Monthly Archives: March 2011

Table Mountain trip : Lion’s Head (7#10)

Lion's Head and Signal Hill
In case you missed it, see the previous post in this series.

Kerry-Anne and I once spent a chilly new year's eve on top of Table Mountain - it really does get pretty cold up there at night. If you ever have the opportunity to go up the mountain at night, I'd highly recommend it. Only, try to get up before the sun sets and bargain on spending about two or three hours up top... with a warm jacket!

The city lights look absolutely beautiful from the top of the mountain at night. Take a look at this 360° photo taken by Lee Casalena from the top of Lion's Head (which you can see in this photo). Isn't it awesome? Imagine seeing this in real life!

Table Mountain trip : On the table top (6#10)

On top of Table Mountain
In case you missed it, see the previous post in this series.

If you've ever wondered; besides for the small section occupied by the cable station, restaurant and curio shop, this photo more or less represents what the entire top of Table Mountain looks like - well, the flat part at least.

It's not quite that clear in this photo, but the mountain (especially within the first 100m of the cable station) has many specially layed-out paths made from flat pieces of rock. Can you see them in the middle of this photo?

Table Mountain trip : A view of Camps Bay (5#10)

Camps Bay
In case you missed it, see the previous post in this series.

Slightly to the right of the view shown in my previous post is this perspective of the up-market suburb of Camps Bay. The houses (and especially the beach-front ones) are worth several million Rands.

After looking more closely at this photo I discovered a couple of interesting things that I'd like to draw your attention to:

  1. The streets and homes on the right side of the photo appear to radiate outwards, away from an open field or common. I wonder why that happened.
  2. Camps Bay High School is almost perfectly located - you'll spot it and it's large green rugby field on the right of the photo. If you click on the photo to zoom in you'll see it's beautiful blue swimming pool.
  3. Just to the left of Camps Bay beach, a little way off shore, is what appears to be a circular grouping of rocks forming some kind of natural pool out at sea. Has anyone noticed this before? Have you been there?

Table Mountain trip : The Twelve Apostles (4#10)

The Twelve Apostles
In case you missed it, see the previous post in this series.

This is the view that meets you as you leave Table Mountain's the upper cable station - the Atlantic ocean with the Twelve Apostles mountain range stretching into the distance. Isn't it a beautiful view?

I took a similar photo as the sun was setting about two years ago, and based on that experience I'd definitely recommend an early evening trip up the mountain (especially if it's a warm and windless evening), it's one of the most beautiful views of the sun setting over the ocean. A word of caution though - always take a warm top or jacket along no matter how warm it seems at the lower cable station - it get's kinda cool 1KM up in the sky. :)

Table Mountain trip : View from the cable car (3#10)

View from the cable car
In case you missed it, see the previous post in this series.

The view from the cable car is quite unlike any other. The feeling of quickly rising up from the lower cable station to this majestic view is incredible.

To the left in the photo is Lion's Head, with Signal Hill stretching off to the right (just behind the stadium built for the 2010 football world cup) and way way in the distance, right in the middle, you can see the spot in the ocean known as Robben Island.

Have you ever hiked up Table Mountain? Did you know that hikers can get a one-way ticket costing only R45 from the top to the bottom before 09h30? If you've ever hiked up and down the mountain then you'll know that up takes longer, but down is a far less pleasant hike - so I'd say R45 is a real bargain.

Table Mountain trip : In the cable car (2#10)

In the cable car
In case you missed it, see the previous post in this series.

While standing in the long queue to the cable car one's tempted to worry about the length of the queue and how long you may have to wait. Don't worry though, cable cars depart every 10 to 15 minutes and transport 65 people at a time... so the wait isn't as long as you may think (although, as stated previously, buy your tickets online to save a little cash and skip the first queue).

The trip to the top of the mountain takes between 4 and 5 minutes - and as long as you secure a standing spot next to a window, don't worry about exactly where to stand - the cable car's floor rotates slowly so that everyone get's a 360° view on the way up.

Table Mountain trip : At the cable station (1#10)

At Table Mountain's cable station
Since we had a handful of Australian visitors living with us we decided to take them on the must-do Cape Town excursion - a tour up Table Mountain.

It's been very difficult to cull photos from the long list that I wanted to share with you, but I've managed to shorten the list down to 10. Over this and the next 9 posts I'll show you snippets from our trip that may entice you into visiting Cape Town and taking a trip to our table top.

In this post I'll share a tip with you that will probably save you plenty of time: Don't wait until you get to the cable station to purchase your ticket! Rather, visit the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway's website and purchase a ticket online. It's no more expensive and you're able to print your barcoded ticket immediately. When you arrive at the lower cable station, skip the long queue of people standing to buy tickets, and head on to one of the officials. Present your ticket, and join the queue that leads to the cable cars. You'll save heaps of time! :)

Glitz, glamour and fashion with Traffic

Fashion Show

Traffic Clothing's 2011 winter collection fashion show was the first fashion show that I've ever attended - assuming that we're not counting the handful of amateur high school fashion shows that I sat through while still in school.

The show was awesome: something that you really should attend if you're interested in modern fashion, if you find FTV at all entertaining, or even if you'd simply like to try something out of the ordinary. The evening was a glitzy and stylish affair and had everyone socialising, drinking cocktails, and eating tasty canapés.

The only negative thing that I can say about the show was that it may have awakened Kerry-Anne's shopping demon... in fact, she's already tracked down the location of the two Traffic Clothing stores in Cape Town! Traffic have a store located at 195-197 Long Street (+27 21 426 0465) as well as a slightly more accessible (for us, anyway) store at the Canal Walk shopping centre (+27 21 5519740).

In case you missed the link above, click here to take a look at my small gallery of the models and their clothing.

How to kill a dune

How to kill a dune

We've probably all heard about dune conservation, but perhaps we haven't all understood why it's important to conserve dunes. Dunes are our shore's first line of defence against the destruction caused by storms and unusually high tides. Acting as a long barrier, they reduce the chance of flooding, and in the case of severe storms, help to delay flooding. Dunes also help contain the beach sand and salty water spray from being blown inland, thereby protecting vegetation from dying due to excessive soil salinity, and preventing beaches from extending too far inland.

I'd never realised how fragile dunes were before reading this article on dune protection! Beach grass, shown in this photo, is the scaffolding used to build dunes. The grass grows, more sand is deposited, the grass grows above the sand, more sand is deposited, and the cycle continues until we have huge dunes to protect our shoreline.

The beach grass shown in this photo is extremely resilient to the elements. Like a true champ it resists drought conditions, tolerates very high levels of salt in the sand, and flourishes in very infertile soil. However, even though the grass in this photo is extremely hardy, its brittle inner core is extremely vulnerable when stepped on. Even a single person taking a shortcut across a dune kills grass on which they stand. A few people taking a shortcut across a dune will kill enough grass to cause the dune to be eroded by the wind.

Visit this site and follow the links to see the illustrations of how easily dunes erode when people trample the grass. I don't think I'll ever walk over a dune again, except by using the designated paths or bridges.

Protect our trees

Protect our trees
It's not necessary, I'm sure, to say that trees are vital to our ecology. When we think about trees and their worth I guess we'd all consider how they protect land from soil erosion, provide places for birds to hide from predators, and how they act as a source of food for many animals. Take a moment to read this article on the value of trees by The Department of Biodiversity & Conservation Biology of The University of the Western Cape.

Governments around the world regularly meet to discuss desertification and formulate policy and law to protect the natural environment. South Africa isn't any different, our government have put in place various pans and policies to protect our fragile environment. Some would argue that they're not doing enough, and other would argue that they're doing the best that they can with the available funding.

Take a look at this pamphlet that deals with the conservation of plant life, produced for last year's Arbour Day by our local government.

This photo was taken in our leafy suburb of Tokai on the slopes of Table Mountain.

Allergy Free Bread

Allergy Free Bread
Isn't it interesting that this deli stocks bread that has allergies? Why would they do that? I've never even heard of bread having allergies, so I guess they'd have to give it away free of charge! ;)

I make my fair share of grammatical errors, but still I find it terribly amusing when signs read differently to how they were intended to read - like this one, and this one.

The sign is located at the Tokai Plantation's tea garden - and I'm sure that they mean that the bread is free of common allergens, or in other words, that they sell allergen-free bread. :)

Surfing winds and weather reports

In my experience, surfers are always chasing perfect wind and waves. I recently discovered a website that provides wind direction, speed and temperature information as well as swell information, beach webcams, and weather forecasts. Take a look at - it's not the prettiest site, but it sure does have a lot of weather-related information that surfers and other outdoor-types would find useful.

Horse rides at Big Bay’s Eden on the Bay

Horses at Eden on the Bay
I once went for a horse ride on a beach at Hermanus... it was the craziest thing ever! My horse was the stubbornest tough old stallion around and refused to go where I pointed him!

Our group of horses ended up walking through the waves, among swimmers, all the while with me helplessly waving people out of the way mouthing something like "Out the way, I have no idea how to steer this thing!".

The guy in the photo is one of two who offer horse rides at Big Bay's Eden on the Bay (primarily) for kids. It seemed pretty safe, and I think it'll be plenty of fun for kids.

The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster

The Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster is a cocktail described in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as "the alcoholic equivalent to a mugging; expensive and bad for the head.". Apparently, drinking one is like "having your brains smashed out by a slice of lemon, wrapped 'round a large gold brick."

Isn't that perfectly awful?

Kerry-Anne ordered this drink at Eastwoods Lounge, near Tyger Valley Center. She reported that the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster never had the alleged brain-smashing effect on her and was fairly tasty, albeit just a little too sweet for her liking.

Hiking on Table Mountain

Hiking on Table Mountain
Each day dozens of people spend hours walking, hiking and climbing on Table Mountain. I think because of its close proximity to the city, and the beautiful views, people tend to forget how vulnerable they are when out visiting Mother Nature.

Each year we hear of people getting lost on the mountain, having narrow escapes from tragedy, and some times regrettably not escaping unscathed.

If you're new to Cape Town, consider joining an experienced group when venturing out onto the mountain, and take care to follow these safety guidelines. And, just to be safe, keep the emergency telephone number handy on your cell phone: 086 110 6417.

Fanta flavours

Fanta Grape
Most people are familiar with Fanta Orange - it is after all the second drink that the Coca-Cola company produced after the original Coca-Cola. In South Africa we get two flavours of Fanta, the traditional orange flavour and the dark red grape flavour - shown in this photo.

I learned that Coca-Cola in Australia doesn't produce Fanta Grape, so I did a little research on the subject. I was surprise to hear that worldwide Coca-Cola produces several flavours of Fanta... so I wonder why we only get two.

What flavours do you get in your country?

Football matches of 2010

Football matches of 2010
It's hard to believe that it's been almost a year since the world arrived on our doorstep. This makeshift scoreboard and graffiti is part of the remnant left over from the 2010 Football World Cup.

Besides for us being a football-crazy nation, we were excited to host the world cup event because of the promise of long-term revenue that the publicity around the event would generate. It's a pity that revenue derived as a result of the World Cup is so difficult to measure - I'd be interested to know how much effect the event had, and continues to have, on our economy.

Old Cape Town

Old Cape Town
I took this shot of an old photo that's hung on one of the walls at Dunes Restaurant in Hout Bay.

Isn't it crazy how much Cape Town has changed over the years? This view of Cape Town (from the harbour) shows Table Mountain on the left and Lion's Head on the right. The road that you see stretching across the water, into the city, is Adderley Street - our cities main road.

Take a look at these two photos that I grabbed from Google Earth - they show a modern version of the same view as the main photo. You'll notice that although Adderley Street still leads to the harbour area, it no longer allows direct access to the harbour, and the bridge that use to extend over the water has long since disappeared.

Cocktails and canapés

Cocktails and canapés
I love that the sign-writer at Tequila Town used different colour chalk to write these cocktail names. Did you notice how cleverly they wrote "Passionate" in pink and "Azure" in blue? How about "Banana" in yellow and "Mango" in orange?

Cape Town seems to have a thing for cocktails. When we're not being rushed by crazy deadlines, we love leaving work early to find a place with a great sea view to enjoy cocktails - which more often than not ends up being cocktails for the ladies and beer for the guys. Unfortunately, our weather is starting to turn, and the evenings are starting to cool. Sadly, the summer days of cocktails at sunset are strictly numbered and will soon be replaced by coffee indoors near a warm wood fire. :(

Tequila Town – tequila heaven

Tequila Town tequila
Some of our friends regularly organise get-togethers at a little bar on Buitengracht street known as Tequila Town. While I'm not hugely into tequila, I have to admit that it's a pretty sociable drink that quickly gets a party started. :)

Tequila Town serves a pretty large variety of tequila that should keep tequila connoisseurs busy tasting for quite some time. There's plenty of parking right over the road, and there's always one or two parking attendants keeping an eye over your vehicle.

Visit Tequila town in a group of four or more - it's bound to be fun!

Dunes Restaurant in Hout Bay

Dunes Restaurant in Hout Bay
We popped in at Dunes Restaurant in Hout Bay to watch Cricket, have a drink and light snack. The waiter that greeted us at the door escorted us the the upper level that overlooks the beautiful Hout Bay, and seated us in a prime position to keep an eye on the Cricket while drinking and eating.

Dunes is a great place to visit - it has plenty of interesting decor, they show the sport on big-screen televisions, and the service was pretty good. The olive starter that we had was however not that awesome (I'm told that some of the olives tasted pretty bad) and the portion of Calamari was tasty, but pretty meager for the price - we felt.

This said I'd still recommend a visit. Dunes is a nice place to visit, it's located just over the road from the beach and I've had their Fish & Chips before - which, from what I can remember, was pretty good.

A bright green Creme Soda

Creme Soda
One of South Africa's most popular soft drinks is Creme Soda which, in South Africa, is a bright-green, sweet, bubbly, vanilla liquid. The earliest memory that I have of the drink is enjoying it as a Creme Soda ice-cream float at one of our local restaurant chains. Yum!

I believe Creme Soda tastes fairly different in other countries and is more often a clear, light brown, pink, red, or even blue drink. For us, drinking a glass of differently-coloured Creme Soda would be much like trying to drink a mug of red coffee or blue tea. Perfectly distasteful!

When visiting South Africa, you absolutely have to try Creme Soda.
It's green, but you'll love it. :)

Llandudno beach outing

Llandudno Beach
I love Llandudno beach. In my opinion it's one of the most beautiful Cape beaches - the fine white sand, even beach line, large outcrop of huge granite boulders, and the awesome mountain views that tower above all make the beach a wonderful place to spend the day.

Only two things put a slight damper on the Landudno experience, (1) the very limited availability of parking, and (2) the numbingly-cold Atlantic ocean's water.

Beaded Africa

Beaded animals
All over our peninsula you'll find road-side vendors that make and sell beaded items... often animals like these. My nephew bought the pink elephant in Hout Bay for a mere R70. Given the amount of time it must have taken to make the little fella, I think he picked up a bargain!

If you're a local, or a visiting tourist, please support our roadside vendors. In a country with a high person to job ratio it's one of the few ways that these guys can make money. Thanks! :)

Visit our other site, the Red Balloon Craft Junction for crafter listings, information about craft markets, and several other bits and pieces that you may find interesting!

Tokai Plantation – a forest to walk, ride and hike in

Tokai Forest
The Tokai Plantation forms part of the greater Tokai and Cecilia plantations and has been run as a commercial plantation since its establishment in 1885.

Fortunately, even though the plantation is a commercial site, it's open to the general public - offering the opportunity to leave the city and suburbs for a short walk on the slopes of the Table Mountain mountain range. The forest has a picnic area (a little before the entrance to the plantation), but IMO it's far nicer to enjoy a snack at the plantation's tea room and then take a short walk into the woods.

For details about the MTB trail, visit - they have all the info you'll need to plan a fun MTB ride.

Take a tour of cast-iron saviour, Slangkop Lighthouse

Slangkop lighthouse on our south coast, near Kommetjie, is South Africa's tallest cast-iron lighthouse. Built in 1919, it stands 33m high and shines a 5 million candela beam approximately 33 sea miles out to sea at a height of 41 meters above sea level.

Consider making the lighthouse a stop on your way to Misty Cliffs, Scarborough, Cape Point and Boulders Beach. Give the lighthouse (map) operators a call on +27 21 783 1717 for more information.

Full moon yacht charter?

Full moon sailing
Imagine taking a sunset cruise on a warm and windless evening. Wouldn't it be awesome to then stay overnight chilling on the deck, watching the full moon rise?

I tried to find a company that specialises in full moon yacht charters around the Cape Town coastline, but found only those that offer day and sunset cruises. Given perfect weather, wouldn't a night time cruise under a full moon be the best?

Cape Town’s beaches

Muizenberg's colourful beach houses
These colourful houses on Muizenberg's West Beach are the subject of thousands of Cape Town photos. Just do a Google image search for "muizenberg colourful houses" to see what I mean!

I've never had the pleasure of swimming at Muizenberg, but it's said to be one of the top beaches to visit. Do you normally swim at Muizenberg? How do you feel that it compares to Camps Bay, Clifton, and Big Bay?

Emily’s at the Waterfront

Clock Tower
Emily's, a restaurant in the Waterfront's Clock Tower precinct has this beautiful view of the Clock Tower, Table Bay Hotel, and harbour basin.

Even though the restaurant was empty (on a Friday night) the service wasn't very good. While expensive, the food was ok - but not particularly memorable. Also, it appeared as though the main meals were fairly different in size - leaving some of us still hungry after the meal.

Although the restaurant is beautiful inside, and has beautiful views, with the huge array of restaurants to choose from it's probably not a restaurant that we'd return to in a great hurry.

Is beer cheap in South Africa?

Beer on tap
We have family visiting from Australia and one of the first things that they commented on is how cheap our beer is in comparison to beer that they purchase back home.

Our average local bottle store sells a fairly good variety of beer that costs about R130 for a case of 24. That obviously excludes expensive beers imported from Belgium or Germany - those easily cost R350 for a case of 24!

I guess it's clear that one can't simply convert AUD, GBP, or EUR to ZAR to compare - but it would be interesting to know how much locally brewed beer costs in various countries. Leave a comment on this post, and let's see if we're as lucky as our Australian family thinks we are. :)

To easily convert your currency to ZAR, try using Google.
For example, do a search for "20 GBP in ZAR".

Den Anker took my shoe!

Den Anker's shoe-beer
Den Anker is a popular upmarket restaurant at the V&A Waterfront that sells a large variety of dishes including super-fresh seafood.

One of the restaurant's most popular traditions is that patrons are required to hand over a shoe as deposit when purchasing one of these beers. This 8.4% Belgian Kwak beer is served in it's traditional round-bottom glass that by accounts is pretty darn expensive to replace, hence the clever shoe-deposit!