A Travellerspoint blog

Day 7 - Mossel Bay and Return

Lovely weather again

sunny 68 °F

image044.jpgimage046.jpgimage048.jpgThe cold, wind and rain had all disappeared and gave way to a gorgeous, sunny, temperate day; Phil was celebrating being down to a single layer of clothes.
We drove to the point in Mossel Bay. The mixture of sandy beach and large rocks made for interesting walking. Along with some intriguing miniature sea life – small fish, crabs and what appeared to be a sea urchin. A little further was the rocky cliff in front of an old cave. image050.jpgThe “rock bunnies” captivated Gwen as she seems to have an affinity for rodents of all kinds. The sounds and views of the ocean waves crashing again the rocky cliffs were quite mesmerizing.
After exploring Mossel Bay, we start the journey back to Capetown. The countryside is again very beautiful and we tons of ostriches again and gorgeous mountains on the return trip. Perhaps I’m more comfortable driving (so I can look around a bit more) or perhaps the views of the mountains are clearer, but the trip seems more pleasing to me. Much of the terrain is like New Mexico with barren patches with mountainous backgrounds as well as bright green fields and pastures. At Swellendam, we take the recommended alternative, scenic route road back. Through part of the cape winelands and mountain passes, the views are incredible. Without being on difficult mountain roads, we had large looming mountain peaks and cliffs along the way. Many orchards at the base of the cliffs provided impressive images unlike any of my preconceived ones of what Africa would be like. The trees, with their bare lower branches and leaves just on the tops, were the signature reminder of our location.

We stopped for a nice meal in Worchester near an open field/churchyard and caught some of the Nigeria vs. Greece game – another disappointing result for the Africans. As we got fuel at the gas station before leaving town, it was the quintessential experience here. A group of attendants all waving and clamoring for you to pull into their stalls, where they fuel the car, chat with you, wash the windows, etc. The red sky reminds me that we need to visit the Atlantic seaboard for a sunset before we leave. It’s nearly dark, but we can still see the outline of the fabulous Table Mountain in the distance skyline. With the help of Kate’s trusty flashlight and Phil’s map and navigation skills we find our way to the N2 highway that we are more familiar with and arrive safely home.
After a bit of relaxing to be home at our cottage and a bit of a planning session for the tomorrow, we decide to go to the Asian place around the corner for the Mexico vs. France game. Unfortunately, they are completely packed (more with eaters than World Cup watchers). So, we go to the even closer by Hotel lobby to watch the game. They are a ton of French people there (some convention or something), so it makes for a lively crowd. Turns out to be a great place to watch and French guys seem okay as at least they know that they’ll get a new coach.

Quip of the day: “Aurevoir, Ramond! Aurevoir, Ramond!” the French fans sang more enthusiastically than then they cheered during the game.

Posted by wc2006 01:59 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 6 - At Mossel Bay

Rainy, windy and cool

semi-overcast 50 °F

Tobias and Sina left this morning for their trip to Port Elizabeth. They had another friend to meet there. They were so excited about the big win of the first Germany match, they decided they would stay another day in PE and try to get tickets to the Germany game on Friday (and skip the England game). The rest of us were staying in Mossel Bay another day or so. In the morning, we were once overcome with the hospitality these “strangers” were showing us. A wonderful breakfast spread and made to order bacon and eggs. The bacon was extremely good – more of a cross between our bacon and ham.
In the morning light, we could appreciate the other beautiful thing about this wonderful home – the ocean was right outside our bedroom window. The wind had howled all night long and the weather was still a weird mixture of sun shine and rain; complete with an abundance of really cool rainbows. Marita and Madeline walked Gwen and I down the path to the ocean cliff in a light rain. As the rain increased, we considered skipping it, but about then, it let up and the saw the stunning and captivating coastline. They returned as Gwen and I walked along the cliffs. The sun came out again (off and on) as we traveled along the pathway, mouths gaping wide open from the spectacular views. The views were quite awesome. image028.jpgimage030.jpgimage032.jpg
I found the fisherman’s walkway down that we had be informed of and made my way down the cliffs to the water. It was quite something, amazing and impressive – you’ll have to asked me to see the video sometime J The slippery rocks were sometimes challenging to get around. Being isolated with just me and the sea gulls it was quite surreal. Obviously, the return hike was more strenuous. As the day got warmer and we had more exercise, Gwen and I start pealing off layers of clothes, even the walk up the road had a bit of a hill.
Then we all jumped into the car again to see the more of the Garden Route. We planned to drive at least to Knysna. There were some very nice views from the car along the ocean, lakes, and bays. The sun was out from time to time including when we came around Dolphin point, which was a high cliff looking down to the sandy beaches of a town called Wilderness. It was a spectacular view, but we missed the very tight turn and so only admired it from the car. We found a place in Knysna near the water, where Phil and Kate sampled their famous oysters, which I understood to be good, interesting and different. Phil was greeted with a same confused look he often received when he asked for the bottle caps from the local beer he ordered, Mitchells. (Phil has a huge, 1000+ collection of bottle caps). But we all understood the waitress’ look when she returned with a plastic soda cap (instead of a bottle cap). But the beer was decent nonetheless. While we were there watching some the Chile vs. Honduras game, it began to downpour. We did a little tourist shopping, scrambled to the car and headed back “home” to Mossel Bay. image042.jpgNearly dark now, we stopped near Wilderness in order to touch the Indian Ocean; something Phil really wanted to do. The beach was nice even at this hour, but as Phil touched the water, it touched him back, up over his ankles, so he had a wet ride home. But the warm hospitality and meal back at Marita’s was more than enough to overcome the damp feet (along with Kate’s pink slippers). Served again like royalty, we watched the disappointing loss of Bafana Bafana to Uruguay.

Quip of the day: “ACB” aka the “Art of Conversation, Baby” (Art of Conversation is a patented Love family term for storytelling).

Happy Birthday Rishawn.

Posted by wc2006 01:54 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 5 - Off to the Garden Route

Mossel Bay and the Safari

semi-overcast 45 °F

2image020.jpgOn the road by 8:15am, quite impressive, even with the immediate stop at the Engen (elegant gas station by our place). The drive was quite nice, especially as we got further east. There were plenty of interesting sights along the way; herds of ostriches as well as some roadside baboons. Unfortunately, no way to stop near either of these, so no pictures; yes, I was disappointed as well.

We reach Mossel Bay around 1pm, phone Marita and met her and a friend of hers, Madeline. They were both very nice. Marita had arranged for us to go on a safari. Our reservation was at 2pm, so we had to go straightway (without lunch) to the reserve.

2image021.jpgThe Botlierskop (champagne cork?) reserve was quite an amazing place. We rode in a giant raised truck, probably big enough for 20-30 people or so, even though there was only the 7 of us. The bumpy ride took us to see their elephants first and then to a separate area high atop a hill to see the lions. These were the only ones quartered off from the rest of the animals. 0image023.jpg7image025.jpg Then, we took a smaller safari truck through the rest of the reserve, which was quite large as we saw a host of other animals. 0image027.jpgFirst we saw the rare black impalas (as they stand out from the red ones – better not to stand out – for predators). Then, a baby waterbuck ran across our path. Across the ravine there were deer-like animals and a herd of wildebeest behind us. It was really pretty cool as we saw zebras, cape buffalo, cape bushbuck, bontebok, kudu, and waterbuck. We could only see the while rhinoceros from very far way. But then we got to see the giraffes very nicely. As nightfall approached, it got much colder (it was a windy day) and as we hurried back to the lodge, I was disappointed that we didn’t see the rhinos any closer, but overall it was very successful. Then, as we neared the end, we did come very close to three white rhinos – the perfect ending to our safari day.

At Marita’s we discovered very elegant and plush accommodations. With six visitors we thought we might be sharing floor space or something. Instead, she had separate rooms for each couple along with a separate bath – wow, what a nice surprise. Unbeknownst to us, Marita and Madeline had early prepared a home cooked meal for us as well. After we were all full from a few helpings of a delicious soup; we had an excellent Sheppard’s pie with rice, carrots, bread, etc. We were completely stuff, but told ourselves it was okay since we had missed lunch. Then came the presents (from Suzette) to her mom, Marita. Phil and Kate had brought a suitcase full of nice gifts from Suzette to cover a variety of holidays, birthdays, etc. Comfy and full, we watched the surprisingly close Brazil vs. North Korea game and then shuffled off to our beds.

Quip of the day: “Translucent pudding for the gods” – Tobias coined phrase for American Jello.

Posted by wc2006 03:08 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (1)

Day 4 - Cold and Rainy

Game day and different seats - dry but cold in the stadium

rain 40 °F

5image004.jpgUp to the shopping mall this chilly and raining morning for some souvenirs and more supplies (warmer clothes). Also to use the Internet café and update the first three days of the blog. Back to our “favorite” Italian pizzeria for the Netherlands vs. Denmark game. 4image002.jpgIt’s so chilly, it is hard to imagine how the lime tree outside the place flourishes so well. It’s really a weird day – oscillating between raining, misting, pouring and sun shine – about every 30 minutes – but much colder. After a rainy (short) walk back to the cottage we catch the first half of the Japan vs. Cameroon game, refresh our rain gear (and spirits) and head out walking to the Italy vs. Paraguay game.

image006.jpgThrough the Company Gardens again to the stadium. We are lucky during the 3 mile walk to the stadium, only 1 real downpour that lasts only a few minutes and we avoid most of it by walking through an indoor alleyway. By far, Phil and Kate are the best prepared and me the least; but I’m the only one sporting any soccer gear. It’s my FCDB stuff; which little did I know I would come to regret later...

image010.jpgWe meet Tobias and Sina at the stadium, but we have separate seats this game – they are down low on the end more. Our seats are way up high but almost dead center. Due to the stadium design we are completely dry which is great since it poured, rained and even hailed a little bit just before the game. The view as pretty good, as Phil noted, almost like watching a big screen TV as the field is kind of framed in by the roof. Only problem was it was very cold. The same design that kept us high and dry also created a huge draft for the wind. We were on the very last row in our section – only a metal row fence behind us; which also was a bit nervy as well (it is a new stadium after all). But dry was definitely nice, as many in the lower sections had to abandon their seats at various points during the match.

We were in a rush to get home after the game because of our planned 8am start for the Garden Route the next day. The traffic was horrible again and so we started the 3 mile walk again. It was a steady light rain, but we reached Long street and thought we were nearly home (incorrectly) – turns out Long street is very long – especially in the cold wet rain. Also we got pestered by some panhandlers, one of which was very persistent. And since I was the “soccer” fan, I was the target, he followed me for many blocks. But safe and sound with a good lesson – always get the taxi home late at night.

Quip of the day: Dueling axioms: “See it pays to advertise” (in wearing my FC Dallas stuff, we met some guys from Austin, TX) and “Sometimes it’s better to blend into the crowd” (might have avoiding being a beggar target).

Posted by wc2006 03:05 Archived in South Africa Tagged events Comments (0)

Day 3 - Finally something besides soccer...

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gards

overcast 60 °F

image029.jpgWe discovered that the gas station that is about a block away is like a mni Whole Foods store, had some quite nice pastries and breads for breakfast. We got the group together to go to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – this would be our first trip in the car since arriving. But it as really close by and despite a detour due to a road closure, we managed to find it okay and the trip it was only about a half hour away. We knew it was going to be cloudy and/or rainy. The gardens were quite amazing indeed – even in winter time. There were plants that we recognized like giant ferns, geraniums, agapanthus, etc. Plus many very interesting and unique plants as well. There were also some incredible scents and aromas. The more we walked, the more we found. It seems like you could hike for 20 miles within this huge park. We stayed on the main paths but probably covered many miles ourselves. We would just keep being intrigued and enticed further and further up the mountain by the sights. There were even some interesting birds wandering around as well. Unique sculptures were also sprinkled within the gardens. It was very surprising to find some isolated plants here and there that were still in bloom. And some plants were very captivating with their post blooms as well. When we arrived at the concert stage, Tobi put on a quick but very entertaining performance on for us; only some of which I managed to get recorded. Luckily the trip home was uneventful; making our first foray with the car a success.
Of course when we arrived back, I had to mention how lucky we were to have missed the rain… Yeah, it started pouring as we planned to walk to town. But just as we headed out, the rain turned to mist, so again, very lucky. We strolled to long street to get a bite to eat before heading to the waterfront to watch the Germany vs. Australia game. Since we were anxious to get to the game, we stopped at the Nando. It was kind of a chicken-y fast food place, interesting Peri-Peri sauces. Since we heard that the Paulaner was filling up, so we took a taxi from there to the waterfront; only to discover it was completely overrun before we got there. But there were nearby tents – mini fan fest type of things. Tobi and Sina wanted to go the big, loud party tent. Gwen and Kate wanted the quiter, smaller tent with lots of open seating. I made the “sacrifice” and went with Tobi and Sina. The live DJ blasted songs for about an hour and half before the game. Tobi was a dancing machine and drawing the attention of all around as he became part of the show. The crowd was probably 70% pro Germany, with 15% for Australia and 15% of other fans – USA, Brazil, Italy, etc. But the place got the chance to erupt in joy, many times J

After the game we did get into the Paulaner and had a few german beers and frankfurters. They had a live band with a very interesting (and mostly very old, 70s) music portfolio. Even some possibly german songs, but luckily, no chicken dance. Dualing taxi rides back home provided a fine end to the evening.

Quip of the day: (Tobias to Gwen) “Will you make a photo?” Greg laughing as Gwen poses and sits down next to Sina. Then Phil takes the photo of Tobias and Sina.

Posted by wc2006 03:42 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

Day 2 - USA game today

Jet lagged, late start

semi-overcast 50 °F

image018.jpgWell we really got a late start today as you might imagine. Kate and I were up for the noon day canon. Phil and Gwen slept in much later. We watched the Greece vs. South Korea game from our place and managed to get out of the house after that. image019.jpgMore supplies from the Gardens Shopping mall including new adapters as our European ones did not work as expected. We discovered that our cottage really has a gorgeous backdrop, especially when viewed from the back.

We went exploring for lunch and to catch the Argentina vs. Nigeria game. We found a very quaint Italian pizzeria. It was very good and wow, the service was tremendous – quite the opposite of what we were told to expect. We met a guy from San Francisco who was touring South Africa. The guys in the restaurant were quite excited for Nigeria.
Tobias and Sina arrived today and found us at the pizzeria. It was really great to see them again. We strolled towards Long street to find a place to watch the USA vs. England game. We found an Irish pub where there were some other Americans trying to pull us in for support. image021.jpgimage022.jpgimage023.jpgThey were nice guys from North Carolina. We decided to have a drink while Tobias and Sina grabbed a bite to eat across the street at a JoBurg(er) joint. More and more Americans strolled in; we met people from all over the states as well as some locals as well. They had plenty of TVs and we landed a spot so decided to just stay for the game there. The place was packed; wall-to-wall people. Navigating to the restrooms was a chore; swimming and cutting through the crowd. When the scoring occurred, the place erupted, but surprisingly there were slightly more fans of the USA over England.

Quip of the Day: (Gwen to our black waiter) How do you say “Thank You” in your native tongue? “Merci” replied the waiter with a huge grin, “I speak French.”

Posted by wc2006 03:34 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Day 1 - Action Filled First Day

Better late than never...

sunny 66 °F

image002.jpgYes, it was a very long trip to get here. But wow, the business class seats/beds were really nice. Upon arrival things really went pretty smoothly. We printed our game tickets from the kiosk machine at the airport. image001.jpgGoogle directions were not fantastic, but with just a few wrong turns we managed to make it to the cottage. The cottage more than lived up to our expectations; so we were all pleased.

image003.jpgWe wandered to the nearby shopping mall to have lunch and set some essentials. Sure, South Africa plays today, but it was still amazing how many people were decked out in gear and the horns are everywhere. There were people blowing them and selling them all over the place – in the airport when we arrived, on the streets – even in the shopping malls.

We met Jim (cousin of my brother-in-law) today. He’s been living here for several years. We watched the 1st half of the South Africa vs. Mexico game here in the cottage. We decided it was best not to drive to the stadium as all the roads were blocked off. We would either walk the whole way or catch a shuttle from downtown. We walked through the Company Gardens, which were very pretty – lush and green even though this is their winter time. Jim was a great tour guide as well – a bonus that we had not thought about in advance. The streets were quite festive. There were tons of window watchers (groups of people huddled in front of store windows that were showing the game). We stopped outside a restaurant with TVs and caught the end the first game. Since we had left in plenty of time, we just walked the 3 miles to the stadium. We were still trying to get with Tobias’ friend, Manuel, as we had game tickets for him as well. The McDonalds near the stadium served as a great landmark to meet him.
The stadium was quite nice and getting inside went very smoothly. The food and drink prices were quite good as well – about half the price of items at our local FC Dallas Burn games – amazing. We had the best seats of all of our matches today, so we really were close to the action. Seeing the French players that we knew live and up close was really sweet.
After the game we walked to the V&A Waterfront area. It is very upscale and nice. We had a nice meal at the Greek Fisherman. We got to see the readers digest replay of the South Africa match, too. Jim picked a very nice local wine. He was really a nice guy and again, a great guide. All five of us packed into a taxi for the ride home. We were back at the cottage exhausted. As we chatted in the living room a bit we suddenly realized it was really late, 2 am. Time for bed…

Quip of the Day: A scoreless draw seems like the perfect initiation for a first soccer game – Jim.

Posted by wc2006 03:29 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

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