Cape Town – It’s still nice!

Here’s my usual round-up after a trip. This time I travelled to Cape Town, only for a short week and a lot of work. Nevertheless I managed to steal some time for myself and explored the city a bit. It had been a long while (some 15 years) since my last visit to Cape Town; I knew/remembered what to expect and was anxious to see what has changed since then.

But let’s do this as it happened…. first I had to travel to the Mother City. My plan was to do that with the Lufthansa in their premium economy class (I just refuse to fly economy on such long haul flights; those days are over. Since my still favorite Swiss airline does not feature premium eco I had to get used to other airlines….). But, a German union decided to strike the airline once again, so my plane wasn’t flying. I still don’t get how stupid people can be; it might be worth thinking something like that through `til the end; airline is on strike – customers are not happy – customers avoid airline – airline suffers and has to lay off staff. Not that difficult, is it? Now that took me somewhat off-topic, now back to the more fun topic again.

My flight was transferred over to BA and I flew to Cape Town via London. While BA does have a premium eco class the plane was, uuuhm, old (a really old B-747) and it felt its age. Fortunately I slept most of the night and only woke up shortly before arrival in Cape Town. The difference between a some 20 – 30 years old plane and a modern one became even more tangible when I flew back. Lufthansa staff was not on strike anymore and I had the pleasure (I mean it, really) of flying back in a top modern A340. The flight was still long, but comfortable. And hey, they even had in-flight WiFi!

And while we’re talking travel…. – use UBER while you’re in Cape Town. So much nicer, not more expensive than taxi.

Next up: accommodation. For the first couple of nights I slept at a friend’s place, but for the last three nights I stayed at the Grand Daddy hotel in Long street, Cape Town. The hotel is a solid 4 star with a couple of specialities. Well, actually one. It’s on the roof top and this is how it looks:

Airstream trailer on top of Grand Daddy hotel in Cape Town

Of course it’s not any ol’ trailers, these are Airstreams. On the inside the trailer is on the smaller side, but still nice and of course, special. Each trailer is themed differently, the theme of my one was “Gold Rush” (feel the bling bling?).

Gold Rush Trailer inside Grand Daddy Hotel Cape Town

One word of warning though: the roof top features a bar too and it’s right in the middle of the trailer park. Of course there’s a DJ playing on weekends, and he sure got the place bumpin (including the trailers…) – fortunately the sound only lasted until 8 pm, after that it was astonishingly calm and quiet.

Food and stuff (you saw it coming, didn’t you?). Of course seafood never gets better than so close to the sea, but meat lovers also get their share. So, in the order of appearance; these are the places I’d recommend you to go to: Steenberg (both the Bistro 1862 and the high end restaurant Catharinas. Very nice indeed. This time stuff translates into wine – needless to say that South African wines are just delicious.

Simply the best restaurant I ate in during my trip was at the Jordan winery. We stopped at their restaurant for lunch on wine tasting tour we did on Sunday and hell, I hardly ate so deliciously before. It was only after lunch that our tour guide (Stephen, also highly recommended) told us that we just had lunch at one of South Africa’s top restaurants. Not surprising that it couldn’t get any better after that, is it?

But, there were at least two comparable places . One night I had lobster at the Pigalle restaurant. It looked like this and tasted as good as it looked:

Lobster at Pigalle restaurant in Cape Town

I followed a restaurant recommendation on Bree street, Chefs Warehouse and I let this pic speak for itself (I’m quite sure you’re able to figure out what I ate):

Table at Chefs Warehouse in Cape Town

Bree street is nice to find small, innovative good food places anyway, just stroll up and keep your eyes open.

The tour through the oh-so-near (really, 30 mins from the city) wine area on Sunday was lovely. Stephen took us to small wineries all off the beaten track; think Vergelegen, Morgenster (where we also tasted olive oil), Jordan and Muratie. I told him during our ride to the first winery that DeMorgenzon is my current favorite and he just adjusted the itinerary and also took us there – brilliant!

Mirror at the DeMorgenzon winery in South Africa

Oh, and there’s a place you shouldn’t go to for food, seriously; just don’t! The waterfront is nice for shopping, especially the watershed. But just don’t eat there, take an UBER, ride it for a couple of minutes and go to a decent restaurant (like Pigalle…. ). I’m quite sure you’ll even pay less.

And here’s one last recommendation for y’all. I documented my activities on social media quite intensely. The lovely folks at the Paper Jet travel agency in Durban noticed (good social media monitoring!) and contacted me in a very nice way. Rest assured that I now know who I’ll ask for an offer next time I head to South Africa; with a bit more time. I will make sure that there’s enough time for a decent safari trip!

I loved this scene on Shortmarket street:

Street scene at Shortmarket Capetown

Street scene at Shortmarket Capetown

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My latest project: Zürich Food Tour

Wiping off the dust off my blog… – Once again it’s been way too long since I published anything here (not that I don’t do that anymore, my Twitter stats say I’m quite active over there and my Facebook updates are also quite regular these days). The silence here might also be caused by the fact that I’ve got “a couple” of other projects going on.

The Markthalle at Zurich Viadukt

Zürich Food Tours Markthalle Viadukt

It took a while for my idea for a food tour in Zurich to come to life, but now’s the time: my friends at Zürich Tourismus ran their first Zurich Food Tour in Zurich West on July 17, 2015. They do the tour every week on Friday afternoon.

Inspired by similar tours I did abroad I developed the concept and initiated the selection of restaurants the tour visits. After some test tours and the successful first “real” tour I am certain that we’ve picked a nice selection of good and very typical Zurich places to go and taste (by all means).

Considering that you’ll do a 3-hour tour get nice food and drinks along the way the tour is well worth its price. You’ll be happy and well fed afterwards!

Go and enjoy the tour – I can only recommend it!

All information and registration is right here.

Austin, weird. Part 3

(Part 3 of my personal, non-techie report from my trip to #DrupalconNA in Austin, Texas)

Accommodation
I arrived on a Saturday at the lovely Austin International airport; friendly Diana from our Austin team was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and drive me to the fancy Hotel Ella where I spent my first night in Austin.
I was welcomed with the lovely words “and of course we have an upgrade for you” – something a traveller always loves to hear, especially after a 16+ hours trip. The room was nice, spacious (enough) and by the pool. Guess what, it took me less than 10 minutes to unpack (a bit, only staying for one night) and to jump in the cool pool. Fantastic.
Being a tad tired I decided to eat at the hotels very own Goodall kitchen & bar. Which proved to be a good choice, both on the food and drinks side. They served a decent steak (hey, I was in Texas, c’mon) and a fab Hefeweizen (it’s always fun to hear a non-german speaking person try to pronounce that..) from a nearby local micro brewery. Exactly what I needed and wanted. And so close…. it only took me a couple of steps to get back to my room. Where I fell asleep within seconds (exaggerating only a bit.).
Fast forward to Sunday morning. Decent brekkie at the hotel restaurant (for once) and then one of Hotel Ellas courtesy cars drove me downtown where I met some of my peeps who had brunch at the Moonshine.
What do you do on a Sunday afternoon in the US of A? Yepp, you go to the mall. So did I.

During the conference we AirBnB’ed right next to the conference center – one can’t be better located than on 301 East 4th street, all you need to do is cross the street and you’re there. Ryan’s got a perfect suite there.

The conference ended on Friday and we moved out of the AirBnB then – I moved on to (fanfare) the Driskill.
Built in 1866, located perfectly on 6th Street. Posh, classy, stylish (a tad expensive though, but hey it was the XGames weekend…). It’s been a while since I’ve been at such a nice hotel. I mean, really – look at this bathroom – have you ever seen anything like this? Quite posh, all black marble, huuuuge shower.

Bathroom hotel Driskill, Austin

Bathroom of my room at hotel Driskill, Austin


In a nutshell: if you ever come near – go inside and have a look at the lobby. And the bar. And the old safe room, left of reception. If you can / want to afford it stay there for a couple of nights.

What else?
Food: Barbecue. Outdoor food on Rainey Street. I’ve seen my fair share of US cities, but have hardly come across so much of (nice) outdoor places. Of course the good, warm, nice weather is adding a lot to the fun of outdoor places.
Also outdoors: the craziness of 6th street on weekend nights. Bar after bar after bar after bar (infinite loop). It reminded me a bit of the French Quarter in New Orleans, just a younger crowd. And different sound of course. Walking up and down 6th street was nice, but in the end “the scene” is pretty much people checking out other people checking out other people (two loops in one paragraph, that’s enough).

Being downtown as an European tourist also means: no car. Not that much of a problem as you can get around in downtown Austin walking or using one of the nice bikes available. The positive aspect of a “small city“. If you want to go a bit further the options are quite good too – Lyft and Uber came to town lately and compete with the local taxis – good disruption, y’all.

There are some nice steak houses down town (eh, barbecue every night? No way). I paid the Capital Grille a visit and left happy, a decent filet and, yes, yet another beer from a local micro brewery.
Being in a hotel in the US also translates into: you don’t want to have breakfast there (few exceptions like at hotel Ella) – if you’re downtown Austin chances are pretty good that you’re near one of the lovely Royal Blue Groceries. Go and have coffee (and a burrito maybe – always remember you’re down south).

More things to do: go to south congress and visit the local shops, like Allen boots. If you’re not into shopping you should at least pass by (like on a morning jog…) and check out the scenery.

The weirdest thing that happened to me? In the next post, my friend. Stay tuned for more.

Vancouver – Hotel, Food und eine Tour

Bis vor einer Weile, na ja, bis jetzt, machte ich mir bei und von allen Reisen Notizen, wo wir nächtigten und assen. Legte die Notizen irgendwohin und…. fand sie nicht mehr. Nachdem mich immer mehr Leute nicht nur nach Restaurant-Tipps für Zürich (you can call me Wirtschaftsberatung Bucher, die Idee für noch einen Restaurant-Führer liegt äusserst nahe, aber a) gibt’s davon schon zuviel und b) werd ich den Teufel tun und meine Tipps jedermann mitteilen – dann hätte es ja keinen Platz mehr für mich – und das geht ja gar nicht) sondern auch nach “gutem Essen & Hotels andernorts fragen dachte ich mir, ich schreibe die Tipps gleich hier in den Blog, dann verlege ich sie nicht mehr und “man” kann gleich selbst hier nachlesen.

Im März war ich in Kanada, oben in Whistler an der TEDActive, die Reise führte auf beiden Wegen, hin und retour über Vancouver, wo ich ein paar Tage verbrachte. 

Übernachtet habe ich bei beiden Stops in Vancouver im Hotel Loden, das ich uneingeschränkt empfehlen kann. Ein nettes, kleines Boutiquehotel, das Balsam für die Reiseseele ist. Schöne Zimmer, guter Service, ein Concierge, der seinen Job versteht und gut macht, ein nettes Hotel-Restaurant und ein gut bestücktes Fitness-Center. Ach ja, gut gelegen ist das Hotel auch noch; sollte man mal etwas weiter weg wollen hat das Hotel ein London Cab, in dem man gratis durch die Stadt chauffiert wird. Alles zu einem fairen Preis.

Zum Essen:
Ich hatte da auf dem Weg retour von Whistler nach Zürich in Vancouver einen Nachmittag Zeit (ausgeschlafen, die Einkaufsliste der Damen des Hauses abgearbeitet etc. pp. usw.) und ging, inspiriert von Hugo und Anais auf eine Foodie Tour (“Guilty Pleasures Gourmet Tour”).

Lustigerweise war ein grosser Teil der Tour in der Alberni Street, wo ich Foodie doch auf Empfehlung des Hotel Concierges schon eines Abends im Coast essen gegangen war.

Die Alberny Street war bis zu den Olympischen Spielen 2010 kulinarisches Brachland was sich dann aber schlagartig änderte.. Jetzt reiht sich Lokal an Lokal, einige (Gute) gehören zusammen, zur Glowbalgroup. Verschiedene Küchen, verschiedene Richtungen, aber alle wirklich gut.

Die Tour führte uns zuerst ins Restaurant Kirin, wo wir in paar sehr nette Dim Sum Samples bekamen.

Danach rüber zum noblen Italiener „Italian Kitchen“, der Burrata als Appetizer und danach Meatballs vom feinsten servierte.

Die 3. Station war kein Restaurant, sondern ein Laden namens Urban Fare an der Bute Street, sozusagen Whole Foods auf kanadisch. Wir probierten Weich- und Hartkäse, gepaart mit ein paar mittelprächtigen Weinen. Der Hartkäse war ein erstaunlich guter, „aged“ Gouda.

Nach dem Shop ging’s dann doch mal weiter weg von der Alberni Street an die Hornby Street ,wo wir in einem Sandwichladen namens Hubbub die weltbesten Pulled Pork Sandwiches mit einem herzhaften local draft Bier verspeisten Die Zubereitung des Fleisches für die Sandwiches dauert tatsächlich mehrere Tage („slow roasted pulled pork sandwich“) und der Aufwand lohnt sich definitiv.

Als letzte Station ging’s fast runter bis ans Meer, kurz vor dem Convention Center stoppten wir für ein kleines (ha!) Glace bei der Bella Gelateria. Ich war recht skeptisch, auch als unser Guide, Manuela erzählte, der gute Mann sei 2012 in Italien zum Gelaterio des Jahres gewählt worden. Bis ich dann die Schoggi-Glace probierte. Die haute mich weg. Dieser Wahnsinnige verarbeitet Material von Michel Cluizel, nicht zu knapp, gibt keinen Rahm, keine Milch dazu. Holy cow, war das gut.

Zusammengefasst: diese Foodie Tour ist eine gute & interessante Art, einen Nachmittag in Vancouver zu verbringen. Durchaus zu empfehlen, einfach nachher keine Pläne für ein Nachtessen machen – nach der Tour ist man für längere Zeit gut gesättigt.
Buchen hier . Ein Tipp für die Sparfüchse: Am Vortag der Tour gibt’s die Tickets im Office von Vancouver Tourism an der Burrard Street für 50% bei Ticket Tonight oder so (gleich links, wenn man reinkommt).

Weitere Essensempfehlungen in Vancouver:
Ebenfalls an der Alberny Street: Thierry Chocolate
Joe Fortes Seafood & Chop House (hier kann man übrigens auch sehr nett mit Schweizer A-Bloggern essen gehen…)
Das Bistro von Edible Canada, draussen auf Granville Island. As local und as good as it gets.

Und weil der Post so kurz wurde (ha ha ha) hier noch ein kleines Bilderrätsel: Was ist hier falsch?

Käse bei Urban Fare in Vancouver - was ist hier falsch?

Käse bei Urban Fare in Vancouver – was ist hier falsch?


(Urban Fare hatte tatsächlich auch Schweizer Käse..)

Ach ja, und noch ´n Tipp: nachmittags gibt’s in verschiedenen Lokalen „a buck a shuck“ – sprich eine Auster für einen Dollar. Dem Angebot sollte man nachgeben, so man denn Austern mag. Äs lohnt sich.