We landed in Johannesburg (JoBurg, as the locals call it) but went straight on into Capetown. I have to say that this is now on my top favorite places of all time so far. Ok, yes, I have been told that I say that about many places I go, but really, Capetown (and surrounding area) was absolutely beautiful, people were amazing and I would recommend it to anyone in a heartbeat.
We started by renting a car to go to a nearby town outside of Capetown to an area known as South Africa’s wine region. The same family that I visited in Geneva when living at the Cheese Making Farm actually owns Creation Wines and have heard rave reviews from them about how I simply just had to go try these wines. However, it is wine we are talking about, so they didn’t have to do much convincing for me to go!
The long drive off the unbeaten road (literally, a long, 30 minute dirt road) was well worth it. The views were stunning and the wine absolutely perfect. Due to traffic and getting a later start than we intended, we showed up a few minutes before closing. After figuring we would just have to buy a bottle and be back on our way, a boisterous worker insisted we join a group of people doing a taste testing as long as, “we had nothing against the Danish and they didn’t hate Americans.” Luckily, we don’t and they didn’t.
Since it was after closing, there was nothing but our small group, the delicious wine, the cool breeze from the open walls and the views of the surrounding hillsides. An hour after they had technically closed, we had had a full tasting (with very generous servings!) in addition to the most amazingly delicious chocolate it in the world….more on that later.
Back into the seaside town of Hermanus, we met with the Drakes since Jonathan is actually from S. Africa (same family that owns the vineyard/ are actually living in Switzerland) for an absolutely pleasant dinner. I always enjoy time with the Drakes. Not many people have the influence, views and culture that they do. I always feel a little smarter and more open minded after a thoughtful conversation with them.
The following morning, we were up early. This morning was particularly filled with anticipation as we found the dive center. However, we weren’t going SCUBA diving. Nope. We were going to dive with Great White sharks!!!!! Most people thought we were nuts, but we thought “How many people can say they have been within inches of a great white!?” (and survived to tell the tale!) I did plenty of research on finding a reputable, reliable and safe company. We were briefed and given instructions that would ensure our safety before ever leaving the dive center..
Six people at a time squeezed into wetsuits and then gripped the bars of the cage and as we slid into the 30 degree water, a rush of excitement flooded over us. The crew had already thrown out a chum line, seal buoy (although, I still claim it looked too much like a small person for my comfort!) and a giant tuna head to attract the sharks. Within minutes, they started to cruise by the boat. At times, there would be three at a time, some reaching almost 15 feet in length!
“DOWN AND TO THE RIGHT!” The crew would yell. I’d take a deep breath, brace myself for the cold and push myself under the water in the cage that I was completely enclosed in. Complete awe would come over me as I saw these giant, majestic looking creatures effortlessly glide by. Seconds seemed like minutes as you felt the power of these animals. I barely had enough time to gasp for another breath before hearing “DOWN AND FRONT!” Just then, a 10-foot, silver shark came crashing straight forward toward me. It was like in a movie; mouth propped open, all of those razor sharp teeth coming straight at me! It was as if it was in slow motion and as I let go and pressed myself against the back of the cage, I momentarily forgot that there were bars in front protecting me. I came up gulping for air as complete adrenaline took control of my entire body and heard my cage-mate just simply say, “HOLY SHIT!” Needless to say, diving with Great White sharks is something that I will never forget!
Since we were done with diving early, we decided to head back to the Creation Winery again. We didn’t have an opportunity to try the food the day before and we really wanted to go back for some more chocolate (and of course, wine)! Sitting on the deck in the warm, 80 degree weather in the middle of December felt magnificent. Adding some of the best wine I have had in the world paired with delicious local foods only made it feel surreal.
Now, back to this chocolate… It really wasn’t until I was an adult that I started enjoying chocolates. Andy, on the other hand, never has cared for the stuff. So, when he says that the Dark Chocolate Mocha bar was so good that we needed to buy some for ourselves, I KNEW I wasn’t just PMSing and wanting chocolate! Creation Wine specially collaborates with a local chocolate maker. Therefore, these chocolates can ONLY be found at this one winery and they work so hard to bring out the flavors of both the chocolates and wines when paired together. Now, I am usually the kind of person when asked what wine should go with what foods, I simply say “whichever kind you like best.” But, for the first time ever, I saw the pure magic of bringing out flavors with the use of wine. Seriously people….these chocolates were OUT OF THIS WORLD!
We sat around eating more chocolate and enjoyed the stunning scenery reveling in how fortunate we were at this very moment. The wonderful thing about this day was that not only did it create and embed dozens of memories, but instilled a certain “feeling” that I will forever associate with the beauty, serenity and peacefulness of South Africa.