Saturday, 24 September 2011

South African Calling - 22/09/2011

Cape Town , 22nd September , 2011

After what felt like a never-ending journey, we finally landed in Cape Town some 16 hours after having taken off from Delhi. All the fatigue of travel was forgotten the moment we walked into the lobby of our hotel, The Cape Royale Hotel. Not only was it beautiful , the service too warm and very welcoming .

Our suite was more like an apartment – large one of over 2200 sq feet that included

two comfortable bedrooms with spacious attached bathrooms,

a living cum dining room that was not just large and airy but also furnished very tastefully and minimally with some fantastic African art. The kitchen was Sikandalous ! I would love to cook in it in India , but here that’s not going to happen here !

Cape Town  I was told was a beautiful city , but what met my eye was way beyond my expectations . The city is clean , there is a pulse in the air and the people are very helpful . Yes we have encountered a few polite beggars ( not letting my guard down though ! ) , but overall the city has wowed me .
A couple of hours later after relaxing and enjoying  our surroundings we headed off to the waterfront where we were told there were some great eating options . We chanced upon this restaurant called Baia  . The choice couldn’t have been better !

A shared a starter – baked escargot in garlic cream mopped up with bread rolls – Superb ! 

For the main course we both opted for a dish of Baby Kingklip – this was a foot long and cooked in lemon butter with freshly crushed black pepper – again excellent .A hurried walk around the waterfront ( warnings about the dark side of dangerous Cape Town buzzing in my head ) we headed back to our hotel and were out for the count .

23d September , 2011

Nine hours later breakfast and like good tourists we headed off to explore the town . We walked through a couple of small ‘ square markets ‘ selling the usual handicrafts till we came upon Company’s Garden .-  formally established in 1652 by Dutch settlers  .This was a feast for the eyes – beautiful flowers and greens all the way . I saw spice that I had read about or tasted even but didn’t know what they looked like .
An unusual squirrel kept us entertained

as did a couple of almost human birds and ducks .

We also visited The Slave Lodge . The museum recounts the slave trade and its role in Cape Town history and is is housed at the same site the original Dutch slave lodge was located . The museum is well laid out and documented with photographs and some movie visuals – not quite my scene !

Lunch was at a restaurant called Mint . Hadn’t realized it was a part of the Taj Cape Town as we were seated outdoors .

We ate a delicious roasted butternut salad ( a first for me ) . 

Chin ordered a Minced mutton ‘ bunny chow ‘ – very nice again – almost like our keema – later we figured why , once the Taj connection was discovered . 

I again ordered a kingklip – this time more like a steak served with what seemed like couscous and a salad . All beautifully presented – and tasted great too .

 A national monument – Table Mountain is sculpted from sandstone .Views from up here are remarkable and the panorama stretches endlessly . The cable car takes one to the top of Table Mountain in minutes . What makes this car special is the revolving floors that give passengers a 360-degree view over Cape Town and Table Mountain as they ascend and descend.

The view in the way up and from the top is spectacular . 

We saw patches of starkness – sandstone and brown weeds that dramatically opened onto flowering shrubs .

Fortunately it was a sunny afternoon, which made the cold winds at that height somewhat tolerable .

The rest of the evening was spent in some fun retail therapy . Dinner for me was a disaster . I opted baraai – the African grill or BBQ . 

My dish was too ‘ meaty ‘ , the sauce sweet and overall awful . 

Chin ate some fantastic squid ! Not to give up , as I am told the Baraai is quite special , we are headed off again tonight to another South African meal !

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