Europe Adventure – Day One: Cape Town to London

July 28, 2006

Well the adventure finally begins! After working flat-out for days trying to pack up my flat as well as pack for 6 weeks holiday, I was finally ready to go. Pshew, what a hectic few days. Thanks to all those who helped and gave me moral support.

My mom and I arrived at the airport just before 5pm (thanks to E for the lift) and we checked in. Even though mom was flying SAA an hour earlier than me, there was no queue on her check-in side. I had to queue for about 15 minutes in the British Airways area. I had tried unsuccessfully to check in on-line on Thursday nite (thanks to Van and Karen for being so patient with me while I was multi-tasking during dinner at Subarshi :), so I was forced to stand in line with everyone else.

I asked for an emergency exit or bulk-head seat but apparently these are not reserved for gold member executive club members – you would think they would be flying business class. Oh well, at least I got my aisle seat.

My mom went through and then it was my turn to board BA 058 to London Heathrow. I had a quick body search by the security personnel (obviously trying to look sweet and innocent didn’t cut it this time) and then was one of the first ones on the plane. A man sat on the window side of my aisle and I waited for 10 anxiety-ridden minutes to see if anyone would take the middle seat. You know what it’s like – you eyeball everyone that approaches your aisle – willing them to carry one walking – especially ones which are a little on the heavy side or have looooong legs. Just as they were announcing the security checks, a guy (medium build) plonks himself down in the middle – oh well, so much for stretching out.

He introduced himself – Clyde I think. I am so not into airplane small talk so I became very very interested in my High-Life mag so the poor guy was forced to chat to the window seat man. Overhead that he was returning to Spain after living in SA for 10 years. Curiosity was slightly piqued…but not enough to engage in high-altitude conversation.

BA personnel were top-class overall. They’re quite strict and a bit terse at times (a man in front of me asked two of the stewards at different times for coffee in the morning. Each one told him that the captain had requested they don’t serve anymore drinks. The first steward did however bring him more coffee and promptly told him that it was only necessary to ask one of them!!). But all in all, they were efficient and got the job done. I ordered a veggie meal. It’s always a pleasure ordering a special meal as you get it first and then while everyone else is chowing down, I could use the bathroom – sneaky.

My meal was a pretty tasty veggie pasta bake with a cheese sauce, tex bar and some stodgy bread/butter pudding. There was also a roll and a potato salad thing which I didn’t touch. My mom mentioned that SAA had video-on-call (you can choose what videos you want; when you want), however, we just had video’s playing at one time and you could choose the channel you wanted to watch. There was no movie that jumped out at me so I watched a doccie on ben and Jerry’s, Carnival Cruises and one on E-Bay..all very interesting – especially the B&J’s one.

Tried to get some sleep but woke up every hour or so (it’s really uncomfy sleeping with my legs straight out – but I guess I should be glad that I have short pins though). The fab thing about BA is that they have a snack bar in the galley so at 2am in the morning, I went to stock up on UK choccies and snack bars…love it.

Landed earlier than scheduled (even though we did too large circles which you could see on the electronic map) plus we waited ages to taxi into our parking spot. I then breezed through passport (thank goodness for the German passport – thanks dad :), collected my luggage and no problems with customs. (the innocent look worked this time).

After waiting about 45 mins, my mom came through from terminal 2 where SAA had landed, we caught up and then saw our taxi man arrive (thank to Nolan for organising). He took us straight to Nolan’s flat door in Richmond for a mere 30 quid including tip. What a way to travel.

Richmond seems like a lovely quaint town and after dropping our luggage, we went off to explore and get something to eat. The main road has pretty much all the shops you could want including the ubiquitous Marks and Spencers, Tesco, Top Shop, Accesorise, the Body Shop etc etc. We pretty much realised straight away that SA has everything you could get here…so even though my palm was itching to spend on the sales, I couldn’t find anything to blow my cash on.

Instead I wandered around the food aisles of Tescos (I love looking at foreign food – I know I’m weird), we went to Coffee republic and I had a yummy toasted ciabatta with mozarella and pesto. We then went to the station to find out about times of trains for our trip to Southampton tomorrow. We also got UK sim cards from Orange and were extremely impressed with the level of customer service. Everyone is so friendly and helpful.

I bought some Ginseng flavoured Molten Brown shower gel (my fave at 13 pounds) and then couldn’t resist a half pint of Ben and Jerrys cookie dough ice-cream. Ah me and my ice-cream finally united. Delish, indeed.

Walked back to Nolan’s place, played around with Sky then collapsed for a sleep. Now I’m about to shower, re-pack for the ship and we’re going to have dinner with Nolan and Anna. So far so fabulous to be in London.

Will continue to keep you updated.

Have fun,
Lisa  

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Report Back: Bastille Festival

July 16, 2006

I was up bright and early and on the road to Franschhoek by 9am on Saturday. I arrived there a little before 10am and had to do some brisk walking to warm up (I was slightly underwarmthed for the chilly mountain weather). I explored the food and wine marquee, which amazingly was still being set up…not sure why the exhibitors didn’t get busy on Friday nite or crack of dawn Saturday. Perhaps everything is just more laid back out here in the winelands.

 I am constantly amazed by the changing face of Franschhoek. Whenever I visit, there are always new restaurants or shops popping up. This time I noticed a swish champagne bar, a quaint kitchen shop next to Reubens and a coffee shop opposite called D-Essence. The entire town was adorned in red, blue and white (the French colours) and looked very festive. I went inside D-Essence all intent on a cosy hot chocolate only to become distracted by opening the newspaper. I glanced at the Travel 2006 of the Weekend Argus and I was staring back at myself (along with Vanessa, Karen and Nicole). How exciting – my Swellendam story had been published.
Swellendam Check it out!!!!

After that excitement and a couple of phonecalls to share the glory, I finally got some attention from one of the extremely busy waitrons. I ordered a take away hot choc, which turned out to be an average Cadbury’s jobbie, albeit nice and warm.

Van finally arrived…after just about going through Wellington to get here and we headed to the tent to meet up with Bronwyn (who had organised the day) and crew. Van bought a tasting glass with five wine vouchers for R40. Being the last of the big drinkers, I opted to share some sips with her. Most of the Franschhoek wine estates were represented and many were quite cool about letting us taste as much as we wanted (without even exchanging a coupon)…except for the man at the Le Petite Ferme stand who was quite anal about the coupon exchange (although Van did stage whisper that his wine tasted like Ribena which may not have gone down too well 🙂

I would have liked for there to have been a couple more food tastings ..besides the ubiquitous Truckles cheese tasting, which is always nice (but as usual, I went a tad overboard as I was starving by now). Reubens were conjuring up awful-smelling chilli squid or something equally vile sounding, which put a slight damper on our tasting of Porcupine Creek, situated right next to the squid fry-up. However, we did decide that the Sauvignon Blanc from here was the nicest of the day and Van promptly bought 2 bottles.

From the marquee, we meandered our way to Grande Provence slightly out of town where Bronwyn had booked for us for lunch. It was pretty larny with heavy silver cutlery and large goblet glasses. Although the tablecloths and napkins seemed to be made out of hospital gown material with those horrible blue stripes. Some opted for the set menu – garlic soup (which apparently was way overdone with the garlic), a duck dish with bacon fondant (still don’t know what that is) and some poached pear thing for dessert.

I went for the angel hair pasta with veggies, which turned out to be fettucine with some veggies and a light cream sauce (OK, but not totally value for money at R65). Van and I shared the chocolte fondant (a warm choc pudding all gooey in the inside), which came with a yummy peanut butter ice-cream. (a bit pricey though at R40)

All wined and food-ed out, I still had to make my way back to Kaapstad. All in all a very nice day.

My Rating for Grande Provence: (out of five *****)

Food:              ***
Ambience:       ***
(warm fireplace in the tasting room)
Wine:              *** (angels tears is a easy drinking well priced Grande Provence staple)
Value:             **

Verdict:            *** (probably will choose another restaurant in Franschhoek over this)


Review : Capella

July 15, 2006

I thought I would kick off my series of restaurant reviews with Capella – a new-ish place in Somerset Road in Cape Town. Capella is the re-incarnation of the old On Broadway theatre. I was a frequent visitor of this theatre and believe me it was pretty dark and dingy (albeit with a great atmosphere and some memorable evenings). So I was absolutely flabbergasted when I walked into Capella and saw what they had done with the place. It was transformed into a palace with ornate chandeliers, low decorative ceilings and gorgeous wood panels. Since the same people who own the club Opium (and pretty much every other club on the Somerset strip), now own Capella, they’ve obviously got the bucks behind them. Our waiter whispered that they spent a good couple of mill doing up the interior.

I have been here three times now and embarrassingly, I have ordered the same food each time…when I find the best steak in Cape Town, it’s way too hard to resist. The only problem is that each time, I have had to send the meat back as it wasn’t done medium-rare…although the positive spin-off to this as that the waitrons always whipped the food away without even scrutinizing the bloodiness or lack thereof and were most apologetic. They are most happy for a little bit of swopping and I always opt for the pepper mash rather than the gorgonzola crushed spuds, which doesn’t really appeal.

The waitrons are good and interact well with their tables. Although we did have a slight issue with a runner who seemed to be hovering by our table and as soon as she had spied that we were on our last morsel, she would whip away the plate with a flurry.

Van and I bought up the age-old debate of leaving the plate while the other person is eating vs removing it even though the other person is still eating. I think I sit on the former side of the fence. Also just to add, that despite the place looking that it had the potential to be highly pretentious – there was no hint of this at all. Everyone was extremely friendly all round.

The chocolate torte is decadent and one of the yummiest desserts I have tasted!!! Just writing about it makes me salivate. I was a little greedy and had a choc tart to myself the last time. I have to admit to feeling a tiny bit chocolated-out afterwards. Not surprisingly, since Van commented that it was like eating chocolate cream…hmm don’t even want to think of what that treat did to my waist-line.

Price-wise – a little on the pricey side. It really irked me that the second time I visited, I noticed that they had gone over the price of a couple of items in gold highlighter. So classy….NOT!!!! The fillet (which was originally extremely well-priced at I think R75, or maybe R80 had shot up to R90).

The Rating (out of *****)

Food – ****
Decor – ****
Friendliness – ****
Chocolate – *****
Value – ***

Overall – ****

I will be back


Bastille Day

July 14, 2006

This Saturday, I’m off to the Bastille Day Celebrations in Franschhoek. This will be the first time I have ever attended these festivities, even though I have visited this wine region many many times before.

The plan is to head out early to beat the crowds (my worst!!!) and get some early wine and food tasting done in the marquee. We’re then heading to Grande Provence Estate for lunch. They’ve got a set menu for R120 (just had a peak at it – the main course is duck, which is not my favourite PLUS it has bacon fondant in – which obviously is not going to win any prizes with me). So I guess A la carte will be the order of the day.

 I’ll let you know how it pans out….


My First Post

July 14, 2006

Welcome to Lemonade’s Land Travel and Food Blogue.

I hope you will find this as delicious as I do.