Aloe ferox (also known as the Bitter Aloe, or Red Aloe) is indigenous to South Africa, and widely known for its medicinal and healing properties. Our shops stock many lovely pampering body products made from aloe extracts - this web site belongs to Alcare, one of the major producers of these products, and we've found their bath foams and body lotions in many a hotel room around the country.
By the way, many overseas tourists tend to get sunburnt when they visit South Africa (our secret is that we always wear sunblock...) - if this should happen to you, get hold of some aloe lotion; it's reputed to be great for soothing sunburn.
We're still at Goudini Spa today (on our blog, at least...); this view is at roughly 90 degrees to the view we showed yesterday. I love the combination of the mountains in the background, the neat crop rows on the farmlands in the middle, and the natural vegetation in the foreground.
By the way, the name "Goudini" is derived from a Khoisan phrase meaning “bitter honey”. The people who originally inhabited this area apparently found that the honey they made from the flowers of a particular local tree was bitter.
This is the view from one part of the Goudini Spa resort. We have other pictures without the barbed wire, but we both kind of liked the contrast of the harsh wire against the beautiful rolling landscape.
We live in a very security-conscious society - unfortunately, the reality is that we have a really high crime rate. So for us, it's not unusual to see security measures like this (though quite honestly, I think they're trying to keep out scavenging baboons rather than criminals here). I've seen a few pictures on other city blogs of spikes or broken glass on top of walls - how common are things like this where you live? Do you lock your doors at night? Do you have a burglar alarm system in your home?
We were in a hurry to get to Goudini Spa, so, as Kerry-Anne mentioned yesterday, we opted to take the toll road through the Du Toitskloof mountain.
Drilling and blasting of the 3.9km tunnel started from both directions in 1984. What I found astounding was that the opposing drilling heads met half way only 3mm out of alignment. The tunnel was finished in April 1988, four years after construction was started.
Whenever driving through this tunnel I feel a little like a Formula 1 driver speeding though the tunnel at Monaco - it's unfortunate that the speed limit is set at 90km/h :(.
We spent yesterday afternoon in the Boland Mountains at a holiday resort called Goudini Spa, which is about 100km from Cape Town. The weather was perfect, making the drive absolutely spectacular. On the way there, we went through the Huguenot Tunnel, which stretches for around 4km through the Dutoitskloof mountains. I took this photo as we stopped at the toll-booth (it cost us R19 to go through the tunnel - just under 2 Euros, or around $2.70).
Have you ever paid the toll for the car behind you as a random act of kindness? It's such fun to imagine what they might be thinking when the cashier tells them that someone's already paid for them. :)
Broadband Internet access is a contentious issue in South Africa. While prices have been coming down, ADSL, 3G, EDGE and HSDPA are still pretty expensive, and currently out of budget for most of those who would love to acquire broadband.
The poster that's being attached to the building by the Men in Red is an Afrikaans ad for one of our mobile phone networks, and translated it reads "get the best broadband for your Rand". It must be fun doing this kind of work, being out in the fresh air above such a beautiful city, abseiling, protecting the world from alien invasion [if you look carefully you'll see that Will Smith is the bloke at the left top corner ;)].
Winter has it's perks... morning breaks later. While on my way to work, fighting through heavy traffic, I stopped over at a high point of the area we live in to take a photo of the sunrise.
The mountain range in the distance is known as the Boland Mountains. "Boland" is an Afrikaans word meaning "land above". The Boland region is a area of the Western Cape, inland from the sea and thus higher in altitude than the more coastal regions. Some of the towns in the Boland are Wellington, Paarl, Robertson and Worcester.
I spent about 10 minutes taking different shots in the crisp morning air. By the time I was done and had headed down to the main road, the traffic had miraculously disappeared. It was a beautiful morning.
This interestingly-shaped apartment block is two buildings away from the hotel where we have our room, in Strand (just over the road from yesterday's photo). There's been a lot of development in Beach Road over the last couple of years, and most of the buildings going up are upmarket apartment blocks like this one, with ultra-modern styling. They have a fantastic view of the beach, ocean and distant mountains, although I imagine the view through those side windows must be a little unusual.
Kerry-Anne and I have decided to sell a hotel room that we bought a few years ago. We took a drive out to the Strand area this evening to snap a photo or two for advertisement purposes. While framing the hotel, the sun was setting behind me presenting this awesome panorama. It's winter here, so the air was crisp and only a hint of a sea-breeze was lapping at the water - I now have more photos of the sea than of the hotel ;).
False Bay was so named by early sailors who often confused it with Table Bay (which is on the other side of the Cape Peninsula to False Bay). This large bay is somewhat protected from the open ocean and sports some of the Western Cape's warmer waters. In the Strand area, bathers are able to walk out into the ocean for fifty to about a hundred metres (depending on the tide). These family beaches' waves are generally not too big, so surfers best give them a miss, but it's seriously fun for kids and their parents when it comes to body-surfing.
Today is World Biodiversity Day, so I thought it would be fitting to show you a little more of our own biodiversity - another member of the Protea family, and a busy little bee.
The focus of Biodiversity Day this year is the effect of climate change on our biological wealth - apparently two newly-extinct species of frog have already been identified as victims of climate change. It's a sobering thought that these photographs we take today may be the only way that future generations will get to see certain species.
South Africa doesn't yet have a very well-developed recycling culture (not like in Sydney, for example, where different garbage bins are provided for different types of waste), but we've started paying more attention to recycling and being less wasteful in our own household. It's difficult of course, when companies keep producing their products in "convenient" over-sized throwaway packaging. I think being mindful of your effect on the world is the first step.
Good thing I brought my laundry in when I did... who would've expected rain this afternoon? The sun was shining beautifully in through the lounge windows, when suddenly I heard rain beating down on the roof at the back of the house. I rushed to grab my camera and managed to get a few shots of this monkey's wedding before it was all over.
There's something very magical about the rain falling while the sun's shining, and I suppose that's why this phenomenon has been given all sorts of folkloric names in many cultures. What is it called in your country?
There's a lot of construction activity going on at the Cape Town International Airport right now, mostly in preparation for the Soccer World Cup, which will be held in South Africa in 2010. Do any of you have experience of a major international event of this scale being hosted in your city or country? Tell us about the good and the bad - what can we expect?
There's been a lot of controversy here about whether or not our new stadiums and other infrastructure will be ready in time for 2010 - I'm an outright optimist though, so I already have my vuvuzela. :)
Today was a curl-up-under-the-duvet-and-read-a-good-book day - rainy, windy and cold. We didn't leave home, although Paul did venture outside late this afternoon during a break in the rain, and this is what he found: Snoopy, all kitted out in his winter gear, skiing down a very small slope on our driveway. I'm not sure where the snow came from though, because it doesn't snow in Cape Town. Perhaps he brought his own mobile ski slope along with him...
P.S. Congratulations to the Blue Bulls on being the first South African team to win the Super 14 rugby tournament. Bring on France 2007!
Since everyone in the northern hemisphere has been showing off their wisteria of late, I thought we should brag with a few more of our pretty flowers too. This is another protea (we first posted one here). I'm no horticulturist though, so unfortunately I can't tell you which species this is.
Hopefully if my brother stops by (who conveniently IS a horticulturist) he'll be able to shed a little light on the matter. :) Anybody else is welcome to take a guess too, of course...
This is not quite the famous "tablecloth" (although Paul suggested that it looked a little like the tablecloth had fallen off the edge of the table), but rather Table Mountain dressed up in her warm winter woollies...
I had to do some grocery shopping today, so I thought I might as well show you where I like to shop. The entrance is below the sign that says "Woolworths Foods", and yes, you guessed it, the store is Woolworths. There are many branches throughout Cape Town - some branches sell only food (like this one), some sell clothing as well, and some specialise in homeware. I've been to Woolworths in Australia, but despite the shared name, it's a very different store.
This post is for Mandi in Tel Aviv, who mentioned that she's suffering from Woolworths withdrawal symptoms, and for Abraham in Brookville, Ohio, who previously pondered what stores we might shop at down here.
Since Paul's been in bed all day (see yesterday's post), and I've been trying to catch up on work, as well as taking our youngest, little William, off to the vet to be neutered, we're revisiting a previous photo subject today.
Can you work out where this picture was taken? We've posted a few shots of this location already, and the building has been around for many years...
I guess this says it all... it's not the greatest quality photograph but today I just didn't have the energy to fiddle too much. I slept most of the day away - Kerry returned home at about 16h00 with the life-saving batch of supplies above.
Fortunately so far she seems to have been able to get the better of her sore throat and sneezy nose through liberal doses of vitamins - I haven't been quite so lucky, and it's off to bed with a hot-water bottle for me.
We got some of that rain today, by the way. At last it really feels like winter.
We watched the sun set from a vantage point on a huge granite bolder in the suburb of Brackenfell. Even though we could not see the sun dip below the horizon, the colour the sky and light through the clouds was beautiful.
The hill that you see in the distance is known as Tygerberg Hill. We've, in the past, walked up the hill several times. From the top, the entire Cape Peninsula sprawls out before you - Table Bay visible on the one side and False Bay on the other. It was the favorite place of a good friend of ours who died tragically a few years ago - I think we'll remember Nicholas whenever we see this hill silhouetted by the setting sun.
For the last two days we've had glorious weather; none of that anticipated rain has arrived yet - it's now being forecast for Monday instead.
The building in the picture is Kelvin Grove Club - I was fortunate enough to have breakfast there yesterday, whilst listening to a world-renowned best-selling author speaking on financial freedom. Unfortunately I'm not a member of the club, so I can't invite any of you to join me there for a drink or a game of croquet. :)
To give you an idea of it's size, the V&A Waterfront mall in the Table Bay Harbour reportedly has more than 400 shops and over 80 places to eat, ranging from take-aways to superb restaurants.
Kerry-Anne and I love walking in and around the mall - even though we don't go there with the intention of shopping. There are hundreds of unusual items to admire and the atmosphere is light and airy, buzzing with tourists and local residents alike.
I don't believe that any visitors to Cape Town miss out on a trip to this place. If you have, I'd be keen to hear what happened to make you miss it.
As I was driving down the road yesterday, I spotted this furry little mole snuffling around on someone's lawn. Of course, I slammed on my brakes and jumped out to snap a few shots - he stopped for a moment to work out whether I was dangerous, and then, evidently deciding that I wasn't, happily went on with what he was doing.
I'm sure the owner of the garden wasn't quite as pleased as I was though - when I drove past on my way back about 7 minutes later, the mole had disappeared underground, and in his place on the lawn was a lovely large pile of soil. :)
Don't you just love harbours at night? Well now, I don't mean ones with big old oily tankers, although they have their appeal; I mean ones with sailing vessels, pleasure liners and the like.
Cape Town Waterfront is really beautiful in the evening. Especially on crisp clear windless nights like this one. The quays are lined with attractive boats, contrasted with industrial-looking harbour cranes, all reflecting beautifully in the water. I picked this photograph over others because of the intrusively blue Victoria & Alfred Hotel that stands out from the black night, making it easy for guests to find.
Kerry-Anne and I had dinner with friends at the City Grill in the Waterfront this evening. The food was good and our waiters were just awesome tonight, reminding us of our stay in Paris last year, where we found the waiters to be at the top of their game.
The particular area where I took the photograph is close to where we had our meal, and is lined with several classy restaraunts boasting a huge variety of food. They're a little on the pricey side, but the food and atmosphere are just awesome.
We joined the local gym late last year in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. I started off swimming and although it was fun I found that the necessary high percentage of chlorine started to make me feel a little queasy.
Kerry attends Pilates classes and these days I'm back to walking the treadmill and playing with the circuit machines. I don't know that I'll ever be one for standing in front of huge mirrors admiring my biceps as I do arm curls :).
The gym, owned by Richard Branson, is in pretty good shape *heh heh*. The equipment is kept in good nick and the facilities are always clean. To the left of this picture is a set of huge glass panes looking in to the swimming pool area. The gym also has a healthy fast-food take-away/restaurant and a free-to-use Internet cafe.
All in all they make the best of a place few want to be.
The weather today was a little strange - there was plenty of heavy mist and cloud around this morning, and it was quite chilly until mid-morning (I put on two long-sleeved tops). The afternoon was really warm (I changed to short sleeves), and then at around 4pm the clouds came back again (I fetched my jersey). The only thing missing was rain - and we really could do with some of that over the next few months. The weather forecaster says there's a slight chance of some on Thursday - let's hold thumbs.
At the beginning of April our dams were just 53% full (30% down from December), and certain water restrictions are now permanently in place (for instance, we may not water our gardens between 10am and 4pm, and we may not use drinkable water for hosing down driveways or paved areas). Do you have any water restrictions in your city?
Another view from Signal Hill (see yesterday's post)... facing the other way this time. This is Lion's Head, which lies between Signal Hill and Table Mountain. The hike to the top is quite spectacular (and not too difficult - even for two very unfit people like us), as the path circles the narrow section at the top, giving you alternating views of the city and the ocean on the way up.
A favourite Capetonian pastime is hiking Lion's Head at full moon - although we've been up it during the day, the night-hike is something we have yet to try... Isn't it amazing that you can live in a city all your life and yet find that there are still so many aspects of it that you haven't experienced?
The city surprised its tourists today with a wonderfully warm and sunny autumn day. We decided to go up Signal Hill, where we were thrown into the midst of "tourist central" - we had endless entertainment watching people posing for shots of themselves with Table Mountain or Lion's Head in the background.
Signal Hill (from where I took this photo of Table Bay Harbour) is known for its Noon-day Gun, which has been fired as a time-keeper at noon each day for the last 200 years.
I can remember that when I worked in Cape Town's CBD the sound of the gunshot rumbling over the city each day marked the arrival of lunch-time :).
Taken from the balcony of the building where I work, this photograph is a typical sight in the Cape Town area. These guys are busy with construction around a newly developed upmarket apartment complex and shopping area. It looks to me like they are working on some kind of canal or rain-water overflow system. This particular area has a number of small but very deep dams surrounded by new apartment blocks and elegant restaurants.
This shot was taken from the Helshoogte Pass near Stellenbosch. The name "Helshoogte" is a contraction of "helse hoogte", which means "hell of a height". But I'm sure you'll agree that the view is heavenly... In fact, there are even more breathtaking views to be had along this stretch of road - we'll capture some of them for you in the future.
I would rate this as one of the 5 most beautiful stretches of road around Cape Town. Wanna see what the others are? You'll have to keep visiting... :)
The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday, and so we took a leisurely afternoon drive out to Franschhoek. The town of Franschhoek is about 45 minutes from Cape Town, and was originally settled in the late 1600s by a group of French Huguenot refugees. The town retains much of its French character, with most of the restaurants, wine farms and guest houses in the area bearing French names.
I'm hoping to get to the literary festival that will be held here in two weeks' time, so I'll try to get a few more pictures for you then. For now, this is the Dutch Reformed Church in Huguenot Street - the oldest part of this church was built in 1846.
Today is a Daily Photo theme day, and the theme this month is "City Exchange". After much to-ing and fro-ing and um-ing and ah-ing, and even a minor scuffle or two, we eventually settled on this shot, taken last October in the medieval French city of Dinan - one of our favourite spots in Brittany.
Look through the arches of the viaduct, and you will see rows of stone houses lining the tranquil Rance River - being there felt like being in the middle of a jigsaw puzzle picture. The medieval part of the city is full of romantic cobbled streets and half-timbered houses - very, very different to Cape Town. We had a rather interesting and unforgettable experience at a chocolatier here - be warned that when they label a chocolate "sel et poivre", they mean it quite literally.
80 Daily Photo sites are participating in the 1st May theme, "City Exchange"; please use the links to below to visit them. Due to time zone differences and other factors, the theme photo may not be displayed until later if you are viewing early in the day.