Sun City Thoughts

We leave Sun City today, after a whistle-stop 4-day, 3-night stay.

Herewith a few (or more) thoughts on the last few days. In no particular order.

Sun City isn’t my kind of place. On arrival, the guy at the gate asked if I had reservations.

“Plenty,” I replied, “but the kids seem to be looking forward to it.”

Bdumtish.

Jokes aside, it is a ghastly, hideous place. Faux opulence, faux history and gaudy buildings are the order of the day. It’s repulsive… and it’s also completely incredible. It’s Grand West on South Joburg steroids. The scale of the place and the attention to detail is amazing. It’s other-worldly. And The Palace Hotel (where we’re not staying, see below) is an absolute work of art. You might not like it, but you have to admire the place.

And that’s the thing. If it’s not your thing, you need to get over it and just go with the flow and if you do, you’ll probably have a great time, like I did. Like we did.

This was a last minute, unplanned trip. One we wouldn’t even have considered were it not for the free air tickets that came with our new fridge. We’ve already spent a bomb on our Europe trip later in the year, so economy was key here. We chose the Cabanas to stay in, to save a bit of money. It’s been small and not very luxurious, but it’s been somewhere to sleep – we’ve been out and about the rest of the time.

The staff have been really helpful and are always smiling. That must take a lot of doing at the end of a long season. In fact, the only exception was a rude waitress at the posh hotel we had dinner at on Sunday night. She really did make an effort to be that exception though. Wow.

The breakfast buffet is cheap, cheerful and amazing value (included in the price of the budget accommodation). Two words for you:

Unlimited. Bacon.

Mmhmm. I know.

The Valley of the Waves is a lot of fun. There’s something weird about watching a hundred-odd people standing chest-deep in an outdoor swimming pool, facing a wall and waiting for a single artificial wave every 10 minutes or so. But again, you join in and it’s kinda enjoyable. The tubes were great fun. I didn’t die on the Boomeranga ride, despite a couple of attempts.

The bus service is either brilliant or disastrous. Possibly both simultaneously. We never really worked it out.
(Or you could walk the 550m to the main centre. It won’t kill you.)

Resort-wide free wifi actually works, and it’s literally everywhere: from our room to the beaches of the Valley to the Forest at the back of the fancy hotel. Incredible.

We did a Family Safari Walk on our first morning. It was excellent. Zebras, Wildebees, Kudu and Impala and a lot of stuff you’d never have seen from a truck. The kids learned a lot. 10/10 would recommend.

Sun City is massively incongruous in the North-West Province, which is like an Eastern Cape Lite. You pass Marikana on the way here. It’s a massive reminder of how unequal South Africa is.

There’s water! I have had several long showers. You don’t realise how much you miss them.

There was a bottle of wine for R130,000 on the wine list on Sunday evening.
We did not indulge.

I need to enjoy our last morning before we head back to Lanseria and Cape Town, so I’ll leave it there. Photos will follow. Normal blog service will be resumed tomorrow.

Patina

Boys Dinner with the MBCC last night and we headed out for steak.

Steak, as discussed with the Tall Accountant en route, is one of those things that’s  easy to do well (no pun intended), but for precisely that reason, is difficult to excel at. There are lots of very good steak places, but there are very few excellent steak places, because cook it right and it’s about as good as it can get.

Or so we thought.

Patina had been recommended to us by several friends. And all of them said that it was an excellent steak place. The expectations bar had been set high, and we went in ready to be wowed or  disappointed.

It was a wow.

I’ve eaten a lot of steak in my life. Add the other 175+ years (eina) of experience around the table and you have a veritable panel of steak expertise. And yet it was widely agreed that this was the best that any of us have ever tasted.

That’s not to say that previous excellent steak places haven’t also been excellent. Barristers remains a favourite – I’ve never had a bad steak there in my (or more) visits. But this was something else. I enjoyed a 300g fillet with chunky chips (others raved about the risotto) and a blue cheese sauce, A couple of sides of onion rings completed the main course picture and I banged in a stonking Affogato for good measure.

The food was amazing, the wine was great, they have Stella Artois on tap and the service (Wilfred from Malawi – “He’s a Lilongwe from home”) was perfect.

It’s not cheap, mind. And if you’re going to charge those sort of prices, you need to back it up with a very special experience. Patina did that and more. Quite incredible, and now my new go-to steak house.

This was not a paid review. I had a good night and I think you deserve one too. You should go here.

Patina
35 Dean St, Newlands, Cape Town
021 823 9739

You know me so well

I may have sorted out my music issues.

If I was looking for some sign or other to push in any given direction, it came with Spotify’s official entry into the SA music market earlier this week.

Of course, there have always been ways of enjoying Spotify on your devices in SA, but it’s so much easier now that it’s all street-legal. And Spotify was always going to be gold medal, given that a lot of the BBC 6 Music stuff is regularly uploaded onto playlists on the platform.

I’ve only subscribed to three playlists so far, but wow – the algorithm has got me all sussed out already.

I lobbed on a bit of Eels while I was writing yesterday’s blog post (probably just to chill out a bit) and when that had finished, Spotify followed it up with some stuff it thought I might like. And it got it right, time after time:

Eels – The Deconstruction [audio video]
Supergrass – Feel Alright [glastonbury 2004]
Beck – Dear Life [lyric video]
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth [live at google]
Belle and Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap [video]
Elbow – One Day Like This [video]
PJ Harvey – Shame [video]
Richard Hawley – Heart Of Oak [video filmed near Sheffield]
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots [glastonbury 2003 (I was there, front row)]
Dandy Warhols – Bohemian Like You [my blog post]

I could go on…  it did – admirably selecting suitable banger after suitable banger. And yes, I’ve added links so you can enjoy some quality music too.
This might even be a great start to my first Spotify playlist*.

Thing is, there’s not a huge amount of information that I have (knowingly) given Spotify in order for it to have got things so right so often in such a short time. So I’m not sure what it’s been looking at and listening to to get my tastes bang on.

But hey, if completely forgoing my privacy and opening my digital soul to scrutiny and subsequent analysis results in this sort of musical perfection, I’m all for it.

 

UPDATE: Obviously, I made a playlist. See here

Hermanus thoughts

Some further thoughts and recommendations following our Hermanus trip this weekend.

We stayed here. After a rather rocky start, it got better. Comfy, cosy and close to the beach, it’s a bit out of town, but nice enough.
So. Many. Windows. I imagine that in summer, it would be magnificent.

We went here. A decent Saturday morning market. There was wine, beer, food, crafty stuff. You know that other Saturday morning market you go to? Well, this is like that.

We ate here. It was really good. Really, really good. Great staff. Eclectic decor, coupled with a really interesting fusion of Asian and local cuisine with some completely unique dishes (the Bun Cha has to be top of your list here).

We walked here. So accessible, so well signposted and maintained, and some excellent views as well.

We did one of the shorter routes, but if you’re fit enough and have the time (and if you don’t have young children attached!) there are some exciting looking longer walks as well.

And then – as described yesterday – we dropped in here on our way back to Cape Town. And look, I know that Boulders has its plus points: proximity to Cape Town, nice sandy beach etc, but for me, the penguins and the other wildlife make Stony Point a much better all-round experience. Don’t @ me.

Hermanus gets too busy for me in the summer, but out of season, it’s a great local getaway and – especially if the weather is good – there’s plenty (or more) to do.

Note: This isn’t a paid review (unlike some blogs, I always tell you if I do paid reviews), we just had a good time and it would be great if you could too.

Lighter balls

Careful now.

I’m referring to these puppies.

Clean. Odourless. R3.50 per fire. And they will light and stay lit for (a rather exact) 17 minutes. They never fail.

Not a sponsored post. Just a really easy way to light your braai.

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