Climbing And Abseiling Experience

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Ok, so when I first decided that this might be fun, I had envisioned myself in a scene with Tom Cruise on Mission Impossible 3 where he was hanging on a mountain ledge. But obviously from the looks of the photo I did nothing of the kind. Still, it was a good enough vision for me to go ahead and book Groupons for the whole family to do some climbing and abseiling.

The day started early at 9am when we were directed to arrive at Strubensvalley Cliffs, where the climbing and abseiling were to be done. The group was not too big, in total there were 6 of us novices, and 4 of those were already part of my family :-) We had 2 instructors who taught us how to look and position ourselves whilst going up, and then how to push ourselves off the rocky cliff whilst coming down.

At first we did a very simple climb, probably not even higher than about 30 feet. Just so we could get used to the feeling of climbing and pushing ourselves up. And once we've reached the top, we had to abseil down (meaning we had to bounce ourselves off the rock like they do on films with police breaking into windows from above using nothing but a rope).

Then we went onto something a bit more harder with a height of just over 40 feet. The rock was more difficult to climb up from but the abseiling was more enjoyable as there was more distance to come down to.

Hubby and eldest were really impressed with the whole experience. I was really amazed that I enjoyed the climb more than the abseiling (maybe it was because I had two left feet and just couldn't get the right way to go down). Youngest, although slightly happy, was a bit frustrated as she was not able to finish the second climb because it was just too high for her.

The experience finished at 12 noon just in time for us to hit lunch and replenish our energies.

Another family experience courtesy of Groupon (wanna know more? see my previous post) and Soul Adventures, the people who provided the experience. Something different definitely.

For more info, visit their website.

VTT Postcard - Cape Town - Camps Bay

Monday, March 26, 2012
Let's slow it down a bit. This was the mellowest we've been on a holiday. And it wasn't even on the itinerary.

After much family pressure from, family, I finally relented to forfeit one day to head out to the beach.

Living in Johannesburg in recent times, we have not seen a beach or a coastline in the last 3 years. So the children very much welcomed the change.

There are a lot of beach spots to visit in Cape Town. We settled on Camps Bay because we actually passed this place on our way to Chapman's Peak Drive the previous day. We rented a beach chair for eldest to sunbathe while my youngest and I positioned ourselves frolicking with the waves. Okay, well, she was playing with the waves, I was just the chaperone.

Life was good.

Just look at the fun my youngest was having, need I say more?

One Small Step Into Emigration

Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I've never spoken about it before. Not out loud in public anyway. But the time has arrived for me to come clean. I hope that this story will enlighten the burden and clarify some issues for people who are travelling the same path we've undertaken ourselves.

This process has taken me over. Well, at least the last 3 years of my life. Our application is luckier than most. I know of some that have waited or are still waiting for their turn.

Our process started in mid-2009 when we made the decision to emigrate. It was just a conscious decision after accepting that life in South Africa is as it is. I am not an embittered South African. In fact, I am one who will say that South Africa has mostly been good to me. I have my ups and downs with the way of the country but have just realised that the future looks a bit bleak for my offsprings.

I suppose I just did not want to be stuck without a Plan B should anything go wrong.

So Plan B was to immigrate into Canada, which I think as I delved into the application much deeper, it started turning into Plan A.

I have no qualms to announce that after 23 months from the date of application, the Canadian Embassy has finally issued us our immigrant visas.

Our feelings cannot be fully expressed - but a mixture of excitement for the future and a fear of the unknown, all packaged in one, should suffice for now.

Note to readers: I hope to write more about my immigration journey, the ups and downs, tips (if any) in the next blog posts.

VTT Postcard - Cape Town - Cape Of Good Hope

Monday, March 19, 2012

Talk about going on a mother of all sightseeing....

After going through Chapman's Peak Drive and experiencing the beautiful scenery there, we finally landed up at one of the major tourist attractions in Cape Town - the Cape of Good Hope.

To say that this was a massive piece of attraction would not be doing it justice. There were many things to see but we only got to see a fraction on our visit there.

The Lighthouse

Hubby and I had been suffering some sort of ailment when walking too long and too far and so we only managed to get to the top of the Lighthouse (seen above) and to the edge of Cape of Good Hope. According to the picture it is the most southwestern point of the African continent.

Cape Of Good Hope

There is a slight misconception that the Cape of Good Hope is the most southern tip of Africa. It is believed that the Cape of Good Hope divided the two big Oceans, Atlantic and Indian. In truth, the southernmost point is actually Cape Agulhas, which can be found about 150 kilometres (90 miles) east-southeast from Cape of Good Hope. This is where the two oceans meet. (Information provided by Wikipedia)

Is this where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet?

To get to the top of the Lighthouse, it was required to ride The Flying Dutchman, which was a 10-minute funicular. There are many paths leading towards the edges of the Cape. The scenery was intense and serene at the same time as you look down below the oceans hitting the rocks but feel the cool breeze of the ocean wind. It was spectacular.

And before you knew it, the day was done. We had lunch at the Two Oceans Restaurant based at the bottom of The Flying Dutchman. Slightly disappointed that I didn't even get to see some shipwrecks that I had on my itinerary. But there is always a next time.

For more information, visit Cape Point.

Belated Edition: My Birthday Gift

Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Borrowed photo

So this past February I celebrated my birthday once again. And for this year, I decided to give the gift to myself when hubby asked what I wanted. I told him that I wanted to go to the opera. And not just any opera, I have to watch The Phantom of the Opera which was having quite a run at the Teatro at Monte Casino.

It took a lot of prodding and convincing to even get hubby to step foot at the Teatro. Opera was not his strong suit and when mentioned, The Phantom of the Opera means nothing to him. But I insisted. And so he relented.

Our seats were right in front of the stage, first row. The orchestra was situated just in front and underneath us. The cast was simply brilliant. Every song, every sound, every scene was as magnificent as the next. The costumes were stunning. The singing was faultless. The voices of the Phantom and Christine gave me goosebumps all throughout.

I laughed, I oohed and aahed, I cried. It was everything I had hoped it would be.

Hubby, on the other hand, was not totally impressed. He liked the whole feel of the opera although he had no idea of the storyline and had no interest in the singing. He had more fun watching the orchestra conductor waving his wand around and singing silently to the music. Thus, it was declared that even sitting through two and a half hours of the opera, it was still not his cup of tea.

I'm glad he did it for me though. Another shared experience off the bucket list! Happy 36 to me!

VTT Postcard - Cape Town - Chapman's Peak Drive

Monday, March 12, 2012
After a rather tame 2nd day in Cape Town where we just visited attractions around the vicinity of the town, I planned a very long and hard sightseeing spree on the 3rd day.

First up was to drive through Chapman's Peak Drive.

Chapman's Peak Drive is a spectacular stretch of road situated between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. This road actually has quite a scandalous past, as it was once involved in a death due to rockfalls and a subsequent lawsuit ensued. It was forced to close down in the 1990s. It was re-engineered to protect motorists from the dangers of falling rocks and in 2005, it re-opened to the public as a toll road.

Hubby complained a bit when he found out that there was toll fee on this 9km stretch of road. There was at least 114 zigzag curves which made it uneasy for him to manoeuver. Still, this place is a must if you really want to experience beautiful scenery. While driving, you have a treacherous mountain on one side, and on the other side, you have the edge facing the sea.

So we zig here.....
And we zag there....

For more information, check the Chapman's Peak Drive website. The website informs daily when the toll road is closed due to unpredictable Cape weather.

A Hubby Story: Pampering Hubby-Style

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

On a recent occasion, hubby got pampered. But not in the usual traditional way that we, ladies, do our pampering.

Some time back while the family was watching an episode of CSI when one of the detectives was practicing shots at a shooting range, my hubby professed that he has always had this urge to try something like this out.

So when a deal came up on WiCount a few weeks ago about a business offering some training time on a shooting range and learning about different kinds of guns, I snapped it up. How coincidental was that? I knew that something like this might never come up again.

Booked hubby for the session and arrived at the shooting range at the set time. I went with hubby on this occasion to be the photographer that day. We were both armed with earmuffs to soften the shooting sounds at the range.

Hubby was stoked. He was given 5 different ammos to fire on the shooting range. There were rifles, small guns, automatics, shotguns...Hubby was really happy to be with kindred spirits that day, talking about guns, the distance the bullets travel, awed by the sound they make when firing, etc.

Okay, so being a girl, this does not really do much for me. But seeing hubby so amazed by his experience was really something else. Made me think that I'm not such a bad wife after all :-)

VTT Postcard - Cape Town - Constantia Valley Wines

Monday, March 5, 2012

And now we come to the one thing that I thoroughly enjoyed whilst in Cape Town.

One of the attractions in this area is the Cape Winelands. In 2009, South Africa is listed as the 8th largest wine-producing country in the world. Basically, if not almost all South African wines are produced in the Cape Winelands area. The Cape Winelands is divided into six main areas - Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Robertson and Wellington. And although I don't exactly know how many vineyards there are in the area, to say that there are hundreds of them would not be a total lie.

I chose something easy and near the vicinity and landed up in the Constantia Valley area. Some of the oldest wine estates are actually around Constantia.

It was already late in the day and we arrived at the winery at around 3pm. I chose Groot Constantia, which meant Great or Big Constantia (sorry, my Afrikaans is a bit rusty here). So with a name like that, it was really hard to miss.

Yep! It does say 1685 on the building!

The big plus that I found while researching our planned visit a few months back was that on top of the wine tasting and sales, Groot Constantia also offered a wine tour of its premises. The tour guide narrated the history of Groot Constantia, as well as the mechanics of wine production. We also got to see the tanks where they produced different wines. At the end of the tour, we did wine tasting.

We were presented with 5 different kinds of wines and if you liked any of them, you are allowed to buy.

 I don't normally drink at all as I have some sort of love-hate relationship with alcohol. I just can't seem to stand my ground after just a few drinks. Literally. Remember the Rhine Valley? Anyway, I managed to down some wines but felt a bit tipsy after the 5th glass. Really now....Lucky, hubby and kids were all with me this time so if I do pass out, there'll be somebody to catch me. 

 But like I said, I really enjoyed this part of the Cape Town visit. It was enlightening to say the least. And much like the wines I drank at the Rhine Valley, they leave the best for last. I loved the sweet port and so we bought 2 bottles of it.

After it had all ended, hubby declared that I was not fit for sightseeing anymore and that we should leave the rest for the next day.

For information, see Constantia Valley and Groot Constantia.