Wobbled – Wine and Penguins

Behind the wheel and out on the open road once more! With the White Rascal days long behind us at this point, it felt great to pick up our rental car and control our own destiny yet again. (Our tiny white Chevy Spark Lite is like the White Rascal mini-me so it seemed fitting when they handed us the keys.) Although, we must admit that it took Ron a few minutes to adjust to both a stick shift car as well as driving on the left. Pulling into Cape Town’s hustling and bustling downtown traffic right out of the gate may not have been the greatest idea, but we made it and we will leave it at that.
Following a quick lunch on top of scenic Chapmans Peak, where we ran the morning of our 10K, we pointed our noses South. It did not take long for us to reach Cape Peninsula National Park, the home of Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. (It’s claim to fame being that Cape Point is the most south-western point of Africa.) A short hike up to the lighthouse revealed the obvious perils early sailors faced when rounding this important landmark on the trade routes. While it is not officially where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet, it is where a very warm current meets the water coming straight from the Antarctic, resulting in rough waters complimented by countless hidden, rocky outcroppings and other dangerous obstacles.
The real highlight of the day however was Boulder Beach. This beach, part of Table Mountain National Park, is home to over 3,000 African Penguins! Not too long ago, just two mating pairs scouted out Boulder Beach and made it their home. From a just a handful to over 3,000…looks like Boulder Beach has been treating them just fine.
Before we ventured over to the main viewing area boardwalk, we first wandered down onto the beach itself. It was a beautiful beach full of massive boulders (duh…Boulder Beach) which protected the white sandy beach and created a calm tide-pool like swimming area. Just on the other side of one of the boulders we climbed up and over, we suddenly found our two-some turned into a three-some as a little penguin was strolling alongside us! It was so amazing! We had him all to ourselves as we gawked and he waddled. Good thing he was so fast, otherwise we might have had a new pet! (Although, I hear penguins are difficult to get through customs.)
Once we made it to the viewing boardwalk, we were utterly stunned at the number of penguins! There were throngs of penguins everywhere! They are so cute and animated! It is no wonder that there are so many cartoons and movies featuring penguins. Between their obvious curiosity, distinctive gait, and formal tuxedo coloring, all they were missing was the top hat and tap shoes! Boulder Beach and it’s distinguished, tuxedo-wearing community was definitely a once in a lifetime experience that we wish could be a two, three, or four in a lifetime experience! Just awesome!
Goodbye ocean and hello vineyards! The sun was just setting as we pulled into Stellenbosch, South Africa’s wineland, and it was breathtaking. We took in the stunning patchwork quilt of vineyards and the surrounding mountains and gasped at every turn as we readied ourselves for tomorrow’s wine tour. It was a far cry from the ocean landscape, but every bit it’s equal in beauty. Just gorgeous.
Morning came and we took off with our group for the much anticipated wine tour. (Nothing like a little tasteful drinking before lunch. Yikes!) At the first vineyard we took a cellar tour and learned about the grape growing and wine making processes. It was really interesting information that only acted to get us all the more excited about our first tasting. But first, we needed a lesson in the proper tasting etiquette from our guide. He showed us all of the in’s and out’s of “nosing” our wine, aerating our wine, swishing our wine, and judging its finish. By the time we tasted our first sample, we had been unofficially schooled in just how inadequate our wine description vocabulary really was. The good news is that all we really had to do was drink it. And drink it we did. It was delicious! It is absolutely no accident that South Africa is known worldwide for its wine!
What is the perfect compliment to wine? Well, cheese of course! Lucky for us, our second vineyard also supplied a cheese tasting in addition to the wine tasting. At this particular vineyard, the wine took a backseat to the scrumptious cheeses. Due to the nature of our travel destinations, a good cheese is few and far between…and more likely than not, it is absent altogether. There is really no classy way to describe the way we, along with two British guys living in China on our tour, pounced on that cheese selection. Let’s just say that it did not last long. I think I’ll just chalk it up to the fact that they must not get a lot of visitors with Midwestern roots. The rest of the day unfolded with two more vineyard stops which were all equally fantastic! I think it is safe to say that by the end of the day we were wine-d out. Until tomorrow that is.
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