Monday, 17 December 2007

Vehicular relief

Wow. I didn't realize how stressed I was about this whole car thing until it was done. And as soon as it was, I just had this mad desire to drive as far as I could and enjoy the car. So on Saturday, I did. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and I just picked up and drove... I went down to Fishhoek, and then up over Chapman's peak and around the mountain. It was about a 2 hour drive... and man, it always surprises me how amazingly beautiful the peninsula is. Here are a few pictures I managed to get along the way.

At the end of the drive, I ended up downtown, and did some mad Xmas shopping. I usually HATE shopping, and leave it 'til the last moment, but I figured that wasn't really acceptable this time - I had to bring in some African stuffs. So I went crazy and bought a bunch of presents, including some for me and my apartment - check the little skinny African dudes.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Adventures with KB

Ok, let me return to my vacation week. I'll try to only include the interesting bits (but not TOO interesting), and considering my atrocious memory, things may be out of order a bit. But frankly, why do you give a damn?

So another neat thing we did was go to this restaurant, Mama Africa, down on Long Street. It was really cool - they have all kinds of delicious African animals for eating, like crocodile kebabs, snake, springbok, kudu, ostrich, etc. Yum. I strongly suggest the croc. They also had a really cool jazz band playing in the background, tunes like "somewhere over the rainbow" and "swing low." Nice.

We went to the cable car which takes you up the mountain... but unfortunately the wind was too strong and it was closed. There were still some pretty spectacular views, though. So we went down to Camp's Bay instead, which is pretty fantastic (NB: somehow in this whole week we managed to really not get sunburned at all, and I even got a bit of a tan. This is very out of character for me).

At some point we went to this really kick-ass restaurant called Pigalle, which has delicious seafood, and a full-on brass band that you get up and dance to. Really neat place, and outstandingly reasonably priced. Food really is much cheaper here than in NYC... go figure...

We also went to this wine farm which is literally 10 minutes from my house - Groot Constantia. It's one of the oldest wineries in the Cape, and the tasting was really fun. Great wines, too.

Finally, one of the best experiences while Kristen was here was going to the Kirstenbosch Summer Concert. During the summer, Kirstenbosch (the enormous botanical gardens which is a five minute walk from my house) has weekly concerts out on a beautiful lawn overlooking the city, every Sunday. Luckily, the very first one happened to begin the day before KB had to leave, so we pitched up and got to see it. I can't even remember who the singer was (some dude who was touted as "South Africa's Bob Dylan" - lots of folky songs, lots of stuff about oppression and poverty, and a few happy songs, too. But he was really good) but it didn't matter. The whole experience was just such a nice completion to the visit.

Takin' it to the Midge

Huzzah! I finally did it! I got another car! I can now stop driving around the crappy rental I've been driving (which was very cheap, considering, but when you have it for a month, it still adds up). And so I present to you...

Now my main goal is not to have THIS one stolen. To that end, I have had many suggestions, and they have almost all involved the Club. I may take that into consideration, although this guy came equipped with a gear lock - a nifty device that locks the car into reverse so that hopefully no one will steal it. Unfortunately, you must park with your backside to a wall or something, otherwise potential thieves can just reverse it all the way to their waiting van. So maybe I should consider getting a club...

Saturday, 8 December 2007

KB in the Cape

So, I know that it's been two weeks since my vacation with Kristen ended, and I know it is inexcusable that I have yet to put up pictures of penguins and baboons. But in my defense... screw you, I'll do what I want.

And now I want to begin the journey of documenting that journey.

So, Kristen arrived in Cape Town International Airport, and much rejoicing was had (although it took a freaking hour to get through customs and whatnot - I was beginning to think that she'd missed her connection in London, which was entirely possible considering she had like 5 minutes between flights).
First day, not a hell of a lot was done, except we did go grocery shopping and take a really nice drive out to Hout Bay, where they have the best fish & chips in the world. It was shockingly cold, though, and that was annoying. But it did make the waves look stunning in the grey light of twilight, and that made it ok.

Friday, we did some touring of downtown Cape Town, including the cool Greenmarket Square, where there are tons of little stalls with people selling cutesy little jewelry, scarves, African bowls, and salad spoons. Then we went to Renee's birthday party at night, which was really fun, and a great way for Kristen to meet all my Africa friends (she had a great time).

And then... what everyone is waiting for - Saturday we drove down to Cape Point, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Truly, it was spectacular, and these photos really don't do justice to the awe that the views from the Point inspire.

Cape Point is like a big nature reserve kind of thing, so you have to drive for probably 20 minutes once entering the reserve until you get to the actual point (which is right next to the Cape of Good Hope). Anyway, on the drive out, we were driving along a mostly deserted road, and noticed ahead a line of cars stretching ahead of us. We were shocked that there should be a traffic jam way out there, and there may have been some swearing from the driver. Upon closer inspection, we first saw that the cars were actually pulled over to the side of the road, and then spotted my very first ACTUAL yard monkey...

Baboons! They roam the countryside, looking for people to mug for food. Seriously. Apparently (and I have heard several people give stories about this) if you have food and they catch you, then will bare their (enormous and sharp) teeth at you and make threatening motions. Honestly, I've heard bad things about the crime in Cape Town, so I wouldn't give them any reason to attack...

BTW, if these pictures look a little weird, it's because the car window is up - we were certainly not letting them anywhere near our snacks!

And the greatest thing of all - Penguins! Boulders Beach is right near Cape Point, and that is where the South African penguins hang out. So we stopped off (somehow acquiring several cutesy little penguin souvenirs) and took a looksee.

Kristen thought they were incredibly cute. I thought they looked a bit mangy. I will admit that there was one cute situation, where two penguins lay sleeping with their little beaks touching...
That's enough for now. We obviously did plenty more in the time she was here, but I'll continue that just now.