Monday, February 22, 2010


Kris and I had our second weekend off this past weekend. Nice to have some 100% free days to kick around and do stuff. Also kind of nice that they are just infrequent enough that we feel obligated to try and make the most of them.

I'd been texting with the kitesurf school people all week, getting wind and weather updates, and they finally told me on Friday that things were looking good. Headed to Muizenberg in the early afternoon to find a pretty strong and gusty onshore wind. Headed right to the water and spent the next two hours making all of the various beginner mistakes and either getting pulled onto my face or not getting powered enough to get up on the board. Swallowed a ton of water. Waterstarting is definitely the hardest thing that I've had to learn. There are just so many things to remember -- how much power to give the kite, face the front of the board downwind(ish), don't pull on the bar, front leg straight and back leg bent, etc. One of those things where until you've gotten it right enough times that it all becomes natural, you have to think through every element every time. Hard to do. I did manage to get up on the board a few times, which was just enough excitement to get me heading back there for another lesson this afternoon.

Met Kris at the gym from there, grabbed some sushi right off of Long St. (which was swamped with people on a Friday night -- we couldn't even imagine what it will look like during the World Cup) then back to Paarl.

Had big plans to go Kayaking down the Berg River on Saturday, but it was oppressively hot. 100, or something like that. Decided that the day would be better spent in air conditioning, so we called an audible and went wine tasting.

First went to L'Ormarins in Franschhoek, which is a big old estate that started in the 17th century. They have a Motor Museum with tons of cool old cars, which we checked out. I don't know squat about cars, but some of the older ones from the 20s and 30s were pretty sweet. They then took us in a golf cart through the estate up to their tasting room, where we tried three whites, three reds, and their port. Of the whites, the Anthonij Rupert Nemesia blend was great. Their sangiovese is nice and tomato-ey (had had it with dinner a few weeks ago). Their bordeaux blend is super smooth, though without much body. I loved their port -- had some savory flavors that made it taste like something other than pure sugar.

Went from there to Glen Carlou, a farm right on our road which has a much more modern feel than L'Ormarins. Briefly checked out their art collection then tasted their wines - there were a lot. Their gravel quarry cabernet sauvignon was great but pricy. Their regular cab seemed like a better deal. By this point we had drank a lot of wine, and called it a day. Headed back to Noble Hill to take the doggies for a swim in the upper dam, which is always a highlight. Went from there to see some polo match at Val de Vie, and had some delicious food on the deck overlooking the polo field. Stayed after the match for a while and snuck into some wedding photos that were being taken as a wedding party was dying down.

Sunday, headed to Camps Bay to check out the scene. It was very windy and too crowded, but we made the most of it by sneaking into the Bay Hotel to go hang out by their nice quiet pool. The key is to pick the fanciest establishments possible and look like you know what you're doing. The theory being that the staff at a fancier place is less likely to harass you because they know that if they question someone who actually belongs at the place, there will be hell to pay. (We also later tested this theory at the Taj downtown when we were looking for a place to take a leak - another success). Spent all afternoon reading, drinking coffee and water, and pretending to belong.

Here's a view from the lounge chair at the Bay Hotel pool:

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