Previous Trip Notes:
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 7 – JNB InterContinental & SAA Economy to CPT
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 6 – Mauritius & Hilton Resort & Spa
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 5 – Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai & EK703
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 4 – Dubai, Al Maha & Sheraton Mall of the Emirates
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 3 – IAD & EK232
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 2 – Trip Report Setup
25K Mile (with Baby) Trip Report: Part 1 – Planning
We landed in Cape Town, took some cash out of the ATM while waiting for our bags, then made our way to the taxi stand, where there were many unsanctioned transportation providers. We managed to find the proper mini-van taxi and took off to the Radisson Blu hotel. The taxi ride was more expensive than I thought it would be, but according to Maps.Me they took us on the most direct route.
We arrived at the Radisson Blu well before check-in time, but they managed to get us in one room. We dropped off our bags and walked over to the V&A Waterfront Mall. It was a huge shopping center – both indoor and outdoor. The weather was coolish/warm, with the sun shining, so the 10-15 minute walk pushing NSPpeanut in a stroller was nice. With the famous Table Mountain as one backdrop right beyond the large soccer stadium built for the 2010 World Cup, and the Cape Town harbor on the other, the sights did not disappoint. And little did we know it would only get better from there.
After strolling around for a while, we grabbed lunch at an admittedly touristy lunch spot, and then went down a level to buy some groceries at the Pick n Pay (and by saying “buy groceries,” I mean beer and wine). This grocery store was great. Beer was cheap, and wine even cheaper. They had tons of baby food pouches, baby wipes and diapers that we were running low on. The pouches even had some South African focused flavors to help change up NSPpeanut’s routine of Beef Medley, Chicken Casserole and Vegetable Bake.
We headed back to the hotel and relaxed for a little bit outside at the pool, which sits right along the cape. It was very tranquil and beautiful. Tired from two days of traveling, we decided to eat at the hotel restaurant. While the food was pretty good, service took forever. With a 15-month old in tow, you would think they would try to push the kitchen a little. Instead, it took ten minutes to come over and acknowledge us. Ten more minutes for water. Ten minutes to come back to take our order. 25 minutes for appetizers (and finally the chicken nuggets and fries for NSPpeanut), and then another 45 minutes for dinner. We felt bad that NSPpeanut decided she had enough and wouldn’t sit in her high chair any longer, but we had been waiting for over 90 minutes before our meals even came out! We had ordered dessert in advance, and by time we had finished eating, the meal clocked in at over two and a half hours! We were exhausted, and went to bed early, as we had planned a two-day private tour starting at 9am the following morning.
We researched various tour guides for weeks before settling on Cape Town Private Tours. The only downside was that they did not take a credit card (and thus no discount by using the Barclay Arrival card). We opted to go with this tour operator despite not being able to use a credit card for a few reasons. First, their response time and insight when we emailed them were great. They said they could take us on the routes we asked for, but they proposed a different schedule as well their reasons for changing it up a bit. In the end, we took their recommendations and were very glad that we did so. Second, they were extremely knowledgeable – it was a husband and wife duo – Charl and Erna, and Charl had a PhD in history and could answer every question we had. Third, they were willing to be flexible, something that was much needed with a 15-month old.
Charl greeted us at 9am in his Mercedes, was patient as we loaded in NSPpeanut, and we took off heading south. The first stop was at Boulders Beach. We were super excited for this stop, as NSPpeanut’s favorite animal was a penguin, and here she was about to see hundreds of penguins on the beach. While she couldn’t talk yet, she certainly showed her excitement at seeing her favorite friends.
We grabbed a coffee and pastry at the gift shop and then continued down south. We pulled off the side of the road a couple times to take some pictures, and then went to an Ostrich Farm right outside the entrance to the Table Mountain National Park. It was a quick 30-minute tour, and while not exactly cheap, was very educational.
At that point we headed in towards the Cape of Good Hope. Charl dropped us off at the restaurant as he searched for parking. He had reserved a table in advance, overlooking the cape. Oh. My. God. It was beautiful.
We splurged on a large sushi lunch, paired with some South African wines, and took in the setting. Food in South Africa is cheap, and despite the fact that we were eating sushi, drinking wine, and were in a tourist restaurant, the bill was still amazingly inexpensive.
After lunch, we headed up the mountain. We opted to walk in lieu of the cable car, a decision that halfway up we regretted. But the views just kept getting better and better. After seeing the Tetons in Jackson, Wyoming, the beaches in the Maldives, the dunes outside of Dubai, and the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, these views topped the list.
Pictures just don’t do it justice. Sadly, drones were illegal in all National Parks in South Africa, so I couldn’t get any aerial coverage. We did opt to take the cable car back down, and then headed over to the Cape of Good Hope where we spotted some wildlife:
Sadly a dead whale was washed up on the beach:
Overall the day was fantastic. And when we got back to the hotel, we had arranged for massages. Cheap to begin with, but coupled with the 50% Barclays and boy was it a steal!
We relaxed for a little bit and then headed back to the V&A Waterfront for dinner. We selected a South African restaurant. Again, it is amazing how cheap the food was at restaurants. NSPpeanut was fantastic, as she fell asleep before the food even came out, so we had a very nice and relaxing dinner. Afterwards we packed it in, as we had another early start the next morning.
Charl met us again in the morning, and we took off for Stellenbosch, a great South African wine region. We started by hitting up a vineyard on the way to Franschhoek, a cute little town with botiques and cafes. Both the vineyard and Franschhoek were great.
On the way back we stopped at Simonsig. The wine tasting and scenery was amazing:
Our next step wasto the one place I wanted to visit for months: The Thirsty Scarecrow. This is a restaurant within a strawberry field. I thought NSPpeanut would love the pick strawberries. And I couldn’t wait to try their strawberry beer lager…hoping it would be similar to my all-time favorite: Abita Strawberry. Alas, neither were meant to be. The strawberry patch, although plentiful, was not open for picking. And they had run out of strawberry beer. I opted to try another strawberry drink, but it wasn’t anything special.
By that point, the wine and beer and food had been flowing for hours, and it was time to call it a day. NSPwife and NSPpeanut fell asleep in the back of Charl’s Mercedes E-Class, and I setup the GoPro.
The Radisson Blu Waterfront was very nice, with a very inexpensive spa and restaurant.
We were so exhausted, and NSPpeanut was near-delusional, that we opted to try our hand at dinner again. This time the service was much better, and faster.
We woke up the next morning, grabbed the breakfast buffet and headed to the airport. Soon would be the long slog, Cape Town > Doha > JFK > DCA. Over 11,500 miles in roughly 24 hours:
There was a surprise, however, in the waiting…