Archive for the 'South Africa' Category

Winelands!

February 9, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was another day off, and it was awesome. I woke up early and by 8:45, was in the van on my way to the first wine tasting! The tour group was just five of us and our driver and guide, Tenga. The tour was a tour of the Cape Town wine lands. I slept on the way to the first vineyard in Stellenbosch but that was okay. Sometimes I can’t help falling asleep in the car. The first estate was called Zevenbosch. We got a cellar tour, and tasted four wines as well as three and six month aged cheeses that went well with the wines.

A lot of these estates make both cheese and wine. The coolest thing about this cellar tour was that since we were there at the time of the harvest, we got to see the grapes coming into the cellar and get crushed by the machines! I’ve only been on a few cellar tours before, but I think this was a really special treat.

Next, we went to a little store on the way to the town of Stellenbosch. It was called Uncle Sam’s store. You have to hit a buzzer to get in (and also to get out). It’s a pretty old fashioned kind of general store, and you can buy a lot of different things there, although I didn’t. They make their own food products, including Peri Peri sauce, the local kind of chili sauce that goes on lots of different foods around here. 

After our little detour to the Uncle Sam’s shop, we went to the town of Stellenbosch. Theres an enormous university there, so the town has a very college-y feel to it. If I remember correctly, Stellenbosch university was originally an Afrikaans university, (and Cape Town University was English speaking) but now they teach to accommodate all (most) students. Still, the signs on the buildings are all in Afrikaans so that’s kind of cool, and I was told that there are some professors that are very traditional and well established and only teach in Afrikaans.

After walking through the town for a little over a half hour, it was time to break for lunch. By this time, the two other guys on the tour left us as they were only doing a half-day.

I ate lunch with my tour-mates John and Lene, from Denmark. They’ve been married for either 41 or 45 years, they weren’t sure. We went to Allee Bleue estate to the bistro there, and of course shared a bottle of wine. For lunch, I had smoked salmon with capers and pasta in a white wine sauce (keeping with the theme of the day). This picture is of John and Lene and Tenga. We’re getting back in the van after a nice photo opportunity of the valley to the right that you can’t see in this photo but is the subject of the first photo of the post.

On the way to the next tasting, we saw some baboons on the road! Just hanging out there! This was in Franschoek area.

If you look closely you can see that the one that’s in motion has a little baby baboon holding onto it’s belly. 🙂

The next wine tasting was at an estate called Fairview in Paarl area. You may be familiar with one of their brands of wine, Goats do Roam. This is the brand that they sell internationally. I had heard of it and tasted it before because two years ago I saw something about it on the Food Network about great value wines.

This tasting was also paired with cheese. You get a little sticker that says official taster, and then get some wine, and then if you want to, go over to the cheese tasting counter and taste the cheese that goes best with the wine. And then do it again (and again). We tasted a lot of wines. My favorite cheese was a goat cheese but I liked the wines more. They also poured some big tastes, so that was awesome. And this picture is what happens when you taste too much wine: 

I didn’t fall asleep the whole way back to Cape Town. It was about an hour drive. There was a bit of traffic too because the President was giving a State of The Nation address this evening at 7, so they closed a lot of the roads.

For dinner, I went back to Bukhara, the Indian restaurant I went to on Sunday, and now I’m packed and ready to go to Namibia tomorrow. I have a flight to Windhoek extremely early in the morning. I can’t wait to come back to Cape Town.

Love,

Annie

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working in cape town

February 8, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,
Hope you are doing well. The past few days have been fine; I’ve been working hard. The highlight was this Ethiopian restaurant I went to two days in a row because it was so tasty and the people there were so nice. Here is a picture of the coffee.

Tomorrow I go on a wine tour, pretty exciting. I have a lot of awesome days where I am excited about everything but this is not one of them. I’m sorry I’m not more cheerful like usual!

Love, Annie

cape town sunday!

February 5, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

I forgot to say something hilarious that happened yesterday! When I was eating lunch in a crowded outside area, a bird came over to me. I said hi to it and then it took a huge piece of my fish! How brave!

This picture is just another view of Table Mountain I took yesterday but did not get to include.

Today is Sunday, and I had another day off. I’m getting a little spoiled. Today I slept late. I was too late for breakfast but the wonderful lady at the front desk let let get some cereal, yogurt and fruit, and coffee! So nice. I apologized and thanked her so much and she said… well isn’t Sunday all about relaxing? It’s great that you slept in! My headache from last night was gone. Hooray!

After breakfast, I walked along the Atlantic coast and when I got to a beach I liked, I hung out there and read.

I was warned that the Atlantic coast had Freezing water — the Atlantic coast gets its currents from the Arctic ocean, while the bay on the other side of the cape is warmer with waters from the Indian ocean.

I didn’t think it was going to be as cold as it was… but I still managed to go swimming three times. It was an in and out kind of thing. I couldn’t last long in the water.

I’d had enough at the beach, and it was approaching 5:30, so I taxied back to the hotel and got ready for dinner.

I ate at a “Japanese tapas” restaurant called Haiku. I lingered over dinner for a long time and ate spinach steamed things, spicy soup, a tuna sashimi thing with avocado and cucumbers on rice, and a spicy chicken wonton. I can’t wait to go back another night and try more things. They have a really interesting menu but I got too full to try anything else. The eldest daugter of the family I visited on Friday night recommended it as her favorite place to eat in Cape Town. I can see why!

About halfway through dinner I noticed that my legs were hurting a lot. I thought maybe it was the  zippers on the zip-off pants I was wearing. When I got back to the room and took off my pants, I noticed that no, it wasn’t the zipper seam. I had clearly neglected the back of my legs when putting on sun cream at the beach today.

I thought I had been so careful! I even (awkwardly) gotten some people near me to help me with the parts of my back I couldn’t reach on my own!

Well, the back of my legs and my hips, the lovely part of my body that I inherited from my mom, is completely fried. They should serve me with some chili sauce like the one I had tonight. Or some nice olive oil if you like the tomato analogy. Good thing i’m an expert hoverer because its going to be very hard to sit in any chairs for the next few days.

I’m a little sad because tonight is the Super Bowl and the Patriots are in it and I’d love to be with friends on this fun night. I haven’t met anyone to watch the game with me at three in the morning. But all in all, i’m happy. I’ve had a nice two days of relaxing and am ready to get some work done tomorrow! and Go Patriots!!!!!!!!!

Love,

Annie

cape town day off!

February 4, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was one of my days off, and it was excellent, and busy.

I ate a tasty breakfast at the hotel and went for a hike up Table Mountain. This is one of the “Musts” for cape town, and I thought it would be good to do it as soon as possible to get a good sense of the city and the peninsula. What a great experience.

The hike took about two hours, and then I got to see views like this one. It’s hard to pick the best pictures for this post because I took so many and they’re all awesome. I could have taken a cable car but I definitely wanted the exercise and felt it was very rewarding.

I took the cable car down.

The cable car is circular and has rotating floors which I thought was cool so that you can see the whole view no matter where you’re standing. Also, near that peak Lion’s head, there are tons to para gliders.

At the bottom of the cable car I caught  the topless bus (hahaha — it just has no roof) to the V&A waterfront where I had lunch and walked around for a while.

The bus is like a tour where you can get on and off whenever you want. I got to see the Atlantic Seaboard and learned about all the beaches. After lunch, I got back on the topless bus to get the tour of the city centre. You buy a day pass, so why not!

After spending the whole day outside, I took a rest in my room. Then went out for dinner at Bukhara, an Indian restaurant. Everyone I asked raved about it. I had a delicious meal and read the Steve Jobs biography.

I saw a lot of other great things today but have developed quite the headache so it’s time to go to bed.

Hope you are having a good weekend! Go Pats!

Love,
Annie

Hello Cape Town!

February 3, 2012

Hi Family and Friends,

I’m thrilled to be in Cape Town.

This morning, I woke up early to catch the Gautrain to the airport. It was as great as everyone said it would be. It was very clean, and after ten minutes of waiting, it only took about twenty minutes to get to the airport.  The only thing I didn’t like was that I got in trouble with the security guard for chewing gum. No gum on the Gautrian.

I had a successful flight, and an easy taxi ride to my hotel in Green Point. When I got to the hotel, I was so hungry. I had planned to eat breakfast and coffee in the airport in Johannesburg when I arrived, but they didn’t have very good options in my terminal. The hotel is more of a guest house. It’s in the most wonderful area. I took the first picture five minutes walk from where I’m sleeping.

Yes!

I asked where I should eat, and the lady at the front said definitely Giovanni’s, it’s a lovely delicatessen about fifteen minutes walk away (and it’s safe to walk).

This second picture was taken on my walk to lunch. You can see the stadium (one of the world cup stadiums) and the trunk of a sweet tree. Giovanni’s is like a market/sandwich shop. What everyone was eating looked so good, so I asked for a menu. They said there’s not really a menu. It’s kind of a confusing process. You pick your roll and say what you want in it and they make you a sandwich. I was skeptical of this process because I was feeling lazy and just wanted to order something and also didn’t want to push to get a seat (it was very crowded) but made the correct decision to stay. Here’s my sandwich.

It has tomatoes, cucumbers (and a pickle on the side), mozz cheese, beef salami, sundried tomatoes,  lettuce, roasted red peppers I think, probably something else, and a little mayo/mustard sauce. When I go back, I’ll choose more wisely instead of just saying everything I liked. In any case, it was Extremely delicious. After lunch, I unpacked and then went for a walk to the waterfront… just the water, not the V&A waterfront area that I’ll be going to tomorrow.

The waterfront has a really nice park that in which i’ll definitely be spending some more time.  They have these outdoor work-out machines there that look so fun.

Heres just a “street view” from the green point area.

Tonight, I had shabbos dinner with my good friend’s mother’s cousin’s family. I couldn’t have asked for a better evening.

Even though the relation is kind of distant, this family took me in as their family. It was a special night to come because there were about 25 people there this evening. There were family, friends, and each of the three daughters invited friends! Cape Town University is starting up again tomorrow.I got to meet so many people, eat awesome home cooked foods, and see how some South Africans live!.

We spent four and a half hours just hanging out. They had three doggies- two are beautiful golden retrievers that I got to play with for a long time.  During this dinner I got so many suggestions for things I “must do” while i’m here. Looking forward to experiencing as much as possible.

Love,

Annie

Johannesbirthday!

February 2, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you’re doing well. Yesterday and today have been rather “regular” days. I worked all of yesterday and most of today.

This afternoon, I took myself out for a birthday lunch at Nelson Mandela square. Here’s a picture of me poking out from under the statue. I wanted to take a looking up shot from under him like I did in Novosibirsk with the big statues, but that didn’t seem appropriate– I didn’t want to offend anybody.

I went out for Greek food near the square. It was great. I had haloumi cheese and Greek salad and wine. I was excited to eat haloumi cheese because I saw a thing about it on the food network once, and it seems to be very popular around here although I’m pretty sure it’s a Mediterranean thing. There were some very gossipy girls sitting next to me, so it was fun to listen to their conversation.

I guess there’s an Idol (like the tv show) tryouts around here on Saturday. At one point, the girls were doing some test-singing for each other. I tried not to throw up when they sang.

When I got back to the hotel, I got a call from the front desk saying that there were flowers for me! So, Check these out! There are certainly a lot of flowers here! I’m pretty overwhelmed with happy, as you can see from this picture.

I put them in an ice bucket to use as a temporary vase. They are from my mom, dad, and bubbie. Thanks so much! I love you! What a nice birthday surprise. Apparently it was quite a headache getting these flowers over here. The flowers look even better in person in the “vase” and smell Awesome.

Tomorrow morning, Im off to Cape Town. I’m really excited to go there. It’s about a two hour flight. I plan to take the Gautrain to the airport because it’s cheaper than a taxi, I’ll avoid rush hour traffic, and everyone raves about it.

Even though I didn’t get any birthday hugs, It’s been a pretty good Johannesbirthday.

Love,

Annie

Tuesday in Johannesburg

January 31, 2012

Hi Family and Friends,

I’ll start with Yesterday. I finished up my work in Mauritius and took a flight to Johannesburg. The flight was easy, and the arrival was also easy.

I’ve heard many horror stories about people losing or getting things stolen from bags in the OR Tambo airport, but I was lucky!

This first picture is of Maude Street in Sandton, took today.

The hotel here in Sandton (a district north of Johannesburg) is amazing. Very chic, very comfortable. Additionally, the shower is so good. This one ranks in the top five showers I’ve ever had in my life.

The hotel rooms are so modern and efficiently designed that I couldn’t find the closet/safe without asking someone to help. I tried to take some pictures but they don’t look that good.

This morning, I started work early in Sandton City.  Here’s a picture of what it looks like on the outside.

It’s just a big city with newish buildings. Theres a convention centre, business buildings, and the Johannesburg stock exchange is near where I am standing, there are a bunch of fancy hotels and restaurants. Nelson Mandela square is also in Sandton city.  I ate lunch at an Indian restaurant. It was good — not Mauritian good — but tasty enough!

Just because I have room, here’s a picture of Sophie. 🙂 

There’s not that much for me to do here, in part because of the safety risks. On the way over to the Mall area this morning, I noticed enormous fences guarding every house and on top of the fences is barbed/electric wire. I’m not supposed to walk outside alone at night.

Well, it’s cocktail hour, time for some wine. Tomorrow I’ll be going to some different areas so hopefully I’ll have cool pictures to show.

Love,

Annie