Nearby Cape Town are some really lovely places that make for a great escape from the city. To take advantage of them, we rented a car and headed out on a little adventure.
We started our trip in Stellenbosch, the unofficial capital of South Africa's wine country. The scenery is beautiful, the estates are elegant, and the wine is delicious and cheap (at least by Napa standards...). There were even cheetahs and eagles to play with at one of the wineries! What's not to love? The historic wineries, most of which were founded in the 1700s, gave us proper perspective on the relative youth of our own beloved Northern California wine industry. The town of Stellenbosch itself was also a delight- charming tree-lined streets lined with quaint shops and restaurants, and just a hint of hipness thanks to the local university students.
From Stellenbosch we headed east over the Helshoogte Pass. The Franschhoek Valley is a bit smaller and friendlier than Stellenbosch, and as it sits in the shadows of some really glorious mountains, it may also be just a bit more beautiful. We also got to visit a really excellent car museum at one of the wineries. And the wine wasn't half bad either!
After some gelato in the town of Franschhoek, we continued southeast towards the coast to Hermanus, a town famous for whale watching. We arrived at dusk with enough time to catch a few right-back whales playing in the bay before heading to dinner at local seafood restaurant to celebrate Gil's 33rd birthday. The food was imaginative and inspiring (my first time trying abalone...) and the wine we had stocked up in the previous days was put to good use well into the night. Good times.
The next morning we saw even more whales, including a mother and a calve swimming no more than 15 feet from the shore. We headed back toward the city, taking in the coastal views and the colorful fynbos plants indigenous to the area. We stopped for a while at Betty's Bay to be entertained by the comical penguin colony and then continued on to Simon's Town for the night.
The following day was spent hiking around Cape of Good Hope, which contains Cape Point, the southwestern most point of the continent. From the cliffs we could see more whales swimming around, as well as seals diving in and out of the waves crashing on the rocks below. We also caught some ostriches playing on the beach and several baby ostriches on the western side of the peninsula - so cute!
From there, we headed back to the city, stopping in Hout's Bay (Cape Town's version of Fisherman's Wharf...) for some fish and chips, followed by sunset cocktails at Camp's Beach. Icing on the cake. We love Cape Town!!!!!