Xanax and Wine

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Flag of South Africa  , Western Cape,
Monday, June 21, 2010

Well, in the last blog entry we made a couple of wishes and they seem to have come true…..we'll cover all the juicy details in time, but just for the record, my third wish (these things come in threes right?) is that England win on Wednesday!

So, in a quest to discover a little more of Cape Town, we rented a car (Toyota Yaris) for two days and set off to explore. Given the rising notoriety of South African wine, day one was devoted to a winery tour and so with a little help from the tourist information office picked out two that we wanted to visit. Our first stop was at Spiers, where we first enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch sitting by the little lake in their gardens after buying the necessities at the onsite deli. Hunger satiated, we made our way into the main building for a little wine tasting; Trying four different red wines, we agreed that three of them were very good but given a previous experience transportation, declined to buy any bottles and made our way to the other big attraction at Spier; The Cheetah Encounter! A centre dedicated to research and protection of Cheetahs, they have numerous cats that have been born and raised in captivity and which for a small fee you can pet. Having seen these beautiful creatures in their natural environment on safari, it didn’t seem necessary to go pawing them (pun intended) in captivity, and besides, we had heard a gruesome tale of a friend-of-a-friends cheetah encounter that went horrifically wrong.

The next winery on our agenda was that of famed golfer Ernie Els. Ernie’s winery is set in beautiful hills and the wine we tasted there was far better than anything else we’ve had in SA. Interesting side note for golfers: they did have a little display showing the current leader board for the US open with Ernie sitting in a tie for second place. Awesome sidenote: Ernie came in third, but the surprise news was the winner… no other than our wee Graeme McDowell from Northern Ireland, just a few miles from where Derek was born. At Ernie’s winery, we again declined to buy any wine, not even a bottle of the "Big Easy" and Derek settled for an “Ernie Els” inscribed crystal wine glass!

On our second day enjoying the freedom of a car, we set off to explore the Cape Peninsula. The late starters that we often are, we arrived in Hout Bay just in time for lunch and made our way to a well-known restaurant for a fish and chip lunch. Fish and Chips may be renowned world-wide as English fare, but these were certainly up to English standards. Leaving Hout Bay we made a short detour via the local Sunday market before setting out on what is claimed to be one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world. Well, we’ll have to take “their” word for it, as by the time we reached the beginning of the drive the clouds had descended and all we were enveloped in a pea-soup mist all along the route :-(

Heading in a southerly direction, our next stop was Boulders Beach, home to one of the most famous penguin colonies on the world. These are not the big emperor penguins, but the much smaller African penguins (just like the ones they have at West Edmonton Mall for our Albertan friendsJ). The penguins are very unperturbed by humans and despite not paying the access fee to go onto the beach with them we were able to get within touching distance (but didn’t of course) on a short boardwalk amble.

By mid-afternoon we had made our way down to the tip of the Cape of Good Hope and had a fun time clambering across the rocks, while the waves crashed not too far away. Fortunately, we’ve learned our lessons where big waves are concerned and there were no drenching to be had! For students of history, it seemed fitting that on our visit to the Cape of Good Hope we were accompanied by dozens of Portuguese fans enjoying their downtime before the big game.   There are multiple route options back to Cape Town, but we decided to return the same way and kept our fingers crossed for better visibility on the Chapmans Peak drive. It may have cost us twice as much as it should have, but the views from the Chapmans Peak drive were quite spectacular and the half tunnel chiseled from the mountain is truly impressive. With daylight fading fast, we stopped back in Hout Bay for a short while to play soccer on the beach, lots of fun! Final stop of the day was the V&A waterfront back in Cape Town where we found a Scottish bar/micro brewery to have dinner and a beer or two while watching the Brazil game.

Waking up on Monday morning, it was a little concerning to hear the pat, pat, pat of heavy rain on the windows; we had tickets for the Portugal Vs North Korea game at 13:30. The rental car was due to be returned by midday and just as we were dropping it off, the rain stopped. With rain jackets on and fingers crossed, we made our way to the stadium. Once in our seats, it wasn’t long before the rain started again and poured heavily for much of the game. It started out as a pretty tight game with both teams getting their fare share of opportunities, however by half-time Portugal were leading by one goal to nil. The second half was a different story; not long after the game resumed, the flood gates opened, which seemed appropriate given the rain… The goals started flowing thick and fast and despite his departure from Manchester United we were keen for Ronaldo to score; he duly came up with the goods albeit hitting himself on the back of the head with the ball enroute to goal. There’s nothing routine with that boy! In case you haven’t heard, the game finished at 7-0, with six different scorers … too many for the Greenpoint stadium big screen to actually display (5 was their theoretical maximum), so Ronny didn’t even get his name up there – maybe that’s why they gave him 'man of the match” after. Is this result a warning to other teams? I’m sure our Portuguese friends would think so. Not sure about Brazil, but certainly had the Korean coach reaching for the Xanax! 

Portugal Vs North Korea was our last live game of the World Cup, from here on in we’ll follow closely on TV and keep our fingers crossed that we’re still watching England by the time we arrive in London on June 30th.....
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joe on

Those are some great photos guys. Good luck with those England Tickets

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