Sunday, January 31, 2016

More Simon's Town and Botanical Gardens Jan 2016

I finally found a Zulu basket I liked that would fit my needs.  I ended up going back to the first shop by the penguins where I'd seen some I liked and they had a couple of new ones.  This is now my shell basket in the boat.
The diamond design represents the "shields of Shaka", a famous Zulu warrior.  The basket is grass wrapped in the colored reeds and rolled into the coils.  The coils are then woven and stitched together to form the basket.

The mountain of Glen Cairn, next to Simon's Town.  A fire on the train blew up the side of this hill in the high winds and scorched the side and came close to some homes.  We had a fire nearly every day while we were in Simon's Town.  The arsonists must've been very busy.
The bay along the shore where the road and train go into Fish Hoek, the next town where folks go to shop or catch the bus/train.  You can see the kelp in the surf.
There is a nice beach here, but in high winds, the sand blows across the railroad track and across the road and forms mini dunes along the road.  Much like snow blowing in a blizzard.

This old building is from 1903 in Simon's Town, just across from the train station.  The train was only running for two days before it caught fire and was out of commission again for a while.  A train ticket included a bus ride from Simon's Town to Fish Hoek to get the train while it was not running  way to ST.
A view of False Bay Yacht Club from the top of YOLO's Mast.  Jason is up taking pictures of the sheaves in the hopes we can get a rigger to replace one.  Getting anyone to work on the boat was like pulling teeth.  They have a very different business sense here....
A selfie of Jason at the top of the mast.  You can see how the smoke and soot has plastered itself to the front of the mast in the strong winds.
A calm day in the marina for a change.  The boat in the center is Saol Eile, our Irish friends.  The boat on the left has been shuffling from marina to marina without paying its bills, we heard.  They left this dock and headed for another port farther up the coast and the local yacht club here called the Marine Police and Sea Rescue folks and Customs to have it detained for non-paymentof its bills.  Whether they finally came up with the funds to pay or it was going to be sold at auction to clear the debts, we aren't sure.  We heard both stories.
Kids and teens playing in the waters near the shore in the marina.  The platform is there for them to  and jump off of.  The area here gets lots of use from kids.  The kelp covred rock in the foreground is another favorite climbing surface.  I like the blow-up swan toy.  The dad pulled it behind him with a couple of kids in it.  The rounded white walls are the BBQ/braai areas and the picnic areas where folks eat and drink when they come to the yacht club.  The Sea Rescue vessels are housed in the big garage-like structure next door.  You can see the orange end of one of the rescue boats.  They will come to your aid without cost here in South Africa--nice.
Men stoking the fires below their cast iron kettles at the Potjie Kos the yacht club members held for us cruisers.  The guy in the blue striped shirt is Mike, and we met him in the Caribbean years ago.  He lives here and keeps a boat in the marina, so we got to see him and Lynn a couple of times while we were here.

Jim and Jason waiting for the food to be ready.
These 3-legged cast iron pots were the feature of the day.  They set them on top of a fire and bubble up a stew-like mixture that may contain seafood, beef, chicken, lamb or veges.  Even bread is cooked over the fire in these things.  Every household seems to own one  The bowl on the right has cooked white corn maize meal in it, called pap, a staple here in South Africa.
The potjie kos (say poy-key.  Don't ask me how that spelling is that pronunciation!) food was delicious and we tried so many different dishes that we didn't need to cook the steaks we'd brought to throw on the barbeque grill.
Linda and Jim from Chesapeake at the potjie kos.
Bill and Tracy at the potjie kos, from Zephyr.
Ann and Chris from Silver Girl at the potjie kos.  They were the ones dismasted on the way from Chagos to Rodrigues, but they caught up with us again here in SA.
Ley and Neil from Crystal Blues at the potjie kos.
Karen enjoying a beer listening to the live musician play a Jimmy Buffet tune.
Jason taking a break inside the clubhouse at FBYC, chatting with other cruisers.
Paul from Thankful and Paraic from Saol Eile enjoy a quieter moment in the bar upstairs at the yacht club.
More cruisers enjoying the party before heading off to their boats at other marinas.
This seal was just snoozing while swimming along between the boats at the dock in the marina.

He'd bump into a boat and just roll or flip over and carry on snoozing.  His back flippers as he does a somersault to head in another direction.
You can see the bubbles as he exhales while sleeping at the surface.
He'd come right up to the dock, close enough to touch if you wanted to wake him.
A helicopter landing on a navy ship across the marina in the naval yard.
The flowers currently in bloom here in South Africa, on display at the entrance of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest botanical gardens in existence.  The flowers are from fynbos, proteas, Ericas and such.
 This huge tree has a sprawling set of trunks that cover a huge area for a single tree.  It is considered one of their Centenarian trees and is so marked.
 A closer view of the tree.
 More trunks come out from the other side, too.
 A suspended bridge that takes you along the tree tops to get a different view of the gardens.
 Karen on the tree top bridge.  That railing was super hot the day we walked around.
 Dinosaur sculptures are arranged in one area of the gardens.  These are big, life-sized metal sculptures.
 The dinos blend in well in these cycads.
 This one could be munching some of these bushes.
A big aloe tree.  The aloe plants we use for burns also grow into trees here.
 A Woods Cycad, the last known specimen of its kind.

The explanation about the cycad behind the fence here.  Unique and nearly extinct, this is the only one left.
 A pterodactyl sculpture 'flies' through the gardens.  I always liked this dinosaur.
 A golden breasted sunseeker sticks its beak into the flowers in the botanical gardens.
 A side view of the pretty bird.  He shimmered in wonderful color in these flowers.
 You can see the brilliant color of the breast of this bird here.
Looking out the windshield at a helicopter carrying a bag of seawater to dump on a fire on a hillside as we returned to Simon's Town.  The hills are too rugged to get firefighting machines to the fires but the winds whip the fire so quickly up the hills and across the land that they must spend the money to try to stop them any way they can.  There were several helicopters flying water up the hill and dumping it onto the fire.  It's a shame that so much of the countryside has been burned to a blackened scorch field.  The strong winds spread the damage so fast, too.  And they say most of it was from arsonists.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

YOLO in Stellenbosch wineries Jan 2016

Our first stop on our Afrivista Tours winery tour was at Tokara.  The estate used to be a fruit tree estate that is now fruit, grapes and olives.  They make wines, olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  So of course, they had olives to cleanse the palate between wines.  I'm not a big olive fan, but decided to try the ones here.  I'm actually going to voluntarily put an olive in my mouth....
I have to bite into it to chew it up and I'm not sure that's a good thing......
Yeah, it was ok.  I actually had several after that and was still smiling. Or is that a grimace?
That's Bill, Jim, Tracy and me tasting the olive oils at Tokara.  I bought a small bottle of the blended one, but the straight olive oils tasted a bit harsh to me.
Jason and Bill review some of the reading materials at Tokara.  This was a very comfortable and modern wine tasting room that set a new standard for South Africa wine tasting when it opened.  Very posh and nice!
The second winery, Camberley, was much more of a home/family oriented place and the big yellow dog greeted us.
This fancy tricycle is made of old machinery parts welded together at Fairview, our third stop.
Tracy on the big bad trike.
Jason thinking he's Easy Rider on a junk trike.
Linda had a hard time getting on the contraption.
It was quite a piece of art, really.
We had a cheese pairing with our wines after lunch and we're hearing our host tell us about them.  A bit stingy with the tiny cheese samples, but the cheese shop was connected and had many more samples we were free to try, so we went around a couple of times and bought several cheeses here--a couple different flavors of goat cheese and a white rock/cheddar with cranberries.  The white rock and figs was a close runner-up for purchase, and I found it in a store later and bought some.
The oak tree here is 317 years old, planted by the owners of the original Muratie winery on their wedding day back then.  I gathered an acorn that had dropped from the tree.
Karen and Jason being tree huggers.  It's a big, old tree!
The constant whitecaps just keep rolling in to Cape Town on the day we visited to buy boat stuff.
The Tokara wine estate also boasts a sculpture garden.  This one was in the parking lot when we pulled in.  If you walk around the grounds of the estate, you'll see sculptures that have been placed all around the estate.  You can bike around on the pathways and see them all, but we didn't have time on our tour to do so.
Grape vines are in the front, but the grey-green in the background is the olive grove.  Each grape vine produces enough grapes to make about two bottles of wine, so our guide suggested we picture a bottle of wine hanging from each side of the vine.  Quite a picture that would be, eh?
A view out towards the ocean with new tree plantings in the foreground,
Some of the grapes just getting ripe. We tasted the grape varieties off the vine here.
Tokara's modern entry is marked by this tree sculpture.  On all the branches are words that might be associated with wine.
The winery supports the local university art students.  They give each art student two bottles of red wine--one for drinking and one for painting.  The entire entry area was a gallery of paintings done by these students and they are done only with the red wine.  Some were excellent, and this was one of my favorites.
Another artistic sculpture at Tokara.
These are local plants and flowers (fynbos) embroidered in bright colors and hung behind the tasting bar.

Jim, Bill and Jason tasting one of the red wines.  It was a leisurely start to our tour and we enjoyed this winery immensely.

Tracy and Linda enjoying the red wine.  Such professional holds on the glasses, too.
A clock made especially for this place in the entry gallery.  Very old pieces in a very modern setting.
You could overlook the winery vats through large glass walls in the tasting area.

A very picturesque part of the country, this wine producing region. The wineries only water their grapes 3-4 times a year.  The grapes should be able to make it on their own in nature, but with the drought and fires here, they give them a bit of help a few times a year.

The low-key welcome at the second winery by this friendly pooch.

We walked through the store room to reach our tasting area.
We are actually in one of the storage cellars here and we shared the room with barrels full of wine.
A cute arrangement at the bar.
Bill is our  designated driver and doesn't look like he's having as much fun as the rest of us.
They use small pieces of sulphur like this one to clear the oxygen out of the barrels so the wine doesn't turn sour.

Our guide, Andre, shows us how they light a piece and then hang it from a string in the barrel to remove the air.
Some of the bottles laid up for storage at Camberley.
The dog decides to cool off in the fountain outside as we are leaving for lunch.
A view of the Stellenbosch area where a lot of wine is made here in South Africa.  "We make some pretty good wines here in South Africa, but it is the geology that makes the great wines", our guide told us.  Microclimates make all the difference to the different varieties of grapes and they have dozens of microclimates here.  The air here rises from the oceans and visibly cools into the clouds we see on the mountaintops every day. Different grapes grow best at different levels up the mountainsides and in the different soils.  South Africans have learned to use this information to make better wines and have surpassed the French in award-winning wines.

A 'broken barrel' signifies that the wine won't be reproduced ever again.
At the last winery, we saw some of the grapes they were just starting to pick and were testing for sugar levels.
A modern piece of equipment is used to crush the grapes and remove the stems and seeds.  No more stomping with the feet in a giant barrel....darn.
This is one of the owner's sons and he is testing the grape juice from the crushed grapes.  He let us all taste it, too.
These grapes still look like they have some juice in them to me.
And this is what you want to drink???  It's still way to early in the process to even think about it.
The Muratie winery used to use these large concrete casks to store the wine in .  They kept the wine cool and at a constant temperature as they are under ground.
The Muratie estate has been growing wine grapes since 1699.  The original grower was the first to combine the Pinot Noir and Hermitage grapes to produce a new grape called Pinotage, now one of the most popular grapes used for making and blending wines.  Here an old bike leans against the 2014 barrels of Vintage Port wine.  This winery is known for its ports.
Muratie is also famous for its spider webs in the bar.  The windows here haven't been cleaned since 1970 and they let the spider webs grow unimpeded.  They hang everywhere here in this room.  They were burgled a few years ago and the lower center window was broken into.  You can see it is recovering nicely with its new growth of webs.

Another view of the spiderwebs in the bar.
More of them over the window and draping onto the bottles on the sill.
The tasting room at Muratie.  The walls here are lined with art that the owner painted.  He was quite good, I think.
This nude was of the owner's mistress and was discovered in a group of twelve paintings hidden away until after his death.  Only one of the paintings showed this woman with any clothes on.
All the black in this large wall hanging is tiny black beads stitched into this pattern of a crest.  Very intricate and meticulous work that would've taken a very long time to make.
Live proteas on the table.  They feel like hard plastic.  They are a symbol of the area here in South Africa.
One of the big concrete casks has been opened up and made into a room here in the winery.  Linda is smelling the walls as they say you can still catch of hint of the wines that used to be in here years ago.
A painted bit of wall at the winery near the bar.
Linda getting her tree hugs in, too.
Some of the feathers I found under the tree.  Guinea fowl and Egyptian goose left many feathers here for some reason.
The clouds over the mountains in Stellenbosch.  A place near here where the clouds are pushed between two ridges is the wettest place in South Africa.  
A shanty town between Simon's Town and Stellenbosch.  Mostly blacks live here and some of the artists that bring their wares to the sidewalk markets daily come from here.  It's really a large town of low-rise humble housing.