Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Cape Town & Region

The flight from the USA to South Africa is a grueling one. We left home at 7 am to drive to St. Louis for the flight to Atlanta and then onto Johannesburg (via Dakar, Senegal), not arriving in Cape Town until 10 pm two days later! Fortunately, I was able to easily get our rental car, squeeze all five of us into it and rather easily make our way to our hotel.

Cape Town is a wonderful waterfront town. We had been there five years before and were impressed with the progress that we saw taking place in and around the city. A day trip out, down the Atlantic Ocean and then over to the wine region of South Africa was a great drive and one that we felt very comfortable in the entire time.

Most surprising was that we had no driving incidents despite driving on the left side of the road and only had a few times when we got off of the route I’d planned. My mother-in-law said that she felt comfortable with my driving and that I was her best son-in-law. In the interest of fairness, my wife thought I should tell you that I’m also her only son-in-law.

The highlights of the drives were Stellenbosch and Franschoek, small towns about an hour east of Cape Town. Both were old Dutch settlements that have evolved over time into destination towns built around a much diversified agricultural base. While wine is the predominate draw, there are also other wonderfully diverse offerings including brandy distilling, crocodile farms, cheese makers and many other niche producers offering their products. Several farms featured on-farm restaurants, something that our state departments of health probably would frown upon.

We returned to Cape Town invigorated and very optimistic about the long term prospects for Africa’s most important country.

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