Our mission was to view the fur seals at Duiker Island, a rocky outcrop just beyond Hout Bay.
But first we had to round the headland and head out into the wild Atlantic Ocean.
The swell was probably only moderate, but that was rather enough for me as I’m not much of a sea dog. However I do admit that having the wind through my hair and watching the waves roll in was an exhilarating experience.
The most popular day trip from Cape Town is probably the drive down to Cape Point, about 60km south of the city. It goes along spectacular drives to coastal suburbs and villages, and then finally through the Cape Point National Park to wild capes.
Our first stop of the day was in the fishing town of Hout Bay. Originally it was the source of Cape Town’s timber – not much of the forest is still in existence, as you can see.
Its natural harbour made it a perfect place for a fishing port. It still maintains a fishing fleet today, although much of the catch seemed to be for export.
Nowadays, the holiday-makers, sea-changers and recreational sailors have also moved in.
Next, we’ll go on the water.
Lastly, what is winery without its own wine dog or three? Here is a selection of wine dogs encountered during the day.
It was a warm, sunny day, so these two disregarded the visitors and took full advantage.
Meanwhile, this big boy just wanted a pat. I obliged, of course.
We ended up visiting five wineries that day, and sampled a lot of wines, including sparkling and sweet wines!
South Africa doesn’t just make good whites like chennin blanc, sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, but also great reds like cabernet sauvignon, shiraz, and its own variety which I grew found of, pinotage.
And the wineries I visited weren’t only of the fashionable kind, but also a few that were rough and ready. This one had tasting in a dusty Dutch-style barn, but the shiraz I tasted were very fine indeed.
One of the great things about Cape Town is that it’s blessed with a number of wine regions within a 100km radius, making wine tasting day trip a very attractive and relaxing option. I took a day tour to the wineries around Stellenbosch, just 50km away from the centre of Cape Town. With the jagged mountain ranges in the background, the wineries of the region were often in very scenic locations.
And with interesting side attractions – like zebras.
But I was also there to taste a bit of wine. The wine styles were generally more restrained than in Australasia, making it very nice with a bit of French-style cheese.
One of the most colourful neighbourhoods in Cape Town is Bo-Kaap. It has traditionally been the home of the Cape Malays – descendants of slaves and traders originating from the East Indies (now Indonesia). The oldest house in the area was built in 1760s but the community has its origins all the way back in the mid 17th Century.
Most were (and still are) Muslim, hence the high concentration of mosques on the block. Despite this, there did not seem to be much tension based on religion. Talking to locals and going by the nightly news, South Africans are much more concerned about the state of their government than differences in religion.
The Cape Malays brought with them their culture and food – so much so in Cape Town that today many South African national dishes are quite heavily spiced, and popular with all South Africans, regardless of race. I sampled some of the food while in town, and generally liked what I ate, I must say that they are very different to any Indonesian/Malaysian/Indian or Malaysian dishes that I know. And yes, the samosas (or samoosas as the South Africans call them) are good.
Nowadays, South Africa is a country of immigrants, especially from other parts of Africa. One community represented are the Ethiopians.
We had a taste of Ethiopian food one night. It’s certainly a different way of eating!
The spicing is rather unique, I thought – they seem to use quite a bit of cardamon in their savoury food. Their way of taking coffee was also unique. I’ve never heard of popcorn as an accompaniment!
Another remnant of the Dutch colony of Kap Staad is the old fort, the Castle of Good Hope, built in the 17th Century. It was where the first commanders and their entourage lived, and though it had been fitted with cannons, they were never fired in anger.
The fort used to sit right on the beach, but since land was reclaimed and the coast line moved 1km further out to sea, it now sits by the highway and railway. Table Mountain views abound from here.
Not far away was the Company’s Garden that the Dutch established, initially to grow food for passing ships, but later expanded to include a pleasure garden.
I saw a local goose walk by, spring chicks in tow.
And there was a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a somewhat divisive figure of Colonial Africa now, though he did much for South Africa.
Cape Town has had an interesting history as a colony. It was in the hands of the Dutch who docked to replenish food supplies on their sometimes year-long voyages from Europe to Asia in the 16th and 17th Century. There’s evidence of that it some of the buildings around the city, like this old church.
And this house Dutch-style house.
Then the British took over in the 19th Century and brought their brand of Victoriana with them. It’s in the public buildings.
And in the churches.
When the 20th Century came around, there was once again a burst of building in the Art Deco style.
It’s quite a cosmopolitan place.