Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Friends, clients, and host agency: thank you for your ongoing, incredible support.
J5Travel team: I am immensely grateful for the hard work put in this year and the passion you all show every day to ensure we are as good as we can be. Finally, I have to thank Helen (below). As a company we have grown rapidly this year and even with a team of 5 currently, we have had to work very hard indeed to maintain the standards of service we hold ourselves to. When you are on an entrepreneurial journey such as ours, you learn a lot as you go, and personally I have figured out only recently that I must not allow our flourishing business to be all-consuming. Helen may be a little shy when it comes to social media and photos, but she has been a rock this past year and our Africa trip has grounded both of us and made us realize just what we have, both personally and in our business.
If ever you feel you need a trip to reconnect with a loved one, friends or family, then I can assure you that Africa is it.
We returned home Tuesday, but I think I still have 2 or 3 blog posts to share with you on our experiences. Today, it's the Top 5 from Cape Town and the Wine Country (header above).
Top 5 - Cape Town and the Wine Country
1. It's Stunning
In both photos (above and below) you can see that Cape Town is dominated by Table Mountain which looms over the city. You can also see the incredible cloud formations that can form, driven by the peculiar geography. In the photo below, taken from our balcony at Cape Grace Hotel, this was the one clear morning for a view of the top of the mountain, but even when not clear, just watching the clouds swirling constantly is an interesting and distracting experience. If the cable car to the top of Table Mountain is closed, which is quite common when the wind blows, hike or take a ride instead to the top of Signal Hill, which will give you the view in the first photo, and also a near 360 degree panorama of the city and the ocean below you.
Cape Town is now recognized internationally as one of the foodie capitals of the world. I am not going to disagree. A food tour we enjoyed revealed immense passion for local produce, which is abundant, There are quirky bakeries, funky coffee shops and bars everywhere. Street food specialties include such tasty morsels as malva pudding (English translation = treacle sponge. USA translation I'm still working on), and biltong, a wonderful dried cured beef which I have to say I prefer to beef jerky as it is not as tough to chew. I have a lot of food photos from this trip...and I've picked just a few highlights from Cape Town itself. We had a Top 5 meal of a lifetime at FYN Restaurant, a must visit if you too are a foodie.
The biggest surprise of our entire trip has been the African Art scene. Sculpture seems to be huge over here, and in galleries and wine/sculpture gardens we have been blown away by the works we have seen. Grand Provence winery in Franschoek in particular has an incredible sculpture garden (above), and in a tiny gallery just off the main street in Franschoek, I fell in love with the piece (below), created from individual pieces of stained wood. Combined with the numerous local enterprises we have encountered, where communities are recycling everything imaginable to create beaded wonders, or reimagined glass jewelry, there are many shopping opportunities for some beautiful and original memories of your trip.
4. Wine Country
Much like with our travel to Mendoza, Argentina last year, both the amazing quality and value of the wine, food and accommodations here have blown us away. Again, I'm going to say it's better than Napa. Touring the area with both Abercrombie & Kent, and then on our second group trip with Hills of Africa, we covered a lot of ground in Stellenbosch and Franschoek. From an oyster and wine pairing tasting at Holden Manz (above), to the incredible lunch with a majorly delicious dessert wine to finish at Delaire Graff (below), this was the seriously over-indulgent segment of our travels.
5. The Cape Peninsula
Crowds flock to the Peninsula to see the famous penguins of Boulder Beach (above), but make sure you drive on past them once you've visited to explore the rather funky and hippy communities such as around Kalk Bay and Scarborough. Coffee shops, organic cafes and quaint, days-gone-by small fishing harbours abound (below), and there is a good chance of catching some serious surfing action along the way in some of the worlds strongest waves.
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