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Archive for May, 2014

Cooking class with Gamidah in Cape Town May 13

We have been to Cape Town before and we have walked through the beautiful and colorful Bo Kaap area before. This time we decided to do a cooking class in this area to learn more about cooking Cape Malay style. My wife found and booked a class with Lekka Kombuis (which means something like tasty kitchen ). I did not really know what to expect but we walked to the address that we had been given. When we got there we were a bit confused as it looked like a regular house. I knocked on the door and it turned out to be the right place – the cooking class would actually take place in the home of Gamidah Jacobs. Gamidah greeted us into her home and it felt like coming over to a friend as she was like “Sit down for  second – I just have to finish cleaning the floor in the kitchen”.

But we soon got into the cooking with Gamidah and this was not the kind of class were you just get to look. We had to get into it and help with all the dishes – it turned out that it was only my wife and I in the cooking class and hence we felt like we got a special treat. We started out by frying up onions and spices to get started on the chicken curry and as we were working we chatted with Gamidah about family, history, about everyday life etc. While the curry was boiling we got started on the roti and we made it from scratch – I guess it is all in the wrist as Gamidah made it look so easy – the same goes for the samosas! In the end we fried up the roti, samosas and chili bites and we got to eat what we just made as lunch.

All in all I would say that this is the best cooking class ever. We got a special treat by being invited into Gamidah’s home and we got to cook with her – in her kitchen! How amazing is that. It didn’t feel like a cooking class but rather being invited over to a friend and cooking together. She treated us like friends and telling us about family, about her husband and kids. We got to make the food step by step and she gave us useful instructions and hints. If you are planning on taking a cooking class in Cape Town – look no further. I can highly recommend Lekka Kombuis. And Gamidah…if you make it to Stavanger in Norway let me know. I will invite you over to our house and cook some Norwegian food with you!

Read more about the cooking class on the Lekka Kombuis homepage.

Regards
Gard
gardkarlsen.com – trip reports and pictures

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Villa Zest in Cape Town–great boutique hotel May 06

We stayed at Villa Zest for 3 days in April 2014 – we booked it directly on the boutique hotel homepage and we choose it as the reviews were good and we wanted to stay at Green Point. When we landed at Cape Town airport we decided to take the bus into town as MyCiTi buses stops at Stadium (Green Point Stadium) and it is a short walk from the hotel.

This is a boutique hotel and there is only like 7 rooms. When we got there we rang the “doorbell” and the gate was buzzed open. The house seemed like just a large villa and we got a great welcome by the receptionist. Our room was not ready just yet but she used the opportunity to take us for a small tour of the hotel and to give us a welcome drink. It only took a few minutes for the room to get ready and we got a room on the ground level.

The room has white tiles on the floor with a furry carpet. The room and hotel seems pretty new so the interior is quite modern. The room was not that big but it included a pretty comfortable king-size bed, a tiny desk and a funky chair, wardrobe space and a tiny flat screen TV. On the desk we found all the stuff that you need to make some coffee and tea and also a couple of bottles of water that was complimentary even if you can drink the tap water. We also had a nice modern bathroom with a large shower, a bathtub and a sink with some amenities. My wife was quite impressed when she saw that one of the amenities was a makeup remover serviette.

Outside the villa there was a small garden with a swimming pool that we never got to try out – but it looked very inviting. There was also a corner with a sofa and a gas fire place and around the pool there were enough sunbeds. The lobby area had some funky decorations – apparently the owner is inspired by the 70’s and there were lots of old phones, 8 track players and some funky wall papers. A staircase took us to the next floor and that was used as a lounge area and breakfast area. The breakfast was pretty simple but we had all the stuff that we needed…bread, cereal, fruit and you could order eggs made your way. At night you could use the lounge area to just relax in the sofa and watch some TV and sit in front of the gas fire place – and the hotel also had free wifi in the room and in the lounge area. There was yet another staircase leading up to a small but wonderful rooftop terrace but we did not get to use that much as we were on the move most of the time.

The location of the hotel is great – it was possible to walk into the city bowl or to the V&A waterfront in like 20 minutes but it was also easy to get around by cab.

All in all we really enjoyed the Villa Zest experience. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful and chatted with us and helped us organize taxis at night (apparently the area is not that safe for walking at night). If you are going to Cape Town and want to stay at a small hotel, I can’t imagine that it can get much better than Villa Zest. Read more about the hotel on the hotel website.

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Pumba Private Game reserve–a great safari experience May 05

It is a bit tricky to write about Pumba just focusing about the accommodation as the game driving is a part of the whole experience. But I will try to focus on the Pumba camp in this review.

We booked the Pumba safari online on their homepage and there was a bit of back and forth as I was not able to pay with my credit card so I had to fill out some forms and send this over to Pumba and that was of course a bit of a hassle. We also booked pick up at Port Elizabeth Airport and transfer to Gramhamstown after the safari. When we got to Pumba we had to wait for a few minutes before we were picked up by one of the rangers in a Range Rover – I guess it was a good thing as the road into the Msenge lounge is rather bumpy. But it didn’t take us long before we saw various bucks and a rock monitor and we were contemplating if the animals had been put there on display just for our viewing pleasure.

When we got to the Msenge lodge we were taken to the reception and a huge Blesbuck was feeding on some trees right outside the entrance. We had to sign some papers where we probably signed that we could not sue them if we were eaten by a lion and then we were taken to lodge H. The room itself was great –as you walked in we were met by a large bed surrounded by a mosquito net and the room was surrounded by large windows – this gave us access to a terrace and also a view to the surroundings including a view to the watering hole. The room also included a closet with a small fridge, a table and a couple of chairs, a torch, a pair of binoculars, a desk and a wood fired oven. It gets cold at night in South Africa and it was great to light the small fire place on the first evening and fall asleep to the sounds and sights of a fire place.

The next room was the bathroom and the walk in wardrobe – when we came to our lodge the suitcases had already been placed in the wardrobe and it also included a small safe. The bathroom was incredible – is included two sinks with various amenities (including SPF 15 and mosquito repellent), a large glassed shower that allowed us to take a shower while keeping an eye on what was happening outside and there was also a bathtub where you could take a relaxing bath while looking at the animals outside. There was a separate room for the toilet and also a door leading out to an outside shower. But there were several doors leading out to the balcony / terrace where there was a couple of sunbeds, a parasol and a plunge in pool. I jumped in the first afternoon that we got there and it was pretty freezing.

All out meals were included so in the mornings we had breakfast after the game drive. Lunch was a three course menu and it was possible to enjoy it on the lounge deck which included a view to the watering hole where giraffes, zebras, bucks etc came to drink. At night we also had a three course dinner with free wine and various other drinks but it was also possible to order special vintage wine if you were looking for something special. All the food was served in the main lodge and that included a small gift shop, a small PC room (there was free wifi in the main lodge),  a game room and the restaurant – there was also a fire place in the middle of this main lodge and it was great to sit around the fire place at night, look at the stars and look at the menu for the evening.

There were also a couple of other buildings that included a spa, a gym and conference facilities. We tried the gym one day and the treadmill was not the great and Nikki was not that impressed with her manicure. We were pretty impressed with the food –the dinner was a nice selection of salads, soups, vegetarian and meat so it was not a problem finding some good options.

The Pumba Privat Game Reserve is located right outside Grahamstown and about 1 hour from Port Elizabeth so the location is not that ideal. But the game drives were great and we got to see elephants, while lions, rhinos, hippos, bucks etc.

All in all we were very happy with our stay at Pumba. I think that the safari experience is probably better in the Kruger park area but this was also a great experience. If you are looking for a safari experience in the Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown, Pumba is a great option.

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