August 23, 2012
Vakantiebeurs 2011 Prize winners experience Cape Town
Marisah lives by a simple philosophy of eat, travel, read, write, laugh, listen and love.
Heartland is where she grew up in the Mother City, the Karoo and Overberg region and these are the places she returns to every time, boarding pass in hand. Passionate about travel, she’s working towards her Master’s Degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management with a special interest in luxury travel, destination management and sustainable tourism development. Her calling in life is finding the perfect cheesecake recipe.
When we received an e-mail saying we'd won an eight-day trip to Cape Town, after we entered at the Dutch Vakantiebeurs 2011 travel expo, we almost didn’t believe it, but we soon realised that it was true and we then looked forward to a great time.
And what an exciting and interesting programme of events we had! With the assistance of Marisah Smith of Cape Town Tourism, we developed the perfect itinerary. Upon arrival in Cape Town we received a warm welcome and all the information and documents at Cape Town Tourism’s Burg Street Visitor Information Centre.
Our first two nights in Cape Town were spent at African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel and Spa near Century City, a modern and luxurious hotel with high-tech designed hotel rooms that offer a view of Table Mountain (when there is no mist).
We experienced three city tours, each with a different theme. With Hilton Ross Tours we experienced a traditional tour and discovered all the highlights while driving in a luxurious minibus with a driver/guide.
The township tour with Roots Africa Tours offers more detail of the history of the city and is a good opportunity to learn about some projects in the townships. The Cape Town Jazz safari with Coffeebeans Routes is a musical experience at the home of a jazz musician with a home-cooked meal prepared by the lady of the house and a visit to a local jazz club in a township. All three were well-organised interesting and complementary programmes.
The Go Cape Town Card we received gave us access to the Two Oceans Aquarium, a ride on the City Sightseeing bus and a roundtrip with the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. The Go Cape Town Card is very handy and we advise all visitors to buy this card. The Two Oceans Aquarium is a must see and we spent more time there than we planned. The City Sightseeing bus gives visitors the freedom to hop on and hop off at various attractions throughout the city. The route we chose took us to Camps Bay, Sea Point and Green Point, and thankfully with a pre-bought ticket for Table Mountain's cable car to the summit you don’t have to queue and can pick the day with the best weather for this highlight. Enjoy the view!
We decided to get away from the city for a while and for two nights stayed at the four-star Lalapanzi Lodge in Somerset West. It is a vineyard hideaway in a forest with beautiful views and friendly staff, so it is a great place to escape from it all and relax. Dinner can be provided or you can take a drive to Gordon’s Bay.
For an unforgettable experience, try a vineyard meander in Stellenbosch with Bikes ‘n Wines. This tour on mountain bikes between wine farms and brandy distilleries is a must-do. Be warned though, after a few sips it will not be easy to bike the sandy dirt roads.
We opted for a natural and rustic experience as well and the Table Mountain National Park was a natural choice with its tented camps. The park boasts simple accommodation with shared facilities and a full kitchen. We chose the Silvermine tented camp and Slangkop Tented camp in Kommetje. There are plenty of hiking trails between the camps to keep you busy during the day but they do require some co-ordination to organise because you need a knowledgeable guide and transport. We hiked the shorter trails around the camps only. Be sure to take a walk on the beautiful, sandy beach to Noordhoek.
For our final two nights we stayed in the legendary Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street, which is conveniently located in the city centre. The hotel has lovely rooms but you can also choose one of the airstream trailers on the roof.
Not only were the breakfasts included in the prize but a few culinary dinners as well. One such exquisite dinner experience was at the Greenhouse Restaurant of the Cellars-Horhenort in Constantia with an accompanying wine tasting. Make sure to take some time to walk in the garden first.
Our next gourmet experience took place at Reuben’s at the One & Only Hotel, V&A Waterfront. We saved the third dinner for our last evening in the city. The Gold Restaurant at the Gold of Africa Museum is not designed for group tours. It serves traditional African dishes and offers a "learn to drum in 20 minutes" experience and a dance performance during the meal. The next morning we visited the Gold museum – astonishing and worthwhile.
Cape Town is a must-see city! Finally, do try to pay a visit to the Adderley Street flower market and buy some flowers. The flower sellers are the eyes and ears of town and the ladies are very helpful.
Thanks to all the sponsors of this prize. We felt pampered from beginning to end and became even more addicted to Cape Town. We will be back!