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Cape Town: It's all about the Vindaloo

Written by Jessica on March 22, 2014

Cape Town from Table Mountain

Start: January 1, Joburg
Finish: February 1, Cape Town
Bottles of wine purchased in one day: 18
Sailing vocabulary words learned: Millions
Best food in Cape Town: Chicken Vindaloo

After a few weeks in Joburg, hanging out with the fam, we were ready to get traveling again. We packed up Blue #2, and hit the road first thing New Year's Day. Good to be headed south again. We spent a week touring the cape area, drinking wine, and basking in the beautiful African sunshine. 

It's 5AM the day after New Year's eve and Kobus is standing in the door holding two cups of coffee and impatiently tapping his foot. Melissa and I give each other the same hung over eye roll. Who decided we needed to leave this early? It sure as hell wasn't me. I was the one opening the 3rd bottle of champagne last night. Hindsight = 20/20. 

We pile in the car and haul it south. Kobus drives. Melissa and I sleep. We arrive at our destination to find every liquor store, bar and restaurant closed. Again with that hindsight problem. Thankfully the next day we arrived at the mecca of great wine. 

Welcome to Fairview winery. The website says, "To avoid disappointment, make reservations." So we did, one master tasting and one lunch please. Of course, we showed up an hour before our first tasting reservation. Stuck at a winery with an hour to kill. Hmmmmm, what should we do? I know! Let's just do the regular wine tasting while we wait. 

Great plan. Then let's do the fancy tasting. 18 generous samples later and the guy brings out the bottle order form. You know that saying that you shouldn't go to the grocery store hungry? Yah, you also shouldn't order wine when drunk. 

So we ordered 18 bottles. Then went to lunch and had some more wine. Except Kobus of course, who diligently used this opportunity to sober up. 

A few days later we go check out the Cape of Good Hope. A tourist attraction that is named the "most south-eastern point of Africa." Hoards more tourists visit this place than the actual southerly most point in Africa, Cape Agulhas. Tourist traps, they are all the same. 

We happened to be meandering the waterfront in Cape Town the same day the famous Cape to Rio Yacht race started. We caught the Maserati leaving the docks. She went on to set a new record, completing the 3,300 mile course in 10 days, 11 hours. 

Later the same day we found ourselves exploring the random food stalls of the waterfront. So many delicious options, so many questionably unhygienic practices. I heard Anthony Bourdain's voice in my head. Ok, one of everything. And so our lunch of butter chicken, sushi, empanadas, kebabs and beer, was served. 

Of course, lunch is not complete without a proper cup of coffee. We head downtown in search of the famous Truth Coffee Roasters. The heart of the store is a 1940's steam powered roaster. Industrial decor, waiters with weird hats, and an espresso machine affectionately named, "the Lamborghini" (except it's made in Seattle, not Italy.) On top of all that, the coffee was amazing. 

Feeling like we'd seen the best of the best in Cape Town we decide to head over to Hout Bay to pick up fresh seafood for dinner. On the way home, this happened...

Melissa has to get on a plane in 12 hours, and we're officially stranded on the side of the road. To make matters worse, we now have two busted-ass cars in two different continents. Thankfully, our insurance covered towing, the seafood was packed on ice and the owner of our apartment rental also happened to be a taxi driver.

Blue #2's busted radiator was eventually replaced (and paid for by the dealership where we bought the car! Yay Subaru!). But in the interim, we returned home for a seafood braai to remember. 

Crayfish and shrimp grilled with garlic butter, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, piles of scallops and one of South Africa's most genius inventions, garlic and chili stuffed bread rolls that cook on the BBQ. All served with a few bottles of local wine. Melissa made her flight home in the midst of the ice-vortex storm of 2014. And Kobus and I continued our tour of SA.  

We rented a small place out in Stellenbosch, the heart of wine country, but after the last few weeks of heavy wine drinking, we tried something new. Turns out there are other alcoholic things made from grapes and Van Ryn's Brandy is one of the best. I may hate Brandy, but when it comes with chocolate and espresso, count me in. 


We spent a few days chilling in the country-side on a beautiful horse farm. Watch out, horses may look cute, but they are out to steal your wine. From Stellenbosch we headed to the North Coast, about 2 hours outside of Cape Town, for a hard core week of sailing. We signed up for an RYA competent crew class in hopes of learning to sail something other than a 1870's boat or a 13' dingy. 

It turns out that Langebaan is the perfect place on the planet to learn to sail. After less than an hour in the class room, and a 2-hour safety briefing we were out on the water. Not but a few hours after that, I was actually steering. Then the wind picked up to 40 knots and we got the shit beat out of us sailing back to the docks. Learning is fun. 

Of course, the fun didn't end there. Round about day 3, our instructor thought it was a good idea to blindfold us while we were steering. "To improve wind awareness." Crazy people! They wouldn't blind fold you in driver's ed? Well sailing it turns out, is a bit more relaxed than driving, there's a lot fewer things to run into. Take note overlanders!

After 5 days, in 3 different docks and one night anchored in Kraal Bay, we'd relaxed a bit. We learned more than we ever could have imagined, some of it the hard way. Bit we can say with certainty, if you want to learn to sail, do it in Langebaan, and do it with Atlantic Yachting!

After a week of cooking on a tiny boat we were ready for some proper food. We spent the next week hanging out with Kobus' grandmother, aunt, uncle and their two awesome kids. They introduced us to a magical place called the East Indian Bazaar. It's one huge long row of vendors all selling the best of Indian cuisine, right here in Cape Town.

What South Africa lacks in decent Mexican food, it makes up for with their out of this world vindaloo. I don't know how many bowls of curry we shared, but I do know there was none left over. 

 Up Next: We head east, Hermanus, Mossel Bay and Knysna. 


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