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Thursday, 1 May 2014

JAWS


 According to Eleanor Roosevelt you're meant to "Do one thing every day that scares you". When working a normal nine to five job that can sometimes be a bit difficult to do, so whenever I travel I always try and do something that's a bit adventurous/scary. I've sky-dived, bungee jumped, petted tigers & cheetahs, ridden elephants, ridden helicopters & hot-air balloons, jet-skied, parasailed. The list goes on. HOWEVER I have, well up until recently, had never cage dived with sharks before. When I visited Cape Town last year I booked myself and a friend onto a Great White Shark Cage Dive but the weather wasn't too good and the sea swells were "too dangerous" for the boat to sail in so ultimately it was cancelled. As the weather is better in April, I was in much better luck this year and I was able to see the sharkies up close and personal albeit missing my friend from my previous trip.
 
As I was flying solo this time around I had a lovely driver pick me up from my hotel at 5:30am to transport me to Simon's Town which is where the boat was docked. At the time of pickup it was pitch black, but as we set sail the sun decided to wake up and greet us with it's presence.
 
 
We then had an early morning meet and greet session with a pod of dolphins.
 
 
As we sailed closer to the dive sight, the dolphins rather wisely disappeared though. 
 
 
The skipper took us to Seal Island, which is home to roughly 60,000 Cape fur seals. All of these are up for grabs on the Great White Sharks' menu as they circle the island waiting for their prey to slip up and make a deadly last splash in the water.
 
 
 
After sailing very close to the island with a few rogue waves we had our first casualty of the day. And no it wasn't a seal. It was a poor English woman who became sea sick and threw up her Frosties over the side of the boat that she had eaten for breakfast that morning. Delightful to watch and listen to. On a more positive note, it was then time to anchor the boat and staff briefed us on the cage dive. Three simple rules were shared. Number 1 - keep your hands inside of the cage. Number 2 - keep your feet inside of the cage. Number 3 - enjoy. When it came to asking for any volunteers to go first, I obviously put my hand up like an eager school boy. As I was on my own and you had to go in the cage in pairs, I had to share the cage with an old French man who didn't speak a word of English. C'était parfait!
 
My dive attire was very flattering...
 
said nobody. Chuckles were had all around at my expense.
 
This lovely smelling fish guts was thrown in to the sea...
 
by this guy to bring the sharkies to the party.
 
As the sharkies turned up...
 
I took, what could have been, my final selfie.
 
I then entered this very cosy cage...
 
 whilst these big fella's swam around me.
 
 
 
 
 
 
And just to give you guys at home a view of what I saw, here with the help of my underwater camera, you can see Jaws and his mates a bit more up close and personal.




 
After a couple of hours out at sea, with people taking it in turns to go down in the cage, we then retreated back to shore, passing many little fishing boats along the way. Today's life lesson was that sharks aren't really as ferocious as they seem. Maybe if you pissed them off, then they'd bite a limb off to recompensate, but otherwise they seem a pretty chilled member of the aquatic family. Another thing ticked of the bucket list. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Wine O'Clock

Wine, glorious wine. Red, white, or bubbly, I don't discriminate against the beautiful beverage. Upon returning to South Africa, one of our first port of calls was a vineyard. With beautiful sunny weather, it was a glorious hour long drive into the country before we found our boozy haven. The vineyard in question was Fairview. It has been producing wine since 1699, so it's safe to say they know how to properly make a bottle or two of the good stuff.

Upon arrival we didn't waste any time sniffing out the wine.
 
For R25 (or £1.50 in British money) we were able to sample 6 wines and have as many nibbles of cheese as wanted.
 
 
Now for those that know me, will know of my dislike towards cheese. I have problems with the taste and texture of the smelly stuff BUT I was told that to compliment certain wines I should eat certain cheese and I therefore went with the cheesy flow. I had Brie...
 
Cream cheese...
 
Cheese with cumin in...
 
and Blue cheese. Having eaten them, I've still not been converted and will always choose sweet over savoury. However on a positive note I didn't throw up in the classy cheese store.
 
Going back to the wine, I was able to choose my favourites.
 
This ultimately lead me to making a purchase & I look forward to supping these bottles at some point over the summer.
 
 
As wine tasting is quite a strenuous exercise we then sort out the restaurant to refuel.
 
We had to navigate past some horny goats...
 
and their very fancy abode...
 
before finding the lovely outdoor restaurant.
 
For my food I had Warm stir-fried Springbok Venison strips on a salad of pesto drizzled roasted vegetables, cherry tomatoes, baby leaves, crostini and marinated artichokes.
 
Followed by The Goatshed dessert selection: Our chef’s selection of 3 desserts of the day (Rote Grütze with vanilla ice cream, Decadent chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream & Pavlova served with seasonal fruit and berries, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.
 
It's safe to say this meal was a beautiful end to a beautiful day.
 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Auschwitz

So I'm rather sure that Auschwitz doesn't need any introduction and everyone is aware of the atrocities that took place there. Over 1.5 million people were killed there during World War Two, with the majority of them being Jews. They were forced to work in the camps for up to twelve hours a day before going back to their squalid living conditions. Prisoners were shot dead, medically experimented on, left to starve, and most famously exterminated by use of the gas chambers. Words can't really describe the place, apart from the fact it has an unreal, sombre and eery feel that makes you question the merciless actions of mankind. I'll let the pictures do the talking...




 









Following the uncomfortable day of sightseeing we headed back to the hotel before deciding to go out for tea that evening. As we were only in Kraków for a couple of nights I decided that to make the most of what culinary delights the city had to offer that night we would eat a different course in a different restaurant. So that's what we did. Opposite our hotel was this very busy café/stall advertising their main food as placki ziemniaczane. The café was busy from early morning all throughout the day until late in the evening. It smelt so good whenever we went past it so I decided to go have a mooch at what a placki ziemniaczane was. Upon closer inspection I found out that what they were selling were potato pancakes. Much like a potato rosti, they were made up of shredded potato and put into a pancake-like batter before being shallow fried. I was then offered a choice of toppings and chose to go for the meaty goulash sauce. For a total of £1.30 or 6.50PLN I was very happy with my cheap starter. This picture doesn't do the dish justice and it actually looks like a hot sloppy mess, however I can highly recommend this cheap and mouth wateringly tasty plate of food. 

For the following course we went into a classier establishment and I ordered Kaczka Pieczona z Jabłkami. For those of you that don't speak or read in Polish, then this dish is Roast Duck with Apple Sauce. I had half a duck and this was accompanied with rice and a side salad. I love duck so therefore I loved this dish. Also in the restaurant we managed to get our hands on a decent bottle of red wine for a nice cheap price. Good Food + Cheap Quality Wine = One Happy Traveller.
 
Dessert came from a bar in the main square. Apple Strudel with plenty of cinammon and cream and ice cream and all round goodness. Washed down with a pint. My evening was complete. It was hands down the best apple strudel I have ever eaten.
 
I smiled throughout whilst devouring this plumptious apple beauty and probably for a good five or ten minutes after I finished eating it.

Keeping on my favourite foodie topic, the following morning before flying home I had this lovely plate of food for breakfast. Breakfast mainly consisted of different cold meats, but boy were they good.