Monday, January 26, 2009

13-18 January: McDonald's do Cape Town

Welcome to Cape Town! Oy so much catching up to do!!
So we arrive in Cape Town where we are staying at an apartment on the V&A waterfront – a very touristy area that looks like any other vacation spot on the water, so we hate it from the first dinner but some people seem to love it. We ate at a restaurant called Balducci’s which was SO good, but the menu was all pictures of naked women.

We get a late start the next morning (14th) and drive to find my apartment. We get the landlord’s number and meet her once we find the apt. She says my room (Kendal Court apt 6) isn’t ready yet, but she will show me two other ones. The rooms are all huge and really nice. She says I can move in on Sunday – a day before everyone else arrives. Of course we also see a ton of sketchy looking people walking by wearing full-body orange suits whom we pray aren’t prisoners.
Then we moved on to our first winery called Groot Constantia – it’s the most touristy, but it was pretty quiet when we were there. We met the owner, Diana, who is really smart and gave us the insider knowledge about South Africa. Then we went to another winery called Constantia Uitsig (pronounced eight-such with a Yiddish ch- sound). We ate lunch at the Italian restaurant there and it was delectable.
AND THEN we wanted to climb to the top of a mountain called Lion’s Head, but we were unclear as to where to start so we started on Signal Hill, a place where the crazys go to praise the full moon. We started the hike from signal hill and the views in incredible. I wish the internet here wasn’t so ghett because you NEED to see pictures of how amazing this city is. Mom is afraid to hike if it started to get too dark, so we ended the hike early and got drinks in a town called Camps Bay where the beaches are. This town is really SoCal and beautiful, and the people there are GORGEOUS. Holy potatoes, I have never seen a place so heaviliy populated with beautiful people.

Thursday morning (the 15th) we take the cable car up to the top of the famous Table Mountain. We took some pictures of flowers for Uncle Hugh. Then we went out to Hout Bay where there was construction on this scenic drive out to Chapman’s Peak so we ate at Wimpy’s – a fast food chain – and it was GROSS. And you may or may not know that I have the taste buds of a three year old so I usually salivate over the thought of fast food. I guess I’ll also mention here that ketchup in this darling country is awful. Its watery and tastes like tomato juice. And for me, an avid ketchup lover, this is not gonna fly for 6 months. So that night we stopped in a super market and bought Heinz ketchup and I have been bringing it around with me to every nice restaurant and sneaking it on my plate when the wait staff isn’t looking.
We continue that day driving towards Cape Point – the most sounthern point other than Antarctica. The Simonstown beaches are famous for having PENQUINS! We only saw 3, but these beaches were really nice. We continued on to Cape Pt and took the Funicular tram up to the top. Cape Point is famous for having baboons, which are evil animals that like to steal food and your soul. There are warnings everywhere not to eat food or to keep your windows open because the baboons will steal it and can get into your car. When we finished looking at Cape Point, we came back down on the Funicular and kept making jokes that we should buy food so we can see some baboons, since we hadn’t seen any yet. Either way, I was starving so I bought a bag of chips and a soda and was hanging out as my mom was taking a video of a baboon like 10 stories up on a rock. All of a sudden the baboon sees my chips and disappears, only to reappear 2 seconds later near us. The guards start yelling at the baboon and chasing it with a stick, and a lady tells me to get rid of my food. Next thing I know the baboon has come out of a different entrance and is watching me and walking closer. Dad yells to jump in the car which is pretty far away so I run to the car and just as I jump in and close the door the baboon is right under the door and if I had taken an extra second he would have gotten me! SCARY. And you all thought monkeys were cute little munchkins.
We finished the day in Kalk Bay, a cute hippie town near Cape Point. In this town, as in all towns in SA, stores close at 530 or 6. This is because people love to get their party on or love to get their sleep on. I don’t know, but working past 530 is unheard of. So we window shop and wind up eating at this weird Cuban place that Alex picked out. At first I’m all grumpy mcgrumpster because of the aforementioned premature tastebuds but this place is COOL. The inside is filled with random, mismatching tables, lamps, chairs, artwork all from Cuba and other commie countries, and everything is for sale. The food was also delicious, so everyone left happy.

Friday, Jan 16th
So whenever I would mention my travel plans to SA a ton of people said they would never think of going there, EVERYONE added their 2 cents about safety, and then there was this third group that was ever expanding of people coming out of the woodwork saying they’ve been here or know people here. Its like a hidden secret you only find out about once you’re going to SA. You mention Cape Town and they pull you into this back room where there are lock boxes filled with pictures they hide behind all of the family Cancun shots. It’s strange. But everyone seems to know someone that has been here or lives here. ANYWAY our soccer mom family friends – I’ll withhold their names until you all travel to SA – have been here on business a few times and gave us the name of a guy Joe Hannen who owns a small tourism company and who can take us on day tours of the wine country. Wine? McDonalds are in.
Joe Hannen (I call him Joe-Hannen-burg, HAHAHAHA) picks us up bright and early and onward we go! First we go to this Afrikaans language memorial in a town called Paarl, pearl in English – confusing, I know. It’s a beautiful monument, but I’m still confused why we aren’t being served wine so we jump in the car and head to our first winery in Paarl: Laborie. Lets add here that we all LOVE Joe right away, and the boys make plans to golf with him and he wants me to babysit his children. We stock up on dessert wines at Laborie then head onto Haute Cabriere in Franschoek – the French Corner in English. Here we also had lunch in a Frans restaurant (my taste buds are aging!) and shopped around the overly expensive touristy town. Next we stop at Spier winery, one I had been really looking forward to because you can pet CHEETAHS there. But after going on safari we hated seeing the cheetahs in their enclosed areas and did not want to have a “cheetah encounter” PLUS the cubs were over a year old and looked like the adult cheetahs, I wanted to see some cheetah puff balls, but they don’t let the cheetahs know each other biblically in captivity so no new babies were there. Wiggidy wack. So we bounced. We didn’t even stay for the wine.
The boys ate dinner at a steak house called Balthazar’s and mom and I saw Vicky Cristina Barcelona in the movie theatre. A) the movie was AMAZING. B) movies are only 33 rand, aka $3.30, another example of how cheap everything is here. C) an example of how overly nice SA people are, my mom and I started talking to this mother and daughter and she friended me on facebook right there on her phone! I know from Microsoft word spell check that you adult readers have no idea what that means since “friended” and “facebook” haven’t been added to Webster’s yet. In time, in time.

17th – Saturday
R&R day. Apt till 13h00 (1pm) and then beach on the north shore. They call (“they” being the generic they/the Man) CT the “windy city” and we learned this the hard way at this beach on the north shore. Since it had no wind protection, Jude Alex and I acted as wood being filed down by sand paper. Five minutes in, we were black from the sand and couldn’t hear each other since every crevice, namely our ears, were blocked with sand. I think we fought the wind for an hour and headed to the restaurant where Jeffy was eating lunch. We all walked in looking like sand prisoners, and I couldn’t enjoy my meal because I forgot my Heinz at home! Dinner on Long Street at a tapas place called Fork, and it was incredible – all the food here is amazing.

18th – Sunday – move in day!
We walk to find this famous Sunday morning market in Green Point but because of all the World Cup 2010 construction, we can’t find it and just wind up eating instead at the Waterfront. Reminder that the Waterfront is real touristy, but there is a concert going on in this little amphitheatre outside and there is a Man Band (boy band with 4 late-30-year-old men wishing they were teens) singing songs in English and Afrikaans. They weren’t terrible, but they weren’t magical either because their voices didn’t mesh well. In Afrikaans, “danke” - pronounced donkey – means “thank you.” So the last song we could stand out of the Man Band was when they said thank you in song – in Afrikaans. This meant that – since we only know danke – the lyrics sounded like “that is myyy donkeyyy” over and over in harmony. We couldn’t stop laughing so we just left, but the lyrics really touched us and we kept singing them the rest of the trip but with our own interpretations: “alex is myyy donkey,” etc.
I called this Move-In Day because as you recall from the beginning of this post, the landlord promised I could move in today to Kendal SIX. But when we arrive, my apartment is still being painted, my apartment being Kendal five. This is when we realize the landlords are twilight zone creepy, and the lady sounds like Salad Fingers, a weird cartoon to which I’ve provided a link so you can understand how this woman speaks: .
We left the twilight zone with a warning that we were actually bringing stuff to move in tomorrow, when the other students were supposed to arrive. Dinner at Kirstenbosch gardens where we arrived way early to read our books and be lazy, and wound up listening to the Sunday concert from afar so we could get waiter service at the bad restaurant there. I ordered Mac & Cheese because of the tastebud disorder and because nothing looked good on the menu, and they put it in the shape of a smiley face on my plate. Like, I understand that my tastebuds are wack, but that doesn’t mean my mind is deficient, I could take it in a slab if need be. Good thing I had the Heinz with me.

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