Category Archives: Photo Gallery

USA 2016 – 20 Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego (2016-07-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 MAY 2018

One of the best views of San Diego’s harbour and skyline can be found at the Cabrillo National Monument – in fact, a clear day will actually give you a good view over a wide expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Tijuana, and even Mexico’s Coronado Islands!

Situated at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego, California, the Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542 – the first time a European expedition had ever set foot on what later became the West Coast of the United States.

The first thing that greets you as you drive up into the national park is the fantastic Cabrillo Visitor Center, which in addition to its useful outdoor signage, viewing deck spots and smorgasbord of visitor information on hand, also sports a fantastically well done museum section, containing a fascinating array of carefully preserved items, information and interactive exhibits.

Then of course there is the unmissable limestone heroic statue of Cabrillo himself, a present to the USA from the Portuguese government. The original statue which was handed over by the Portuguese ambassador in 1938 was executed by sculptor Alvaro de Bree, with it weighing in at 6,400 kg and measuring 4.3 m in height.

However, weathering as a result of its exposed position dictated that the original sandstone model needed to eventually be replaced, and so in 1988 the (still striking) limestone replica that you see on site today made its appearance.

Interesting fact: During World War II the original Cabrillo Monument site was completely off-limits to the public thanks to the Point Loma Peninsula’s reservation for military purposes (San Diego is strategically incredibly important to the United States Navy), but this worked out well in the end – following the war, the national monument’s area was significantly enlarged thanks to work by both presidents Eisenhower and Ford.

Standing at around 57 hectares in size, the Cabrillo National Monument is also home to a number of other fascinating points of interest, like the Old Point Loma Lighthouse – one of the oldest lighthouses to ever operate on the West Coast of the United States of America.

And while this particular lighthouse now operates as a walk-in museum attraction only, just down the hill is the still very much in operation New Point Loma Lighthouse as well. There there are also the old gun batteries and retired radio station that houses an interesting the military history of the area exhibition.

In terms of nature activities, there are a number of short trails throughout the Cabrillo National Monument, including the popular two-mile long Bayside Trail that takes you through one one of the last remaining remnants of coastal sage scrub habitat in the world. It also in the process gives you spectacular views of Sand Diego Bay and the city beyond, Ballast Point (where Cabrillo landed), sandstone cliffs, and if the season is right, even some snow on the tops of the mountains!

The Coastal Tidepool Trail on the other hand takes you along its winding path down to the rocky intertidal area of the monument – which is incidentally one one of the best-protected and most easily accessible of rocky intertidal areas in southern California. Given the incredibly diverse and thriving animal communities to be found in the tidal pool area, this section also then happens to be one  of the more interesting spots of the park to pay a visit to.

Oh, and as if all this wasn’t yet enough, given its high elevation, the Cabrillo National Monument is also a brilliant whale watching spot – the perfect place in fact to watch migrating Gray Whales pass by from December through February!

So pretty hard not to include this as one of the many tourist things to do here in San Diego then!

Related Link: Cabrillo National Monument | Wikipedia | San Diego | #USA2016

Following the Cliff Path of the Hermanus Biodiversity Walk (2017-08-09) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 09 MAY 2018

Hermanus is probably the best place for land based whale watching in the Western Cape (which is why we find ourselves visiting at least once a year), and its beautifully maintained Cliff Path makes this relaxing activity all that more better.

Although originally constructed by the Hermanus Botanical Society, these days the path is cared for by the volunteer Cliff Path Management Group (CPMG), who have done a fantastic job in improving, making accessible, and enhancing the walkway such that it remains one of the more popular Hermanus tourist attractions.

Wedged between the Kleinriviersberg mountain range in the north and the broad expanse of Walker Bay to the south, the official walkway meanders for almost eleven kilometres along Hermanus’ rugged and beautiful coastline, stretching from the New Harbour in the west and snaking all the way through to the estuary at the mouth of the Klein River in the east.

In addition to being great for whale watching, the path is super interesting for nature lovers as well, winding through a diversity of vegetation types (complemented by some informative signage along the Biodiversity Walk stretch). It takes you past a number of fascinating points of interest, including both the historic Old and New harbours, as well as the village market square. Follow it for long enough and near the wooden footbridge at the mouth of the Mossel River, you’ll even find signs depicting the graves of two southern right whales that beached at that point!

Beyond the river mouth, the path continues around the Langbaai bathing beach, on to the Kammabaai and Voëlklip beaches and right up to the magnificent main Grotto beach – which itself sweeps for nineteen kilometers around Walker Bay to De Kelders and Gansbaai!

Last year August saw us in town for a spot of whale watching (and of course lunch), and naturally we took the time to stroll a small section of this brilliant walkway on the day. It will still be a few years until we can walk the whole thing in one go (the girls moan far too much at the prospect of walking any real sort of distance at the moment), but once everyone is ready (i.e. a little more grown up) it is definitely something I’m going to make us do!

Anyway, Hermanus always makes for a good day trip, and seeing as whale season is soon upon us once again, I guess we’ll be back in the area sooner than later…

Related Link: Hermanus Cliff Path | Hermanus

Pizza at the Lake House in Somerset Lakes, Somerset West (2017-11-12) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 06 MAY 2018

Standing right next to the newly opened Reddam House Somerset West boarding school, Somerset Lakes is a pretty good looking gated residential estate that has sprouted up on the outskirts of Somerset West – mind you, as a LOT of others have also done over the last handful of years!

Anyway, the only reason that I’ve ever even been inside this nice estate is thanks to the fact that the Somerset Lakes clubhouse is home to a rather nice, open to the public, restaurant, trading under the name The Lake House at Somerset Lakes.

They serve a fantastic array of pizzas and other light meal options, are home to a brilliant Sunday roast lunch, and of course stock some fabulous wines (which makes sense if you consider that the owners also run the hugely popular Southey’s Family Bistro, also in Somerset West).

Combining all of the above with the estate’s design aesthetic and its picture perfect lake center piece, it then quickly becomes obvious why we rather enjoy paying a visit there every now and then!

One of our last visits to the Lake House Restaurant (November last year) saw us inviting Chantelle’s folks to join us for lunch, all of which went rather well (the food was a hit!) despite the girls for a change not being on their normal standard of best behaviour – plus a rather unexpected visit from an inquisitive but cool as a cucumber stray goose.

With lunch now concluded, the next logical step (as it should always be when you visit there) was to head out along the boardwalk for a stroll around the lake. Amazingly, given that we had experienced a shower or two in the days prior to our visit, the lake was looking in a lot better shape than the last time that we had encountered it, and it was great to see all the local bird populations (who call Somerset Lakes home) in such good form.

The landscaped gardens were in bloom, a short stop at the jungle gym and outdoor fitness gym was enjoyed, and of course the entire visit was capped off with some clamber and play session in the estate’s little pine forest plantation that hides a treasure trove of obstacle course equipment within.

Pretty impossible not to recommend this place to be honest!

(In all honesty though, I’m not sure how long a private residential estate will continue to host a public restaurant, but given how much I enjoy it, I’m holding thumbs that this place sticks around for as long as possible!)

Related Link: The Lake House Restaurant | Somerset Lakes | Somerset West

Roosterkoek Burgers at the Old Gaol on Church Square in Swellendam (2018-01-05) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 03 MAY 2018

The last time that we had visited the Old Gaol on Church Square restaurant in Swellendam it was raining. And we walked out with a delicous milk tart. This time however it wasn’t raining. And we were instead with my father, who was graciously giving us a lift back to Gordon’s Bay following our little George holiday detour.

In a way it is a bit of a pity that the Old Gaol restaurant no longer resides in the old jail over at Swellendam’s Drostdy Museum, because then obviously the name makes a lot of sense. However the restaurant’s new(ish) location in the historically significant building on Church Square makes for a good enough replacement – perhaps even better given the great outdoor space now on offer.

Given the good weather, we found a nice table in the shade, partook in the Old Gaol on Church Square’s reasonably good roosterkoek hamburgers whilst cooling down with an age appropriate assortment of beers, sodas and milkshakes – all while giving the legs a neat little stretch.

The restaurant appears to have undergone a bit of a face lift, with updated branding, a new menu and a staff complement which felt a little more snappy compared to the last time that we visited.

All in all, another pretty neat lunch time stop in Swellendam then.

Pro Tip: Can’t find the restaurant? It is literally across the road from the magnificent NG Church that dominates Swellendam’s main road! (Also, the old carriage standing out in front makes for a decent marker as well.)

Related Link: Old Gaol on Church Square | Swellendam

Strolling around Sonstraal Dam in Durbanville (2017-08-05) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 02 MAY 2018

Going for an afternoon stroll around Sonstraal Dam whilst feeding the ducks is somewhat of an institution for any family with small kids in Durbanville, and seeing as this is something that we did back when we were kids, there is no reason not to continue the tradition with my own brood – even if I don’t exactly live in the area any more.

Although an inviting and scenic space, there is in fact no swimming or boating allowed in this small body of water, and in response to an outbreak of avian botulism in 2005, no fishing allowed either. (Although the bird flu has since been dealt with, the local council opted to maintain the fishing ban in order to protect the local birdlife, many of which use the dam for breeding purposes).

Another thing worth pointing out is that for a long time the dam area went into a real state of disrepair and neglect, thanks in large part to the inconsiderate nature of visitors who littered with abandon and in general just disrespected the facilities. Thankfully though this problem seems to have mostly been dealt with and the dam area certainly appears to be undergoing a productive period of rehabilitation.

Anyway, I’m kind of getting distracted now. Last year August I found myself in the area, and so invited my folks (who live reasonably nearby) to join us for a walk around the dam. It was, as always, a pretty pleasant affair.

Even if we didn’t actually feed any ducks for a change.

Oh, and after our stroll we grabbed a coffee and some cake from the Deeghuys Taste Kitchen, a neat little eatery/test kitchen for Deeghuys that is tucked away off main road Durbanville. It was rather nice as well.

Related Link: Durbanville

Boyes Drive and a Year-end Function at Outspan in Kalk Bay (2016-12-06) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 MAY 2018

I’ve already mentioned that last year’s Touchwork and Hypenica year end function saw the teams go tropical and enjoy a colourful Hawaiian themed get together (complete with a belly dancing routine for some or other reason) at the Monkey Valley Resort in Noordhoek.

What I hadn’t realised (thanks to a forgotten folder now found on my laptop) is that I never actually got around to mentioning what we did to celebrate the year of work in 2016 – a small oversight which I’ll now quickly rectify in order to fulfill this site’s these days mandate as being somewhat of a photo diary for my life.

In a nutshell, we celebrated a prosperous year with a pirate themed lunch at Outspan in Kalk Bay. Entertainment came in the form of a pretty good (if slightly strange) improv comedy troupe (which surprisingly included YouTube comedienne Anne Hirsch as a member), and an even better reggae playing band, while lunch revolved very much around some exceptionally good yellow fin tuna steaks.

Entertaining, tasty and an opportunity to grab some photos along Boyes Drive.  Can’t really complain about that now can I? ;)

Oh, and in case you are wondering about the Shark Spotters hut up on Boyes Drive, it’s actually one of eight such shark lookout points (scattered along the False Bay coastline) operated by the team.

This pioneering shark safety and research organisation has been operating since 2004 (it was founded in response to a spate of shark attacks happening at the time), and does fantastic work in both shark research and keeping bathers safe by providing a well run early warning system.

Shark Spotters is now the primary shark safety strategy used in Cape Town, and their well built website (complete with stats) is well worth a proper browse!

Related Link: Outspan Kalk Bay | Shark Spotters | Muizenberg | Kalk Bay

Puzzles and Play at the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory (2017-11-04) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 30 APR 2018

If you are looking to entertain your kids (and maybe yourself) on a day out when perhaps the weather is not all that wonderful in the Mother City, then a trip to the Cape Town Science Centre in Observatory comes highly, highly, recommended.

Back in 1998, mobile phone giant MTN provided start-up funding for a science centre in Cape Town. This lead to the creation of the Interactive Science Foundation being established, who then oversaw the opening of the hugely popular and successful MTN Sciencentre in the Canal Walk shopping mall, where it operated from 2000 to 2010.

(Excluding its outreach programmes, the MTN Sciencentre received more than a million visitors through its doors over that period!)

As the agreements and leases all came to an end in 2010, the innovative science centre closed up shop, rebranded as the Cape Town Science Centre, leased the old Lamson-Paragon Building in Observatory (from the Western Cape Provincial Department of Transport and Public Works), and opened the doors to its newly refurbished premises in December 2011.

And it hasn’t looked back since.

The reason for this is of course that this is simply a fantastic space to learn while playing. There are seemingly hundreds of colourful, cleverly constructed interactive puzzle/science exhibits spread across the expansive floor, all of which teach fundamental aspects of science, technology, mathematics and engineering through some seriously fun interactions.

Both kids and adults can spend hours working their way through everything offer, and I can quite confidently state that even you WILL emerge having learnt something new on the day. (Unless of course you actually are a physics teacher or something like that…)

The cleverness of the installations, the thought provoking discussions that playing with the exhibits leads to is just wonderful, and honestly, both girls (and let’s be honest, and their dad)  absolutely loved the experience.

The Science Centre runs a number of interesting programmes, holiday activities, and even hosts birthday parties – perfect for those little ones who are always interested in taking things apart to see how they work!

It’s a seriously enjoyable outing that should entertain both young and old, and is also good enough to kill more than just a couple of hours in your day! So basically impossible not to recommend as a kid-friendly outing option in Cape Town then…

Bonus: Oh, and they even have Mark Shuttleworth’s spacesuit on display, which is pretty cool in itself.

(For those of you who need a slight jog of the memory, back in 2002 Mark became the second self-funded space tourist and the first-ever South African in space, blasting into orbit aboard a Russian Soyuz TM-34 before docking with the International Space Station. All in all a pretty proud moment for South Africa.)

Man, I really enjoyed this outing.

Related Link: Cape Town Science Centre | Observatory | Cape Town

Gourmet Burgers at Pure Craft and Foods in George (2018-01-03) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 29 APR 2018

George isn’t really known for being a foodie hotspot, which means then that both Chantelle and I were way more than pleasantly surprised when we stumbled upon the fantastic Pure Craft & Foods during our short stay in the “Capital of the Southern Cape” at the start of this year.

Standing where the long running institution that was the King Fisher Restaurant used to be, Pure is like one of those hip, young eateries that you would expect to find in some trendy Cape Town neighbourhood like Woodstock or Observatory. Except that it is in George. Which is kind of at the other end of the trendy spectrum.

Owned by a young guy, heavy on the wood and brass look, the double storey high Pure features loads of table space (both inside and out), and oozes a contemporary feel with just about everything that it does.

Their menu and food presentation is just as up to snuff, and pleasingly, the waiters all seem to be young, energetic and eager to interact. In addition to their great dishes, Pure, as what any other contemporary eatery simply needs to have, has a great range of craft beers and sushi (of course!) available, and as you might have guessed by now, this rather popular new spot definitely has quite the good vibe going for it.

Although not exactly overly kid friendly in that they don’t have a space available for kids to play (the girls did love their colour-in kiddy menus though), Chantelle and I absolutely loved it and its offering, so much so that we actually visited there twice over the handful of days that we were in George!

Impossible not to recommend really.

Related Link: Pure Craft & Foods | George

The Harbour and the Lookout Point in Gordon’s Bay (2017-07-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 APR 2018

It’s not often that I get my brother to come out and visit me here in Gordon’s Bay, but on the odd occasion that I do, it is imperative that the girls and I do something out and about with their ‘favourite uncle’. Luckily, small as it may be, there are more than just one or two pretty things to look at when visiting here in Gordon’s Bay.

On this particular visit of his, we decided to head up for a stroll at the Steenbras Water Treatment Plant Lookout Point, which involves taking a short drive up the mountain overlooking Gordon’s Bay, followed by a walk along a narrow ridge (if you are brave/steady enough) to a clearing that gives you a great view of the treatment plant itself, not to mention an even better view over good old Gordon’s Bay.

A nice addition to the lookout point is the recently installed granite map of False Bay that the local Rotary Club has donated and installed, a great guide to all the major points along this important Cape Town geographical landmark.

Anyway, piggyback rides exhausted, our next stop was back down the mountain and on to the old harbour. (In case you didn’t know, Gordon’s Bay is surprisingly the proud owner of two small harbours!)

Pretty boats in water, what’s not to like? So, two reasonably nice and relaxing sights to see, and one out and about ‘adventure’ with the favourite uncle all done and dusted.

Note: I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t take as many photos as what I normally do when out and about sightseeing, but it probably had something to do with the fact that it annoys Ryan to no end when I constantly whip out the phone whenever I spot something new! ;)

As for the rest of the day, it was probably spent braaing and playing XBOX games – you know as adult brothers tend to do.

Related Link: Gordon’s Bay