A Travellerspoint blog

March 2011

Tanzania: Arusha: Safari Hunting

March 31, 2011

semi-overcast 83 °F

We started our safari—which means “The Journey” in Swahili several months ago in the Bay Area and yes we are now starting to get a little travel weary—not enough to stop us from continuing our trip though! :) After breakfast, our first stop was a safari company next door to the hotel, then one across the road, then a few more around town. I think we talked to just about every building with a TOURS sign on the window! This was great because we collected a lot of great info on where to go and what we would see. After a lot of shopping around and talking we decided to go with Sunny Safaris—with no camping! It’s the rainy season and as you all know, Ruby needs hot water daily :) We also stopped to look at some tanzanite (a type of gem that’s mined only in Tanzania). Needless to say, it was a little out of our price range (especially the one Ruby really liked).
Over the last few months of travel some of our clothes have started to fall apart so we dropped a few off to get stitched. While waiting for our clothes to get finished we noticed that there are a lot of used shoes on the side of the road around town. We later found out (from Sheryl) that most of them are left by people that come to hike or go on safari and abandon them at the hotel. We got a recommendation for an outdoor BBQ chicken spot just down the road and after a little walking we found Khan’s Car Parts/Chicken (an auto parts store by day and a chicken restaurant by night). LOL—only in Tanzania. We met some new friends from North Carolina and started swapping stories. Sheryl aka “Buske” lived in Tanzania for years and gave us the inside scoop. Sheryl and Rebecca are teachers with four students from their law school—they generously offered us a ride to Moshi with them (1 ½ hrs away) in the morning. Back at the hotel Ruby finally broke down and gave herself a home pedicure. She’s missing the days in Southeast Asia when you could get a great mani/pedi for around $5 US!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 08:30 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

Tanzania: Arusha: You smell like a Fairy . . . Boat!

March 30, 2011

sunny 83 °F

We’ve been traveling for a long time now so taking a ferry boat all night was no big deal. The ride from Zanzibar to Dar is only 4 hours but the boat can’t dock until 6am. We don’t know why this is but it’s cheaper than the day ferry and we saved on a hotel. If you plan on doing this please remember to book the VIP area so you have more room and A/C. Tony was saying that the lower area (not VIP) looked like a shoebox with too many army men spilled inside. We actually had a great nights sleep even with Ruby lying across a row of seats and Tony on a thin plastic mat on the floor. Quickly we made our way to a local “dhala dhala” to take us to the bus station in Dar. Ruby was looking for an air-conditioned bus to Arusha and some of the touts were saying “there’s no such thing as an A/C bus to Arusha”--probably because they wanted us to book with them but Ruby kept looking until she found Dar Express. We quickly bought our tickets ($20 usd) and were on our way at 7:30am. We had the seats furthest in the back and little did we know that the bus would be hurtling down the road out of control slowing only for speed bumps on the front tires! WOW, in Tanzania, be sure to sit in middle of bus--- you may not die in a head on collision and will avoid being thrown around over bumpy roads. Of course, Ruby’s bladder started to act up after about two hours and she asked for a bathroom stop. When the bus stops, the guy asks “washroom?” Ruby says yes, and he points to the side of road behind some bushes . . . LOL. This is when we learned that you must drink sparingly and tinkle fast! We did our fair share of staring out of a window as we made the long and arduous drive to Arusha (11 hours due to some bus malfunction). We did get glimpses of Tanzanian villages but didn’t have time to explore them. We also met Marie Claude and Jean from Montreal. Marie Claude is also on her own around the world trip and gave us some tips for Jordan if we decide to go. She had pre-booked a safari trip so we compared notes on that as well. As we approached Moshi we did catch a quick glimpse of Mt. Kilimanjaro peeking out from behind the clouds. Mt. Meru was easy to see on our way to Arusha. We booked a room at the Golden Rose for $25/night and were in love with the hot water and Discovery channel :)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 07:12 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Tanzania: Zanzibar: Scuba Did

March 29, 2011

all seasons in one day 85 °F

We got up, checked out of our hotel and started our dive north. We had been a little concerned about navigating the windy roads but they really weren’t that bad and we couldn’t get lost because it’s an island! We only stopped to get a coke and it took a little over an hour to arrive at Kendwa Beach. After a little shopping around we decided to do one dive with Scuba Do. We split up and Tony was shopping for a dive trip while Ruby was looking at snorkeling trips. Ruby talked to a guy on the beach about a trip but told him “let me talk to Tony”. We decided to do a one day dive trip to a small island with Scuba Do Diving. Walking around the beach we heard a yell from the bar. When we looked over, the Germans Hans and Jonas were sitting having a drink. It didn’t take much for them to talk us into having a drink with them. As we sat with them the guy that Ruby was talking to came over asking about the snorkel trip. LOL the guy wanted money for talking to her about snorkel trips---yeah right, give us a break! We chilled at the beach and went for a dip before our 2pm dive trip. It did rain for about an hour so we were a little worried about the visibility of our dive but it wasn't an issue. We geared up and hopped on a zodiac boat going out to a divesite called Mwana Mwana (baby of the baby in Swahili) just off of another island called Mwana. The divesite was unexpectedly phenomenal! Originally we were worried because the visibility wasn’t that great—maybe 10 meters? However, once we got down deeper the visibility got closer to 20meters! The soft corals were so beautiful—a mixture of pinks, tans, violets and greens. We saw lots of cool critters down there including a yellow leaf fish, a pink rock fish, and a green sea turtle that swam right by us. After a long day of diving and driving we arrived back to Stone Town and returned the rental car. We booked a night ferry and grabbed a brown bag of chicken at our new favorite restaurant Healtho’s. The boat was busy but lucky for us we booked the VIP section and got in early enough to grab 3 connected seats and a mat to sleep on. After we finished making everyone on the boat jealous with our delicious chicken dinner we settled into our mat and chairs. Not as romantic as the last boat we slept on but we’re on a budget and it saves on a hotel.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 06:53 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Tanzania: Zanzibar: Update Day Online—FOODIE ALERT

March 28, 2011

sunny 93 °F

When you’re on the road for as long as we are and you have the opportunity to use FREE internet that actually works you sit down, order a coffee, and stop the sightseeing. We had a great dinner last night at Healtho’s Restaurant so Tony decided to grab some chicken and bring it over to the coffee shop for lunch and it was sooo good today that we have to give Healtho’s Restaurant in Zanzibar a FOODIE Alert! After the amazing lunch and a few hours on the internet Tony managed to pry Ruby away from the cafe kicking and screaming. So you can blame Tony for the blog being a few more days off! We walked around aimlessly exploring the mixed architecture of Stone Town—some Indian, Islamic and Asian influences can easily be seen. We had talked to a few people about diving in Zanzibar and everyone was saying the north side was the place to go. The cheapest way was the local bus but we didn’t exactly know how to do that so we rented a car after some bargaining with a local (it may have been his car but it worked). After a quick stop at the gas station we were stopped by the local police and told we need an international driver’s license. The guy who rented the car to us told us that he could get us a permit but we would have to “go with his friend to get it”. After about 30 min of driving around dirt roads though the city we arrived at a random house and he told us he would be back. We sat around talking to the kids until he came back with a signed piece of paper that looked legit, but who knows if it was? The streets in Zanzibar are crazy; they zig and zag with no real signs to say what you’re on or what direction you’re going! We got a little lost but did make it back to Stone Town just as the sun was going down. We had dinner at a great Chinese food restaurant called Pagoda with some of the freshest ginger and chili crab ever. We went back to our hotel, packed our bags and prepped for the drive north tomorrow.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 06:41 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

Tanzania:Zanzibar:Spice Tour & Attack of the Killer Coconut!

March 27, 2011

sunny 92 °F

Little Miss Sunshine was up bright and early today—while Tony hid under the covers. Tony was still sleeping until Ruby woke him up saying “get up, our bus is waiting” for the spice tour! (We’ll try to use that as an excuse for the appearance of his hair!) We ran out the door and joined the others. The spice tour is a MUST in Zanzibar and we were really excited to do this with a local company. The tour is run by Mr. Mitu and it was amazing (barring the fact that Ruby got hit by a killer coconut we’ll explain later). We drove north of Stone Town through the jungle until we arrived at a rickety old sign saying ‘spice tour this way”. All we can say is WOW! Our guide Fuad was amazing and gave us the full rundown on spices and fruits grown on the island. In addition we actually got to see them growing in nature, smell them, touch them and best of all taste them! We got to see everything from turmeric (a root), cocoa plant, vanilla beans (which grow on vines), and lemongrass (which actually is a grass). Tony HATED the jackfruit—it’s kind of like pineapple combined with durian fruit (Hong and Tony need to try it). Near the end, one of the guys climbed up a tall coconut tree and threw us down each a coconut so that we could have the juice and meat---everything was great until a football sized one bounced off a tree stump and came hurtling through the air at Ruby’s face! Luckily she’s got reflexes like a cat and put her hand up in front of her face just in time! :) Then they took us to a little hut where we all shared a delicious lunch of vegetable curry, pilau and spinach while sitting on the floor on traditional Tanzanian palm mats. If that wasn’t enough, they took us to Mangapani Beach on the northwest side of island—there were gorgeous cliffs, caves, and turquoise water—pure paradise as far as we were concerned. The only downside is that in our haste in the morning we forgot to bring bathing suits! :( When we finally got home late in the afternoon we were ready to relax in the air-conditioned room (did we mention how HOT Zanzibar is)!!! We talked to a local and he told us that one of the best places to eat is a small chicken stand just across the road from our hotel called Healtho’s. Let us tell you that this guy knows what he’s talking about when it comes to chicken! That was some of the best chicken and chips EVER. It was served with a spicy sauce and mango chutney YUM! We will definitely be coming back tomorrow.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 06:35 Archived in Tanzania Comments (1)

Tanzania: Quick! Follow Those Touts to Zanzibar!

March 26, 2011

sunny 95 °F

Well, we finally arrived into Tanzania and wouldn’t you know it? The credit card machine is “not working”. They told us that we could use one of the two ATMs in the airport but they were both out of service too! This was our welcome to the real Africa! Funny thing about the credit card machine. . . when we came back without cash it started working? :) We walked out and grabbed a cab going to our hotel in Dar. After a short and very hot nap (no A/C room) we walked out and said “wait, are we back in India”? It’s a little confusing because of the crazy conversion rate USD vs. Tanzanian Shillings (1,500 = $1) but you do feel really cool taking out 150,000 from an ATM. We decided not to hangout in Dar and just take the ferry over to Zanzibar today ($25 each). It was a little hard to get motivated but we took a cab over to the docks and got totally bombarded by touts, ticket agents, and a few dozen other people we didn’t understand! We once again felt like newbie travelers as we chased the guys who grabbed our bags and carried them onto the ferry (for a hefty tip of course). They then told us that “they” moved us into the VIP section and that is an upgrade requiring another tip---all we had to do was show them the VIP printed on our tickets and they left us alone :) After about 3 hours the water started a beautiful turquoise color as we approached Stone Town on the west side of Zanzibar. When the boat stopped we started our way to the door but what we didn’t know is that the ferry exit is only one 3 foot doorway with all 2000 people trying their hardest to be the next ones out! They also take fridges, TVs, and farm animals out this same door and let’s just say that some Tanzanians aren’t as hygienic as we are! The touts and ticket agents at the dock in Zanzibar weren’t much better than in Dar but this time we had a plan. We walked up the road (trying our best to ignore everyone around) and into a hotel we found in a Jonas and Hans’s travel book on the ferry. Stone Town’s markets spin with bicycles and brilliant colors. Our noses were teased with cardamom, wreathes of cloves, star anise, and fresh coriander and then assaulted by the salty stink of the fish market nearby. Narrow winding alleys lead to mosques and chic shops in between elaborate doorways. We met up again with the two crazy Germans from the ferry at Livingstone, a beachside bar for some drinks on at sunset. It was a great way to forget all the crazy stuff that happened today. We had a few drinks and watched kids doing acrobatics and jumping into the water until dark. We decided to try the food at the Forodhani night market, the lobster was pretty good. . the corn was not! It was maize and was like what we feed the cattle in the U.S.!? The four of us walked over to Mercury’s (named after Freddy Mercury who was born in Zanzibar) for a live band, drinks and the electric slide ‘til late! :)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 06:01 Archived in Tanzania Comments (0)

South Africa: Early Awakenings and Mission Accomplished

March 25, 2011

sunny 94 °F

Tony says that when the alarm clock rang at 3am Ruby turned around and tried to crawl so deep under the covers so that Tony couldn’t see her and continue to bother her. YIKES! Not a good way to start the day. Regardless, we were out of the house by 330am but not before waking up poor Ian (Sven’s dad) on accident. No one else should ever have to get up that early! We were so lucky to have met them. Off we went to Cape Town to catch our 6am flight, which by the way happens to be the cheapest time to fly! :) We had a little fiasco with Avis rental car trying to charge us double but as you all know by now—Ruby knows how to handle that sort of thing. We quickly checked in and both fell asleep before the plane even took off. In Johannesburg we were burning up because we were wearing our Cape Town cold-ish weather clothes. Of course we also made the mistake of skipping the A/C in our rental car for the day (saved US $5) and totally regretted it! Between dodging street vendors on every corner coming up to our open windows and worrying about getting car-jacked in Joburg it was not easy! We picked up our camera today yay! However, it’s not fixed because they didn’t have the right parts and we paid $25 to have them tell us what was wrong with it (which we told them when we dropped it off). We did a little bit of shopping and Tony finally gets to get rid of his HIDEOUS, hole-ridden, smelly, dusty sneakers that he’s been wearing like a homeless bum for the last 2-3 months. Someone please, send him another pair of shoes for his birthday! :) These ones may not last long. . they only cost $7 USD. Now we find ourselves at another airport getting ready to head to Tanzania. Luckily we found a power outlet so we can work on the laptop for a bit and get caught up :) BTW, if you ever come to South Africa, remember to save ALL your shopping receipts because they’ll refund the 14% VAT you pay on all goods purchased here. . of course all the wine we bought doesn’t count because we drank it all already!! :( Just be sure that you’ve spent a large amount, otherwise it’s not worth your time.

Posted by Tony.Ruby 07:18 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

South Africa:The Southernmost Point in Africa

March 24, 2011

all seasons in one day 70 °F

This morning we decided that we would go to the southernmost point in Africa, and it is not Cape Point as some would have you believe. Of course we couldn’t resist driving to Cape Agulhas since we had visited Cape Horn earlier this year. . . we wish Carey, Gerald, Mike and Loz could have joined us at this Cape as well! Tony is what we would call an “eager beaver”; this means if we plan on leaving the house at 7am, he’s ready at 6:45 with daypack in hand at the door driving Ruby crazy!! Tony finally managed to get Ruby out of the house and in trued Froude road-trip style drove directly there without stopping. Luckily it’s only about two hours away; the landscape in this area of the world is a lot like what you would think: dry, wind-blown and desolate. We had the opportunity to see and feel where the cold Atlantic and warm Indian ocean currents meet. After a picnic near the lighthouse overlooking the cape we started our drive back, before long Ruby had Tony stop and turn back to take pictures of: a red flower, bales of hay, and a windmill. We hope you enjoy the photos, maybe you’ll even see Tony revving the car in the background! On the drive back we headed to Stellenbosch to find a skatepark. . . let’s just say it’s a lot easier to find the end of the African continent than it is to find a skatepark in Africa! We had a map, verbal directions, and several stops to ask people. Apparently it’s “behind a church just down the road” no matter which direction you’re going to or coming from! Hahaha we spent at least an hour driving around churches hunting down this skatepark. . . in the end, we never found it! Ruby says we should have gone wine tasting instead! It’s a lot easier to find WiFi in South America than it is in South Africa so it took us a while to get in touch with Sven and Anka. Luckily we were happy to meet them for a delicious pizza at Col’Cacchio back at Stellenbosch. . . along with a bunch of pro mountain bikers in town for the big EPIC race coming up. Go team Anka and Tracey! We originally planned on getting our food to go but with the good company it was hard to leave. Afterwards we rushed home because like usual we were trying to enjoy every last minute and putting off some important things like packing and planning. We’re all packed, checked-in and ready for bed, its 1am. .unfortunately now we only have 2 hours to sleep.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:48 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

South Africa: Gordon's Bay: Brai with Old and New Friends

March 23rd, 2011

overcast 82 °F

First thing in the morning we stopped at a shop where we bought a new universal battery charger for our camera—unfortunately we had to return it because it fried the battery! That’s when we learned that opening at 8am really means 815 in South Africa. We also have to laugh because EVERYWHERE you go in this country you will find guys wearing bright yellow or orange vests in the parking lots. These guys are “volunteer” parking guards and will watch your car for a tip---we learned from Ian that we were giving them waaaaaay too much money because we have to tip EVERY time we park our car anywhere. The average should be just 1-2 rand total and we were giving between 5 and 10 rand each time. Well, at least our rental car stayed safe right? We had just a few goals for the day, unfortunately the rest of our day was a series of failures—we were not able to get a battery for our “backup” camera since our other camera was in the shop, we didn’t get to go to Green Market Square because it was closed for a concert set up, we didn’t get up to Table Mountain because it was too foggy . . . etc. . The highlight of our day was at the end of the night-- we were so excited to finally see Sven and Anka. They have the most hectic schedule right now between Sven just getting back from a photo shoot in New Zealand and Anka getting ready to ride the EPIC race (it’s called that for a reason). Luckily, they were able to take a break from their busy schedules to come down and visit their parents and share in a brai that night. We enjoyed wine and delicious food and also met Anka’s riding partner Tracey (who happens to be one of the top women’s downhill cyclists in the WORLD) and her husband James from England. It was a really fun night just catching up—plus we saw “Battle at Kruger” on YouTube which is a do-not-miss recommendation :) The pics from that night are on Ian's (Sven's dad) camera so we still have to post those.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:35 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

South Africa: Cape of Good Hope There’s a Restroom There

March 22nd, 2011

all seasons in one day 78 °F

While Ruby was getting ready Tony was busy getting directions to the Cape of Good Hope. Of course, we instantly got lost. Lucky for us there was a map in the car that Ruby could use to find the way. It was a really beautiful drive and we stopped at a small town to visit a place called Artvark which is one of Solveig’s favorite boutiques. We looked at some gorgeous African arts and crafts and look forward to collecting some on this trip! We kept making our way along the coastal highway until we finally arrived at the Cape of Good Hope. To our dismay we discovered that this is actually NOT the southernmost point in Africa and knew that we would have to make our way to that point later. Regardless, this area was gorgeous and like the southernmost tip of south America (Ushuaia) the weather fluctuated by the minute, one minute it was sunny and warm, the next drizzling and then windy after that. The aquamarine water was the perfect backdrop to the jutting cliffs seen all over this cape. We hiked up to the top of Cape Point where there is a lighthouse and found out exactly how far we are from our new home in New York. On the drive to the Cape of Good Hope we had to stop because some ostriches decided to say hello and poke their funny heads around just next to our car. Afterwards it was a bit surreal to be sitting drinking wine while watching some antelopes grazing at the water’s edge. On our way around the western edge of the cape we passed by Chapman’s Peak pass and this windy road as well as Table Mountain which was shrouded in fog but you could kind of make out the 12 apostles. After that long day we were ready for a break near the waterfront in Cape Town. We ended up near Solveig’s shop which specializes in making amazing patchwork coats. After months of searching, Ruby finally found a pair of feather earrings. By the way, she’s been looking for the perfect pair ever since she saw Loz’s back in South America?! The beautiful day was punctuated with a terrible dinner at the waterfront . . . what do we have to do to get a decent meal around here??

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:24 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

South Africa:Gordons Bay:Pleeease, Can I Have a Pet Penguin?

March 21st, 2011

sunny 83 °F

We started our day with a glass of tea on the lower porch overlooking the water. Soon after we were invited upstairs and had multiple cups of coffee and tea with Sven’s parents Ian and Solveig. We talked for hours and Tony drank so much tea that he could hardly stand still. Before his head exploded from too much caffeine we decided to drive down to Betty’s Bay. Clarence drive is very scenic and one of the best for whale watching. Unfortunately it’s not whale watching season so we just watched the water. Along the drive we saw the Hottentot Holland Mountains which are really “crumbly” tumbling into the sea. We drove down to a beach that is known for African Penguins which were previously called Jackass penguins because of the braying sound they make. Understandably, they were eventually renamed because they only breed in South Africa! You can tell these apart from other penguins because they have black dots on their chest. It was a great time to visit because it’s breeding season right now! Ruby says “so much for a dog, I want a penguin when we get home”! Their adorable formal outfits and waddle are just too much to resist. We’ll see. . . . it might be a little hard to find a New York City landlord that will allow us to have a pet penguin :) We hear that winter in NY will be perfect weather to keep him on the back porch! We also saw lots of rock hyraxes--see if you can spot one in the pics below. It's the closest living relative to an elephant (but a lot smaller!). Afterwards we went for a little hike in the botanical gardens nearby. We watched the sunset on our drive home and found out that all the really good restaurants in Gordon’s Bay close before 9pm! :(

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 03:39 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

South Africa:Franschoek: Ultimate Cure--Carrot Cake & Wine!

March 20th, 2011

sunny 83 °F

We got up and lazily made it out of our room. Breakfast was well underway and someone has cleaned the kitchen (which by the way was trashed). We wish we could have helped but neither of us were in any condition to help last night and there was no way we could get out of bed this morning! Sorry about that guys! After an amazing home cooked breakfast (and talk about using tampons to fill bullet wounds) we started making plans for our day. Sven told us we could stay with his parents and we decided to keep the rental car. Now with the important stuff lined up we continued with our day by sitting around the house, listening to Neal and David's hilarious search and rescue stories (by the way-- Americans are always getting lost hiking in the mountains of SA). We gave up on trying to figure out how the hell they play cricket! A few hours later David pulled up in his car (the toothless dragon) with lunch meat, bread, and a drink called Crèsme soda that tastes like an American cleaning product called Pledge. They say that it’s a great hangover drink but we just think it’s just good for cleaning. :) A few hours after lunch a bunch of us finally made it out of the house and to our first winery called Maison. It’s a boutique winery that only produces two wines, one white and one red, it was pretty good but Ruby liked the blue cheese and biltong they served with the tasting better. Next we surprised Helandia at Rickety Bridge for another tasting. We purchased a few bottles of the 2009 Foundation Stone, one for our hosts in Cape Town and the other for our hosts in Franschoek. When we returned to the house Dale had been busy cooking banana bread and carrot cake. We are soooo spoiled. We all sat in the sunshine on the porch eating Dale’s home-made cakes which reminded Tony of Vicki’s carrot cake. We traded stories about Bear Grylls and our own adventures from scuba diving to sky diving. It was a great way to end our time in Franschoek and we hope to see our new friends out in New York sometime! After motivating we started our sunset drive down to Gordon’s Bay. The sky was a gorgeous orange and red color with dark silhouettes of mountains and trees. We arrived into the small harbor town of Gordon’s Bay and meet Sven’s dad Ian at their beautiful house. It was still a little early so we decided to walk down to The Tavern just down the road for a quick bite and drinks.

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 05:30 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

South Africa: Hooked on Franschoek

March 19th, 2011

sunny 90 °F

We started our day with a scenic drive over the pass to Franschoek. We decided on the scenic drive because the only other way to get there was toll road that cost $5 US! We’re so glad we took the pass over the mountains because we got to see some amazing views of the town and surrounding area. As soon as we came down into town we noticed a beautiful winery built into the side of the hill with great outside tables in the shade. We grabbed a few wine samples and a great cheese plate here. The winery was called Cabriere and as it turns out this is where our friends Sven and Anka got married!

After figuring out which wineries would be open on the weekend we got in the car and drove over to La Motte. The buildings are amazing and if we remember correctly the wine was very nice too. The outside eating area was something out of a magazine and we would definitely recommend this one if you’re ever in town! We even stopped to smell the roses :) Our next stop was Grand Provence just around the corner. The design and surroundings were amazing but they had eucalyptus notes in their wines which tasted TERRIBLE. The last winery for the day was Rickety Bridge. Helandia, who was pouring our wines was super sweet. . . little did we know that we would end up striking up a conversation with David and Neal who were sitting just a table away and that ALL of us, including Helandia would end up at their house for a brai, ping-pong and more wine drinking that night. Let’s just say, after all that wine Ruby “retired early for the evening” ;-) Neal and his roommate Dale were super sweet and invited us to stay over in one of their spare rooms. We feel so lucky to meet such warm, welcoming and open people. We love South Africa!

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:51 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

South Africa: Heading Southwest

March 18th, 2011

sunny 85 °F

It’s before dawn and Tony and I are still heading southwest on the N1. We took a nap for about 4 hours—either this rental car is super comfortable or we’ve just become accustomed to sleeping in vehicles of all sorts!? We are surprised by how minimally populated much of South Africa is. On this drive we’ve had stretches of 100km (60 miles) where we haven’t seen any people or houses! It reminds us a bit of the drive in middle America minus the farmers. At 1pm we are soon approaching Worcester which is one of the main points of South African wine country and we can’t wait to pour a nice chilled glass of white after this long drive! :) Soon after arriving we decided on a small hotel called DA Rooms in the middle of town (with the help of the local tourist office). The room only had a bathtub....who takes baths anyway? What’s the point? Ruby needs a shower after taking a bath and unfortunately there wasn’t one in our room :( We drove just out of town to a winery called Balance. We had a few glasses and even picked up a bottle of the Sauvignon Blanc. We’re looking forward to trying Pinotages which are one of South Africa’s specialty wines. We didn’t have much time until the wineries would be closing so we got in the car and booked it over to a couple more wineries and by then we needed to eat! We passed out quickly after a good dinner and all that wine. . .

Posted by Tony.Ruby 03:37 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

South Africa: Johannesburg: The Rise and Fall of Humanity

March 17, 2011

sunny 92 °F

The morning was spent updating the blog and getting caught up on laundry. Afterwards we said our sad goodbyes to Carine and Jim before heading out to explore the “Cradle of Humankind” in Maropeng. Their house is really close to Maropeng which is the origin of some of the oldest human fossils ever found. We battled for space with a huge group of school kids. They have a terrific museum with tons of fossils and useful exhibits. We loved the crazy boat ride illustrating the 4 elements: earth, water, wind, fire. Unfortunately it was clearly built for kids since we bumped our heads on some of the turns. Afterwards we quickly dropped our camera off at the Canon service center in Randburg and are crossing our fingers that they’ll be able to fix or replace it ASAP! We hope to pick it up before we leave Joburg on the 25th. So you’ll probably notice fewer pictures temporarily. . . Next we rushed to catch our bus to Port Elizabeth from Park Station only to find that they lost our reservation?! Then they proceed to tell Ruby that the entire bus is fully booked without any standby seats . . . and no other companies have any buses leaving on the same day either. Meanwhile Tony is trying to return our rental car but dealing with tons of extra charges. Of course after dealing with the bus fiasco Ruby was in no mood to deal with these extra charges and the first thing Ruby said was “We’ve got a problem” and the lady behind the counter replied “There is no problem” and Ruby said “Oh yes there is”. Tony had a look in his eyes as if somebody had just pulled the pin out of the grenade and took two steps back. Needless to say we got our rental car at the correct price and proceeded to get lost in Johannesburg soon after. There are tons of roads in Johannesburg and I think we have managed to find all of the ones with toll charges, some tolls are as much as 45 Rand ($6.50) ouch! The plan is to make our way to Cape Town and wineries :)

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Posted by Tony.Ruby 04:07 Archived in South Africa Comments (1)

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