FUN-travel: South Africa – Franschhoek & Wine Region

September 8, 2010 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel: South Africa – Franschhoek & Wine Region 

The ABC’s of Africa

Nelson Mandela Statue

A = Awesome
B = Bummer
C = Celebration
BB = Big Bummer
RBB = Really Big Bummer

Day 5 – Tuesday, September 7 – Hermanus to Franschhoek – low 50’s – very windy & cold – warmed up to 70 inland

  • A – bag finally arrives after midnight
  • RBB – cut open, rifled through, items missing (highly suggested you shrink wrap your bag)
  • A – pick up 10 am for 90 minute drive to Rusthof Country House in heart of the historic French Huguenot valley of Franschhoek (Napa Valley of SA)
  • A – delightful town – take walk, have lunch @ Rueben’s & glass of Chardonnay/Pinot blend (quite good & never heard of before)
  • TA & VG – dinner at Le Quartier Francais (like the French Laundry in Napa)

FF (FUN Facts) – TA = Totally Awesome & VG = Very Good

Day 6 – Wednesday, September 8 – Franschhoek – sunny, warm 70’s

  • A – wine tasting tour starts 9:45 – landscape of Cape Dutch wine estates sprinkled throughout valleys between massive mountains
  • A – 1st stop Lynx – very boutique vineyard – buy VG blend bottle Shiraz/Mourvedre/Viognier
  • A – 2nd stop Kanonkop – see biggest bottle of wine ever – 18 liters = 24 bottles
  • A – stop at prison where Nelson Mandela was released on 2-11-1990
  • A – drive to Stellenbosch – South Africa’s second oldest town – est. 1685
  • A – 3rd stop Rust En Vrede – impressive spread of stainless steel vats & cellared bottles
  • TA – 4th stop Bilton Winery – pairs custom made Belgium style chocolates w/their wines YUM! – buy Matt Black blend of Cab/Shiraz/Petit Verdot/Merlot/Pinotage/Mourvedre

    Rust En Vrede Winery

  • A – 5th stop Glenwood – very boutique – only 4 barrels made of their top wine
  • A – 6th stop Boekenhoutskloof (longest winery name in the world?) buy 4 bottles of VG wine, 1 of which we had last night

    Bilton Wine & Chocolate Pairing

FF – Cape Dutch Style – thick white washed walls, small-paned shuttered windows designed to keep out summer heat – thatched roofs with elegant gables keep houses cool in summer and warm in winters

FUN-travel:Australia/New Zealand

April 16, 2009 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel:Australia/New Zealand 

Travel Highlights – 15th day – January 12, 2006 

Sydney Harbour New Years Eve

Sydney Harbour New Years Eve

  • Eloped and wed New Years Eve in Sydney Harbour on boat in the parade of lights.
  • Hottest New Years day on record.
  • When toll taker at the Ferry station was asked, “How hot is 45 degrees in Fahrenheit?”  His reply was, “Damn hot!”  (Our best guess somewhere around 115 degrees.)
Manly Beach

Manly Beach

  • Drank more beer in two weeks than the last two years.
  • Have consumed approximately 29 bottles of wine and 6+? bottles of Champagne (lost count).
  • There are two kinds of wine here, good and gooder.
  • Drank 28 cappuccinos (must have school that teaches how to make them look so pretty and taste so good).


  • Snorkeled at the Great Barrier Reef;
  • took seven boat rides;
  • two gondola rides;
  • one luge ride;
  • one train ride;
  • one helicopter ride to a glacier,
  • and five plane rides.
Top of the Glacier

Top of the Glacier

  • Went to the Glow Worm caves,
  • a rainforest,
  • a butterfly sanctuary,
  • and an aviary.
  • Drove through a petting zoo,
  • saw several locations where Lord of the Rings was filmed
  • and 4283 sheep.
Drive thru Zoo - Queenstown

Drive thru Zoo - Queenstown

  • After arriving in Auckland, drove over 1000 kilometers.
  • Quite unnerving to sit on driver’s side with no control over the steering.
  • Chris drove and was an angel, (so he said) against constant harping of, “Stay to the left! Stay to the left! No, not that far left!”
Butterfly Sanctuary

Butterfly Sanctuary

  • Drove to Waitomo, Rotarua, Taupo, Napier, and Wellington.
  • Dropped off car with both tires on the left side intact. Absolutely amazing!
  • Flew to Queenstown.
  • Picked up another car and then asked, “Why in bloody hell would we want to drive anywhere?”
  • Returned it immediately!
Glow Worm Caves Forest

Glow Worm Caves Forest

  • Have been very lucky as usual, with only a few little glitches.
  • The Best Luck Story: When Chris asked, “Honey, where are we staying in Queenstown?” Susan replied, “I’m not sure yet.”
  • See wine store and pullover. Plan is to shop and use their phone book. Owner of the store asks, “What are you looking for?” and reply is, “A hotel.” He says, “I can help you do that. What price range?” And we say, “Top of the line economy!”
Luge Ride Starting Point - Lake Taupo

Luge Ride Starting Point - Lake Taupo

Turns out the Sofitel just opened and he has connections. *****, state of the art amenities, flat screen TV, surround sound, DVD, espresso machine, Jacuzzi tub, etc., etc. All for the paltry sum of $120.00 US per night. WE’RE IN HEAVEN!

Waterfall from Glacier

Waterfall from Glacier

Special thanks to Mary & Laurent for itinerary and packing instructions, and Dixie for very special bottle of Champagne!

Meals/Hotels/Excursions: Expensive!
RT 1st Class w/sleeper seats: 240,000 miles
Arriving w/no jet lag & the love of your life: Priceless!

We forgot the 5 wineries (which changes the wine consumption!)
And what are the odds of running into someone you know? We are buying lottery tickets.
Ran into Kaiser doctor from Hawaii we just saw last month in San Fran!

One of the Winery Tours

One of the Winery Tours


March 24, 2009 by · Comments Off on FUN-travel:Chile 

Are First Impressions Really Lasting Impressions?

City view

  • Good news – Off to Santiago. Get earlier flight for $40 change fee per person
  • Bad news – get hit with $262 Reciprocity Fee in Chile
  • Good News – Marriott hotel, 2 room corner suite & executive lounge free. (Mr. C’s payback for all that Pasadena travel)  

Day 6 – Monday, February 2, 2009 – hazy, warm

  • Good News – Executive lounge on 23rd floor, panoramic views of snow capped Andes mountains and Santiago
  • Bad News – very smoggy
  • Good News – book half day private city tour thru hotel, includes funicular ride to top of hill
  • Bad News – guide irritating, incompetent, & inept in English
  • Bad News – on top of that, not much to see & still very irritated about Reciprocity Fee
  • Good News- get dropped in downtown
  • Bad News – thieves everywhere!
  • Bad News – get typical lunch of fish, no mas bueno! Can’t eat, spit out, should have had the Cevice
  • Good News – try again for typical Chilean fish dinner, very nice!
    Day Rating – 4

Downtown Santiago

Downtown Santiago

 Day 7 – Tuesday, February 3, 2009 – hazy, warm

  • Good News – 9:45 am wine tour, 2 vineyards. Aquitania – boutique & Concho Y Toro – massive
  • Good News – Lunch, typical Chilean tourist restaurant in country

Day Rating – 7  (Must be the wine but still pissed about the Reciprocity Fee)

Winery Tour

Day 8 – Wednesday, February 4, 2009

  • Good News – leaving Chile, going to Buenos Aires!
  • Bad News – flight doesn’t leave til 8 pm.
  • Good News – take walk to Plaza Los Dominicos, Chilean Arts & Crafts market
  • Good News – go to airport
  • Bad News – had 2 itineraries and missed flight
  • Good News – get on next flight no charge
  • Bad News – get charged $40 for overweight bags
  • Good News – get the hell out of Chile!

First Impression is the Lasting Impression
Santiago – 4 (still pissed about the Reciprocity Fee & wished they’d gone to Mendoza)

Concho Y Toro Diablo
Concho Y Toro Diablo