Sunday, November 30, 2008

Day 4 of Hills of Africa FAM to South Africa

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!!! Long drive today as we headed to the area of Knysna. We piled into the van but refrained from sing alongs. En route, we stopped at the little town of Swellendam, the third oldest town in all of South Africa, for a tour of a local museum, their gardens and lunch at a local restaurant. It was delicious.

Back in the van for more driving. We eventually arrived at Lairds Lodge about 5:30pm....just in time for cocktails! Another stunning place. A picture perfect version of Cape Dutch architecture. Many of us wished we could carbon copy the decor and bring it back home for us. Dinner began with a cooking demonstration by their head chef, Bee Bee. We learned that Bee Bee began with Lairds Lodge as a gardener but the owner recognized a drive to work hard and a passion for cooking. The dinner again was delicious and we rolled into bed.

Book your travel through Hills of Africa Travel and we will make sure that you have a trip of a lifetime.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Day 3 of Hills of Africa Travel FAM in South Africa

This morning, we had to tear ourselves away from La Residence. Again, it was difficult.

We enjoyed 2 more wine tastings today ..... before lunch!!!! The first was at a place called Bouchard Finnlayson. The winemaker himself conducted the tasting. Our guide Pam, told us he is one of the most highly revered winemakers in all of Southern Africa, so it was a real treat to have the wine tasting conducted by him. He took us on a little tour of the operation and then proceeded to offer a taste of 6 or 7 wines. My favorite was Crocodile's Lair.

Then on to another wine tasting, right up the road. When we got out of the van in the parking lot, I had to stop for a moment because our views were so incredible. This was the first time I had been in a place in the winelands where I could see the beautiful rolling hills, the vineyards AND the sea all in one. It was gorgeous and I felt like i could build a little house here and never leave.

The biggest treat with this winetasting was that we went right down to the cellar and he siphoned the wine straight from the barrel. None of us had ever done that before and we had some pretty experienced people on board. When we finished, we rolled ourselves upstairs for a lunch. Then it was off to Hermanus. We got to Birkenhead House and we could feel the low key, beach vibe as soon as we arrived. We all saw whales pretty quickly. In fact, we even saw one giving us a show with the tail flapping on the water surface. Excellent indeed.

Another beautiful dinner that evening and quick to bed for another big day coming up.

Book your travel through Hills of Africa Travel and we will make sure that you have a trip of a lifetime.

Day 2 of Hills of Africa Travel FAM in South Africa

Here is some wonderful news from Meredith's familiarization trip with Travel Agents in South Africa:

What a huge day....I think we ended up fitting 2 full days of touring into one. We left Tintswalo Atlantic quite late because we couldn't tear ourselves away from the incredible sea views, delicious breakfast and warm hospitality. We set out on a tour of the Cape Peninsula,stopping at the Cape of Good Hope, and Boulders Beach. We were so lucky to have perfect weather for the was blue skies everywhere,but not too hot. At the Cape of Good Hope, we were able to do a great hike down to the bottom and we could see forever in all directions. Incidentally, this is where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet and it is the most south westerly point in the African continent. We then moved on to Boulders Beach where there is a large penguin colony. We learned that penguins are only found in the southern hemisphere so it's a treat for Americans to see them outside of an aquarium. They are so cute!!!!

Moving onwards, we trekked over to the lovely town of Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands, after driving through Stellenbosch. We were so taken away by the beautiful scenery. I think it looks especially magical on perfect weather days like we had. It is spring here and all the flowers are blooming too. We had a quick lunch at a lovely little sandwich shop and then made it in time for our 4PM wine tasting. Yippee! It was so fun to finally get the chance to do a proper wine tasting in the Cape Winelands. Far different from a wine tasting in California....they set up 5 or 6 bottles and you get to taste each one, and it was all prepaid.

This set the mood nicely and we were off to La Residence. Oh My God!!!!! We had heard that it would blow us away but we still weren't prepared for it. IT was mindboggling nice. Barbara, one of the agents, said that La Residence was tipping their favorite place in the world, Villa D'Este in Italy, down a rung in their list and that La Residence had now taken the top spot. It really is something to see. It is the former villa of owner Liz Biden. Every room is decorated with an incredible touch and eye for detail. It's almost like staying in a museum, but a very comfortable one. The views from every window are of great hills and vineyards and mountains in the distance. Just so beautiful. They put on a wonder-FULL dinner for us, beginning with a demonstration. We all slept well that night!!!!

Book your travel through Hills of Africa Travel and we will make sure that you have a trip of a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Welcome to our blog

Meredith and Sandy are delighted to have entered the blogging world - yippee! Meredith is in South Africa for Thanksgiving. She is taking a group of wonderful travel agents on our first familiarization trip. They have stayed at Kensington Place, Cape Grace and Tintswalo Atlantic.

Today they were off to Birkenhead House i
n Hermanus and I heard from Meredith that they saw whales.

We are very grateful to 12 Apostles for hosting our group for sunset cocktails and to Tintswalo Atlantic for putting on a fabulous dinner. Everyone was suitably impressed with Hills of Africa Travel and our travel arrangements.

Here are some pictures of the brand new Tintswalo Atlantic! Gosh, do I wish I was there.

Book your travel through Hills of Africa Travel and we will make sure that you have a trip of a lifetime.