Sunday, December 26, 2010

Nisha JamVwal's South African Sparkle



South African Holiday






                                                                                                                                                                                                Switzerland, Saint Tropez, Mont Blanc……… planning dream journeys bring to the imagination exotic locales, but South Africa? That it would one day be my most desired holiday destination with a poignant longing to go back? and without that craving to return to the roller coaster work and play that constitutes Bombay Nisha JamVwal fare! 


Never had I imagined this scenario when I embarked on this astounding holiday! Sometimes its just so magically escapist to run away and imagine that that is what constitutes life?!
With the overload of information in our lives, I had only distantly registered that there is more to South Africa than intricate weaves, voodoo and ebony art. Even when my itinerary was being planned to the minutest detail, wrapping up work for the holiday isolated me from knowledge and expectation. And so the heightened delight for the unexpected adventure and amazement that peppered the exploration of this fascinating country.
From the velveteen flight experience with the national airline, to the Boer (the original Dutch farmers that settled in South Africa generations ago) who received us at Cape Town airport to our bead and flower garland reception at the Table Bay hotel, it was a lyrical disclosure!
Of Mountains, Multi-hued Oceans and A Cape.....



As our sportscar wove through Cape Town’s azure atmosphere, the first dramatic visual was of the magnificent Table Mountain, which is the backdrop to the entire city with its crystal aqua oceanfront, sloped roof homes, with ships and boats that dot the view.

Nothing had actually prepared me for this dramatic vista with my room at the shores of an endless bluewater ocean with a view of Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela had been imprisoned), with the gulls nonchalantly sitting on the balustrade of my balcony and that of my neighbor at the hotel, none other than Soniajee! (Sonia Gandhi).




Only then did I realize who the security cavalcade had been awaiting downstairs – no ‘foreign’ dignitary, not for us at least. So obviously SA is on India’s radar!!
Never the type to stay indoors, I rushed to delve into the local atmosphere- sounds, people, culinary experiences on the picturesque waterfront, at the periphery of the Victoria & Albert piazza, peppered by Italian, Greek even some French café’s.


What of South African fare?!
Next, up 1,000 meters on a cable car that nearly grazed the stratified rock faces and sheer cliff side of Table Mountain to the amazing view from its plateau top (I loooove heights!!)
and there was Cape Town’s pastiche of views
-seas, lakes, cottages and mansions, hills and ships -
Like a magnificent Canaletto painting, the same turq’s, teals, silvers, blues and olives, except that this was no painting, it was magnificent reality.


South Africa, I jogged my memory- was a land which had been settled by the Afrikaner, who are the inhabitants of SA, originally the Dutch Boers (they were not aggressive ‘colonizers’ like the British who stayed on as proud citizens of the post-apartheid rapidly growing country. As Morris the maître d' of a quaint Italian restaurant informed me at dinner that night - there is a ‘white’ tribe in Africa, which is an amalgam of the original Dutch with Germans, Italians, French Huguenots and Greeks who are at home nowhere but in this magnificent continent..

When I teased my friends about there being a clear demarcation at the meeting point of the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic ocean, little did I know it was true! Standing at the tip of Africa, on the Cape Point promontory, I noticed that my jest was infact reality.

The three day journey through the peninsulars seaside hamlets- South Africa’s most scenic tour along the Atlantic Ocean through Chapman's Peak,  Boulders’ Penguin Colony,Simon's Town, Muizenberg, Camps Bay, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Simons Town, Parson’s Nose, Vasco De Gama Point, Trappies Cave and finally to the tip where the blue and the green meet in a zig zag of the sea is reminiscent of what I imagine of paradise.

Against the temperamental rain that came with the sun following in its wake, the lighthouse against cloudy skies, made the Cape magical. Lunch at the ‘Two Oceans’ restaurant , jutting out with the ocean way below, enjoying the local fish delicacy –Kingclip- accompanied by South African red wine, and I thought nothing could top this experience.
Every time you feel life has presented you with that ultimate beautiful experience , another one comes along to surpass it. 


The beauty of life!!
If I had not been running against a deadline for an article for my column I would have been on time for our departure to the longest wine route in the world, from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. 


Even our chauffeur seemed excited to commence this facet of our discovery - the wine county commencing at Stellenbosch through Franschhoek, staying and savoring the wines through multiple tastings and tours of chateaus to enchanting pastoral wineries that pepper the countryside. It was in the relatively tame setting of Vredenheim over a red blended wine tasting that I had my sightings of the Zebra, Ostrich, Wildebeest, Cheetah and Impala.


Nisha JamVwal nishajamvwal@gmail.com
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