We ended up getting the Big 5! Our last morning included 6 lions, 3 females and 3 males, all in their primes. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being 15 feet away from something that could end you pretty much instantaneously if it so decided.
Gorgeous, Gorgeous hike, and tons of primates:
216 meters – the highest commercial bungy jump in the world. Forgive the blurriness of these pictures, they wouldn’t allow cameras on the bridge, so these are taken by the bungy staff.
For several reasons: 1) They’re the underdog, 2) they’ve been to the finals before and have never won, 3) Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities on the planet, and 4) over the course of our visit, I like the Dutch fans I’ve met more than the Spanish fans. Yes, I realize I didn’t mention a single thing about the actual players, but I have no affiliation with either of these teams, heritage or otherwise, and I’m not exactly a pro on soccer tactics, so I had to pick one. My prediction: a 3-2 extra time thriller in favor of the men in orange.
Also, in the interest of time, I’m just going to post the best-of our photos and write the stories when I get back to the U.S. We’re about to get some lunch and then head to downtown Johannesburg for the SAB World of Beer Tour and then it’s off to Soccer City Stadium for the final.
I saved up about 25MB on my bandwidth package just for tonight, so hopefully my iPhone 4 will work and I can post some live pictures from the final. Check my twitter feed to the right as well for potential updates.
The drive from Cape Town to Plettenberg Bay along the Garden Route ranks among the best I’ve ever taken. Approximately six hours in length, the terrain ranges from rocky mountains and rolling valleys to wind-struck coastline and temperate rainforest. The flow of traffic at times approached 140km/h (87m/h), making it that much more exciting.
Apparently, there may or may not be speed cameras along the route, so I’m crossing my fingers that a sizable charge doesn’t appear on my credit card from the rental car company. Even so, I’ll dispute it just so I can get some pictures of myself driving along the route.
After unpacking at our accommodations at Anlin Beach House, we made our way to the Lookout Deck to have a snack, some beers, and catch the sunset. We settled at the corner table overlooking the bay, surfers, and the tide coming in and dined on some fresh calamari washed down with several pints of a local brew called Mitchell’s out of Knysa. Later in the evening, it was off to Emily Moon’s restaurant for another top-notch, relatively dirt-cheap meal.
We went golfing, obviously. I did a bit of research on the best courses in South Africa and settled on Arabella. A short and gorgeous hour-and-a-half drive from Cape town, we arrived to a near perfect 65 degrees and sunny day. What a fantastic place! It was a bit windy, being on a bay near the ocean, but the course was in top-shape. Deep, well-placed sand traps, tough pin placements, sweeping vistas, and fast greens made this a difficult yet fulfilling round.
My dad and I were paired with a Swiss couple who moved to the area ten years prior because, “Switzerland is just too predictable, everything runs so smoothly and it’s boring. Here there is diversity and excitement.” We were quickly revealed as the hacks we are when I promptly shanked one out of bounds off the first tee (hey, I hadn’t played in months) and my dad topped a couple in the middle of the fairway. The play gradually improved and we ended up being a decent pairing in the end with everyone shooting from 90-110. I shot even on a par 5 and had two birdie chances, so I consider it a success.
There are some brilliantly beautiful holes on this course. Check them out (also some food pics from the Harbour House in Kalk Bay):
I’m in Johannesburg at our guesthouse watching the 3rd/4th place match between Germany & Uruguay, and some major updates are on the way (we actually have a real, direct-plugin, ethernet connection). But first, let’s talk about how much better in-flight service is in South Africa than the U.S. We had a one-hour flight in a prop plane between Hodespruit and Johannesburg on South African Airlines today. The service included a sandwich, milk-chocolate bar, and free beer/wine. This is a win.
Not only that, but apparently Castle beer has a happy-meal-for-adults collectable series of beer cans with Bafana Bafana players on them. These are the times I really wish our overly-litigeous society could be a little bit like the rest of the world.
Posting from Kambaku Lodge in Timbavati Game Reserve. We do have an internet connection, but it’s essentially dial-up speed, so there won’t be any extensive updates/slideshows until we get to Johannesburg. For now, I’ll leave you with some choice shots from the last two days (click on each for the full-size version):
A knock-out round World Cup match is unlike any other sporting event I’ve ever witnssed. Think Game 7 in an American Sport – win or go home – and then take it up another notch and make it based on national pride. I’m talking full-grown adults in crazy costumes and face paint singing songs, reciting chants, and generally going completely bonkers. This atmosphere isn’t just confined to the stadium either.
Adjacent to Green Point Stadium, Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront provides dozens of bars and restaurants featuring cuisine and drinks from a vast array of countries as well as acres of public spaces, scenic vistas, and hundreds of shops. We decided to arrive four hours ahead of the match and soak in the scene. We bypassed a giant line of Germans waiting to get into a beer garden (it’s is their natural drinking habitat, Oktoberfest and all) for a Belgian bar/restaurant for some beer tasting.
We made our way though four different samples while Argentinians and Germans sat side by side with us at the bar discussing match strategy in their respective languages and knocking down shots and brews in preparation for the match. This proved to be a smart move on their part as the only thing served inside is FIFA sponsor Budweiser (booooo). What a horrible, horrible shame that at a world sporting event, the only way to get remotely buzzed inside is with crappy American beer.
Next, we wound our way through pedestrian paths, into a giant mall area, and eventually to Baia Seafood Restaurant overlooking the waterfront with downtown Cape Town and Table Mountain as the backdrop. Wild & cultured oysters, seafood bisque, line-caught kingclip, giant crayfish, and king prawns supplied the sustenance required to get us through the match.
After lunch, we walked about 3/4 of a mile alongside thousands of other fans toward the stadium. Unfortunately for us, we were surrounded by a pack of rowdy Australians with helmet-mounted vuvuzelas powered by blow tubes (think beer helmet in reverse), and couldn’t hear much of anything until we got inside. Green Point stadium is an absolutely spectacular venue. It looks like a giant white flying saucer, has great facilities and crowd-control/access, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house. We found our way to the upper deck, grabbed some Buds (Coke doesn’t have alcohol in it), and settled in for the match.
My prediction based on the scintillating prior performances of both teams was a 4-3 extra time thriller in favor of Germany. I got the German score right at least – 90 minutes of almost total domination. Gorgeous team soccer – crisp passing, solid first-touches, and superior strategy put the Argentinian effort to shame. It seemed like Maradona’s game plan for Argentina consisted of getting the ball to Messi and Tevez to make some spectacular moves around 2 or 3 Germans, and then getting denied by the 4th. The only things for Argentinian fans to cheer about in this match, other than the non-goal called back due to being off-side, were some mind-boggling cuts, spins, and hole-threading by Messi – and even the German fans were cheering for that based on shear amazement.
We filtered out of the stadium and made our way back through the night-time zoo of the V&A Waterfront – every bar was packed with fans imbibing in celebration or defeat – to the Clock Tower where our driver picked us up and deftly skipped almost all of the post-match traffic. A quick 30-minute turn around at the guesthouse and then it was of to La Colombe, the 12th ranked restaurant in the world.
Obviously, we went with the discovery tasting menu, a gut-busting 7-course meal with drink pairings. Any time the menu presented a choice between two different offerings, we each picked one as to try as much as possible. One would think an establishment of such high esteem would have the prices to match. Not so. Our entire meal ran about 1/3 of similar offerings I’ve had in the U.S. This place is a culinary tour-de-force. Locally sourced ingredients, many wines from their own vineyards, and near-flawless preparation and presentation resulted in one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The menu, followed by select pictures:
Fricassee of veal sweetbreads and tiger prawn, glazed aubergine, chick pea salad, miso dressing and shitake teriyaki OR Fricassee of quali and tiger prawn with corn and miso butter, warm charred corn and spring onion salad – Beaumont Hope Marguerite Chenin Blanc 2008
Pan fired foie gras, rooibos poached quince, rhubarb puree wild cape cherry jus, rooibos and vanilla custard – Klein Constantia Vin De Constance 2005 OR Smoked lamb tongue, mussel mariniere, parsley and apple puree, grated lime – Constantia Uitsig White Blend 2007
Quail and lentil veloute, truffled quail egg, confit quail leg, seared breast, cepe powder – Constantia Uitsig Semillon 2007
Risotto Bordelaise: Red wine risotto, bone marrow, charred fillet and fresh parsley – Groot Constantia Pinotage 2008
Halibut miso yaki, salted fig “XO” dressing, pea & coriander puree, slow cooked carrot, creme fraiche and lime mousse, wild sorrel – Klein Constantia Riesling 2008
Veal fillet sous vide, morel jus, sugar snap and pancetta emulsion, polenta and morel cannelloni, white bean puree – Constantia Uitsig Red Blend 2001 OR Assiette of suckling pig, beetroot and fernabranca jus, creamed celeriac roll, garlic confit – Crystallum Pinot Noir Cuvee Cinema 2008
Three tea and chocolate tasting plate: white and dark chocolate fondant with jasmine tea, earl grey and chocolate kit kat, chi ice cream, raspberry and tapioca salad – Signal Hill Empereur Rouge 2005
After years of reading others’ blogs and hounding from friends to start my own, the day has finally arrived. The impetus for pulling the trigger mainly stems from my upcoming trip to South Africa for the World Cup and the general feeling that anything less than full documentation of this once-in-a-lifetime experience would be a mammoth fail.
Other than that, I plan to use this space to highlight all of the things I love: music, travel, photography, food, beer, geekery, and general hilarity.
In these first few weeks, you will likely see a lot of cosmetic changes to the site as I learn what domain hosting and wordpress are all about, so bear with me while everything is under construction.
Please comment freely and enjoy!