Sunday, September 29, 2002

Sept. 29, 2002 - Betty's Bay, South Africa

We have so much to tell and so little time to write about it.  We have had an absolutely fabulous few days touring around the southern Cape.  We got our car on Friday and decided that we would visit the west coast, north of Capetown.  Few people actually visit that area, as it is not as scenic as the Garden Route along the south side.  We took off and ended up in the West Cape Nature reserve.  It is the end of wildflower season so there are piles of purple, pink and yellow flowers everywhere.  As we got in the reserve, we stopped at the Tea Room and had a great Earl Grey and watched a slew of yellow birds in their hanging tree nests.  As we continued into the reserve,  we came upon a turtle crossing the road, springboks (sort of like a big antelope), a wildebeest

 and a herd of zebra, how exciting!  But our best animal of the day was a Puff Adder snake we saw at the side of the road.  We stopped and took some photos (not too close!), but didn't realize at the time how venomous this snake really is.  We'll stay far away from African snakes in the future, don't want to risk a bite.   So a great trip and our first experience with the African flora and fauna. 

We said good bye on Saturday to our friends at the Big Blue Hostel in Capetown and began the next leg of our trip which will take us through the Cape peninsula, then over to the Garden Route, where we will meet with Kris' friend Trudy and her partner Philippe this coming weekend.  We spent much of the first day on the most beautiful mountain roads ever!!  The view of lush green mountains with wild flowers on one side and the blue and white sea crashing on the cliffs on the other, was just spectacular.  We drove all the way to the bottom of Africa to another reserve called the Cape of Good Hope Reserve.  In the reserve we came across a little pack of baboons.  They were really cute!!  On the way there, were were also fortunate enough to see a whale in one of the bays.  So we made our way to Betty's Bay and stayed the night.  In the morning we planned to get on the road and make our way to the great white shark diving capital of the world, Hermanus, but we met a fantastic couple in the coffee shop.  Michael and Cheryl are South African and offered to show us a little of the coast.  They are from Capetown, but have a beautiful summer home in Betty's Bay.  We spent a great afternoon with them seeing a little more of Betty's old whaling town.  We love South Africans!!!  So we have now arrived in Hermanus.  Our $15.00 USD per night room at the local hostel is nicer than most hotels we've been in and they have a pool, a TV rooms and a bar about 7 steps from our bedroom,  Kris is in heaven!!  To top off an already fantastic day we spend the last 2 hours watching 6 whales frolicking in the bay.  It doesn't get much better than this.  So we are off now to finish the day with a $0.60 beer and a $3.00 steak.  More soon....


Thursday, September 26, 2002

Sept 26, 2002 - London and Capetown, South Africa

We are exactly one week into our trip and everything has been GREAT!

Upon arriving in London, we went immediately to pick up our round the world tickets at the travel agency.  That done, we went to meet Toddy and he gave us the keys to his place so we could have a short nap during the afternoon.  It was a beautiful three hours nap, at least enough to power us up for the night.  We went to a local pub with Toddy and his flatmates TJ and Simon and Simon's girlfriend Angela.  We had a nice meal and a chat and drank about four pints of Stella then went back to the ranch.  The next morning I woke up with a stinking, filthy headache the size of a small continent.  It was the kind of headache that wakes you up at seven in the morning then hurts so bad you can't get back to sleep.  Aaaaaggggh!!  Needless to say that ruined our plans to get going early and meet our friend John Murray out at Windsor.  I should know that I just can't take the beers like I used to.

That evening we joined Toddy and his flatmates at a backyard barbeque which was being held by one of the guys on their cricket team.  It was a good party, but got even better when one of the boys got out the snuff and started handing it around.  In the true spirit of adventure, both Ana and I lined up a bit on the back of our finger and snorted it back.  Yowwwwww...what a wasabi blast!!!  If we were getting drowsy at that point in the party, we were certainly awake after that stuff!  The party ended up with us spending about an hour and a half in Catford trying to find a bus/taxi/mini-cab - anything to get back to the Docklands.  We finally got one to stop, but he told us we couldn't all fit into a single cab, so Toddy volunteered to go back to the party, that's the spirit!

Next day we did actually make it up early and were off to meet up with Heinrich and his wife Davina for Sunday lunch.  They took us out to a lovely country pub where we stuffed ourselves with traditional English grub then took the scenic route back to their place for a cup of tea.  Before long we were at the airport and on the plane looking forward to the twelve hour journey to Capetown, and the last few hours of Sept 22, 2002 - the first anniversary of our marriage!

We arrived the next morning to a beautifully clear and sunny day in Capetown!  The first sight of Table Mountain was just as fabulous as I was expecting.  After arrival, we found some hostel information and jumped on the "Backpacker Bus" to a great hostel near the Waterfront called The Big Blue.  We spent our first day taking a big walk through the Seapoint and Waterfront areas.  We went to bed early that night, since we didn't sleep much on the flight, and work up the next morning, 12 hours later.  And for some reason, the combination of the bad airplane seat, followed up with 12 hours in bed was enough to give me a horrible back ache, so I spent most of the day hobbling around Capetown's city centre like an old man.  It is slowly starting to feel better, but I think it will be with me for a while yet.  Despite this small problem, we spent the last few days exploring Capetown and making plans for the rest of our time here.  We did a wine region tour yesterday which included stops at four wineries and five wine "samples" which were actually about half a glass each, at each of them.  After 20 of those beauties, the facade of a cultural/educational event was completely shattered and all the participants were well and truly smashed.  Today we took the cable car up to the top of Table Mountain, which was definitely worthwhile.

We have decided to rent a car and start slowly making our way up to Johannesburg.  We get the car tomorrow and are going to do a day trip up the west coast then the next day we'll leave Capetown for a small town east of here called Hermanus.  Should be lots of fun!


Thursday, September 19, 2002

Sept 19, 2002 - Ready for the Ultimate Wine Tasting Tour

Well we are only hours away from embarking on the trip of a lifetime.  We have talked for years about the BIG trip, but finally the time is right and we have been lucky to have jobs which allow us to save for such an adventure.  This didn't start off as being the "Ultimate Wine Tasting Tour" but a few nights ago we realized that we are going to some of the best wine producing countries in the world, so why not!  Now if I can only keep Kris into the wine and out of the beer.  Who knows, he may even add a wine review to the website. 

We plan on seeing many friends on the way so we are really looking forward to catching up, and also keeping the folk at home updated on our travels. So off we go......more from London.


Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Sept 10, 2002 - Saskatoon, Brantford, and the Big Trip

It is the end of the Canadian summer and the temperature outside today is 32 degrees Celsius, yow!!  We are coming to the end of the longest vacation I have had in Canada for many years.  We spent three weeks in Saskatoon with the Olson crew and are now at the end of our second week here in Brantford.  Though we have kept ourselves quite busy, it has not been at the usual chaotic pace of our trips home so we have had a very relaxing and enjoyable time.  I updated the page for the Olson Family Reunion with a few pictures as well as updating the Ontario page with a few new pics, have a look at those.

And how about the Big Trip?  Here's the itinerary we'll be starting with, though there's likely to be changes as we go along:

Sept 19 : Depart Toronto for London, England

Sept 22 : Depart London for Capetown, South Africa

Oct 23 : Depart Johannesburg for Perth, Australia

Nov 1 : Depart Perth for Sydney

Nov 30 : Depart Sydney for Auckland, New Zealand

Jan 1 : Depart Auckland for Santiago, Chile

April 1 : Depart Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for London, England

April 3 : Depart London for Toronto, Canada

We are obviously giddy with excitement to be embarking on such a long trip to such diverse locations!  We are lucky enough to have friends in many of these places so we'll be having some great visits with long lost buddies!

There will be plenty of journal updates in the coming months so stay tuned..