On arrival in Cape Town we were met by the lovely Melissa and Mohamed from Ilios Travel who welcomed us to the Mother City and took us on a brief orientation tour. The weather was amazing with only a slight cool breeze and clear blue skies – but Cape Town’s weather is notoriously changeable so we didn’t mess around and headed straight for Table Mountain! The also lovely Radiefa Williams from Cape Town & Western Cape Tourism had arranged for us to go up to the summit on the Cable Car which was fantastic – and saved us queuing up! I will definitely try to pre-book tickets if I ever go up again. The cable ride is brief but lovely and the fact that the circular pod rotates means you get to enjoy the views on the ascent no matter where you stand. Table Mountain was a great spot to get a “sense of place” – like a 3D map! With its breathtaking views and amazing diversity of fauna and flora (its also a National Park) it’s no “wonder” it has just been given the auspicious title of one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. It allowed our guide to point out the various landmarks and sights from a 360 degree viewpoint as we walked along the guided paths that weave across the Table’s surface. A highlight was definitely seeing a family of Dassies with their new babies – and marvelling how these tiny rock rabbits are the closest family members of Elephants! We then enjoyed a bit of curio shopping at Greenmarket Square and stopped at an unassuming little café called Wale Rose tucked away amidst the brightly painted houses of the Malay Quarter (Bo Kaap) and enjoyed a delicious array of Cape Malay tasties including bobotie, samoosas and lamb curry that had us drooling and licking our fingers!
We then headed to Steenberg which is a 20 minute drive from the City/Waterfront area in a leafy green suburb called Constantia. As you drive through the beautiful vineyards and approach the white Cape Dutch styled hotel, nestled beneath the mountain, a sense of peace comes over you and you sense you are entering a very special space. Firstly it is breathtakingly beautiful with the clean white buildings set against the greenery of the vines, the gardens and the blue sky. After a warm welcome we were taken to our rooms. Remembering that we had just come from the sumptuous Manor House at Fancourt which set an incredibly high standard, Steenberg did not disappoint and the two properties complement each other perfectly! I stayed in the historic Manor House which is a National Monument and I loved my room which had a separate lounge decorated with an array of beautiful copper kettles and utensils as it was once the farmhouse kitchen – and a door leading out to my patio (complete with sun lounger) and rolling lawns and herb garden . I then went to track down my lovely ladies and found them in a state of great excitement – with one actually dancing around saying “I have my own pool, I have my own pool! I’ve never had my own pool!” ;o) The hotel itself offers 21 suites – but the 4 ladies were staying in the three amazing Heritage Suites – one themed Cape Colonial, one Dutch East India (trade routes) and the third is a two-bedroomed “house” (lets be honest – its bigger than my house!) which is my personal favourite … the Khoi Khoi which is themed on the San Bushmen with a contemporary, earthy twist and its own indoor fountain! They have real wow factor and the latest in technology to impress even the most discerning guest – including butler service.
We then enjoyed an al fresco lunch under the trees outside Catharina’s – pure Heaven! Throughout our stay at Steenberg we had wonderful meals and loved the new simple Summer menu created by Executive Chef Garth Alamazan. The same menu is served from 11am -11pm allowing you to eat when it suits you (great if you have a family or want to go out for the evening) and the focus is on simple but delicious comfort food made with only the freshest ingredients sourced locally where possible. One of the best salads I have ever eaten!
Then it was off to Steenberg Winery for some wine tasting. None of us were particular wine fundi’s (connoisseurs) but we were made to feel so welcome and no question was regarded as silly or uncivilized – so we actually learnt a lot about the art of wine making and tasting. Then we wandered (on slightly wobbly legs on my side) to the adjoining Bistro Sixteen82 where we ordered a selection of tapas to share. One of the most fun and delicious meals I have had with a great atmosphere and the setting is just spectacular. It has a real buzz about it and its no wonder it is one of the places to be seen by locals. It is so relaxed with an outdoor area too – complete with infinity pools and water features – and families are most welcome.
We wanted to get a little taste of Cape Town’s nightlife so we hopped on the Steenberg courtesy bus and John took us down to the V&A waterfront. We had a lovely wander around the shops and then enjoyed a few drinks and some live music in one of the bars before heading back to our little haven. The best of both worlds!!
The next morning we enjoyed an amazing breakfast buffet and got to meet with Garth himself who shared his passion for food and Steenberg and his vision for the future. Watch this space – lots of exciting changes on the horizon! Then we headed off to the Steenberg Ginko Spa for a bit of pampering. Again – it’s a tough old life this. After a great massage we were ready to head off and explore a little of the Western Cape. We were collected by the lovely Wayne from Take 2 Tours who took us to nearby wine farm Klein Constantia to try some more wines (hic) which were also very good (we are now becoming experts on swirling and sniffing!), then it was down to Boulders Beach to see some penguins. Amazing scenery and they were too cute! Then we drove all the way down to Cape Point and admired the views and had a wander around their curio shop, that’s Christmas shopping sorted then!
We then returned to Steenberg and headed straight for “Gorgeous by Graham Beck” The only brand exclusive bubbly bar in South Africa! It was named after the owner of Steenberg the late Graham Beck whose favourite word was always “Gorgeous”! And gorgeous it is indeed. We tried 5 different Graham Beck Methode Cap Classiques (they are not allowed to call it Champagne if it’s made outside of France). The highlight had to be Zelda who is as Gorgeous as the wines she presents with such flair, passion and humour that she had us all riveted as she regaled the story of the famous Catharina Ras who first owned Steenberg – the Cape’s oldest farm. My favourite was the Graham Beck Brut Non Vintage – mainly because I know it is also a favourite of Nelson Mandela and President Obama who both chose it to celebrate their inaugurations and I love a bit of celebrity! They all tasted lovely to me and by the time we headed for dinner at Catharina’s my legs were beginning to feel the now familiar wobblyness! Who spits bubbly out??
Dinner was an elegant affair and the food was incredible. A fitting end to what was an incredible sojourn in the Heavenly spot that is Steenberg.
Next – an early start for an epic journey on the World’s Leading Luxury Train!