An H28FT lamp post sign

An H28FT lamp post sign

I've been wondering what the sign really means. I wondered if H28FT perhaps indicates the lamp post's height - but why? So, like any web-savvy person would do I did an image search for H28FT and found... ladders. How very strange, and yet possibly appropriate.

Do you know what these signs are/were used for? Do they perhaps indicate the height that the crane, used when changing light bulbs, should pick the workmen up to reach the light fixture?

South African National Art Gallery

South African National Art Gallery
You'll find this building, the South African National Art Gallery, towards the top end of the Company's Gardens in Cape Town (map).  The gallery doesn't only have paintings on display, but from time to time hosts photographic collections, sculptures, and even beaded work.

If you're keen to visit, the gallery's open each day from 10h00 and closes at 17h00.

The Wheel of Excellence

The Wheel of Excellence
It was erected a little while before the 2010 World Cup Football tournament kicked off in South Africa. They said it would only be in Cape Town until the end of 2010. It's still here, and it's awesome.

I guess the fact that it's stayed means that the V&A Waterfront, and the wheel's owners are making a packet of money from the attraction.

A silent carousel at the V&A Waterfront

A silent carousel at the V&A Waterfront
This little carousel has been at the V&A Waterfront (near the Clock Tower) since just before Christmas day and will be sticking around for a few more days, until 17 January.

While the carousel looks awesome, we were very disappointed that it lacked that typical carousel music - well, it lacked music completely! Who would operate a carousel without music?!

So, even though it only costs R10 per person the absence of that enchanting music disappointed us so much that we decided to skip the ride. :(

The largest sailing catamaran in Africa?

The largest catamaran in Africa?
With a maximum capacity of 60 passengers, NK Charters claims that it's sailing catamaran, Tigresse, is the largest in Africa. On this late afternoon we enviously watched the Tigresse leave the V&A Waterfront with a large group of guests on a sunset campaign-cruise. It would have been nice to have been aboard her, rather than on the old boat that we ended up choosing. :(

If you're not sure what a catamaran is - well, it's quite simple. A catamaran is a boat with more than one hull (generally two hulls). What makes this kind of boat perfect as ferries, or sunset cruises, is that the double-hull design makes this class of boat faster and far more stable than its single-hull sister.

Atlantic Adventure’s high speed ride

Atlantic Adventure's high speed ride
We took a trip on a super-fast jet boat in Sydney - it was amazing! This one, operated by Atlantic Adventures, looks like it's probably just as much fun.

I considered the trip (instead of the deathly-slow Steamboat Vicky trip) but we wanted to take our two nieces out on a ride and this one (while cheaper and longer than the Australian Thunder Jet) was more than we could spend on the trip.

Take a close look at the back of the boat - see the guy with his arms raised? Looks super-happy hey? :D

A trip on the Waterfront’s Steamboat Vicky

A trip on the Waterfront's Steamboat Vicky
While waiting for Steamboat Vicky to dock at the V&A Waterfront I noticed that she appeared to be having trouble motoring against the wind, towards the jetty. She then slowly started drifting out of the yacht basin towards the Clock Tower and Victoria basin. The ground crew disappeared without trace and for about 15 minutes we waited for her to return, silently regretting purchasing tickets.

Steamboat Vicky eventually returned to the jetty empty. It appeared as though she's dropped her passengers off elsewhere to lighten her load for the return trip to her home jetty. According to the skipper they were having trouble with the 100-year-plus steam engine's water pump... and I guess you can imagine that a steamboat without a water pump is more of a boat, less of a steamboat. :)

We started the extremely slow trip around the harbour (according to the skipper the boat has two speeds, slow and stop). The trip lasted about half an hour - and in the next few posts I'll share a few photos that I took of other boats in the Victoria and Alfred basins.

If you decide to take a trip on Steamboat Vicky, I'd advise against sitting in front. During the trip I nervously kept an eye on the uncomfortably-hot flames that were leaping out from under the boiler only 50cm away from my ankle. Also, don't take a trip on a very windy day - the skipper had plenty of engine trouble trying to get old Vicky back to her jetty, and eventually dropped us off at a spot close to the Clock Tower.

The Purple Turtle in Long Street

The Purple Turtle in Cape Town
The Purple Turtle is the building on the right - naturally. :) The bar was extremely popular about 10 years ago, and while I never actually visited I know plenty of people who were absolute regulars.

While the venue still seems very popular, I can't say that I know anyone who still goes there. I've since read reports on the web of how The Purple Turtle has lost its character, and even of how patrons have started feeling unsafe.

Have you visited The Purple Turtle recently? Do you love it? Hate it? Please leave a comment to tell us why it's awesome - or why it's not so awesome.

Girl-friends at the beach

Girl-friends at the beach
If you visit Camps Bay beach and find lying down on the sand uncomfortable and the scorching sun too hot to bear, you can hire one of those branded umbrellas or deck-chairs in the background of this photo. It'll cost you R25 for an umbrella and R50 per deck-chair irrespective if you're on the beach for 30 minutes or the whole day.

Imagine being an alien…

Camps Bay beach
We're burned by the sun, we easily dehydrate, and may at times get mild sunstroke - but yet we still choose to leave our dwellings and congregate next to large bodies of undrinkable water. We don't do too much for the most part; we lie on the sand, stand in the water, and sometimes swim or body surf.

Imagine being an alien and arriving at earth to observe our race. Assuming that (a) aliens exist, and (b) their world doesn't have the concept perfect beach weather, wouldn't our practice of spending time at the beach look kinda odd?

Picnic at the beach with Cravings Delicatessen

Picnic at the beach

We're definitely not into preparing our own picnic baskets - you could say that we're a little lazy that way. ;)  So I guess you'd understand why, when Cravings Delicatessen offered us a complimentary pick-'n-choose style picnic, we naturally couldn't refuse!

We placed our order beforehand, and arrived at Cravings in Sea Point (map) at about nine-thirty; that gave us time to enjoy a cappuccino first before grabbing our breakfast picnic bag and heading down to the warm and windless Camps Bay beach. I hired a beach umbrella from one of the local operators (the best R25 that I've spent in a while) and quickly unpacked the coolerbag, while Kerry-Anne munched some yummy biltong, which her taste-savvy nose had ferreted out from among the treats packed in by Cravings.

Included in our bag of goodies was the best home-made ground chicken burger that I've ever tasted (seriously), a huge wrap that was absolutely stuffed with fresh salmon, a cheese and jam croissant, one family-sized bowl of yummy frozen yoghurt (made from plain Bulgarian yoghurt), a protein shake, a mixed fruit smoothie, dried mango strips, a packet of hot-air-roasted nuts and the bag of much-appreciated biltong (which you may be interested to know is indeed halaal!).

Cravings focuses on good, healthy food; they have a fairly large variety to choose from, so visit their website for the complete menu and price-list. They supply a light-weight cooler-bag for which they hold a R120 refundable deposit. Disposable cutlery and paper napkins are included in the bag, but do remember to bring your own blanket (or towels if you intend heading to the beach).

A long-standing reputation of “Excellence in Maturation”

A long-standing reputation of Excellence in Maturation
Cape Town's history of wine-making started way back when Jan van Riebeeck (the first Commander of the Cape) brought the first vines to our beautiful part of Africa.

Some 200 years after this, in 1845, Jan van Ryn left Holland, landed in Cape Town, and opened a bottle store in the suburb of Rondebosch. The bottle store eventually evolved into the Van Ryn Wine & Spirit Company, whose name you can see on this 100+ year-old bottle of Harvest Brandy!

In 1884 Van Ryn's won their first international award; over the years they've won many more, including two gold awards for their 20-year-old Collector's Reserve and another two golds for their 15-year-old Fine Cask Reserve, in 2011.

A cooper, a barrel, and lot of brandy

A cooper, a barrel, and a lot of brandy
We arrived at Van Ryn's brandy distillery at 11h30, just in time to join the second group of the day for a short tour before our eagerly-anticipated tasting.

Jean, our guide, took our little group through to the distillation room where she explained the process by which wine is turned to brandy. We then moved though to the room shown in this photo where Neville Ebrahim, a seasoned cooper, demonstrated the process by which barrels used to be made.

In this photo Oom (Uncle) Ebrahim was showing us how coopers used to shape staves that form the brandy barrels. His demonstration was certainly a highlight of our visit to Van Ryn's - I'd encourage you to take a tour if only to see Oom Ebrahim in action. :)

Tours start at 10h00, 11h30 and 15h00 on week days except for Sundays and public holidays when the last tour is given at 13h00. Visit Van Ryn's website for more information about the tastings and tours.

Van Ryn’s, one of Cape Town’s finest brandy distilleries

Van Ryn's, one of Cape Town's finest brandy distilleries
Every time that I visit the well-known Spier Estate in Stellenbosch I drive past the huge Van Ryn's sign inviting passers-by to a brandy tasting experience at the distillery (map).

After years of rushing past the sign and making mental notes to pay them a visit, we finally managed to get it together and organised a brandy-tasting outing. I'm normally more inclined to drink whiskey rather than brandy, but I have to admit that our visit to Van Ryn's and to pleasure of an ultra-smooth 20-year-old gliding over my tongue may just have swayed me! :)

Fast food at Ratanga Junction

Fast food at Ratanga Junction
I've sung Ratanga Junction's praises in my last two posts - so to add some balance to the mix I thought I'd express my opinion about the food outlets trading in the theme park.

As with any theme park, I guess, one's not allowed to bring food or drinks into the park - which means that the park's able to charge a premium for food that's not of a particular high quality. The situation basically feels to me like: "eat what there is and pay our price, or starve".

Now, I guess I should confess that I haven't visited Ratanga on a normal-operating day for a couple of years, so it's possible that I wouldn't feel as ripped off and dissatisfied as I did those years back. It's also possible that folk who love greasy fast food wouldn't mind paying premium to enjoy lunch in "The wildest place in Africa".

What's your experience of Ratanga Junction's catering been? How about similar theme parks? Am I being silly, are they all pretty much the same?

Theme parks!

Theme parks!
Most people, when asked which ride they love most at Ratanga Junction, will answer "The Cobra" (the big rollercoaster that you're able to see, sticking out like a sore thumb, when driving past along the N1 highway).

As I mentioned to Jonathan in a comment on my previous post - for me, the ideal day at Ratanga Junction would consist of numerous consecutive rides on The Cobra, Monkey Falls and Crocodile Gorge. What are your favourite theme-park rides?

We struck it lucky one day and visited the theme park on a quiet day. There was no queuing to speak of and we literally road The Cobra a dozen or more times! It was fantastic!

Monkey Falls baby!

Monkey Falls baby!
I slipped the words "best end of year function" and "Ratanga Junction" into my previous post. If you don't already know, Ratanga Junction is the large theme park located just outside of the city, along the N1 highway. Our company hired Monkey Falls (only the most fun ride) for our exclusive use, for the entire afternoon. No queues, no waiting, just fun. :)

Click on a few of the photos below tho see what I mean.

Tractors and picnics at Solms-Delta

Tractors and picnics
We tagged along with a Irene and a small cluster of friends to Solms-Delta for a picnic along the river. At arrival we first took time to enjoy the wine tasting and then boarded this small tractor for a trip among the vines to the picnic spot on the banks of a little river.

The picnic cost R135 per person and came neatly packed in a cane basket with bottles of wine and water. The day was hot. The wind was cool. The food was good. In conclusion - we had an awesome time devouring the food, lying under the trees, dipping into the river, and playing a round or two of cricket.

The picnic at Solms-Delta comes well recommended!

Wine tasting at Solms-Delta

Wine tasting at Solms-Delta
The wine tasting at Solms-Delta was super-entertaining. The tasting expert was a descendant of the people who for centuries worked in the farm's vineyards - picking grapes and helping to turn them into wine. He kept our crowd of 20 people entertained with stories of the farm's history, tales of deceit and murder, and about how the various wines got their interesting names.

I'm not a connoisseur, so I can't comment on the quality of the wine - but it appeared as though the experienced people in our group were pleasantly surprised by both the quality and quantity of wine they tasted. ;)

Theatricality, Flamenco dance and Asian aesthetics

Theatricality, flamenco dance and Asian aesthetics
La Rosa, one of South Africa's finest Spanish dance companies, are performing Bernada, a theatrical performance with Flamenco dance and Asian aesthetics from 24 November until 3 December at UCT's Hiddingh Hall in Orange Street (map) at 8pm each evening (except Sunday and Monday).

The cost is a mere R80 and you can book through La Rosa directly by calling 021 461 4201 or emailing

Tobogganing at Cool Runnings

Toboganning at Cool Runnings
If you haven't been tobogganing at Cool Runnings in Tyger Valley yet then you're missing out on a whole lot of fun. And, don't be fooled, even though it's dominated by kids it's certainly not for kids only - there were several older "kids" getting their piece of the action while we were there.

One tip - if you're not keen in queuing to catch your car, then it's best to either go early (when they open at 11am in the week and 9am on the weekend) or about an hour before closing time, which is 6pm.

MARVEL – it’s a bar, not a comic

MARVEL - it's a  bar, not a comic
I can't help but think of Captain America, Ironman, and The Incredible Hulk when I see this bar. Located at the top of Long Street in Cape Town, Marvel is rumored to have the friendliest staff and most chilled beats in Long Street.

I've never visited Marvel, but I think that I'll make a concerted effort to do so in the not too distant future. :)

Ballerinas on Table Mountain

Ballerinas on Table Mountain
These ballerinas seemed to be in an awful hurry (heading towards the "exit" sign at Table Mountain's upper cable station), so I never had a chance to ask what they'd been doing on the mountain. I pretty sure that they felt a little too much in the limelight and wanted to change out of the tutus as quickly as possible.

The 65-passenger Table Mountain cable car

The 65-passenger Table Mountain cable car
As Dieter correctly guessed, my previous photo was of the inside of one of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway's cable cars. This photo is of the cable car birthing in its lower docking station.

It's difficult for me to imagine that a cable car of this size is able to fit 65 people. Once everyone's inside there's not a lot of place to move around, but fortunately there's enough space so that it doesn't feel as though you're a sardine in a tin!

Fez Club

Fez Club
For obvious reasons when I think of the Fez Club in Cape Town I'm reminded of Seth Godin's book The Big Red Fez, which was quite revolutionary back in the day. The book of course has nothing to do with Cape Town. :)

The Fez Club, as you may know, is a super-popular restaurant and live entertainment venue in Cape Town, similar to that of the legendary Madame Zingara (the portable restaurant that's located at Century City, just outside of the city center, until the end of 2011).

Now, thinking of Madame Zingara; we haven't seen her in a long long while - I think we'll have to pay her visit as soon as Kerry-Anne's recovered from her hip op.

Spinning parachutes

Tandem parachuting
One of our readers was just commenting on how the instructor let him take control of the parachute during a tandem jump. The instructor at the Melkbos jump site (map) also let Kerry-Anne take the reins and (as I replied to him) she made the canopy spin like a top (she likes that kind of thing, you know).

From the booking process, to the briefing, to the actual jump - we're pretty happy to recommend Downhill Adventures. The had Kerry-Anne kitted up in a matter of minutes; bundled her into the plane; and had her free-falling about 20 minutes thereafter.

Parachutes and airplanes

As mentioned in my previous post, Kerry-Anne took to the sky in a small plane and tumbled out of the plane at 10,000 feet with an instructor who (fortunately) had one of these attached to his back.

Have you jumped? If not, you really should consider it when visiting Cape Town - the view from up there is remarkable (or so Kerry-Anne tells me) and the rush is unlike any other!

For reference, the entire experience took about 45 minutes (from walking in the door, to walking out after the jump) and the cost was a R1750. Downhill Adventures will also video the experience for another few hundred Rand, depending on the option that you choose.