Cape Town

South Africa - Part 2

By Gillian Pope
If you planning a summer holiday over the December period then look no further.
 
If you are interested in South African history then visiting Robben Island will be an informative and interesting one. The home to former President Nelson Mandela from 1964 – 1982. The tour of Robben Island Museum begins at the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V & A Waterfront.
 
Ferries depart regularly from the gateway at 09h00; 11h00; 13h00 and 15h00 and each tour takes approximately 3.5 hours. The tour takes you to the maximum security prison and to Mandela’s cell in particular, which has been left in its original state.  We were also shown the lime quarry where Mandela and his fellow prisoners did hard labour.
 
Either before your trip to Robben Island, or after take a walk around the beautiful V&A Waterfront (Victoria & Alfred Waterfront). In fact there is so much to do around this area, that you will need a bit longer than a morning or afternoon.  The V&A attracts more than 23-million visitors a year which makes it the most visited destination on the African continent. 26% of the visitors are international. There are over 450 retailers, over 10 hotels, over 80 eateries including 12 fine dining restaurants, coffee shops, pubs and taverns, and a fresh food market. Apart from trying out every eating spot, along the water edge are retailers selling helicopter flips and boat rides.      They also have the Two Oceans Aquarium, four museums, and several child-friendly activities that are not weather dependent. This almost sounds like a holiday in itself.
 
There are so many beautiful scenic drives from Cape Town and one we chose to do last year was the one to Cape Agulhas.    It’s about a three hour trip from Cape Town.  The rocky headland is the place where two great oceans – the Indian and Atlantic – meet. It is the official southernmost tip of Africa. There you will find a stone plaque that marks the place – don’t forget to take your family photograph.  The landmark to also look out for is the red and white Lighthouse.    
 
We drove north east of Cape Agulhas to the tranquil little fishing village of Arniston. We have been there twice before but because of its beauty decided it’s a place to visit once again. I can recommend staying at the beautiful Arniston Hotel right on the beach, but there are lots of little cottages to rent.  Arniston is one of the best- kept secrets and definitely worth a visit if you have the time.
 
There are so many things that the Cape has to offer, but I have to end off somewhere and that will be on the beautiful Cape Winelands.  Cape wine country is divided into several regions, including Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl where one will find the majority of estates. The Cape has a rich heritage when it comes to winemaking, with the first South African wine being produced as far back as 1685 on the farm Groot Constantia (which is still in operation up to this day and producing award winning wines).
 
Next door to Groot Constantia is Klein Constantia, which although not so old, still produces their famous Vin de Constance, said to be the favourite drink of amongst others Mary Antoinette and Napoleon. In fact, the wines of Constantia had such a good reputation that it was even mention in books by famous authors such as Charles Dickens, Jane Austin and Charles Baudelaire. Other estates worth a visit in the Constantia area include Steenberg and Buitenverwachting.
 
Heading further north from Cape Town, about 30 to 45 minutes’ drive, is the areas of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl. Each of these areas has several routes one can take to visit the estates and farms. In the Stellenbosch one can find many famous wine estates when one travels down on the R44 route. In the Franschhoek valley the French Huguenot influence is still found today, with many estates still carrying the names of the French settlers who started farming in this area. There are so many wine farms to choose from and in different parts of the Cape so before heading off, read up about what each wine estate has to offer. A deciding factor could be your budget, casual, smart, cheese tasting, chocolate making, bread making and so on. Just make sure you have a designated driver.
 
Enjoy the beautiful Cape and all it has to offer.
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