Waterfront Cape Town, South Africa (2018)

A view of the north waterfront of Cape Town, South Africa, from the lower cable car station at the base of Table Mountain; our ship is visible just to the right of the three blue roofs o

A view of the north waterfront of Cape Town, South Africa, from the lower cable car station at the base of Table Mountain; our ship is visible just to the right of the three blue roofs of the Sun Table Bay (hotel) in V&A Harbor

 

Cape Town, South Africa “has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and something to offer everyone.  It is no surprise that South Africa was one of the first countries outside of Europe to earn blue flag status for some of her beaches – there are three on offer in and around Cape Town

 

Apartments and The Bay Hotel in very popular Camps Bay, tucked under the western side of Table Mountain [the view of the “flat top” of Table Mountain is from the north], Cape Town, S

Apartments and The Bay Hotel in very popular Camps Bay, tucked under the western side of Table Mountain [the view of the “flat top” of Table Mountain is from the north], Cape Town, South Africa

Victoria Road as it goes through Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

Victoria Road as it goes through Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

 

The northern end of the popular beach at Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

The northern end of the popular beach at Camps Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

 

“The west side of the Cape Peninsula, on the Atlantic Ocean, has a very definite style of beach.  This is where the more fashionable set go to see and be seen, particularly along the Atlantic Seaboard, also known as Cape Town’s ‘Riviera’, which stretches from the V&A waterfront [where our ship was docked] on the north shore of Table Mountain up as far as Hout Bay and is connected by one of the most picturesque, scenic drives along Victoria Road [which we did, again].” – www.SA-Venues.com

 

A very large public swimming pool along Victoria Road in Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa

A very large public swimming pool along Victoria Road in Sea Point, Cape Town, South Africa

 

The Green Point lighthouse, Cape Town, South Africa

The Green Point lighthouse, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Local musicians playing at V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

Local musicians playing at V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

 

The intrepid traveler in front of the wild animals at The Trading Post in V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa – probably as close as is possible with the African elephants…

The intrepid traveler in front of the wild animals at The Trading Post in V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa – probably as close as is possible with the African elephants…

 

Almost daily in the summer, the South-East winds blow enough moisture up and over Table Mountain to spread out the “table cloth” on top of the mountain_s plateau, Cape Town, South

Almost daily in the summer, the South-East winds blow enough moisture up and over Table Mountain to spread out the “table cloth” on top of the mountain’s plateau, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Central Cape Town, South Africa (2018)

A statue of Bartholomeu Dias, the Portuguese explorer who discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1488, sits at the foot of Heerengracht Street in downtown Cape Town, South Africa

A statue of Bartholomeu Dias, the Portuguese explorer who discovered the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 (Vasco da Gama followed in his footsteps, rounding the Cape of Good Hope to become the first to sail on to India), sits at the foot of Heerengracht Street in downtown Cape Town, South Africa

 

From the V&A Harbor (where our ship was docked), we took a bus to the center of downtown Cape Town, South Africa where we took a downtown tour, ending up on the edge of Company’s Gardens at the South Africa Jewish Museum at 88 Hatfield Street.  Since we first visited Cape Town in 1998, and even since our last visit in 2015, there has been a lot of new construction with modern high rises all across the downtown district now.

 

We were invited to a cocktail party at the top floor and roof gardens, NASDAK, of a local media company_s building, Media24, in the Foreshore District at the edge of downtown

We were invited to a cocktail party at the top floor and roof gardens, NASDAK, of a local media company’s building, Media24, in the Foreshore District at the edge of downtown – the sunset views of Table Mountain were spectacular; Cape Town, South Africa

 

Modern, high-rise office buildings have raised the skyline of Cape Town, South Africa, over the past 20-plus years

Modern, high-rise office buildings have raised the skyline of Cape Town, South Africa, over the past 20-plus years

 

The Central District of Cape Town, South Africa, contains buildings from multiple generations of business people, nicely interspersed, avoiding the monotony of all glass skyscrapers foun

The Central District of Cape Town, South Africa, contains buildings from multiple generations of business people, nicely interspersed, avoiding the monotony of all glass skyscrapers found in many major cities

 

Another scene of diverse architectural styles in the Central District, Cape Town, South Africa

Another scene of diverse architectural styles in the Central District, Cape Town, South Africa

 

The Castle of Good Hope is a bastion fort built by the British Dutch East India Company between 1666 and 1679 in Cape Town, South Africa; it is a prime example of a star fort

The Castle of Good Hope is a bastion fort built by the British Dutch East India Company between 1666 and 1679 in Cape Town, South Africa; it is a prime example of a star fort

 

Great Synagogue in Cape Town, South Africa, is the oldest Jewish congregation in South Africa, established in 1841; the Baroque-style building was opened in 1905 by the President of the

Great Synagogue in Cape Town, South Africa, is the oldest Jewish congregation in South Africa, established in 1841; the Baroque-style building was opened in 1905 by the President of the Congregation and the Mayor of Cape Town

 

The interior of Great Synagogue in Cape Town, South Africa; the 2013 stained glass windows (pictured) replaced the original stained glass dating back to 1936

The interior of Great Synagogue in Cape Town, South Africa; the 2013 stained glass windows (pictured) replaced the original stained glass dating back to 1936

 

A close up of the interior of Great Synagogue in Cape Town, South Africa

A close up of the interior of Great Synagogue in Cape Town, South Africa

 

The entrance to the South African Jewish Museum, Cape Town, South Africa, is through the classical revival-style building, St. John_s Street Synagogue, the first custom-built shul ever

The entrance to the South African Jewish Museum, Cape Town, South Africa, is through the classical revival-style building, St. John’s Street Synagogue, the first custom-built shul ever established in sub-Saharan Africa, 13 September 1863

 

The South African Jewish Museum was officially opened by Nelson Mandela in December 2000; it is a moving tribute to one of the great Jewish communities of the Diaspora.  The shtetl reconstructed in the pictured gallery, below, of the South African Jewish Museum portrays a typical village in Lithuania, the country from which most South African Jews trace their origin.  Although Jews in Eastern Europe lived in cities and towns, a large percentage lived in country villages.  The shtetl (small village in Yiddish) consisted of modest wooden houses and each shtetl had its own synagogue and Beth Midrash (Torah learning place).  Built also of wood, the synagogue was usually the largest building in the shtetl. While its external appearance was modest, its interior was sometimes beautifully decorated.

 

On the ground floor of the South African Jewish Museum is a reconstructed shtetl that portrays a typical small village in Lithuania, the country from which most South African Jews trace

On the ground floor of the South African Jewish Museum is a reconstructed shtetl that portrays a typical small village in Lithuania, the country from which most South African Jews trace their origin, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Stellenbosch Winelands (near Cape Town), South Africa (2018)

After an excellent wine tasting in the Vergelegen Wine Estate wine tasting and information center, we had a tour of the property, beginning in the herb garden, Somerset West (Stellenbosc

After an excellent wine tasting in the Vergelegen Wine Estate wine tasting and information center, we had a tour of the property, beginning in the herb garden, Somerset West (Stellenbosch wine region), South Africa

 

Thanks to the expert guidance of our ship’s Head Sommelier, we planned a one day outing from the ship’s dock in the V&A Harbour in Cape Town, South Africa, to the Stellenbosch wine country – an area we have visited several times on previous trips, and always a joy to return to.  Madeline Puckette, a certified sommelier and writer (e.g., Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine) posted an excellent description of the area:

“Many of the photos we see of South African vineyards – positioned in front of striking granite mountains – are from the Stellenbosch area.  It contains the most developed winelands; it is home to an important wine University (University of Stellenbosch); and it is the center of wine tourism.  In short, Stellenbosch is to South African wine much like Napa is to Californian wine [emphasis added].  Of course, finding good wine from Stellenbosch can be challenging because there are so many producers.  However, there is a secret to exploring the area.  The highest rated wines tend come from vineyards that are on alluvial fans of the granite mountains.  The wines from these locations are often described as having a subtle mineral note which many believe is from the decomposed granite soils.  The granite mountains are approximately 600 million years old, over 3 times as old as the soil in Napa.” – http://www.winefolly.com/review/wines-south-africas-stellenbosch-district

Our first stop was at the Vergelegen Wine Estate in the Stellenbosch wine subregion of Somerset West.  “Vergelegen, meaning ‘situated far away’ [in Dutch], was granted to the Governor of the Cape, Willem Adriaan van der Stel, in 1700.  Since then, the estate has been crafted by some of the world’s greatest explorers and visionaries, who each in their own way, have helped shape Vergelegen to what it is today: a world-class Estate.  Vergelegen has been owned by the Anglo American plc group since 1987.

 

The Vergelegen homestead, well preserved and open to visitors, including many historical displays along with period furniture, Somerset West, South Africa

The Vergelegen homestead, well preserved and open to visitors, including many historical displays along with period furniture, Somerset West, South Africa

 

Classical 18th century Dutch South African architecture as seen in the back of the Vergelegen homestead, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

Classical 18th century Dutch South African architecture as seen in the back of the Vergelegen homestead, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

 

“Vergelegen has twice won the coveted Château Pichon-Longueville-Comtesse-de-Lalande Trophy for the best red blend and continues to achieve critical acclaim for its success in maintaining the delicate balance between wine production, the conservation of its rich heritage and the environment…  The philosophy of our award-winning gardens is to reflect the best from all of the historical periods of the past 300 years.  There are 17 unique gardens to explore and wander through, ranging from the only Camellia Garden of Excellence in South Africa, to the splendid Octagonal Garden.” — Vergelegen Wine Estate brochure

 

Flowers in the Octagonal Garden, leading up to the Homestead, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

Flowers in the Octagonal Garden, leading up to the Homestead, Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

 

The Camphor Tree (Cinnamon Camphora) is a native of China and Japan was introduced to the Cape region about 1670 by the Dutch East Indies; these trees were planted by W.A. van der Stel b

The Camphor Tree (Cinnamon Camphora) is a native of China and Japan was introduced to the Cape region about 1670 by the Dutch East Indies; these trees were planted by W.A. van der Stel between 1700 and 1706 and were proclaimed a South African National Monument in 1942; Vergelegen Wine Estate, Somerset West, South Africa – note that commercial camphor is extracted from the camphor tree wood

 

We enjoyed a tasting of the olives and olive oils grown, processed and produced at the Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

We enjoyed a tasting of the olives and olive oils grown, processed and produced at the Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate, Somerset West, South Africa

 

A short drive away, on a parcel of land that was originally part of the old Vergelegen land grant, was Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate.  Breaking up our morning of wine tasting, we decided to just do an olive oil tasting – some of the finest in South Africa, with all of the olive trees having been imported from Italy over the years by the estate owner Giulio Bertrand.  “Morgenster Wine & Olive Estate in Somerset West, 35 minutes from Cape Town, is at the gateway to the Western Cape wine-growing region.  It is a thriving olive and wine farm dating back to 1711, producing internationally acclaimed Bordeaux-style wines and extra virgin olive oil of astounding quality.   The Morning Star within a scallop shell as depicted on the front gable of Morgenster’s beautiful manor house, the private home of owner Giulio Bertrand, is the Estate’s signature and features on the labels of its fine wines and olive products.  Visitors to the Estate’s stylish Revel Fox designed tasting room, which is set against the Schaapenberg and overlooks a reed lined dam and the Helderberg, can enjoy a wine tasting experience unique in South Africa.  The Estate’s philosophy is to release its red Bordeaux style blends only when they have developed and aged to potential and the cellar therefore houses highly awarded earlier vintages under its Morgenster and Lourens River Valley labels. ”www.morgenster.co.za   We enjoyed the olive oils in the tasting so much that we bought several bottles to take back to our kitchen aboard the ship – the award winning extra virgin olive oil and the lemon enhanced extra virgin olive oil.

 

Vineyards at DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Vineyards at DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

Heading north up towards the town of Stellenbosch, we then went a little to the west to our final winery visit of the morning, DeMorgenzon, founded in 1699.  “All wine estates in the Western Cape are beautiful and all have unique terroir.  However, we believe that DeMorgenzon is the most extraordinary of them all.  Our slopes rise from about 200 meters (656 feet) to nearly 400 meters (1,312 feet) above sea level and our vistas embrace Cape Town, Table Mountain, Cape Point, Cape Hangklip, the Hottentots Holland mountains, Helderberg and Simonsberg with the ocean as a backdrop.  While we could call ourselves ‘mountain vineyards’ we prefer to be known as ‘garden vineyards’.  In Spring specially chosen wildflowers flourish between our vines.  We have no doubt that a biodiverse and ecologically sensitive environment produces infinitely better grapes and the beauty of our gardens is captured in every bottle of our wine…  DeMorgenzon, ‘the morning sun,’ was so named as it is the first part of the Stellenboschkloof valley to see the sun because of its high altitude and aspects.  We cover the top southern and eastern slopes of Ribbokkop, overlooking the pinnacle of Kanonkop from where a cannon was fired to alert the farms in the region that a ship had put into Table Bay.  The first road from Cape Town to Stellenbosch ran through the Stellenbosch Kloof.” — www.demorgenzon.com

 

Chenin Blanc (the leading varietal of South African wineries) vineyards, DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch, South Africa; we brought back some of the excellent Reserve Chenin Blanc to our apartm

Chenin Blanc (the leading varietal of South African wineries) vineyards, DeMorgenzon, Stellenbosch, South Africa; we brought back some of the excellent Reserve Chenin Blanc to our apartment on the ship, along with several other varietals from DeMorgenzon

 

The gardens at DeMorgenzon were stunning, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The gardens at DeMorgenzon were stunning, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

The spectacular planted landscape at DeMorgenzon includes the garden flowers, vineyards and olive groves, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The spectacular planted landscape at DeMorgenzon includes the garden flowers, vineyards and olive groves, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

TOKARA is the embodiment of GT Ferreira_s philosophy that good wine, good food and good art go together to make a good lifestyle; the magnificent installation art by Marco Cianfanelli,

TOKARA is the embodiment of GT Ferreira’s philosophy that good wine, good food and good art go together to make a good lifestyle; the magnificent private commission of installation art by Marco Cianfanelli, The Mind’s Vine, encapsulates the narrative of the creation of TOKARA and reflects the winery’s origins as a superlative wine growing environment — Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

For a late afternoon luncheon and wine tasting with the meal, we headed back to Stellenbosch and then drove east up towards the pass in the Simonsberg Mountains towards Paarl and Franschhoek.  Near the summit we pulled into Tokara Wine Estate for a mid-afternoon repast at the Tokara Restaurant.  We had an excellent multi-course South African cuisine meal with excellent wines from the estate.  We were very disappointed to learn that the delicious, off-menu 2015 Tokara Pinotage was sold out at the winery store.

A note about Pinotage — it is a red wine grape that is South Africa’s signature variety, originally bred there in 1925 as a cross between the French varietals Pinot Noir and Cinsaut.

 

One of several tapestries by a well known South African artist on display at the Tokara Restaurant at Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

One of several tapestries by a well known South African artist on display at the Tokara Restaurant at Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

The terrace room of the Tokara Restaurant at Tokara Wine Estate overlooks the vineyards on the Simonsberg Mountains, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The terrace room of the Tokara Restaurant at Tokara Wine Estate overlooks the vineyards on the Simonsberg Mountains, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

In 1994 GT Ferreira purchased the Tokara farm for residential purposes.  But that was until the wine-making potential of this land was discovered.  The cool air makes for great wine and soon classic varietals were planted along the slopes of the Helshoogte Pass.  From the estate, visitors are able to catch a glimpse of Idas Valley, False Bay and the Simonsberg Mountains.

 

Vineyards and olive grove on the Simonsberg Mountains, Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Vineyards and olive grove on the Simonsberg Mountains, Tokara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch, South Africa

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Contemporary Art in Cape Town, South Africa (2018)

Walking over from the Cape Town Cruise Terminal, we got our first glimpse of the Silo Hotel, adjacent to the renovated concrete grain silo structure that is now the Zeitz Museum of Conte

Walking over from the Cape Town Cruise Terminal, at the end of a street of new shops in the Silo District, we got our first glimpse of the Silo Hotel, adjacent to the renovated and redesigned concrete grain silo structure that is now the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

 

As noted in our previous blog post [“Cape Town, South Africa (2018)”], Cape Town is well known as a center of human creativity – “it’s one of the things that made the city a World Design Capital in 2014”.  Over the past decade there has been a burst of new construction with some really innovative architectural designs.  One of the most interesting renovation/repurposing projects occurred adjacent to the V&A Harbor (where we were docked) – the combined Silo Hotel and Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.  The two buildings arose out of an abandoned old concrete Grain Silo, dating back to 1921 (decommissioned in 2001) at the waterfront.  The “carving” away of the interior of some of the vertical, cylindrical concrete silos to open up most of the center of the structure for the museum is an act of architectural genius, as you’ll see in the photographs, below.  The Silo Hotel was reconstructed with glass façades on the upper floors, matching the new upper story of the new museum building.  It was a thrill touring the building, before even getting into the Museum’s permanent collection exhibitions and temporary exhibition (of art from young artists from Zimbabwe) where we were absorbed for several hours.

 

Water sports in the canal adjacent to the Silo District in the shadow of contemporary new office buildikngs, Cape Town, South Africa

Water sports in the canal adjacent to the Silo District in the shadow of contemporary new office buildiings, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Two modern sculptures of contrasting materials and completely different designs in the Silo District, Cape Town, South Africa

Two modern sculptures of contrasting materials and completely different designs in the Silo District, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa makes up the left portion of the former Grain Silo with the Silo Hotel having been constructed in the rectangular section on the right, with strik

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa makes up the left portion of the former Grain Silo with the Silo Hotel having been constructed in the rectangular section on the right, with striking, all new glass enclosures on the upper floors (matching the upper floor of the museum), Cape Town, South Africa

 

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is a contemporary art museum located at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa.  It is the largest art museum in Africa and the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world.  The museum opened on September 22, 2017.  According to their web site, “Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a public not-for-profit contemporary art museum which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first century art from Africa and its Diaspora; hosts international exhibitions; develops supporting educational and enrichment programmes; encourages intercultural understanding; and guarantees access for all.  Over one hundred galleries, spread over nine floors, are dedicated to a large cutting edge permanent collection; temporary exhibitions; and Centres for Art Education, Curatorial Excellence, Performative Practice, Photography, the Moving Image, and the Costume Institute.”

 

An interior view of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa showing how the vertical cylindrical concrete grain silos were “sliced” to create spectacular skylights for the museum ent

An interior view of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa showing how the vertical cylindrical concrete grain silos were “sliced” to create spectacular skylights for the museum entry and lobby, Cape Town, South Africa

 

The upper sections of three old concrete grain silos visible across the patio of the rooftop sculpture garden at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

The upper sections of three old concrete grain silos visible across the patio of the rooftop sculpture garden at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

 

A partial reflection of one of the old concrete grain silos on the patio of the rooftop sculpture garden at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

A partial reflection of one of the old concrete grain silos on the patio of the rooftop sculpture garden at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

 

New glass enclosures on the Silo Hotel, adjacent to (and photographed from) Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

New glass enclosures on the Silo Hotel, adjacent to (and photographed from) Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Looking straight up to the rooftop sculpture garden and the “skylight” sections of carved out former concrete grain silos at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South

Looking straight up to the rooftop sculpture garden and the “skylight” sections of carved out former concrete grain silos at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Two elevators and a spiral staircase were installed in three partially carved out old concrete grain silos at the edge of the lobby of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town,

Two elevators and a spiral staircase were installed in three partially carved out old concrete grain silos at the edge of the lobby of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

 

A close-up of the rooftop skylight” sections of carved out former concrete grain silos at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

A close-up of the rooftop skylight” sections of carved out former concrete grain silos at Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Silo grain chutes and control valves dating back to the construction of the old Grain Silo in 1921 are preserved in the basement of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, Sou

Silo grain chutes and control valves dating back to the construction of the old Grain Silo in 1921 are preserved in the basement of Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Moët & Chandon erected an advertising “Merry Christmas” tree out of empty Champagne bottles just outside Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in the Silo District of Cape Town,

Moët & Chandon (one of the world’s largest Champagne producers and a prominent Champagne house from France) erected an advertising “Merry Christmas” tree out of empty Champagne bottles just outside Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in the Silo District of Cape Town, South Africa

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Cape Town, South Africa (2018)

We sailed into slightly foggy Cape Town, South Africa, after five-plus days at sea out of St. Helena Island, approaching from the northwest, providing a very dramatic view of the city an

We sailed into slightly foggy Cape Town, South Africa, after five-plus days at sea out of St. Helena Island, approaching from the northwest, providing a very dramatic view of the city and peninsula

 

“A coming-together of cultures, cuisines and landscapes, there’s nowhere quite like Cape Town, a singularly beautiful city crowned by the magnificent Table Mountain National Park.

 

Table Mountain -- its near vertical cliffs and flat-topped summit are over 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) high -- with Devil_s Peak and Lion_s Head on either side, Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain — its near vertical cliffs and flat-topped summit are over 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) high — with Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head on either side, together form a dramatic mountainous backdrop enclosing the central area of Cape Town, South Africa

 

“Natural Wonders — Table Mountain National Park defines the city.  The flat-topped mountain is the headline act, but there are many other equally gorgeous natural landscapes within the park’s extensive boundaries.  Cultivated areas, such as the historic Company’s Garden, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Green Point Urban Park, also make exploring the city a pleasure.  Follow the lead of locals by taking full advantage of the abundant outdoor space: learn to surf; go hiking or mountain biking; tandem-paraglide off Lion’s Head; abseil off the top of Table Mountain – just a few of the many activities on offer.

 

A close up of the three mountains defining the geographical landscape of Cape Town, South Africa- Devil_s Peak (on the left), Table Mountain (center) and Lion_s head (on the right, p

A close up of the three mountains defining the geographical landscape of Cape Town, South Africa: Devil’s Peak (on the left), Table Mountain (center) and Lion’s head (on the right, poking up from the lion’s “body”)

 

Sailing east to the harbor areas on the north side of Cape Town, South Africa, with the Cape Town Stadium, built for the 2010 FIFA -- Fédération Internationale de Football Associatio

Sailing east to the harbor areas on the north side of Cape Town, South Africa, with the Cape Town Stadium, built for the 2010 FIFA — Fédération Internationale de Football Association — World Cup football (soccer) matches, on the right, and the three blue-roofs in the center (belonging to The Table Bay (hotel)), marking the ocean-side entrance to the V&A (Victoria and Albert) Harbor and Waterfront (a restored and thriving shopping/restaurant/hotel district)

 

“Art & Design — Human creativity is also self-evident here – it’s one of the things that made the city a World Design Capital in 2014.  From the brightly painted facades of the Bo-Kaap and the bathing chalets of Muizenberg, to the Afro-chic decor of its restaurants and bars and the striking street art and innovation incubators of the East City and Woodstock, this is one great-looking metropolis.  The informal settlements of the Cape Flats are a sobering counterpoint, but these townships also have enterprising projects that put food from organic market gardens on tables, or stock gift shops with attractive souvenirs.

 

We sailed past the V&A Harbor-Waterfront to turn at the jetty into the main, Cape Town Harbor, where the Cruise Terminal is located

We sailed past the V&A Harbor/Waterfront to turn at the jetty into the main, Cape Town Harbor, where the Cruise Terminal is located

 

The dramatic entrance to the Cape Town Harbor, directly underneath Table Mountain, in front of downtown Cape Town, South Africa

The dramatic entrance to the Cape Town Harbor, directly underneath Table Mountain, in front of downtown Cape Town, South Africa

 

”People & Culture — Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and traditional African beliefs coexist peacefully in this proudly multicultural city.  Given South Africa’s troubled history, such harmony has been hard-won and remains fragile: nearly everyone has a fascinating, sometimes heartbreaking story to tell.  It’s a city of determined pioneers – from the Afrikaner descendants of the original Dutch colonists and the majority coloured community to the descendants of European Jewish immigrants and more recent Xhosa (isiXhosa) migrants from the Eastern Cape.  They all bring unique flavours to Cape Town’s rich melting pot.

 

One of the most spectacular architectural renovation projects in the harbor area is the highest building in this image – the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and the adjacen

One of the most spectacular architectural renovation projects in the harbor area is the highest building in this image – the new Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and the adjacent hotel – built in and on top of the old concrete grain silo, Cape Town, South Africa

 

Downtown Cape Town, South Africa

Downtown Cape Town, South Africa

 

“Beyond the City — Wrenching yourself away from the magnetic mountain and all the delights of the Cape Peninsula is a challenge, but within an hour you can exchange urban landscapes for the charming towns, villages and bucolic estates of Winelands destinations, such as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek.  Hermanus is a prime whale-watching location, and also a base from which to organise shark-cave diving.  Further afield, the delights of the Garden Route unfold, with more inspiring scenery to be viewed on thrilling drives down the coast and over mountain passes.” —www.lonelyplanet.com/south-africa/cape-town

 

The view of downtown Cape Town and Table Mountain from our initial berth in front of the Cape Town Cruise Terminal

The view of downtown Cape Town and Table Mountain from our initial berth in front of the Cape Town Cruise Terminal

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Stellenbosch, the “capital of the South African wine industry”

Dutch Reformed Church surrounded by oak trees on Church Street, Stellenbosch, Western Cape Province, South Africa

Dutch Reformed Church surrounded by oak trees on Church Street, Stellenbosch, Western Cape Province, South Africa

South African Tourism is justifiably proud of “the Stellenbosch winelands, [which] are considered to be the capital of the South African wine industry. With more than 60 estates currently operating, it’s the leading centre for viticulture and viticultural research.  Simon van der Stel arrived at the Cape as commander in 1679 and soon after was appointed its first governor. Later that year he undertook his first tour of inspection, which brought him to ‘the most charming valley he had ever seen’ – the Stellenbosch winelands.  So enchanted was he that he set up camp in a grove he named Stellenbosch, and there decided to establish a second settlement after Cape Town. He grew to love the town, spending his birthdays there. And he ordered the planting of the oaks, which is why it is sometimes referred to as Eikestad, or ‘town of oaks’. Today these massive trees shade the historic Dorp Street, which runs through the well-preserved old town.  While initially established as a centre to produce fruit and vegetables, van der Stel had a hunch that its Mediterranean climate would be ideal for wine growing. He was right.”

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We spent the initial part of a morning in the Winelands at Root 44 Market that showcases a number of food choices in beautiful wine farm surroundings, including a number of outdoor traders.  We then drove over to one of the most picturesque winery settings any of us had seen, around the world.

Tasting room on an island on the pond at Stark-Conde Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Tasting room on an island on the pond at Stark-Conde Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Stark-Conde Wines is located in the picturesque Jonkershoek Valley in Stellenbosch.  It is a dramatic valley with steep changes in vineyard elevation from 492-1970 feet (150 – 600 meters), making for a range of sites with distinct characteristics.

The wines are hand-crafted in small volumes using traditional methods: hand sorting, open-top fermentations, hand punch downs and manual basket pressing.  Winemaking is overseen by owner Jose Conde.

The focus is Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Pinot Noir for reds and Chenin Blanc (the most widely planted varietal in South Africa, accounting for over 20% of all production in the country), Roussanne and Sauvignon Blanc for white wines.

The unique Stark-Conde tasting room is small and intimate, built on its own little island (see photograph, above).

Lily and lily pads in pond at Stark-Conde Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Lily and lily pads in pond at Stark-Conde Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa

A small group of us from the ship, with our head sommelier (who previously worked in the wine industry in the Cape Winelands) met with winemaker Jose Stark for a tasting and then luncheon on the terrace, overlooking the pond and surrounding mountains.

Stark-Conde Field Blend (white wine), Stellenbosch, Winelands, South Africa

Stark-Conde Field Blend (white wine), Stellenbosch, Winelands, South Africa

We particularly enjoyed the “field blend” white wine with our luncheon, as the blend of Roussanne, Chenin Blanc, Viognier and Verdelho was light and crisp and a nice accompaniment to the food.

Following our midday visit to the winery, we had a few hours to walk around the town of Stellenbosch and enjoy the shopping, wine stores, and local cafes and pubs for refreshments prior to the hour-long drive back to Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront where the ship was berthed.

Bug on lily in pond at Stark-Conde Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Bug on lily in pond at Stark-Conde Wines, Stellenbosch, South Africa

The Swartland Revolution (in wine), The Western Cape, South Africa

The Swartland Revolution (poster for festival)

The Swartland Revolution (poster for festival)

Revolution in South Africa — one immediately thinks of the colonization by the Dutch, French and British, the resistance by the Zulus and other South African tribes, Apartheid, etc.  The Swartland Revolution, on the other hand, is not political nor racial.  It is a wine revolution in the Swartland region of the Western Cape winelands, located about 40 miles north of Cape Town (and a little northwest of the more famous wine town of Paarl).

We were extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to have a full morning private tour, interview and tasting with South Africa’s “first certified celebrity winemaker”, the “enfant terrible” Eden Sadie who founded The Sadie Family Wines in 1999 near Malmesbury and is one of the five leaders of the Swartland Revloution.  The Wine Enthusiast magazine in Septermber 2014 documented the revolution: “It’s not easy to start a revolution. When it comes to a winemaking region with hundreds of years of history—and corresponding traditions—it’s especially difficult to challenge conventional wisdom.

“There always seem to be visionaries, however, who see beyond the status quo…the Swartland is home to vast wheat fields that cover most of its landscape. As the Cape’s traditional breadbasket, the region’s wine quality was often overshadowed by areas like Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch.”

The Sadie Family vineyards, The Swartland Region, Western Cape, South Africa

The Sadie Family vineyards, The Swartland Region, Western Cape, South Africa

“It wasn’t until 1997 that the region started to garner buzz, when Fairview’s Charles Back purchased vineyards in the Swartland and opened a new project called Spice Route. Back’s arrival sparked a surge of private estates investing in the region.

“It also signaled greater quality potential for the wines. Spice Route’s inaugural releases from young winemaker Eben Sadie eschewed the region’s then-common styles of big, high-alcohol reds and off-dry whites.

South Africa's "first certified celebrity winemaker", the "enfant terrible" Eden Sadie in his cellar at The Sadie Family Wines, The Swartland Region, Western Cape, South Africa

South Africa’s “first certified celebrity winemaker”, the “enfant terrible” Eben Sadie in his cellar at The Sadie Family Wines, The Swartland Region, Western Cape, South Africa

“In 2010, The Swartland Revolution—a weekend celebration of the region’s wines, with ticketed tastings, seminars and meals—was born, brainchild of the new Swartland Independent Producers association.

“The mission: To improve quality standards and educate consumers about the unique “Swartlandness”—what traditionalists might call terroir—found within the region’s wines.

“Now in its fifth year, the key players behind The Swartland Revolution have been integral to the region’s development. They produce must-try wines that convey a sense of place, putting South Africa more firmly on the global wine map.”

Finding a little shade at The Sadie Family vineyards, The Swartland Region, Western Cape, South Africa

Finding a little shade at The Sadie Family vineyards, The Swartland Region, Western Cape, South Africa

Bartholomew Broadbent, proprietor of Broadbent Selections, who imports The Sadie Family Wines, notes “Eben Sadie is considered one of the great preservationists and visionaries in the new generation of South African winemakers. To Eben, the vineyard and fruit are part of the story—the truest expression of his art and philosophy.”

The wine writer Neal Martin recently called Sadie an “outspoken, peripatetic, terroir-obsessed winemaker who has been instrumental in putting Swartland on the map. He produces a small portfolio of comparatively expensive, but highly coveted wines based on Rhone varieties sourced from his seemingly never-ending search for pockets of old bush vines and unique terroirs. These are cerebral wines built to age.”

Our ship’s head sommelier, who worked in the South African wine industry for six years and organized and led our excursion, notes “The Sadie Family has enjoyed success beyond any other modern South African wine producer as Columella [their signature Rhone-style wine, a blend of Syrah and Mourvedre] is the most highly rated South African wine, and the only one to achieve a 95 point rating by U.S. wine magazine Wine Spectator.”  We were fortunate to hear Eben’s philosophy about wine and agriculture and to taste his extraordinary wines.  Unfortunately, the winery sells out every new release within days of its availability, and we were not able to purchase any wines to enjoy in the future.  However, we headed off to Paarl to the exquisite Grand Roche Hotel and its restaurant where we had a fabulous luncheon and scored some 2004 Columella.

Grand Roche Hotel Manor House, Paarl, The Western Cape, South Africa

Grand Roche Hotel Manor House, Paarl, The Western Cape, South Africa

The Manor House of the Grand Roche Hotel is the original homestead of Hermanus Bosman, who was granted the farm De Nieuwe Plantatie in 1707.  The Manor House, built in 1715, was home to the Bosman family for 214 years, until it was sold in 1929.  After 1978 it changed hands several times, until it was bought by Hans George Allgaier and was restored to represent the period 1869 – 1876.

View of Paarl from the Grand Roche Hotel, The Western Cape, South Africa

View of Paarl from the Grand Roche Hotel terrace, The Western Cape, South Africa

Our luncheon was served on the hotel’s terrace, where we had magnificent views of the surrounding countryside, Paarl, and the mountains.

For the first course, we had a choice of SLOW BRAISED BABY BEETS with goat cheese parfait, pumpernickel crumble & horseradish creme,

Luncheon, Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant -- first course, Slow Braised Baby Beets

Luncheon, Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant — first course, Slow Braised Baby Beets

or PAN FRIED KINGKLIP MEDALLION with truffled flavoured mushroom veloute, sauteed Asian mushrooms & cranberry gel:

Luncheon, Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant -- first course, Pan Fried Kingklip Medallion

Luncheon, Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant — first course, Pan Fried Kingklip Medallion

For the main course we had a choice of PAN FRIED KABELJOU FILLET (drum fish) with pulpo-chorizo risotto, baby Patagonia squid & mussel cream,

Luncheon, Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant -- main course, Pan Fried Kabeljou (drum fish) Fillet

Luncheon, Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant — main course, Pan Fried Kabeljou (drum fish) Fillet

or SOUS VIDE SPRINGBOK (antelope-gazelle) LOIN with broccoli puree, classic Austrian bread dumpling, marinated enoki mushrooms & juniper sauce.

Luncheon, Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant -- main course, Sous Vide Springbok (antelope-gazelle) Loin

Luncheon, Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant — main course, Sous Vide Springbok (antelope-gazelle) Loin

And with the luncheon we had Sadie’s 2004 Columella — an absolutely delicious Rhone-style red wine (80% Syrah and 20% Mourvedre).  It was easy to taste the difference aging makes for this wine — at the winery we tasted the 2012 Columella — the wine gained considerable smoothness and was an outstanding accompaniment to the food.

2004 Columella Liberatus in Castro Bonae Spei by Eden Sadie, The Sadie Family Wines, Malmesbury, The Western Cape, South Africa

2004 Columella Liberatus in Castro Bonae Spei by Eden Sadie, The Sadie Family Wines, Malmesbury, The Western Cape, South Africa

At the end of the meal we were able to say thank you to the restaurant’s executive staff and share our appreciation for an outstanding introduction to the local Winelands cuisine and wines.

Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant executive staff, Paarl, The Western Cape, South Africa

Grand Roche Hotel Restaurant executive staff, Paarl, The Western Cape, South Africa