered the Waterfront and had dinner in one of the tourist seafood restaurants overlooking the water which was actually delicious.
The dollar is strong here so everything seems relatively inexpensive, especially after London! Uber’s are abundant and so cheap. $3-$5 to get anywhere.
The next day took a great historic walking tour, then as the clouds cleared and the sun came up went off to Table Mt. While it was busy the ticket buying and cable car process was easy and quite efficient. It was lovely though I of course stayed in center while Ken wandered around!
That night was Test Kitchen which is one of the more difficult reservations to ever get. It’s very small, about 24 people and the Chef has gotten quite famous. We were very excited to get the reservation. Lots of hype which makes it hard as your expectations are so high. We ate at the chefs counter which we like doing. Set price, multiple courses, and we got the wine paring which was just 3 glasses. We have eaten 2 of theses types of meals in Spain and they were magical. Here everything was quite good but over all we were underwhelmed. Nothing blew us away. Also, weirdly the wine pouring was so insanely small I thought I was just being given a taste! They did add a little more when I asked but it felt a it odd to have to ask for more. Still nice night.
The next day we had a private Peninsula tour where you drive down one coast and up the other. As with our other days the weather was beautiful, sunny but mid to high 60s. Perfect for touring. Awesome guide and the great thing about it just being the 3 of us was that we got to spend hours leaning about life in South Africa both pre and post apartheid and how the different generations have coped with such a changing society. And we saw the Cape of Good Hope and penguins!
The next day was our wine day. We got picked up ( private guide-just us) at 9am and by 10:30 were drinking champagne. Completely different experience than Napa where we took tours of the wine making process and then had tastings at counters. Here each vineyard had a breathtaking beautiful lodge or dining room where you sat at a table and were brought wines. While our guide does many types of tours in this area his passion is wine and is quite friendly with all the winemakers. Attempted to learn a lot while drinking many glasses of wine. He grew up in Zimbabwe and is married with 2 daughters so got another fascinating perspective on life there and here.
Our last day we took a walking tour focused on Apartheid, what it was like living under it and through it’s end. Our young tour guide, 29, gave us a different ,wonderful and personal perspective. For me learning so much about this country thru so many different eyes was one of the highlights.
We then went to the Jewish museum which was really 3 buildings in one area. We saw the existing synagogue which is quite active with many young families. It’s Orthodox with a woman’s balcony. But since most members live outside Cape Town they do drive on Shabbat!
Almost all Cape Town Jews came from Lithuania. Despite being a small percentage of the population there have been 13 Jewish mayors including a father and son named Bloomberg. Yes direct relation to nyc Mayor Bloomberg.
There is also a museum explaining the history of the Cape Town Jewish community. Some things are the same everywhere. They began as poor peddlers with pushcarts and went on to open department stores!
Also a Holocaust museum where 2 school groups were visiting. All schools in Cape Town visit this museum which was wonderful to see.
Incredible meal that night. The Belmond Nelson hotel, an old elegant hotel sets up 2-3 tables in the kitchen and also has 3 seats at a counter. We sat at the counter. There were 5 courses in the menu plus 3 surprise courses. A different chef brings you each course and explains how he made it and also his inspiration for creating it. Plus they all chat with you while cooking. This wine paring was full glasses of wonderful wine. We ate way too much food.
Left the next morning for safari which I’ll save for later on in the week.
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