Thursday, May 6, 2010

Our Trip to Southern Africa Begins

We were a bit naive to think we would be updating the blog during our time in Africa. There were just far too many photos taken and too few times we were actually near a computer. And besides...why would we want to spent time on a computer when we were on vacation anyway?

We are now back home and have taken on the task of sorting through all our photos and whittling them down to a mere 235 that we want to post. Please don't be overwhelmed by the number of photos and don't attempt to view them all in one sitting (like anyone would do that anyway). Instead savor them over the course of a few days or weeks so you can enjoy seeing them almost as much as we enjoyed taken them.

Before we start with the photos, we'd just like to say we had a fantastic time. Besides the rain we had when we arrived in Jo'burg, the weather during the following 18 days was fantastic and rain free. We'll attempt to tell the story of our trip as best we can with photos and here we go!!!
We got our tickets for the trip by cashing in miles with Alaska Airlines. We decided if we were going to go on such a long trip that we might as well fly First Class & Business Class. That was a decision we will never regret. It afforded us access to all the VIP lounges for the different airlines we flew with, which entitled us to free drinks and food in a great atmosphere while we waited for our flights. In this photo Dave is showing that by extending his legs straight out  he still couldn't touch the seat in front of him. Now that's leg room!!!

This is the KLM 747 we flew from Chicago to Amsterdam

Here's Kelly enjoying the flight to Johannesburg

Cape Town

We arrived in Johannesburg late on the evening of April 1st and spent one night there before flying to Cape Town the next morning.  Here's the plane we flew on with Mango Air....nice color huh?

We checked in to our room at the Glen Hotel and promptly went to the pool and laid out

It was a great hotel in the Sea Point area of town.  The staff were wonderful and always willing to help us with anything we might need.

Our room was the balcony on the second floor overlooking the pool

We often had breakfast or cocktails in this area out by the pool.

The views from our room at night

Our first day in town we met a nice couple at the hotel from Denmark.  Actually Andre was from South Africa and has a flat in Cape Town they visit often.  They were kind enough to invite us to join them for dinner a few times and the day after we arrived they picked us up and took us with them to the beach at Sandy Bay.  Here's Kelly standing in front of our hotel while we were waiting for them to pick us up.

The beach at Sandy Bay was just a short hike beyond these rocks

Here's Andre and Dave at the trail head to the beach.  This sign reads "No Nudity Along The Path"

Since it was a bit windy that day, we decided to hangout on the rocks rather than on the blowing sand

A view of Sandy Bay

Kelly, Andre & Henrik

Kelly enjoying the views at Sandy Bay

Here are some of the beautiful homes in the area of Sandy Bay...they were quite amazing

The view back towards Cape Town from Sandy Bay.  Those are the Twelve Apostles of Table Mountain on the right.

We often enjoyed a bottle of wine on our balcony while watching the sunset

Our third day in town we walked through this area of Bantry Bay on our way to Clifton Beach

Looking down on the beaches at Clifton

Wherever we go, Kelly enjoys checking out the local cars like this Ferrari Spyder

Another view of Clifton Beach with the 12 Apostles in the background

The next day we walked down to check out the Victoria & Albert Waterfront.  It's a beautiful area of the city with lots of cool shops in the old buildings.  Here you can see Table Mountain in the photo with a layer of clouds on top.  When a layer of clouds appears like this it's known as the Tablecloth.

One of the buildings at the V&A Waterfront

A signpost at the Waterfront...

...and it even had a sign for the South Pole

A shot of us at the Waterfront

A view of the central business district from the Waterfront

The Wine Region of Stellenbosch

On April 7th we rented a car for two days and drove to the town of Stellenbosch in the wine region of the country.  Our first stop was here at the Spier Winery.

Dave tasting the wine at Spier

Kelly at Spier Winery

There's also a Cheetah Outreach center here at the winery in an effort to help save this endangered species

We had lunch here at the Blaauwklippen Winery which was founded in 1682

Cape Peninsula and Table Mountain

The second day of our car rental we headed south of Cape Town to the Cape Peninsula.  We drove through the tiny town of Muizenberg shown here, which was really pretty with the houses on the side of the hill overlooking the ocean.

Our next stop brought us to Boulder Beach in Simonstown where we viewed African Penguins

They were about the same size as the Adelie Penguins we see in Antarctica, but their markings were a bit different.

This shot was taken from the Cape Peninsula looking back towards Cape Town.

You can barely see the old light house on top of the cliff at the top of this photo.  We're taking this photo from Cape Point, which is the south eastern tip of the Cape Peninsula where the Atlantic & Indian Oceans meet.  The rock outcropping you can see in the middle of the photo is the Cape of Good Hope, which is the most south western point of the African continent.

Dave on the Cape Point trail

Kelly on the Cape Point trail

The new light house at the tip of Cape Point.

Here we are at the Cape of Good Hope which is just 1.4 miles away from Cape Point.

Shot from the Cape of Good Hope

We drove back to Cape Town along this scenic and curvy route on the western edge of the peninsula.

Noordhoek Beach on Chapman's Bay

This route called Chapman's Peak Drive had just recently re-opened.  It was closed for nearly two years as improvements were being made after it was deemed unsafe to use due to the frequency of rock slides.

When we got back to Cape Town we finally made it to the top of Table Mountain.  It's quite often shrouded in clouds, so we were happy to visit on a nice clear day, especially since it was our last day in Cape Town.

You can hike to the top, but we opted to take the cable car since it was late in the day.

Looking south from the top of Table Mountain

In this view of the city from the top of Table Mountain, you can see the new Green Point Stadium which was built for the FIFA World Cup being held in South Africa this coming June & July.

Here we are on Table Mountain

Dave overlooking the city of Cape Town from Table Mountain

While we were there this fog came rolling in around Signal Hill.  Our hotel was located on the backside of this photo between Signal Hill and the Ocean