A Travellerspoint blog

A tale of two cities

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Though not specifically related to our travels, we still wanted to provide an update...
After an application process stretching over 6 months, there's finally a plan for the fall - Jake will be in Boston at HBS while Nicole will represent in New York at NYU. Though not 100% perfect (when is life ever?), there's still a lot of positives to be found, including, but not limited to:
1) Since we've got friends/family in both places, we'll do an even better job staying in touch.
2) Nicole managed to nab a prestigious National Science Foundation Fellowship. Though this didn't land us in the same city, it will definitely help cover the cost of commuting back in forth and leave some money over for a pair of blinged-out Birkenstocks (we're thinking CZ-encrusted) for Nicole's new grad-student lifestyle.
3) We were already looking at NY longer-term and, given that Nicole's likely to be in school for 4+ years while Jake finishes in 2, he'll be able to look for jobs there right off the bat.
4) We'll be helping out the Northeast transportation sector (thank goodness that Amtrak has a loyalty program)!

OK... back to the travel updates (Nicole's download on Dubai is in the works).

Posted by jkirsch 00:38 Comments (1)

South Africa photos are up

Good morning from London (yes, it wouldn't be in the spirit of the trip if we took the most direct route somewhere)

Full photos from South Africa (and our London leaving party) are now up on Mobileme...

We'll continue to periodically update these galleries as internet allows

Posted by jkirsch 00:25 Comments (0)

Kalky's, Cape Point & (white) Cabernet

86 °F

Our final two days in Cape Town have been a bit of a whirlwind! Yesterday, we hired a car to head down to Cape Point - the southernmost point in Africa - stopping on the way at Groot Constantia, South Africa's oldest winery (set in an area that resembles Los Altos more than somewhere you'd expect in Africa). The coast on the way down is rugged and rough-hewn, but also pretty striking, particularly given the great weather.
Cape of Good Hope from Cape Point Lighthouse

Despite hurrying on the way back to make Easter Tea at the Mt. Nelson Hotel, we still managed to catch the penguin colony at Boulder's Beach and even pick up some superb fish and chips from Kalky's in Kalk Bay, despite the long lines (thanks to Clare for the recommendation). Yes, even after enjoying the grease-soaked lunch, we still managed to fit in plenty of tea sandwiches and cakes back in Cape Town.
Given the queues and the food, their claim of "best fish and chips" might just be true...
Mt. Nelson Hotel

Today, we arranged a tour of the winelands with Tania of Discovery Tours (who we highly recommend). We really tend not to be the tour type, but this allowed us both to partake and to fit it in a visit before our afternoon departure. Further, having a guide finally allowed us to get a bunch of decent pictures together (see below).

Given the holiday Monday, many vineyards were closed, but we still enjoyed wines from Asara in Stellenbosch (including an excellent white Cab) and Clos Cabriere in Franschhoek. In between, we stopped off for a quick Gelato in Stellenbosch and at La Petite Ferme - a restaurant that had been highly recommended by friends and that friendly BA agent - for a fantastic light lunch overlooking Franschhoek. To cap off the day, we stopped off to pet cheetahs on our way to the airport (a bit contrived maybe, but still a good time ;-) ).
Shady Street in Stellenbosch
Le Petite Ferme

Next update: Dubai!

ps: we'll be working to add more photos to mobileme as internet allows... stay tuned.

Posted by jkirsch 09:36 Archived in South Africa Tagged food Comments (2)

Cape Town is like California!

Well...sort of

sunny 25 °F
View Round the World on nhilde's travel map.

Okay, so they're not exactly the same but there are a lot of similarities. The laid-back and friendly people, the wine country, the beach culture, the scenery...during the drive in from the airport, Jake and I were both struck by how much we were reminded of CA. We mentioned this to our driver and she said that she's heard this a lot from other Americans as well.

Anyway, here's a (not so short) recap of our first few days in Cape Town. Needless to say, it's been a great start to the trip!

Day One: After quickly dropping our stuff off at our hotel (an African Villa, which we highly recommend), we took a taxi over to Table Mountain and rode the cable car to the top. The views from the peak are spectacular, as you can see from Jake's pics:

After Table Mountain, we went over to the V&A Waterfront to pick up the tickets for the rest of our trip. A brief word on these tickets: when researching round-the-world tickets, Jake discovered that they were significantly cheaper if you started out in South Africa. We thus bought our tickets with Cape Town as the starting point. However, because we are flying more than 16 segments, we had to purchase paper tickets, which needed to be picked up from the ticketing agency in Cape Town upon our arrival. As it turns out, the ticketing agency here does not have the capability to print paper tickets, so a very kind and patient lady named Cindy hand-wrote all 20 segments of our tickets. Check out a photo of the tickets below - I'm curious to see the reactions of the airport check-in people when we hand these over!

Thursday night we went to Jardine, which was delicious. Our one "fancy" meal in Cape Town, and it was worth every penny.

Day Two: On Friday we spent the morning walking around the center of Cape Town, including a visit to the Slave Lodge, which is a fascinating museum about the slave trade in South Africa. The museum is housed in the building where the slaves of the Dutch East India Trading Company lived in the 18th Century. In addition to learning more about the slave trade in SA, we also saw an interesting exhibit on Steven Biko, a political activist that was beaten to death by the police in the 70s. Jake and I recently watched Cry Freedom, which tells the story of Biko's relationship with white journalist Donald Woods. The exhibit added depth to what we had learned from the film and made us both want to watch it again!

Friday afternoon was spent touring Robben Island, the location of the prison where Nelson Mandela and many other political activists were jailed during the latter part of the Apartheid regime. The tour is really fantastic; in addition to driving around the island, you are given a tour of the jail by an ex-political prisoner who served time there. It was a great experience and we both learned a lot.

Day Three: Today (Saturday) we took it a little bit easier (although not much!). We spent the first half of the day on a tour of the townships surrounding Cape Town, including Langa, Guguletu and Khayalitsha. It was another great experience from which I took away a very different perspective on the townships. Although many people living there are very poor, others live in quite nice houses (our guide called them "the Beverly Hills Houses") with indoor plumbing, electricity, satellite television...and some people even own brand new BMWs! There are also a surprisingly large number of hair salons (at least one on every block!) and some very, very cute kids. Some of Jake's pics are below:

After the township tour, we spent the rest of the day relaxing and then drove over to Camps Bay for dinner and drinks. The water at the beach was freezing (like California!), but the sunset was beautiful and our dinner was delicious.

That's it for now! Stay tuned for Jake's recap on the rest of our time in Cape Town in a few days!

Posted by nhilde 20:08 Archived in South Africa Comments (2)

Goodbye London!

sunny 68 °F

With our flat packed up, we set out this afternoon and, after a two hour tube ride to Heathrow (thanks TFL), are finally on our way!
The past 2.5 years have gone by in a flash and leaving is certainly bittersweet. Who knows, the future might still bring us back down the line...
In the meantime, we've managed to get another set of recommendations for Cape Town thanks to a BA agent, so will have a busy next few days. Catch you all in South Africa!

Posted by jkirsch 10:14 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (2)

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