Giving 2011 a proper send-off: Festive season outings in and around Cape Town

Now let us all sing along: Oh Weihnachtsbaum, Oh Weihnachtsbaum, Wie gruen sind deine Blaetter...

As we had had so much fun exploring Cape Town and doing all manner of touristy things with mom-in-law and sis-in-law during their various visits in 2011 (for instance, have a look at this post), we were really excited when mom-in-law announced that she would love to visit us for Christmas and New Year.

We promptly compiled a List of Things To Do, and started to plan how we would fit in as many of them as possible over the end-of-year holidays.

We couldn’t squeeze in everything, because we did need a day or two inbetween to recover – lounging on the sofa and reading a rivetting Christmas-present book, or having a bit of a snoozle on a towel by the pool in the afternoon shade – as well as to dash off some last-minute Merry Christmas and Happy New Year emails, and in the early evening, once the heat of the day had dissipated somewhat, to power-walk down to the local shops to purchase some ingredients for supper.

However, we managed to do a number of thoroughly enjoyable things: (Go ahead, click on the links to read the blog posts I wrote about each of those outings and day trips.)

We put up and decorated our Christmas tree. I love our little Christmas tree, which hubby and I bought together some years ago, and I always try to put it up as early as possible in December, and to leave it up for as long as possible in January.

An early evening Carols by Candlelight in the lovely De Waal Park

We sang our hearts out at a delightful Carols by Candlelight in the De Waal Park in the Gardens area of the City Bowl, an event that had been organised by the Salvation Army and the Friends of De Waal Park.

The very next day, we drove out to the beautiful mountains of Ceres to go Cherry Picking at Klondyke Cherry Farm, concluding our day trip with Kaffee-und-Kuchen (coffee-and-cake) at the quaint village of Philadelphia just outside Cape Town. Honestly, those are our kind of roadtrips!

We surprised mom-in-law with a tour by horse-drawn carriage from the Castle of Good Hope through historic Cape Town and into the Company’s Gardens. Our two fun-loving guides regaled us with fascinating facts about the Mother City.

A ride on a horse-drawn carriage transports us back in time

That same evening, we attended a music concert by Afrikaans singer-songwriter Theuns Jordaan at The Strand town hall. Although we loved his singing and the music, the volume was simply TOO LOUD and, for the future well-being of our ears, we unfortunately left at the interval. Such a pity! Are we the only people left in the world who can’t stand seriously-loud music?

We baked copious amounts of Christmas cookies and Lissi showed us how to bake  Streifenkekse – not just decorative, these are actually quite irresistible, and they make marvellous gifts. In exchange, our neighbours presented us with a surprise gift of some truly delicious Gingerbread Men (Thank You, M and P!).

We all celebrated a leisurely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day together at home, in front of our prettily decorated tree, exchanging gifts amidst much laughter and good humour, and nibbled our way through lots of yummy Christmas biscuits.

We also visited our friends L and V, and had a fabulous time playing with Little N who is just the most adorable little girl I’ve ever seen. Yeah yeah, I’m biased, I know. 😀

Picking strawberries at Polkadraai Farm

After all that staying at home over the public holidays, I was chomping at the bit for another excursion, so we went strawberry picking at Polkadraai Farm Stall near Stellenbosch. Besides, all the cherries we’d picked at Klondyke the previous week had mysteriously melted away like ice-cream in the sun, and we wanted to replenish the fresh fruit supply in our fridge.

Afterwards, bellies pleasantly full with a fair number of lusciously sweet strawbs, and numerous strawberry-filled containers in the boot of our car, we drove through to Butterfly World Tropical Garden near Klapmuts.

The tropical garden at Butterfly World

As it was a public holiday, the place was literally jam-packed with visitors, but we still enjoyed wandering around and photographing the butterflies and birds, lizards and iguanas.

It was a very educational experience, and while writing my blog post about our visit, I learned a lot about the different animals who have made this their home.

The next day, it was back on the road for a trip up the West Coast, to visit the San Education and Cultural Centre known as !Khwa ttu. We joined a tour, the !Khwa ttu San Experience, during which we learned a little bit more about the San Bushmen. Fascinating!

Christmas lights in Adderley Street

I’d heard that the Christmas Lights in Adderley Street in central Cape Town were particularly impressive this year, so one night, I dragged hubby and mom-in-law off to take some photographs.

The next morning, we had arranged to meet a friend at Chart Rose Farm in Wynberg for some tea and scones. It’s a beautiful, serene place that invites you to linger in the fragrant rose garden.

Afterwards, we strove straight through to the little town of Darling on the West Coast, to attend the Old Year/New Year show famous South African satirist and comedian Pieter-Dirk Uys at an unusual venue called ‘Evita se Perron’.

We celebrated New Year’s Eve at home with a good old Namibian braai, just the way I like it. 😀

Grilled potatoes from the oven, sweetcorn on the cob, bread-rolls toasted above the fire, and some boerewors sausage and lamb chops

Although I am not a big meater, preferring vegetarian dishes whenever possible, there is something magical and compelling about braais:

It has to do with the laid-back vibe, the easy-going hospitality and friendliness of people clustering around a communal fire with their ice-cold beers and fizzy lemonades, the smell of the burning wood that clings to your clothes, your hair and every inch of your skin, the earnest discussions around the perfect preparation of the meat to be braaied (or charred ;-)), and the sharing of a nice meal with people you care about. The Afrikaans word geselligheid (like the German word Geselligkeit) sums it up perfectly.

Usually, we miss the actual start of the New Year, but this year, hubby was willing to indulge my fervent wish (i.e. to give in to my nagging… ;-)) to see the Waterfront fireworks display at midnight. Instead of going to the Waterfront though, which we knew would be absolutely chockablock full, we drove out to Woodbridge Island, Milnerton, on the opposite shoreline.

3 - 2 - 1 - A firework explodes right above us - HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!!

We made it to the beach – joining crowds of revellers who had obviously had the same brilliant idea – just minutes before the countdown to midnight.

Suddenly, people were counting – 3, 2, 1 – HAPPY NEW YEAR!

And then the fireworks at the Waterfront were shooting high up into the sky, and a handful of brave people were lighting their own fireworks on the beach, and there were exuberant whoops of joy and cheers whenever a particularly colourful firework blazed into the dark night… Oh! It was a fantastic energy out here on the beach!

I didn’t get any usable photographs though. Clearly, I should’ve set up a tripod!

The Mouille Point / Green Point / Sea Point Promenade, with the red-and-white lighthouse in the distance

The first day of the New Year was spent packing suitcases, as Lissi was due to leave the next morning.

Feeling rather sad and melancholic about the prospect of saying goodbye, we squeezed in one final outing in the golden light of late afternoon – a leisurely stroll along the Mouille Point Promenade, near the pretty Green Point lighthouse with its distinctive red-and-white stripes.

All too soon, mom-in-law was winging her way northwards, as we stood rather forlornly at Cape Town International Airport, waving goodbye.

Until next time! We’re already making A New List!

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4 thoughts on “Giving 2011 a proper send-off: Festive season outings in and around Cape Town

    • Aw, thank you, Sher! I also like it – I particularly like that I can change the header images on each post. It makes it more interesting.

      P.S. Stay warm tonight! I’ve just read your most recent blogpost about the snow-and-ice-storm at Mule Springs – it looks seriously cold up there.

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