Part 2: Cape Town

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South Africa trip report: Part 2 – Cape Town

We started our educational trip in Cape Town and Franschoek, spending some time at a couple of our favorite properties and having a look at several new ones.

In Cape Town itself we divided our time amongst Four Rosmead, The Twelve Apostles and the Belmond Mt. Nelson Hotel.  Four Rosmead – which we use for many of our clients – was near perfect in terms of location, rooms and hospitality.  The managers and staff could not have been friendlier or more helpful, right down to setting an outdoor table for a ‘call-out’ lunch one day.

The view at Mt Nelson before high tea

The view at Mt Nelson before high tea

The Mount Nelson is as solid as Table Mountain itself – always dependable and with a great location, just a short walk away from Parliament, the Company Gardens and several museums.  We had dinner with old friends in Claremont, so had to settle for high tea at the Mt. Nelson.  It was the best ever!  Even if you don’t plan on spending a night there, by all means book their high tea.

High tea at Mt. Nelson

Sweets during high tea at Mt. Nelson. The best!

We have mixed feelings about the 12 Apostles or 12A.  It is a perfectly fine property but it felt a bit claustrophobic, with very narrow hallways and somewhat cramped common areas.  The food and service were excellent and the rooms on the ocean side have beautiful views.

The highlight of our Cape Town stay was a half day visit to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.  We went specifically to see and experience the new ‘Boomslang’ forest canopy walkway but predictably fell in love with Kirstenbosch all over again. Is there a more worthwhile place to spend half a day in Cape Town?  I don’t think so – it should be on everyone’s ‘must do’ list for even the shortest of Cape Town trips.

Lots of photographic opportunities at Kirstenbosch

Lots of photographic opportunities at Kirstenbosch

Friday 21 November 2014:  Four Rosmead Boutique Hotel, Gardens, Cape Town

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens 2

We have been sending many of our clients to Four Rosmead over the last few years to rave reviews.  Somehow or other – mostly because they were full – we were not able to spend time there on our last two trips to Cape.  This time we did and now we know why it is so popular.

It starts and ends with a high level of personal attention.  In our case from duty manager Nadine who is a star.  Nothing was too much trouble and even when we managed to break a (gift) bottle of sparkling wine the property handled our mishap smoothly and without a fuss.

First impressions count and Nadine’s arrival briefing was complete and informative without being tedious.  Without any prompting, she offered to make dinner reservations for us, which turned out to be a good move as Cape Town was already hopping, early in the summer season.

Dinner was at Baia, a popular seafood restaurant at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.  The food was delicious and the service impeccable.  It was a bit of a struggle with taxis going to the restaurant and getting back to the hotel but we had such a good time it did not really matter.

View of Table Mountain from the waterfront in Cape Town.

View of Table Mountain from the waterfront in Cape Town.

Saturday 22 November – Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

When we woke up this morning at 8:15A instead of at 4:15A, we both knew that the dreaded jetlag was behind us.  The plan was to spend some time at Kirstenbosch on this day, so soon after breakfast (corn fritters, eggs to order and toast), we headed out along De Waal Drive to this jewel of a place.  Kirstenbosch is certainly one Cape Town attraction which you shouldn’t miss when spending a few days in the Mother City.

Some of the many beautiful flowers at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Some of the many beautiful flowers at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

At any time of the year there is something – usually many things – flowering and the views are always stupendous.  Kirstenbosch is a national treasure.  There are very few signs – in fact almost none – telling you not to do this or the other, because Capetonians and out of town visitors treat it with respect and care.  There is practically no littering & even though it was quite crowded, we did not see any boorish behavior.  Which makes Kirstenbosch pretty much the perfect place for family and friends to enjoy the great outdoors.

Botanical Gardens 2

It practically goes without saying that Kirstenbosch is a photographer’s delight and so it was on this day.  I took a bunch of photographs of kids going to a Mad Hatter’s party, beautiful vistas with the mountains in the background and of course flowers of all shapes and sizes.  Kirstenbosch has some 350 tree species and countless types of shrubs, flowering plants, sedges, aloes and other succulents.

Some kids heading to a Mad Hatters party

Some kids heading to a Mad Hatters party

The main purpose of our visit was to see and experience Kirstenbosch’s latest addition, the ‘Boomslang’ Tree Canopy Walkway.  Clearly, we were not the only visitors who wanted to see the new walkway – there were lots of other people heading in the same direction.  Once we were standing on one of its high points, we realized why:  it was a novel and thrilling experience to look out over the gardens from about 10 meters (30 feet) or so up from the forest floor – and the structure blends into the environment fairly well.  So it offers a new and unique perspective without totally sacrificing Kirstenbosch’s ‘natural’ ambience.

Boomslang Tree Canopy Walkway

Boomslang Tree Canopy Walkthrough in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

After searching for an finding the last few blooming King Proteas (Protea Cynaroides), we enjoyed a not-so-light lunch at Moyo’s which offers traditional South African menu items such as boerewors rolls and fish & chips.  And Malva Pudding.

Sunday 25 November –  Jogging along the  Mouille Point Promenade

This morning we had a fairly early start, driving up and across Kloof Nek via Clifton (almost no parking there by 0900A) and Bantry Bay to the Mouille Point Promendade. This is the place to enjoy a run along flat terrain, not always easy to find elsewhere in Cape Town.  We jogged about 4 miles out and  back, enjoy the ‘rave run’ setting, kids, bikes, dogs, paragliders above and ships offshore.  We even did a little bird-watching, spotting some uncommon African Oystercatchers, amongst others.

Next:  Franschoek & the Cape winelands.

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