Tuesday, June 29, 2010

South African Wines

Spent the day exploring the wine regions outside Cape Town, South
Africa. I kind of felt like that French guy in the movie "Bottle
Shock" in that I knew nothing of the wines or region, was unable to
buy anything because of lack of luggage space (we are travelling
light), but wanted to learn and taste - and found wines that were
world class where we did not expect it. We skipped the tourist bus and
hired a knowledgeable driver to take us around after explaining that
we knew wine, just not South African wine. The wine regions around Cape Town are huge, far surpassing Napa/Sonoma in size and number of wineries. We visited the up and
coming Paarl region, the French influenced Franschhoek region, and the
Dutch influenced Stallenbosch region. Our guide took us to both big
and small wineries. Two notable varieties they produce in SA that I
have not seen elsewhere are the Chenin Blanc & the Pinotage. Chenin
Blanc is perhaps a cross between a Chardonnay and a Savignon Blanc,
while a Pinotage is like a cross between a Syrah and a Cabernet
Savignon. I can see how a pure Pinotage can be difficult for some
people to swallow but many vinters make delicious, more desireable
blends with it. One winery worth noting on our tour was Lynx in the
Franschhoek region. He's a German engineer who knew nothing of
agriculture and bought a grape farm (table grapes). He soon ripped out
the table grapes and planted wine grapes. His operation is small, only
producing 10-15 barrels per variety and all made by hand. Check out
his cement tanks pictured in the attached link. It's hard work that
definitely showed in the quality of his wines.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Cape of Good Hope

Today we stood at the Cape of Good Hope and had the obligatory photo
taken of us by the famous sign. A cheesy tourist thing to do, but a
must nonetheless. More important than being at the tip of the Cape is
the journey to get there. The landscape is majestic. Think Big Sur
meets Hawaii. In addition we visited an ostrich farm where I fed some
(they are big creatures) and visited Kirstenbosch; a botanical garden
dedicated to preserving local flora. I hugged a big Baobab tree there.
We decided to eat at a nice restaurant this evening. I had wharthog.
It tasted like pork tenderloin with a hint of game. Very enjoyable
meal and great value for money compared to the US. Tomorrow we are
headed to wine country to learn about South African wines. We are
keenly aware that we are headed to harsher conditions in Botswana day
after next, so enjoying the European feel of Cape Town while we can.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Robben Island & Table Mountain

Today we took the ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was
imprisoned for many years as a political prisoner. As our tour guide
said though, "there were many Mandela's imprisoned here", today many
of whom hold government office in South Africa. The island is flat and
dry, 5km by 2km. The prison itself is immaculate and upkept well. In
the photo, taken from the top of Table Mountain, you can see Robben
Island. It was a gorgeous day today too.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Great Game

The Landon Donovan penalty kick goal versus Ghana was perhaps the best
World Cup goal i've ever witnessed. We started the night at the FIFA
Fan Camp in Cape Town (which was free & awesome), but it was terribly
windy so we ended up at an "Irish" pub on the party street of Cape
Town (think SOMA in SF or Houston St in NY). Most South Africans were
for Ghana simply because they were the last African nation left in the
tournament. When they would chant "Lets go Ghana", US fans would chant
"You're from Europe". Brutal. Nonetheless, a great experience. Africa
celebrates tonight. (pic is of me in Fan Park. PS: Internet is a
precious commodity in Africa I've learned, so my Eye-fi card does not
work from my camera, hence you are only getting crapy iPhone photos-
which don't require an open network. My Flickr stream will be lacking.
Everyone has their wifi protected up the wazoo here)

Arrived in Cape Town

We arrived in Cape Town after travelling for 24 hours. World Cup fever
is more prominent than we expected in South Africa. Our plane ride had
many people who were headed to S.A. for just that reason. Once off the
plane, it didn't take long to find vuvuzela's for sale (they cost
about $15). On the streets, many wear their country's colors and I'd
say 1/3 if the South African population wear yellow/green shirts to
celebrate the World Cup. You hear vuvuzela's everywhere - airport,
streets, etc. We are among few tourists not here specifically for the
World Cup. Today (our first full day) we plan on touring some of the
more ethnically diverse areas of Cape Town, after receiving great
instructions from our B&B host.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Epic Journey - Day 1

Julia and I are headed to Cape Town, South Africa - passing briefly through Johannesburg long enough to catch a connecting flight. It is the beginning of an epic journey that took many months to plan and a life long dream to fuel. I wish I had an interesting photo to commemorate the moment, like of my bag - but it is still being packed. Think BACKPACK!

We will be in south/east Africa for several weeks, highlights of which include:
We hope to post pictures and updates here and at my Flickr Photo Stream when possible.

I apologize in advance for any typos. Blog posts from Africa were painstakingly written on an iPhone.

Monday, June 21, 2010


The side of a building in NYC

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Need a Bear Box in Tahoe?

Call this guy. Bob is his name and I like what he is doing by making bear box art out of scrap metal. I called him to repair an existing bear box when another guy got flaky, and Bob was 'johnny on the spot' - which is a rare find in Tahoe sometimes where people operate on Tahoe Time. If we are ever in the market to replace our bear box, or if we need another repair; we'll certainly give Bob a call.

How cool, right?

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Ballad Of Curtis Loew

Phish is back on tour - Summer 2010
Cuyahoga Falls, OH - 6/12/10 - Set I

Originally performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memorial Day

Dollar Point Dock, Lake Tahoe