Friday, April 10, 2015

Cape Town

Cape Town—an amalgamation of mountains and beaches paired with shopping and delicious cuisine.  It is simply gorgeous.  The ocean has a luster that I have not seen in a while.
Our Easter weekend was enjoyable, though not traditional.  We’re used to spending Easter Sundays at church and celebrating with friends and family.  Growing up, my parents would dress me the pinkest and frilliest dresses that I’ve ever seen and we’d waltz in to church only to follow with a luncheon in the church hall. Afterwards, there was always an Easter egg hunt.  More recently, my mother-in-law has treated me to a small Easter basket every year that I’ve celebrated with them. I never cease to anticipate tearing open the cellophane wrapper and initiate trades with those daring enough to partake in my bartering.  This past weekend, we spent our Sunday on a Big-Red-Bus tour while meandering (more like crutching) around to the next bus stop. It was actually a fun experience, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel the most limited and immobile that I’ve felt since getting my cast.  It is an extremely active town—there’s even an outdoor gym in the park facing the ocean. That blew my mind and I was wishing I could be one of the people breaking a sweat but having the ocean breeze dry it quickly.  Instead, I was sitting slouched in a seat with my foot up in front of me while listening to a lovely tour of the town.  Once I left my pity party, one similar to when I first got my cast, I was able to enjoy what I could of beautiful Cape Town.

The wineries were magnificent. As we went further into the wine countries of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, they got better and better. I was impressed with how well-maintained the grounds were. I couldn’t help but base the amount of pride and quality of the wineries on whether they had cobblestone pathways and manicured lawns. We tasted lovely wines that ranged from pinotage to chenin-blanc. The wineries provided spittoons for people to pour out wines they did not favor. I felt that was an outrage. Even if I was not completely sold on a wine, I didn’t have the heart to pour it out—it didn’t feel right. 
We visited a chocolatier in Franschhoek after visiting the wineries.  After all, wine and chocolate go together like…wine and chocolate.  We watched chocolate making take place and my mind immediately rushed back to the famous I Love Lucy episode when Lucy has the bright idea to work in the chocolate factory. Once I brought my attention back to the entertaining chocolate maker, I was intrigued. We sampled dark, milk, and white chocolate and learned a bit about each.  The man was on my good side until he brutally hated on both milk and white chocolate and those who favored them.  He claimed that those who liked milk were children who have not yet matured.  Here’s a tip (tangent) to everyone out there—don’t be so blunt about disliking anything anyone might favor, especially in regards to food. Food is such a personal and subjective matter. It’s foolish and rude to disregard someone’s taste.  Example—yes, dark chocolate is the purest form of chocolate, but there’s a reason for milk (cocoa combined with *ahem* milk) and white (contains no cocoa, just the butter derived from the bean) or else pastry chefs wouldn’t dream of going near it.  To answer those who are curious, I like all types of chocolate—yes, even white (gasp!)



I made reservations for high-tea at the Table Bay Hotel. I was looking forward to the occasion since before the trip started.  The tea room was beautiful with d├ęcor resembling that of a European ballroom.  The view of Table Mountain outside the massive French doors wasn’t too bad either. The food was delicious.  I am a sucker for small sandwiches and finger foods.  There’s something so enjoyable about delicately bringing a small piece of food to your mouth—as opposed to the usual large portions.  Just the act in itself makes me want to bring myself to the edge of the seat and straighten my posture.  The food consisted of quiche, finger sandwiches, and scones. More elaborately— leek and bacon quiche,  Deutsche quiche, smoked trout roll, curry chicken sandwich, cumin chicken wrap, cold beef sandwich, buttermilk scone, and cinnamon raisin scone served with lemon curd, clotted cream, and berry jams.  Dessert blanketed over the center table all in beautiful glass cake trays.  The colors were so rich and appealing to the eye.  Unfortunately, I was surprised to find that the desserts were a bit on the dry side. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful experience and I left more than satisfied.
We topped off the trip by driving along the eastern side (Indian Ocean) of the cape down to Cape of Good Hope then traveled back up the western side (Atlantic Ocean). We were a bit late getting down there but we managed to see a few penguins waddling around the shore.  I didn’t realize how short they are, and which such good posture!  They were adorable.  We finally reached the entrance for Cape of Good Hope (the most southern tip of Africa) and with our trending luck on the trip, we were three minutes late. The guard refused to let us in. We tried every statement in the book and he didn’t budge. We felt defeated and upset. Part of my frustration stemmed from the fact that many rules in South Africa aren’t enforced (i.e. traffic laws) but don’t you dare show up to the Cape of Good Hope three minutes past closing to watch the sunset.  Instead, we watched the sunset from Llandudno beach off of Hout Bay.  It was remarkable. The rest of the drive back was just as breathtaking. 

The last day, we took the cable car up Table Mountain.  The lines were perpetually long each day we attempted to ride the cable car but luckily, my broken leg got us in faster than you can say VIP. We were able to use the elevator immediately after purchasing tickets which surpassed the line up the stairs.  All in all, the trip was delightful.  If I have the opportunity to go back to Cape Town, I will never pass it up.
Tomorrow, we leave for Namibia.  We will be visiting Windhoek and Swakopmund.  The purpose of this trip is so that we can renew our visas (we have to leave the country after 90-days).  I will be writing about that experience upon our return.

Until then, cheers!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Braai

Braai. A lovely event here in South Africa consisting of laughter, merriment, animal grilling, and carbs. It is our equivalent to BBQ’s only slightly different. The men gather around the grill with their choice of beverage in-hand while the women are in the kitchen preparing carbs and sides such as toasted and buttered hot-cross buns (can’t help but hum the song), garlic bread, salad, cut fruit, and dessert. It’s a lovely occasion where friends and family partake in preparing a meal together. Is it just me, or is a meal more delicious when it’s prepared with the joy and help of those you care about?
We’ve had the pleasure of being invited to a few braais in the last couple weeks and have met some wonderful people in the process. Our landlords-turned-good-friends invited us to our first braai. It took place on a Sunday and was such a relaxing event after a morning of church.  It was probably more relaxing for me considering that my part consisted of sitting on a chair in the kitchen while munching on snacks. I have to admit, it was torturous not being able to help in the kitchen, but I embraced every moment.  Dear friends kept asking if I needed anything which is a bittersweet acceptance for me.  Their dog Tessa, a King Charles spaniel kept me company. I think I have the words ‘I’ll feed you’ written all over me when it comes to dogs. It was tough not giving in to her big brown eyes.

Another braai in which we were invited was a special occasion. Our home church was in South Africa for a service trip. Although we originally intended to help the group out for a day, my injury planned otherwise. However, they still invited us to attend church and an afternoon braai with them.  The church service was longer than we’re used to—2 hours. The vibe in the auditorium was beyond lively, contagious in fact.  I stood on one foot propping the injured one on the chair behind me while doing an embarrassing wiggle/balancing dance while people were in the aisle praising and dancing.  You’d think we were at a rock star’s concert.  It’s beautiful to see the hearts of people for the Lord halfway across the world. 

The braai with our church took place at the lodge in which they stayed.  It was a buffet style which meant that Brian was in charge of filling my plate. It’s a difficult task, but he did a lovely job. It was wonderful catching up with people from our church here in South Africa. Seeing familiar faces and hearing the work they were doing simply made my heart smile.  It made me even more excited to return to such a great community.

We’re going to Cape Town today.  It is one of the few places that every South African we’ve encountered has recommended.  Although it’s going to be a non-traditional Easter weekend for us, we’re delighted for another trip.  There were plenty of adventurous events that sounded appealing—swimming with sharks, 4-wheel/ATVing, hiking, and bike riding.  Unfortunately, we are going to have to miss out and enjoy the more relaxing events (woe is me).  On the itinerary—museums, big-red-bus, beaches, delicious food, penguins, lush wineries, high-teas, and much more.

I will definitely fill you in on our trip! 
Until then, cheers!