Snaps: Swellendam & surrounds

It was the coldest weekend of the year so far during which I happened to explore the Bontebok National Park, Swellendam and some of its surrounds (Suurbraak, Tradouw Pass and bits of Barrydale).

Swirling winds brought news of snow-topped mountains, stung our cheeks till they glowed pink and whipped our feet into stamping dances, just to stay warm while admiring the dizzying views from Tradouw Pass. Brandy and wine tasting and Karoo tapas assisted in keeping us nice and toasty, while watching a brave member of our group zipline into the Buffeljags Dam kept spirits soaring.

I also met quite a few super cute fluffy ones.

Here are some snaps…

 

White-washed little house in Suurbraak. Such a pretty town.

At the Bloublommetjies Kloof Lavender farm.

Joseph Barry 10-year and Lindt. Delish

The park is a botanist's dream - full of all sorts of plant species you wouldn't find anywhere else.

The remains of Kaptein Lang Elsie's stone house in the Bontebok National Park.

And now for all the furry ones…

This girl lives at Umshanti. They kept telling me her name, but of course, I've forgotten it.

This sweet little one is a friendly cat you'll find at Rolandale farm stall just outside Swellendam.

This one also lives at Umshanti.

This one at the Lavender farm... he/she was a bit kwaai. Swiping me and giving me death stares.

These guys live at the Joubert -Tradauw winery.

 

 

 

 

Full moon cycling

I’ve always had a thing for the moon. Especially the full moon, hanging out there in the ether like a large paper lantern that rose and rose and rose… and then decided to get stuck just there where it could watch over our little billiard ball planet. Sometimes she seems to get lonely, and decides to wake me up, reaching through the smallest crack in the blind with her luminous grey-white rays to say “Oh, oops, I woke you up… sorry! But seeing your eyes are open now, let’s chat.” Kind of like a cat.

Last night she didn’t wake me up as usual, because you see La Lune wasn’t lonely and also not bored. She had the company and amusement of 900 bicycles navigating their way through the Mother City’s darkened streets.

And I was steering one of them.

It was my first #moonlightmass and I have to tell you, it was even more riveting than my usual sunset cycles in Sea Point.

Starting in the atrium-like area below the Green Point circle, close to the stadium, we wended our way toward the Waterfront, then took a sho’t left to Mouille Point. Rode on past the red-and-white lighthouse, the putt putt course and the world’s third largest maze, all the time breathing in fresh sea salty air. Back to Somerset Road and on and on and on, over Buitengracht, up Long and down Loop, till finally we all came to a stop at Greenmarket Square.

It was a motley collection of cyclists: old and young, hipster and businessman, some kitted out to the tee and others (like myself) still wearing the day’s clothes. Even Mrs Zille joined in the fun.

And the bicycles! Oh the bicycles. Mountain and road, cruiser and BMX, pink, blue, black, white and many shades of green. There were even a couple of skateboarders, one girl being towed by her friend.

I’m thinking of making it a regular thing, so please come and join me next full moon! Check out the Moonlight Mass website for more details.

Here are some pics. They kind of suck, but what’s important is that you can see it’s dark and that there are people with bicycles. Or what?

Snippets: Sunset cycles in Sea Point

They always say that at the close of a day, it fades. But in Sea Point, just the opposite seems to happen. Instead of gently waning, the day seems to reach a surreal crescendo of saturated blues, stark salmon pinks and oranges the tint (or is it tone) of ripe summer citrus.

It’s this seductive sky that always beckons, winking, calling me to come out and play. So I do. And so does everyone else.

The serious joggers with their sculpted arms and calves, and the beginners in their ill-fitting gear – plaid shorts, flapping shirts and skating shoes. The tired-looking new moms pushing prams filled with wriggling bodies, waving arms and wide awake eyes. A dad strolling patiently as his pint-size, pink-clad little girl with her bobbing ponytail and flower in hand chats happily away – probably giving mom an end of the day breather.

 

The dogs, all rushing about in a multi-sized confusion of wagging tails and tongues, flapping ears and glazed eyes, some picking out an almost invisible ball among the grass and diligently dropping it at a far-off owner’s feet.

The lovers, blissfully unseeing, unaware of the carnival playing itself out all around. An occasional old man staring out to sea – unreadable emotions etching themselves ever deeper into the lines around his squinting eyes.

Then there’s the intriguing couple at the bus stop whose uncanny punctuality, not to mention dress code, always makes me reel with a Truman Show type of Dejavu: a clean-shaven middle aged man wearing a dark button-up shirt tucked into tight black bootleg jeans, a pair of boots short only of a shiny pair of silver spurs and to top it all off, a velvety black, gold-trimmed cowboy hat; next to him, his lady friend (or maybe wife), a Liza-Minelli-lookalike perfectly groomed in a tight-fitting top-to-toe ensemble of rich fabric and dark colours. Which bus and where to? I can’t help but wonder.

But of all the people on the promenade, there is only one pair I would actually shuffle my schedule to see: the frail-looking old man playing his inconsolable bagpipes while his ever-adoring consort watches from a bench close-by, a pair of faerie people, more ancient than they look or maybe indeed much younger than we’d even know.

Whisps of tragic notes wafting on the wind had led me to them on that first fateful dusk, but even when the music was resonating loud and clear, so close I could feel it rattling in my bones, they were nowhere to be seen. And then I caught a glimpse. Through the holes in a hedge I saw him on the corner of a lawn, pouring heart and lungs into his nostalgic song, and she sitting serenely on a nearby chair, eyes closed head lifted just so.

No such shyness tonight, however, as I came across them in plain sight: him standing tall and proud next to a Palm Tree and she on the wooden park bench with a little brown blanket arranged across her knees. I watched him play for a while, letting the notes penetrate my chest and rise up to my head. I watched her watch him. And watched how when he stopped playing she got up, shawled her shoulders in the throw, and met him half way. Then I watched as her arm hooked into his, and they slowly edged their way back home, as if time were irrelevant and night held no threat.

Karoo poison

Is it weird that I find this skull garden at Sanbona Game Reserve nearby Montagu so aesthetically pleasing? The mounted animal skulls, the flat Karoo earth and the crisp sky… they all just seem to work together.

Interestingly, it forms part of the Gondwana Lodge kiddies’ entertainment program, so there’s really nothing sinister about it… in case you were wondering.

Dubai: the real New New York

So, I was a very lucky girl and got the opportunity to check out Dubai last week on a media familiarization trip.

Firstly, don’t you just love the term ‘media familiarization trip’ (aka ‘educational’)? It sounds so dull and, let’s just face it, a lot more like work than it actually is. Whoever came up with the term is an absolute spin doctor genius!

Anyway, so I didn’t expect to like Dubai half as much as I did…

I expected it to be fake, blingy and overly-luxurious, and don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of that, but there is also a good dose of hospitality wherever you go and even irresistible earthy charm if you know where to look.

So, while the skyscrapers, highways and massive malls didn’t necessarily get my heart beating double time, a fabulous Bedouin-tinged dune dinner and 4×4 experience in the desert, the colourful and aromatic spices souk (market) and abundance of floaty-fabric garments and beaded Ali Baba shoes really did capture my imagination.

A few favourite moments:

  • Rushing through the desert with Arabian pop pumping on the radio and our guide, Yamen, laughing like a lunatic while we screamed like banshees. That’s what you get with four girls in the car.
  • Yamen explaining the intricacies of love affairs in more conservative Middle Eastern countries, like his home, Syria. In short: there’s a lot of brothers beating up men who did their sisters wrong, sisters searching for good wives for their brothers, girls turning these proposals down because they are in love with someone else. Someone they quite possibly only know through Facebook or BBM. Flip!
  • The Corne and Twakkie-type accent of the guy who led the Falconry Show preceding the dune dinner. It just made me smile. His name was Henry and he must’ve been from Bronkhorstspruit! Dubai is a cosmopolitan city deluxe!
  • Shopping in the Souks and being greeted with “O, baie mooi” upon telling the merchants where we were from. One even sang a few lines of Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika. Oh, and they LOVE our cricket team – especially the Pakistanis and Indians. I tried to share their enthusiasm, but didn’t really know how.
  • Feeding stingrays at Atlantis. Dudes! This was weird and awesome all at once. They’re kind of like little puppies who get excited at foodie time. They come flapping through the water and suck onto your sides, thighs and bums with their sweet, smiley mouths on their bellies.
  • Riding a camel.
  • Having a big beer at a Belgium beer pub… in Dubai!
  • Drinking wine on the plane back with lovely new friends.
  • Indulging in the winter sale at Forever21… 4 jerseys for R160. That’s all!
Here are some pics:

An abra (water taxi and Burj Al-Arab in the background.

Hubblies galore! Don't worry mom and dad, I never did even get round to smoking one!

Spices, anyone?

Almost like the guys we fed 🙂

The view from the 134th floor viewing deck of the Burj Khalifa.

Camels don't seem to have much personality!

Beautiful henna!

Dune dinner set-up

Camel ride!!! Scary, it feels like you're going to topple over while getting on and off

To belly dance, you need a belly. Who knew!

I liked it 🙂

 

 

Karoo through the window

I say Karoo, you think what?

Probably long straight roads, hot days, sun beating down on the cracked, barren earth, thirsty sheep and little round shrubberies.

Well, after almost being washed right out of the Mountain Zebra National Park’s campsite this weekend by furious thunder storms, hail and rain beating down, I have come to know a different side of this almost mystical part of our country.

Yet, yet, yet…

It managed to make itself even more magical than ever before.

Even though we had to up and move campsites on Saturday, then brave temperatures shallow in the minus at night, huddle in almost too close for comfort tent enclosures… I have to say it was an invigorating and revitalising experience. My senses were filled and my endless thirst for wildness quenched just a little bit.

Here are some pics

Don't be fooled by the friendly Mario bro clouds. Nadia Krige

Don't be fooled by the friendly Mario bro clouds.

Vellies in the Karoo. Nadia Krige

Vellies in the Karoo.

Mountain Zebras. Cute!

Mountain Zebras. Cute!

Windmill.

Windmill.

Vastness personified.

Vastness personified.

A bicycle repurposed at the Willow Historical Hotel in Willowmore.

A bicycle repurposed at the Willow Historical Hotel in Willowmore.

Rainbow :)

Rainbow 🙂

Huisie

Huisie

Snaps: All the pretty places

So, I haven’t really been taking many photos recently. I tend to go through phases, and seem to be in my uninspired photography phase at the moment. Not great, but as with all things in life, it won’t last forever.

Despite this, two places I visited recently managed to spark a sudden burst of artistic inspiration: the little Swartland it-town of Riebeek Kasteel and Vergelegen Wine Estate in Somerset West.

There really isn’t that much more to say about Riebeek Kasteel than that it’s everything you would want a quaint little Swartland town to be: pretty, full of intriguing shops, awash with wine, populated by fascinating people.

The Wine Kollective. Photo Nadia Krige

Stock up on Swartland wines at The Wine Kollective

Security meets elegance. Photo Nadia Krige

Security meets elegance.

Perfectly posed: Pink bike and bougainvillea. Photo Nadia Krige

Perfectly posed: Pink bike and bougainvillea.

Need an ancient spirit to guide you? Get one for just 50 bucks! Photo Nadia Krige

Need an ancient spirit to guide you? Get one for just 50 bucks!

Vergelegen, on the other hand, way surpassed my wine farm expectations. It is an absolutely fascinating gem in the backstreets of Somerset West. Okay, I guess not really the back streets, but it kind of felt that way driving there.

The Vergelegen manor house garden. Two fawns keep watch. Photo Nadia Krige

The Vergelegen manor house garden. Two fawns keep watch.

At 3000 plus hectares, it is a MASSIVE property with magnificent gardens containing everything from gigantic 300-year old camphor trees planted by Willem Adriaan van der Stel to a selection of proudly South African roses. There’s a picnic spot in a mini forest, an old manor house reconstructed and furnished in the style the Van der Stels would have subscribed to.

These magnificent camphor trees have been proclaimed a SA heritage site. Photo Nadia Krige

These magnificent camphor trees have been proclaimed a SA heritage site.

A really old Oak with a hole in its stem. It's totally healthy though! What a great little housie. Photo Nadia Krige

A really old Oak with a hole in its stem. It's totally healthy though! What a great little housie.

Also a cellar on the hill where one of the most hilarious and passionate winemakers around passes his days, classifying Sauvignon Blancs as “Dolly Parton wines – easy and with assets,” while Semillons “are more like the girl you want to take home and marry.” It is also here that you can sample cloudy young wines that still taste like sunshine, soil and rains.

Winemaker, Andre, pouring us some cloudy sultry semillon. Photo Nadia Krige

Winemaker, Andre, pouring us some cloudy sultry semillon.

Finally, the Stables restaurant opened up recently and is a definite must-visit for a lazy weekend breakfast or lunch. Their food is divine, their decor a minimalistic mix of rustic and modern… and they have a gigantic driftwood horse as a focal art piece.

Checks the delightful mini toffee apples. BTW their creme brule is DELISH! Photo  Nadia Krige

Checks the delightful mini toffee apples. BTW their creme brule is DELISH!

The driftwood horse I told you about. Isn't it awesome. I want one. Photo Nadia Krige

The driftwood horse I told you about. Isn't it awesome. I want one.

While I’ve never been a HUGE wine farm fan – I mean they’re cool, just not my ultimate sort of venue, you know – I can’t wait to visit Vergelegen again. It truly is an awe-inspiring place with a particularly dynamic team, from the MD to the winemaker, to the heritage specialist and the horticulturalist.

It’s most definitely Gypsified-endorsed 🙂

Travel Tuesday: Cape Town carriage

Horse and carriage in Wale Street. Photo by Imar Krige

Horse and carriage in Wale Street. Photo by Imar Krige

We spotted this beautiful horse-drawn carriage making its way along Cape Town’s bustling Wale Street during a quick lunch/coffee break today.

If I was a tourist, I would totes have hopped on. Even if I wasn’t a tourist and didn’t have to be back at the office I would still have hopped on.

What an divine eccentric anomaly.

Imar took the photo.

Figments of freedom

Hovering on the very verge of March, I suddenly realise that memories of my three week December break have become so vague, they may as well be figments of my imagination.

So, just to make sure I’m not quite stark raving mad, here are some pics from the holiday that somehow epitomize a sense of freedom.

Braaiing marshies. Nadia Krige

Braaiing marshies. Nadia Krige

Swinging from a Baobab. Nadia Krige

Swinging from a Baobab.

To cross or not to cross? Nadia Krige

To cross or not to cross?

Dog and master reunite. Nadia Krige

Dog and master reunite.

My cousin, Lea, pointing out the spot of Mufasa's tragedy. Nadia Krige

My cousin, Lea, pointing out the spot of Mufasa's tragedy.

My dad teetering on the edge of a beautiful view. Nadia Krige

My dad teetering on the edge of a beautiful view.

Clouds and stuff. Nadia Krige

Clouds and stuff.

Things I saw in Namibia

I’ve shown you Kolmanskop, but the rest of my trip around the south of Namibia was also pretty cool. There were wild horses in Aus, water gathered among red dunes in Sossusvlei, G&T sundowners in the Kalahari prepared by a guide called Happy, a pool overlooking the desert at Canon Lodge, an infamous snuff machine, the Fish River Canyon and a very large fluffy cat.

Namibia flag. Nadia Krige

Sundowners in the Kalahari. Nadia Krige

If Happy ever gives up being a guide, he could always be a barman.

Long road. Nadia Krige

One can't not take a photo like this in Namibia.

Kokerboom in kar. Nadia Krige

Spotted at Canyon Roadhouse

Fluffy cat. Nadia Krige

 

Infamous snuff machine at Canyon lodge. Nadia Krige

This is a snuff machine. If you ever visit the south of Namibia, you are bound to encounter one. Great ice breaker 🙂

Fish River Canyon.

Fish River Canyon.

Sossusvlei reflection. Nadia Krige

 

Wild horse, Aus. Nadia Krige

I'm a stallion!

Desert critters. Nadia Krige

 

Kolmanskop. Nadia Krige