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South Africa Wine Tour 2019

The 2019 South Africa Wine Tour included a 2-night lay-over in New York City with a 1-day exploration of Manhattan, followed by several days in the Western Cape Province of South Africa for wine tasting and sightseeing, and a trip culmination with 3-days safari in the Kruger National Park.

Day 1:  A travel day: Charlotte, NC to JFK in New York City - in to the hotel by 5:45 and spent the evening at the hotel - just purely enjoying this place.

We stayed at the new TWA Hotel - it's the old TWA terminal re-vamped into a classy hotel.  They've done a great job, and for a history buff like me it is like being in a dream.  I'm a kid of the 60's and this place is truly amazing.

View of the Sunken Lobby

Night view of the terminal-turned-hotel lobby from our room

Day 2:  It was a beautiful - clear -day for running around Manhattan!  But it was COLD!!!

We headed over to the Alexander Hamilton Museum in Harlem first, via LYFT, and then used the subway system to go to the World Trade Memorial, up to the One World Center overlook and then up to Hudson Yards to see the Vessel.  We then headed over to Roosevelt Island to visit with friends who brought us back to the hotel - met up with others going on the tour to South Africa and enjoyed a great evening at the bar and restaurant.

The c.1802 Alexander Hamilton House:

Views of Harlem architecture:

Views from the World Trade Center and Memorial:

Manhattan architecture:

Subway tile work:

Views of Manhattan from One World Trade Center:

View of Manhattan from our friend's home on Roosevelt Island:

Island artwork:

Playing Twister at the TWA Hotel:

Day 3 & 4 were travel days.  We left JFK on a 10:40am Emirates Air flight for Dubai.  A very long flight - about 12 1/2 hours in the air; plus a 45 minute lay-over in Dubai and then a 9 1/2 hour flight to Cape Town.  I wasn't overly impressed with Emirates Air.  We got into Cape Town at about 5PM the next day and were greeted by our travel tour guide.  Had a nice drive over the mountains to Hermanus for the next two nights.  Could not have asked for better weather: about 75 degrees and no clouds in the sky.  We had wonderful accommodations and great food for dinner at the Schulphoek Inn.                                                                            Views from the drive over to Hermanus:

A view of our hotel room:

The view from our hotel room:

Our first dinner on the continent: butternut soup, followed by choice of fish or Eland (both were excellent!), variety of vegetables and wine and dessert.  Enjoyed by all!

Day 5: Up for a wonderful 8AM breakfast at the hotel and then off to conquer the day!!

Of the breakfast choices I had the Eggs Benedict.  This version is served with salmon on top of a dark whole grain toast.  Breakfast also included fresh fruit, juice and so not enough coffee! - knew that was going to happen....

Nomi is the property manager - always greeted us with the world's biggest smile and always on the ready to share some great stories.

Our first vineyard of the day was the Hamilton Russel Estate.  This area of South Africa is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.  Neither are generally my favorites - I tend to like a more full body red, but one of their Chardonnays was quite nice to my pallet.

Traditional style wood barrels in front of one of the newer "ceramic eggs" used for aging wine.  We learned, later, that the best wine barrels are made of Oak from either the US or France, but are so terribly expensive - costing any vineyard 100's or thousands of dollars a year.  A barrel can only be used for about 3 times before being replaced.

After Hamilton Russel we visited the Bouchard Finlayson Winery:

Lunchtime found us at the La Vierge Vineyard where we were treated to magnificent views and wonderful food offerings of Bobotie and Calamari - followed by wonderful desserts of Lemon Meringue Pie and Dom Pedros! (Vanilla Ice Creme and Amarula).  Struck up a great conversation with folks named Andrew and Linda from Scotland.  Full of humor!  They are also on holiday and they own a hotel in Scotland.  It's for sale! - although not listed yet.  We all want to buy it and run it as a group.  Check it out at  

The afternoon found us wondering around and shopping in the village of Hermanus,

The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa.  Many are in bloom around Hermanus.  These were in a vase in the gallery.

I think everyone enjoyed shopping at the Lembu Gallery, owned and operated by Ed Bredenkamp - an accomplished artist himself. Check the gallery out at

We ended the day with a light meal at the Wine Glass cafe in the city center.

Day 6.  You know, something always comes along to spoil good things, right?  So this morning we are enjoying a fantastic breakfast at the Schulphoek Inn, and a few whales show up in the waters off the coast of the hotel.  So of course we have to leave the breakfast table to go watch the whales.  How much better can a day get??  Unfortunately they stayed a little too far out for picture taking.

All checked out and loaded in the van - we headed on out to Franschoek.   

Stopped at a farmstall to get some biltong for folks to try. Then headed over the Franshoek Pass to Franschoek.

From the Franschoek Pass overlooking the village of Franschoek:

Protea flowers blooming on the side of the road:

Views of the village of Franschoek (FrenchCorner):

One of the 360 species of Protea flowers:

Lunch with beer and more wine tasting at the Vrede de Lust Vineyards, followed by wine and brandy tasting at the Blacksberg Vineyards.  Let's just say it was probably a good thing I was not the driver on this day!

And the day came to an end at the De Leeuwenhof Estate in Paarl with a fantastic supper with beautiful prepared salmon salad and HUGE and very tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef fillet, followed by ice cream-chocolate brownie-Amarula.  And of course, more wine!  I slept soundly!

Day 7:  After a very delicious breakfast at De Louwenhoff we set out for more wine tasting!  Headed into Paarl and went first to Nederburg - a first class presentation by one of South Africa's larger vineyards, and maker of one of my favored wines.   Spent probably way too much time there - but it was truly nice and very informative.

A c.1785 wine press:

For lunch we had a spectacular picnic on the grounds of Boschendal - my absolute favorite vineyard and maker of my all time favorite wine, which we can not get in the States.  I bought a case before the afternoon was over and am having it shipped!  :)

Elshawn was our Vintner of the day.

One of the greatest surprises of the day was driving into Boschendal and finding a classic car gathering!  I was in heaven....

And at the end of the day we were treated to a traditional South African braai at our hotel.  I think I have gained 100 pounds in just this past week!  But I knew I would - few places in this world can compare to South African cuisine.

Day 8: After another pleasant breakfast we headed over to the Rustenberg Estate for mid-morning wine tasting in a most serene and beautiful setting.  The architecture - both the old and the new - was just stunning.

After Rustenberg we took some time to wonder downtown Stellenbosch:

While still in the Stellenbosh area we enjoyed a lunch and second wine tasting at the Neethlingshof Vineyard before heading off to Cape Town and watching the day come to an end from our table at the V&A

Day 9:  Took an early morning walk about the V&A in Cape Town before breakfast today - quiet and beautiful.  Later we headed over to the False Bay side of the peninsula and drove through the coastal villages and down to Simon's Town to visit with the penguins.

Old City Hospital - across the street form our hotel.

The Protea Breakwater Lodge where we are staying:

The sculpture of the penguin is done in rusty steel and standing in a pile of plastic bags - to bring awareness to what we are doing to the ocean environment:

The c.1803 Somerset Hospital:

At the Breakwater Lodge:

The waterfront in Simon's Town:

Wine tasting at Buitenverwachting Estate  (pronounced bait-in-ver-wokt-n)

Lunch at the country's oldest vineyard - Groot Constantia.

Day 10: Before breakfast I took a nice walk around the V&A again and then joined the others for breakfast at the hotel.  Some of us went to Kirstenbosch to walk around the gardens while others decided to rest up awhile.  Then we all got together at the Green Market Square for an afternoon pint and some stalls shopping.  All then went up to Table Mountain.

Zimbabwe Shona Stonework:

The Camphor Tree avenue:

An Egyptian Goose:

Birds of Paradise:

The Main Pond:

Landscape Views:

What a treat - the chestnut trees were in full bloom!

The Canopy Walkway:

A view from and of the Canopy Walkway, with Castle Rock in the distance:

There are 360 varieties of Protea flowers in South Africa.  Here are just a few.  The first two are the King Protea, the national flower for the country:

Watsonia Flowers:

While some did shopping (I did join them for a brew) I took to the streets of downtown Cape Town for a few shots:

The c.1901 St. George Anglican Cathedral:

The office of the President, when in Cape Town:

The South African Legislative Capitol:

The South Africa National Library:

Refugees camping out at Green Market Square, at Central Methodist Church:

We then headed up to Table Mountain, and although the weather wasn't the best, we did get to crash an Ndebele wedding!

A lazy Dassie:

And to end the day I got most of the group to agree to eat at one of my favorite foodie places, the Karibu.  Oxtail bredie and vanilla ice creme with Amarula.  I'm one happy dude.

Day 11:  It was a great day with a lot of adventure and excitement.  Unfortunately the internet tonight is intolerably slow, so the number of pics posted will be minimal for now.  We started the day with a trip down to the Cape of Good Hope. wine tasting and a fantastic picnic lunch at the Cape Point Vineyards,  and then a drive along Chapman's  Peak Drive - followed by a slow evening of "wine and laundry!"

The "new" lighthouse built in 1914 - built to be below the usual cloud bank:

The older Cape Point lighthouse, built in 1859.

After construction it was discovered to be too high up due to the usual cloud bank:

The historic light-keepers house:

Cape Point.  View taken from the old light ouse toward the new light house (white spec half way down the spine).  Looking south toward Antarctica: 

The Cape of Good Hope - the southwestern-most tip of the African Continent:

View from our picnic lunch lawn at Cape Point Vineyards:

Noordhoek Beach:

Chapmans Peak Drive.  One of my favorite drives in the world - hugging the mountainside with breathtaking curves and shear drop-offs.  Note the half tunnels carved into the cliff wall and the avalanche nets "protecting" the highway:

View of Haut Bay from Chapman's Peak Dr.  Cape Point in the distance.

Seapoint waterfront - suburb of Cape Town:

Day 12: Left Cape Town after breakfast for our flight over to Nelspruit near the northeast corner of the country - one of the gateway airports for Kruger National Park.  Settled into our accommodations and then had a late afternoon game drive before supper.

Marula Trees (where Amarula comes from!):

Glad I was late to dinner......

Sunset by the watering hole.  End of a hot day, with the promise of an even hotter day tomorrow.  Quite a change from Cape Town.

Day 13: Started the day with a 5:30AM game drive, followed by breakfast at 8:30.  The rest of the day was leisure until the afternoon game drive at 4, following high tea.  Supper at 7:30 and off to bed.  Fantastic day with the wildlife!






Rhino birds:




Day 14:  Just another day in the bush.... up at 5 for a 5:30 game drive followed by 8:30 breakfast and a few hours of rest, swimming, over eating - and an afternoon game drive again, at 4:00PM followed by a 7:30PM supper.  It's a rough life!  It reached 102 degrees here in the Kruger park today.

A Common Ginet came calling at our camp in the afternoon!

And to end the day - a cute little Chameleon...

Day 15:  One of the best days yet for game viewing!



Yellow Weaver:


Fever Trees:  

The Fever Tree provides food for many of the animals, and in some of the Native Tribes it has been used for medicinal purposes - to bring on prediction dreams as well as to fight malaria.

The Sausage Tree:


Guinea Fowl:

A Safari Camp:


Egyptian Geese:






A Drongo bird in flight:

Our guide - Philip - a guide extraordinaire!

Some general landscape views:

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