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


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, the weirdest thing. Part 4

(Part 4 of my personal, non-techie report from my trip to #DrupalconNA in Austin, Texas)

So I’ve covered pretty much in the previous posts. But the weirdest best thing is yet to come.

Picture this: little me checking out the ‘hood around my downtown hotel, the Driskill. As I stroll down Congress street I spot the Paramount Theatre. And what their billboard says? Now check this out:

Paramount Theatre concert announcement in Austin Texas on 6.6.14

Paramount Theatre concert announcement in Austin Texas on 6.6.14

Ha! Extra ha! Superdooper Ha!
Walking up to the window, smiling at the girl and asking if there were any tickets left…. – 30 secs later I had one and felt soooo lucky. I’ll get to see Hugh Laurie aka #HughLaurieBlues !

Later on that night, I sat in the marvellous theatre, all excited. The crowd was on older side (think three times the average age of the average #DrupalConNA attendee. *G*).
The theatre is a really nice old building and the right location for concerts “like this“.

Inside the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas

Inside the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas

Enter the band (The copper bottom band, solid background band indeed, they even have an international fan club on Facebook. Modern times, uh) and the man himself.
The gig was less blues than I expected, but much more soul, jazz standards, New Orleans style second line blues. How many Dr. John tunes did they play? I can’t remember, let’s just say #HughLaurieBlues worshipped Dr. John. And made some fun comments in the breaks (we’ll have to discuss the lame joke about Switzerland tough… maybe with some “English apple juice” in hand).
To cut the story short: the concert was the highlight of my trip. All unexpected, but the more fantastic.
The man summed it up in one sentence: …. and then Dr. John said to me “You are a bad motherfucker“.

I have nothing to add to that. I was just plain happy, perfect evening.

You might wonder about the “weird” thing in the title. Early in the concert Hugh asked the crowd how he should address them. After some discussion everybody agreed that he should call us “weird”. And so he did, grinning, for the rest of the gig.

Thats’s all for now for Austin. I liked it (a lot). It won’t take too much to persuade me to come back. Justsayin….

Austin, weird. Part 3

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

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.

We kept Austin weird, Part 2

(Part 2 of my personal, non-techie report from my trip to #DrupalconNA in Austin, Texas)

My last post ended noticing that Austin calls itself the live music capitol of the world – well, so be it. Once you get there you realize that the Austinites (…) are very keen to “keep Austin weird“.
We did our fair share of helping them. We, as in the attendees of #DrupalconNa in general (all I say write is “men in spandex” – you might want to have a look here – hilarious conference pre-keynote by the usual suspects from the Drupal community). Or we, as the Amazee folks, we did a bit of unusual “things”, like a US-born guy, now living in Germany playing alphorn in our booth. And he played it well indeed
(if you watch the two videos closely you’ll notice that he’s part of the fun on both occasions, that’s how jam is. Nothing to add to that). Alphorn definition.

‘Nough said written about the conference now, let’s move on my trip.
Flying over and back was super easy, mainly because I flew BA via Heathrow (ZRH – LDN, LDN – AUS) and the used a quite new Boing 787 which was quite new. “Quite new” meaning you get your personal video screen, power and USB plugs for your toys and enough leg rest even in coach class (for a shorty like me). On one way I treated myself with an upgrade to premium eco (pardon me, it’s “Premium World Traveller” at BA), which added a bit more leg rest space and business class food. The upgrade is very well worth its price. I am very much looking forward to the time where my favourite airline upgrades their fleet with newer models and also introduces some form of premium coach class.
The other neat thing is that BA has a direct flight out of Heathrow to Austin – apparently they only started that a couple of weeks ago. The Austinites are extremely proud of having an “international airport” now (this one flight makes it international). Immigration was extremely fast, luggage arrived in a breeze – just the way it should be.

That much for the conference and travelling. More on Austin, accommodation, food and even more weirdness in the next post.

So, Austin. Austin? Hell yeah, Austin!

Until not too long ago I thought of this when I heard about “Austin”:

Austin Healey 3000

Austin Healey 3000

But that changed lately, now I know that Austin is the capital of Texas, has a population of roughly 850’000 people. And finally that the city is not only hosting SXSW in spring, but that it is also the location of this year’s north American Drupal Conference (#DrupalconNA for the insiders…) which starts on June 2, 2014.
DrupalconNA - Going Badge

Since I became part of the Drupal tribe not too long ago I’ll attend the conference and will fly into town tomorrow. Early start, long trip.

I’ll do a mix of hotels and AirBnB and will keep you informed about what I find interesting. No worries though, I won’t bother you with techie stuff *G*. I’ll leave that to my more tech savvy friends at Amazee Labs.

Here’s a first little something to get you in an Austin kind of mood:

Austin calls itself “Live Music Capital of the World®” (notice the Registered Trademark sign) – they’re really serious about that.