Africa · Travel

Seals, Sun and Sushi – Cape Town, South Africa

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I was expecting to like Cape Town, I mean everyone always told me how lovely it was, but what I wasn’t expecting was to fall completely head over heels for the place!  In January of 2015, Mr Fluskey and I hopped on a plane to the sun, sea and surprisingly tasty sushi of the Western Cape. It quickly became our best holiday ever!

Good start!
So Where Did This Post Come From?

Our friends over at Yellow Zebra Safari have challenged us to share with you all our best holiday ever. There have been a few brilliant trips but they have all had a slight downfall (bruising my coccyx on our honeymoon, a lovers tiff or mild food poisoning). From our hostel, that had a lovely view of Table Mountain we explored the city. It has the most wonderful mix of recent political history, absolutely stunning nature and guzzle-worthy food. It is quite a heady mix. This trip to Cape Town seemed completely hitch-free and if you read on, you will find out just how I fell in love with Cape Town.

If you want to enter the Yellow Zebra Safari competition too, just click on this link and check it out.

How I Fell in Love With the Sea Life

Seafood

On our first day, the first thing we experienced was stunningly fresh sushi washed down by a few glasses of delicious South African wine. Alongside the lean tuna and plump, pink prawns we got to try Cape Malay calamari. Cape Malay flavours are a unique blend of African and Indian spices, combined to make incredibly flavourful curries with a little spice. It set the seafood alight.

The V&A Waterfront
Sea Life

We wandered the V&A Waterfront, soaking up the sunshine and stopping in the odd shop in the covered market, The Watershed. The relaxation washed over me as I breathed in the salt-tinged air. Just next to the Watershed, we found the Two Oceans Aquarium and decided to give it a go. We rushed around, transfixed by the darting fish. We especially loved the huge sharks making slow, lazy laps of their tank.

How I Fell in Love With the History

Robbin Island

Robbin Island is a large outcrop, just across the water from Cape Town was home to Nelson Mandela and his fellow political prisoners. It was an immediate and sobering dose of reality. We learnt about his life and the awful regime of racial separation called apartheid. It really makes you appreciate just how far towards the rainbow nation that he dreamed of, stuck in his tiny cell, South Africa has become.

The limestone quarry the inmates were forced to work in. The rock dust was incredibly bad for the prisoners eyes

How I Fell in Love With the Wildlife

The Penguins

Cape Town is a wonderful place to explore the surrounding areas from and we took full advantage. One day trip saw us surrounded by tiny, adorable, stinky little penguins in Simon’s Town..

It seems odd that there are penguins basking in the heat of the African sun but if you have ever dipped your toes into the water in Cape Town, you’ll know that it is positively Arctic! We couldn’t get enough of these precious little monochrome critters and could have stayed all day, but we had to bundle back into minibus.

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The Sea Lions

Hout Bay loomed, grey and moody, in front of us when we boarded our boat. From the inlet, we couldn’t see our destination but as our vessel chugged seawards, we began to smell it. Soon, barks and honks came to us on the wind as well.

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The boat turned around the headland and we saw an island teeming with sea lions. They swam, lithe and nimble in the waves, changing into awkward lumps as they slipped onto the rock. It was brilliant to watch them transform as they dived off into the surf.

How I Fell in Love With the Scenery

Table Mountain

After admiring it from afar, we took the cable car up to the summit of Table Mountain. The views of Cape Town were simply breath-taking. The metropolis is interrupted by huge mountains, steep bluffs and edged in golden breaches. It must have been the most magical place to arrive by ship all those years ago. From Table Mountain’s flat top, you can see great drops of rugged rock face, endless blue ocean and over the bay to Robbin Island.

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Cape Point part I

On our visit to Cape Point National Park, we arrived by mini bus but then bikes were unloaded and we began the ride down to the Cape of Good Hope. This is billed as the most Southerly point in Africa but if you are a geography buff you will know that it is actually Cape Agulhas. We weren’t there to split hairs though so I’m sticking to the story that we made it as far south as we could.

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How I Fell in Love With a Feeling

Cape Point part II

The bike ride through Cape Point National Park was exhilarating. After the first few short hills, the road took a slow and steady downwards slant, ending in a long, straight, slope. Feeling reckless, and with the wind whipping my hair into a frenzy, I let go of the brakes and hurtled down the road. The freedom was intoxicating and I felt like I was about to lift off, ET style, into the sky. The adrenaline pumping spurred us to climb the cliffs that overlooked the churning waves where the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans collide. The wind arrived, unbroken from across the waves and at that moment, I felt like we could take on the world.

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How I Fell In Love With the Wine

The Festival

After all the excitement, we took a day to completely relax. The Stellenbosch wine festival fell on my birthday and so we just had to attend. It was a perfect day, Bright sunlight filled the blue sky and lit up the surrounding hills in verdant greens. The wine festival showcased wines from around the Western Cape and we sampled, slurped, supped and sipped our way round them all. The cold, crisp wine cooled us as the heat reached its peak.

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After a week in South Africa, I had completely soaked up the speech cadences, and with each glass of wine, my accent became more and more local. By our last bottle (a cheeky little dessert wine) people were asking me whereabouts in SA I was from! (I still have an awful habit of saying, “Hey?” at the end of sentences, three years later) As the stalls shut, a band began to play and we sat, basking in the sun, and letting the music and good vibes wash over us. It was the perfect end to my birthday.

The Tour

The next day, feeling a little wobbly, we clambered back onto a couple of bikes and prepared to learn a bit about the wine that we had been merrily imbibing the day before. We made our way slowly through vineyards and wineries, gasping for a drink by the time we reached the first one. What a gorgeous spot it was. The winery has built a lake house surrounded by rustling trees and lush lawns. We tried a few wines, some white and some red. I winced with each sip of red, hoping desperately that the hosts didn’t see my mouth twist.

We can’t help it, we just aren’t red drinkers…I think it’s the tannins.

The next stop was a wine and chocolate pairing. I know, it was as good as it sounds. Unwrap the chocolate and pop it into your mouth. Let it melt it your mouth and then take a sip of wine. Honestly, it is like Bridget Jones invented a wine tasting.

The two that really stick out in my mind were:

  1. A white chocolate with passion fruit flavouring that paired with a fruity white.
  2. A dark chocolate full of Christmas spices that paired with the only red wine I have ever enjoyed!

Luckily for our legs, the way home was all downhill and with a little hair of the dog coursing through our veins, it was a fun and easy ride.. What a splendid end to the week.

How I Fell a Bit More in Love With Mr Fluskey

Relaxing in the sun, bobbing on the waves or running screaming from the cold water in Camp’s Bay, Mr Fluskey and I really had the time and space to enjoy each other’s company on this holiday. Walking around the V&A waterfront on day one, I held Mr Fluskey’s hand realising that I had a whole week to connect with him, 8,000 miles away from our crazy shift jobs. Plus, we only stayed in two different hostels, a few less than our normal breakneck holiday speed. It really was a magical week, sprinkled with highlights and all taken at a beautifully leisurely pace, together.

Final Thoughts

With all that, how could I fail to fall in love with Cape Town? It has it all; fresh and delicious food, a chequered and fascinating past, and natural wonders to rival anywhere. I mean, after a few glasses of wine, I’d have signed a rent contract and agreed to stay. 

it really was the best holiday ever!

So With All This, Why Tanzania?

My only regret is that we didn’t do a safari during our time in South Africa. There is such extraordinary wildlife, and as cute as those African penguins were, I don’t feel like we made the most of the opportunity. It gives us the perfect excuse to return to the continent though! I suppose that is why we would love to visit Tanzania, just looking through Yellow Zebra Safari’s Tanzania page has sent  my imagination into overdrive. Just the chance to see the mighty wildebeest migration across the Serengeti. To see the great peak of Kilimanjaro. To see that great big sky bursting into flame as the sun sets and then fill with stars. Maybe even to see some chimps, swinging and grooming in the trees. Truly magical.

Rosie xx


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