Screwed by Ginja

Trip Start May 12, 2009
Trip End May 24, 2009

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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Saturday, May 16, 2009

After hearing from JB and Lindsey how fantastic the breakfast was at the Majeka House, Amy and I made sure that we woke up in time to enjoy it today.  Got a wake up call for 8:00 in order to change and make it down to breakfast by 9:00.  The spread was very extensive.  There was a cold buffet with fruits, breads, cheeses, and fish.  I loaded up on the first trip.  Then, while we were eating, a waiter came around to ask what sort of hot breakfast we wanted.  Since I developed a food hangover from dinner the night before, I just stuck with the cold breakfast.  Amy enjoyed the standard South African hot breakfast which included eggs (any way), sausage, bacon, grilled tomato, grilled mushrooms, and toast.  Similar breakfast to what we got at the airport in Jo'burg, and as we would find out, same across the rest of our stay in the country.  

After breakfast, we all jumped into the car and headed to Spier.  Amy was excited to go to this winery because they had a cheetah outreach program on the grounds.  As we entered the cheetah compound, we first had to pay 2 rand each to go in.  Then we came to another area with a cash register.  You can pay 90 rand to pet an adult cheetah, or 180 rand to visit a baby cheetah, which we are told includes holding one.  The second I heard that, I knew we were about to spend double to see the baby cheetahs (Amy is so predictable).  So Amy, JB, and I all pay our 180 rand while Lindsey took pictures from outside the cage (never found out whether she was cheap or scurred).  We start to enter the area, but first get directed on all of the rules.  The trainer tells us the cheetahs are 8 months old, both male (brothers), and are still a little aggressive.  We enter and boy are we suckers.  Eight month old cheetahs look almost full grown, and there is definitely no way for us to pick them up and hold them.  Not to mention it starts to rain at this point, and the cheetahs are quite restless in the rain.  The trainer makes us stay behind him at all times as the cheetahs start to circle us (good thing I signed that waiver so Spier wasn't responsible if I got mauled).  The rain finally subsided and the cheetahs lied down long enough for us to pet them and take some pictures.  After that the trainer asked us if we were done, he couldn't get us out of there fast enough.

Next to the cheetah outreach center was an eagle outreach center, we start to enter, but after seeing another cash register, we turn back (we had enough of outreach centers anyway).  Can't they have just one fee for the entire petting zoo area?  I am surprised they didn't charge us for parking, using the bathroom, and breathing their sulfur smelling air.  We figured that since we were there, we would try the wine as well.  Probably the worst wine we have had so far, but the pourers were quite funny as they made fun of the other customers next to us.  While enjoying some tastes, an elderly couple (quiz #1: guess the country of origin?) came in and wanted to taste one wine.  Since they only wanted one, they didn't want to pay for the tasting (which again was 5 rand for 5 tastings).  The pourers tried to explain the rules, but the elderly couple was quite persistent and got one glass poured for them.  Then the man said he wanted one glass for free, but a different wine.  Again after fighting with the pourers, he now got a glass.  The woman then said that she wanted one more taste, and if she got it she would buy the wine.  This went on for about 10 minutes.  They probably tried 3 wines each, walked away with 3 bottles also.  Not sure why they wouldn't pay for the 5 rand tasting when in the end they spent 100 rand on bad wine.  

Our next trip was to Waterford.  This was "Amy's Choice" day so far as the girls really wanted to go to Waterford for their wine and chocolate tasting.  The rain started coming down harder at this point, but it wasn't a problem as we were hopping in and out of wineries.  The wine at Waterford was pretty good, but nothing exciting compared to the wines we had yesterday.  Amy was even disappointed in the chocolate pairings (I guess she was hoping for better chocolate).  

Next we went across the street to Dornier.  Most of the best lunch places in the area are at wineries.  So we planned a trip to Dornier for lunchtime.  We didn't have a reservation, so JB and I decided to try some wines while the girls inquired about food.  They came back after they ordered some flatbread and an antipasto plate.  Since the restaurant was full, they brought the food out to the wine tasting area where there were 3 tables.  We got a table right in front of the fire, had our lunch, and enjoyed wine samples.  We could not have asked for a better setup.  And the food was great.  Who doesn't enjoy a plate of cured meats and bacon flatbread pizza, the bread was amazing as well.

It was starting to get late at this point (3pm).  We were close to the highway to take us to Cape Town, but instead decided to try one more winery.  Bellevue was all the way at the other end of the wine country, but it was so highly recommended we thought we had to give it a try (one more person recommended Bellevue today).  Plus Bellevue was close to the other highway that goes to Cape Town, so we weren't going completely out of our way.  The drive took 20 to 30 minutes (which included a few turn arounds), but we finally got to Bellevue, there was a fork in the road so we decided to stay left and proceeded up the long driveway.  We got to a gate and were buzzed in.  There was no one around except for a dog, a few chickens, and a few horses.  There were also no signs for a tasting room.  So figuring we took the wrong fork in the road we head back, but the gate was now locked behind us.  You could hear the scary movie music playing in the background as we tried to figure out how to get off the farm.  After knocking on a few different doors, finally a woman in a bathrobe came out telling us that they were closed for the day.  This was bad news as we drove all that way to taste what was supposed to be the best pinotage in the world and because Amy had to use the bathroom.  The bathrobed lady does let us in to use the facilities, but refuses to sell us any wine.  We do get to watch the horse come up to our car and drink the water off the hood, this in turn caused the horse to dry heave.  The video of this will be added shortly.

We got directions to a wine store in hopes of purchasing the Bellevue.  The store was just down the road, but were all out of all Bellevue wine except one bottle of the expensive stuff.  Sight unseen (or untasted) I decided to just buy the bottle for all of our troubles (and because I had only purchased 3 bottles up to this point and still had room for 1 more).  Hopefully it is worth it.   Update: Amy and I enjoyed the Bellevue wine recently.  It was very good, especially for the price, but not as amazing as I anticipated.  I will blame this on the fact that the bottle of wine traveled on 25 hours of non-temperature controlled and unpressurized airplanes. 

It was starting to get late and we had 8:00 dinner reservations, so we started our 45 minute drive to Cape Town.  We knew the hotel was on the V&A Waterfront, but other than that we didn't have directions.  It couldn't be that hard to find though since the lady at the Avis counter told us a gps was unnecessary for the Cape Town area.  As we approached the city, we took the wrong exit and ended up near the convention center.  There are men everywhere, so wondering what is going on, we notice that there is a sign for the 3rd annual Sexpo.  This was great news in case it continued to rain, but the girls looked a little disturbed in the back seat.  We drove around a little more and after going around the same roundabout 4 times, we finally arrived at The Table Bay Hotel.  The hotel is huge and is attached to the mall which provided lots of shopping and restaurants.  Also next door was the stadium that they are building for the 2010 World Cup.  It is pretty far along, but there is still scaffolding and cranes all around it.

We checked in and got a full tour of the hotel from the bellhop.  Our room was on the 3rd floor with an excellent view of Table Mountain (which you couldn't see because it was now dark and clouds were covering the top).  After relaxing for a bit, we headed down to get a taxi to go to dinner at Ginja (pronounced Jinja, which we later found out).  Ginja is the #1 rated restaurant in Cape Town according to trip advisor.  The food and decor are supposed to be fantastic, but the one knock is that the location is further away and the entrance is in an alley.  So we had to take a taxi there.  Problem was the taxi driver didn't know where it was.  This was our fault since we should have figured that giving the name of the restaurant wasn't good enough, but this place was supposed to be good.  So while aimlessly driving around, the taxi driver called up all of his buddies in order to get a location. The best part about was that taxi's in South Africa have a rolling meter.  So it is continuously charging us more even though we aren't really driving anywhere.  After 20 minutes of driving around, we finally stumble upon the restaurant.  JB paid the 70 rand fee and inside we went.

Knowing that the restaurant fills up quickly, I made a reservation a few weeks in advance through email.  I had to tell them my home number, the hotel we were staying at, and everything but my SSN to get the reservation.  Well wouldn't you know it, we get to the restaurant and they don't have any reservation under my name.  Turns out that they called the hotel that day to confirm and since we were not checked in yet because we were driving all around Stellenbosch looking for Bellevue, they just canceled our reservation.  She told us to make a reservation for the next weekend, but we insisted that flying the 15 hours back from the states was not our top priority.  Feeling a little pity for us, she tried to get us a table upstairs at their other restaurant, but we decided that the menu wasn't as appealing.  We finally made a reservation for Monday and got in a cab back to the hotel.

  Our cab driver was quite chatty.  He told us all about the sexpo and his plans to go the next morning.  JB was sitting in the front, which was a good thing since JB wasn't put off about the sexpo.  The driver got us back to the mall (next to our hotel) for only 45 rand.  We decided to eat a Willoughby & Co.  Seafood/sushi is the specialty at this restaurant.  Since Cape Town is right near two oceans, the seafood is plentiful.  JB goes with his standard fish selection while Lindsey ordered some sushi.  Amy and I look at the seafood platter for 2, but instead go with the seafood platter for 1 and some sushi rolls to split.  Luckily it was late in the evening since, as the food started to come out, we needed to pull over an extra table to accommodate everything we ordered.  The sushi rolls were pretty good, but the seafood platter for 1 was big enough to feed all of us.  There were shrimp, crayfish, mussels, and 4 fillets of fish, all on top of rice and french fries.  It looked like paella meant for a family (who doesn't like paella?).  I was able to eat some of ti, but Amy proved why I married her after eating almost the whole platter by herself, along with sushi.  Barely able to stumble back to our rooms, we decide to call it a night (luckily for my wallet, the stores in the mall were all closed).
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