After a nice rest day on Saturday, we decided to finally visit the African penguins.
The colony is located on Boulders Beach in the town of Simon. Just follow the signs. The nature park is located between 2 car parks.
At the entrance to the park, you will have the choice between two wooden walkways, allowing you to learn about the fauna and flora of the area as well as the penguins themselves.
On leaving the park, if you are parked in the North car park, feel free to follow the walk south to the other car park. You will discover a pretty beach with turquoise waters where penguins also come to rest.
We wanted to settle there so that Alexandra could swim but unfortunately we arrived right at high tide and the beach had to be closed.
The afternoon was spent at our beach under the sun and in the fine sand.
We returned the keys on Monday morning to our little seaside villa. The road to our next hotel was lined with several large slums. A hot corner. We still feel that the country is moving at two speeds.
Just before our arrival to the hotel, Jean-Maximilien found a very good small roadside restaurant, The Hickory Shack, whose speciality was ribs. We had a good time. The beef was tender, the meat came off perfectly and the sauce was excellent.
African Pride Arabella Hotel and Spa, Autograph Collection
Once we arrived at the African Pride Arabella Hotel & Spa, despite the chilly weather, we tried a dip in the pool but didn’t stay long, preferring to take a hot bath instead.
A day that ended simply with a quick stroll and a simple tapas meal at the hotel bar.
The hotel is nice. We were able to enjoy the outdoor facilities the next day. A children’s program was offered, so we immediately inquired about it.
A bouncy castle, a kitchenette, some board games and activities were proposed which were very well suited to our children (although a little disappointed with the service, which on paper promised wonders).
Our New Year’s Eve day continued with a walk in the area of Kleinmond with its beautiful beach and its little games for the children. We didn’t have time to go to Hermanus (no regrets, it wasn’t whale season anymore!).
Our New Year’s Eve party took place in the hotel restaurant.
A very good time spent with the family. However, we were disappointed that no attention was paid to my mother-in-law’s birthday: a small cake or other attention would have been appreciated at some point and it’s not for lack of having pointed it out several times. I have the impression that in South Africa, communication or organization is not their strong point. Fortunately, the meal was still excellent.
The vineyards of Franschhoek
The day after New Year’s Eve, we were offered champagne for breakfast to start the day in a good mood. Departure for Franschhoek.
A splendid road, surprising with breathtaking panoramas that amazed us until our arrival at our next hotel, a Protea again. The little town is very cute, with a French feel.
These vineyards were in fact inspired by the vineyards of France, hence the name of this town and the names of the surrounding vineyards.
Everything is clean, well maintained, you would really think you were in Provence at times. Beautiful properties in the middle of vineyards and mountains.
Protea Hotel by Marriott Franschhoek
Our Protea hotel in Franschhoek was very pleasant, with its central swimming pool and its beautiful roses, its colonial style decoration and its simplicity. Jean-Maximilien will of course do his review soon but here is a brief overview:
Restaurant Chefs Warehouse de Maison
We stumbled upon Chefs Warehouse de Maison restaurant by a happy accident. Open on the 25th, which was not the case for all!
This contemporary designed vineyard was a very nice surprise on our way, we spent a superb afternoon there: despite the windy weather once again, we were able to taste a fine, delicate, exquisite white wine in the garden under the beautiful trees of the estate, accompanied by a menu of delicious tapas.
A little paradise on earth where time stopped for us.
The children had a great time, running around with the other children or with the beautiful white chickens… we will remember it for a long time!
Wildcat Park, Verdenheim and Leopard Leap Winery Restaurant
Thursday, rainy day! It’s hard to do anything with all this rain. Rather than being stuck in the hotel, we still took the car to visit the area.
An alternation of rain and sunshine finally allowed us to visit the wine farm of Verdenheim, not for its wine but for its wildcat park (we can’t tell you if the wines are worth it, but there were many visitors when we left)!
At the entrance, we saw some zebras, cows and donkeys, a good start. The children had the opportunity to observe panthers, lions and tigers, for example, as well as feed the farm animals. A beautiful flowered garden adjoined the whole and made you want to get lost in it.
The Leopard Leap venue had the advantage of being indoors, ideal with the weather of the day and suitable for children.
However, the service and food were far inferior to what we had the day before. We were satisfied with our bottle of white wine even though we would have liked to drink our alcohol in a nice wine glass! The place allowed us to rest, even if there were again many people.
Vaga Smokehouse Restaurant, Spier Wine Farm
For our last day in the vineyards, we booked a table at Vaga Smokehouse at the Spier Wine Farm. A fabulous place for its different spaces. You can walk around the river for 5 or 10km. We loved it.
Like most places, people are picnicking in the middle of the garden. There was a nice playground for the children, and we took a light nap under the trees. We recommend this place to you and your family!
Anecdote / Flight Cape Town - Johannesburg
On the last night, we drove to the airport to catch our flight to Johannesburg.
Our stay in Cape Town could have ended well if we hadn’t made the mistake of letting our attention wander and stopping in the middle of nowhere, alone, to watch the awesome waves hit the coast.
A mistake that fortunately cost us “only” Jean-Maximilien’s iPhone, who was held up at gunpoint in front of us, by a man who came from nowhere, while I was with my mother-in-law and our children in the car. A certain stressful life lesson with a bitter taste.
We tried to forget about this mishap in the next few days. We left our Protea hotel, close to the airport, the next morning.
… for the African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel(photos to come) more central in order to visit the city more adequately the next day.
My mother-in-law left us that night for France. The daf after, it will be our turn… see you in Singapore next week for the rest. While waiting for our flights, we visited the city of Johannesburg.
My final word on South Africa
Even if South Africa seems to be safe, we let our attention go for a few minutes, subjugated by the beauty of the place. Surely we’re not the only ones who get caught out like this.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. We wondered a lot throughout our trip about the security here, considering the numerous secured areas with guards. Sometimes we felt good, sometimes we didn’t. When you don’t know, it’s better not to.
Many expatriates live here. Their presence shows that it is possible to live harmoniously and peacefully. There’s a reason for this. South Africa has a lot to offer and does a lot to ensure safety even if they can’t do much in case of theft.
In spite of a country with contrasts and inequalities (always making us think that the apartheid area was not so long ago), we will especially remember the fabulous roads and landscapes between land and sea, a trip rich in history, unique experiences and flavours.
“Just remember” to always follow safety guidelines at all times.
See you in Singapore! Jean-Maximilien will write a summary of our 3 weeks in South Africa soon. Have a nice day!
My final word on South Africa
Would you like to see the rest of our adventure? This way: