Recordings can’t answer your questions

My colleague Ivor, (one of the Footsteps Guides) has been conducting walking tours with Footsteps to Freedom since the first rinderpest outbreak. Well almost. He has lived three score years and ten in Cape Town and worked in District Six as a medical student and later a houseman living in The Peninsula Maternity hospital and delivering all the local babies — “probably about 20-30 per day .I remember being woken by the footsteps of the people walking to work.” Ivor’s grandparents came to Cape Town from somewhere in Lithuania in the 1890s

Ivor recently toured the city on foot with a young couple, and as he related the story to me, I asked him to write it down. I sometimes get asked, “Should I do a bus tour or the Footsteps to Freedom city walking tour?” Recordings can’t answer your questions, is my reply.

Dad, Dr, Tourist Guide, Coach

Ivor Shasklosky on tour with Footsteps to Freedom (2013)


I shared a fascinating Footsteps to Freedom experience last week.The couple on the walk were; she from Buenos Aires, and her partner from Germany. They met in Argentina.
They then moved to Florida for several years and have recently re-located to Berlin.
The Walk was made fascinating by discussing the differing similarities in the political situations that had impacted on the civilian populations of South Africa, Argentina, Florida ( as part of the southern United States) and Germany.

The racist separations that had occurred in South Africa, Florida and Germany where Apartheid laws were based on the Nuremburg Laws of  Nazi Germany, though in South Africa , a genocide was never contemplated.

The Cape and Florida had a shared history of slavery though it was abolished without a war 30 years earlier in 1834 at the Cape.

Then South Africa and Argentina shared similarities of an oppressive ‘police state’.
Thankfully all can now be considered to be democracies. All need to deal with each one’s infamous past. South Africa is possibly a leader here in that much conversation,writing and cultural ’mixing’ is happening here and started at an early stage after the transition.

I had seen an opera in English at the Colon in Buenos Aires, shortly after the dictatorship ended.  It was called “The Consul” and resonated with me as we were still mired in apartheid. 

A man is arrested from his home in the middle of the night and taken away by the secret police. The rest of the opera is the wife trying to find out where her husband has been detained.She never gets beyond the waiting room of the minister’s secretary. This could just as easily have been in my country,South Africa, during apartheid, or Nazi Germany in the 30’s and 40’s.

Conversations are so much more interesting than geo-based recordings. What if a one-legged dog passes on the left your bus on a solo-cycle balancing a beach ball on its nose … your recording will obediently tell you in which year the building on the right was completed.


Waterkloof – Hugging the Hill

Visited a wine farm we’ve been meaning to visit for a while now: Waterkloof wines in Somerset West, set up on the Schapenberg mountain.  As you turn in through the farm gates,  it doesn’t look like anything to write home about, in fact the drive up initially seems a bit dishevelled and untidy.  But then you hit the tarred road and a magnificent corridor of fynbos directs you up the mountain.  
The architecture of the winery and restaurant are an arresting contrast to the mountainside.  Very modern, like a lightbox hugging the hill, the angular industrial design of the building leaves you wondering – is this another self-indulgent design statement by some young anti-establishment upstart sitting in his plush urban architectural studio a million miles from Africa?
But then you enter, and the brilliance of the design hits you! The steel structure that supports the oversized ceiling-to-floor glass panes fades away and lets the magnificent vistas be the star of the show.  

Overlooking False Bay

The interior is simple and elegant.  The single space houses the tasting area, the restaurant and the cellar which is visible through the glass walls that divide the space. The wine tasting staff are young, friendly and knowledgeable.

And what about the wines themselves?  The winery has four labels: Waterkloof (which consists of a single wine, a Sauvignon Blanc), Circle of Life (a red blend and a white blend that aim to encapsulate the biodiversity philosophy behind the farm), Circumstance, and lastly False Bay.

Met ys!

We tasted the 2012 Waterkloof which whilst typically fresh and crisp, had good fruit and so avoided that acidic Sauvignon after-taste. Memorable from the Circle of Life range was the superb Chenin Blanc barrel fermented for 10 months and so had beautiful full-flavoured buttery notes (like an old style Chardonnay you now battle to find).  Also enjoyed the lovely, interesting, palest rose: Cape Coral Mouvedre from the same range.  We realised we had drunken a few bottles of the False Bay chenin blanc over Christmas (an unpretentious, fruity, easy to drink wine) but hadn’t realised it was part of the Waterkloof stable.
Since we were looking for a lunch restaurant we had a squizz at the menu,  but this is not a grab-a-light-lunch kind of place so we filed it for future use.  Their market is more the dedicated gastronome, or at least the person who has set a day aside to appreciate the artistry of this menu.  
As they say in retail, this should be a destination lunch venue, not somewhere you would hope to grab a bite to eat whilst passing through…. as we were.

Tips for Walkers

Wear comfortable walking shoes. If you do not have a comfy pair of walkers – Lemkus Sports in lower St George’s Mall is a good place for sport shoes or hiking boots.

Footsteps to Freedom guided walks depart daily – irrespective of weather conditions.

Summer days can be hot – wearing a hat is a good idea, and do not forget your bottle of water and sun protection cream. Pick ‘n Pay Family Supermarket is conveniently located across the road from the Visitor Information Centre.

Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate and winter days can be cool and wet. Along the Trail a number of Trail Partners offer warm and cosy coffee stops, and the many galleries in Church St are an ideal place to browse for local art, under cover.

Safety in Cape Town has improved greatly thanks to the efforts of the Central City Improvement District. However, as in any big city, care should be taken, so rather walk in groups, do not wear expensive jewellery in the city, and be vigilant at cash machines.