We spent two weeks in South Africa.
It’s a very beautiful country, and a place I recommend to everyone to go and see. See more on my impressions from Cape Town, Johannesburg, and several great places within 2-3 hours drive from them. I’ve put some links to pictures I took there.
Cape Town is a very modern, westernized city. I can recommend two hotels there. The Arabella Sheraton and the Metropole hotel, which is at 38 Long Street, between Castle and Hout Streets. The last one is a not very expensive, but quite a good hotel. Rooms are big, bathrooms are great, and the staff is quite friendly. If you are coming by car, they will park it for you. Usual tips for this (and other services) is 5 rands (or USD 1).
Long street is… well, long. It has a number of shops, where you can buy really good local goods. Near it is the Bulgarian restaurant, A Color Red, of which I already blogged. Note that the shops are open only until 5 p.m.
Nice places to drive to: Cape of Good Hope (and that’s where Cape Point is, although you will not see it on many maps!), Hermanus – for whale watchin, and yes – there are whales almost next to you! The Boulders (with about 3000 penguins around you!) is another place to see. Note – don’t eat at the restaurant next to the Boulders (Penguin point, I think was its name) – the burger I ordered was terrible, and had to be replaced by a salad.
From Capetown, we went to the Lanzerac Manor & Winery, located on a private working wine estate in the world-famous Jonkershoek Valley. It is situated on a 300-year-old, 155-hectare country estate, and is one of the region’s most distinguished examples of Cape Dutch Architecture. Lanzerac is a great place to be. And if you are into drinking wine (who isn’t?), here’s my recommended wines from the wine tasting I did (in random order):
– fairview akkerbos chardonnay, 2002
– glen carlou, cederberg cabernet sovignon, 2003
– brampton unoaked chardonnay, 2006
The best restaurant in South Africa is also in this area. It’s called Le Quartier Francais, which is at the village of Franschhoek, a quaint corner of the Cape winelands. This restaurant is not only the best – it’s also not expensive (well, compared to prices in New York).
To be in Cape Town, and not to go to the notorious Robben Island will be a pity. The prison is astonishing. However, compared to Goli Otok, it’s not that bad: prisoners (among them Nelson Mandela) were allowed papers, pens, education, sports. There was no bad treatment, and no killings by guards.
In Johannesburg, recommended place to stay, if you don’t want to see anything of the city: the Kyalami Castle. Although a weird architectural building, it has some really nice rooms. Check out apartment 1 (the wedding suite). It’s about 150 sq.m. Food is not that great there, and because it’s about 40 minutes away from the city, you will need a car. However, driving a car in Joburg is not recommended, esp. if you don’t know which are the dangerous areas. I can recommend a driver – Alvin, his phone is +27-83-5528196. His tarrifs are usually twice as cheap as the ones from the street cars. And, oh yes – there are no street taxis. So, if you are used to live in a city, where you waive, and a taxi stops next to you, forget it. Joburg is also a dangerous place – don’t try walking on your own. Also – don’t carry your phones/cameras/video/ipods, etc. You may find yourself without them very soon. High crime rate.
Gallery to visit – the Goodman Gallery. They have great pieces of art; you’d like it. Check the tapticles in the office (and I am not telling you what are they, and who is their creators – you have to figure this out! It’s not an easy task – the woman who took us around even didn’t know).
If you want to go for a game drive, Pilanesberg is the closest (and malaria free!). We went to Ivory Tree Game Lodge (phone +27-14-556-8100. It’s better to stay there, and rent game drives (we went with a young ranger, called Christo – a very good guide!). You can see many pictures from the park at my flickr.
I was in South Africa upon invitation from the ISPA, and gave a speech at iWeek 2006, where I met my friend since 1992 Esther Dyson, and got introduced to Marc Shuttleworth – a great guy. Speicial thanks to the local host and organizers, and to Alan Levin – one of the most prominent Internet figures in South Africa. James Seng blogged about my talk. He’s just another of the great people we’ve met in South Africa.
All pictures from our trip – at flickr.
Pro: Great Country. Great people! Very good wines!
Con: South African Airlines. Terrible. Planes were late, and extremly dirty. I will write to Star Alliance about it, as they recently joined the chain. If you have a choice, don’t choose them. I have pictures from the plane, but they are so disgusting, I can’t really publish them.