Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Very Happy New Year, Bye Bye 2008

First of all, A Very Happy New Year to You. Thanks for visiting my site. I wish this New Year will bring you new opportunities and pleasure in life.

Everyone will have some plan to celebrate this occasion, either by going out, partying, or sitting quite with family or alone. There will surely be few who will just sleep, but let’s count them out when we are in jolly mood of enjoying every moment of reducing minutes and seconds of this year (see below - I have rest the counter for 2010, so keep coming back whenever you want to check time left:)) -

I hope you have plan to run for New Year Party, have a wonderful time with your family and friends together, joining you in this party.

Forget that you are aging to be old, instead look forward toward another year when you can achieve a lot more in your life. Dance , to this thought as it is just the start of your good time and you have everything to control it.

In last, have a blast, drink to your another wonderful year. Look to sky for your limit and may your success glow like fireworks and bring light for you and your loved ones.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fantastic illusions on the web..

I cam across few beautiful and fantastic illusions... see these just give smile to my face.

Don't try many at a single time as it might make you dizzy.

1. Spansih Castle - it is a black & white picture but you could see sky in its natural color...

I will add more as I keep finding..

If you have found another, do leave a comment to let me know.. I would put good ones inside the post itself with your name.

My Cape town Planning

Planning a trip is not an easy task. Though many people enjoy the spontaneity of these trips, it sometimes turns into a spoiler if things keep going wrong one after other. It is very important that you have some sort of idea about where you are going, what all places you want to cover, where you are going to stay and approximate time you have in hand for these.

I had taken the responsibility of planning whole trip and though it was taking out much of random nature of our trip, it ended well with good satisfaction to each one that everyone enjoyed it without stressing ourselves or missing anything major. Below details will tell you how I went on to plan this trip and what all information I collected. You can also take this as a base plan and modify it as per your convenience. I don’t take any credit for maps, or pictures given in this plan as most of time I have taken it from other website while planning and I am sorry that I don’t have any reference to those website now while writing this post. Please let me know if anyone has any objection on using any picture in this post and if a valid point is raised, I would change/remove that particular item.

My planning to Cape Town was in same line as mentioned above. Our group was focused on 3 things –
1. Bungee jumping is a must, so we need to go to Knysna for it.
2. We need to cover major attractions of Cape Town.
3. We don’t want it to be hectic so it should be enough free time in evening for rest.

So I started with our route plan. It was only bungee jumping first and accommodation in Cape Town was confirmed for all 4days, so I skipped Knysna initially. Thanks to Anand that he booked a place for one night in Knysna, which gave us chance to cover it. Now our plan was to go to Knysna and halt there for one night. Start early morning and reach Cape Town around check-in time (10:00 AM). Route maps are easily available in Google Maps or other websites for this, so I am not giving any reference for it. From Knysna, it was Garden route which was important and so we made sure that while going to Cape Town, we would take this route. While returning, as we would have covered all of points, we were planned to take N1 which is fastest route back to Jo’berg.

Bungee Jumping: Now with main travel plan done, I was focused on every day planning within city. For first day, it was Knysna. On searching I found that it is beaches we could cover and Bungee jumping was main point to go. We had one pamphlet for it and also they have website ( where one could get exact location and other details. This place has been recognised as world’s highest commercial bungee jump (216 m) so it is natural to get inspired and take a shot on this jump. Place gets crowded so give at least 2-3 hours to complete it and in holiday seasons, you might want to book in advance if you don’t want to waste the day. It costs 620 R for one person to do bungee jump. It is perfectly safe and they don’t have any accident history so it gives them a very good record to conduct it.

Beaches are quite easy to reach. Brenton beach is good for walk and surfing. You can even go inside just for fun as well. Same is Buffalo beach. There are some other beaches which are rocky (no or less sand) in nature and if you have kids, you could skip those as you need to descend down on high rocks to go to water level. But once you are down, you can sit and relax in peace as long as you want.
Cape Town: One needs to start at least by 5:00 AM to reach at a good time in Cape Town and not waste the day. It gives you ample time to stop and absorb the beauty of Garden route also. There is no rest place, but you can stop your car at a good place on side and finish your breakfast, if you have arrangement. It is quite nice to eat while watching the view. In Cape Town you can check-in and get fresh. By 12:00 PM you would be ready to start your plan to cover points.

Table Mountain: I would suggest keeping Table Mountain first on list. It is afternoon and you don’t know if weather will be suitable for it or not next day. So if it is a sunny day, go straight for Table Mountain. Give at least 4 hours to cover it and if you are not tired, take longest route in Table Mountain and spend the whole rest of day on top. You will get a good experience of hiking and trekking. On coming back, you can sit in Waterfront and relax while taking your dinner. If you are planning to do some speed boating or sailing, you can book it in Waterfront. These are available on time also if it is not holiday season. Take cable car for going up and it can be quite time consuming and hectic to go on walk all the way up.
First Car up – 08h00
Last Car up – 18h00
Last Car down – 19h00
The Cable car departs every 10-15 min and can carry 65 persons at one time.

Robben Island: Next priority should be for Robben Island. It should be booked in advance as it gets a long queue if you want to do it right there and may be you will not get it as there are limited trips available per day. It takes about 4 hour for this also to go and come back while you can spend more also as there is no restriction on which cruise you will take to return, as long as you are able to catch last one. Book a trip of around 2:00 PM while taking almost the last cruise to return. It might give you chance to see sunset while you are in sea which is a spectacular view. Ticket counter and boarding happens from building behind clock Tower in Waterfront.
Waterfront Roads

StellenBosch: As it would be in afternoon, you can either go to beaches for spending morning time, or like us, go to wine land StellenBosch. There are many wine yard available who let you visit wine farms and facility where they make wines. Spier is famous for its wine and they have Cheetah and Eagle breeding place as well. But they don’t conduct wine yard tour so it is not the place for it. You can cover Spier for food, wine tasting and encounter with Cheetah and Eagle. Then go to another wine yard to get a tour. Asara conduct tour but if booked in advance. Reach there early morning so that you get back to Waterfront in time to catch your cruise. It takes about 1.5 hour to comeback if traffic is light.
Wine Yards in Stellenbosch

Above two items will cover our whole day and you can go and sit in some club to spend night. If you have time left in afternoon, there are many malls available near waterfront and you can cover those.

Penguin Encounter: On 3rd day you can make a trip from far side of Cape Town, covering Boulder’s beach first. You will get to see Penguins on a point before this beach. As you are near to Boulder’s beach, keep looking for Penguin sign board and it will take you to right place. Try to go early morning as it would be quite and you could go down the boundary to reach near Penguins. If it is crowded, it is actually not allowed to cross that boundary.
If you like, spend time on beach or else after sometime, proceed for Cape Point. You will get other beaches later where you can relax.

Cape Point: Cape point is spread in a big area and if you want to cover many of those, you will need at least 4-5 hours for it. Cover few points where you can see Whale and proceed directly for Cape of Good Hope. Take train to go up, it is thrilling to see how it climbs so steep ramp. Wind is strong on top so keep some jacket and make firm steps while climbing stairs. Later you can go to Cape Point where you can do hiking on nearby rocky mountain. Waves are strong here and it makes a nice snap when taking photos with water splashing behind you.

Chapman’s Peak Drive: Go to Waterfront side of Cape Town through Chapman’s peak drive. It is a scenic drive with few view points. You will love driving on this road. It also cut down on your time as it would take about 2 hours if you are not taking this route. Keep 1 hour for this drive as you want to enjoy it and not just cover it.

Hout Bay/Clifton beach: You can spend your time on these beaches whichever you like. If you have started early, you will reach here much in time to take bath and enjoy sea waves along with babes. You can park on side of road and capture an area on beach to spend time.

Tow Oceans Aquarium: I personally didn’t cover it as it was told not much different than in other places. If you have not gone in any big aquarium, this is a nice place to visit. You will get a good experience of walking inside sea while watching difference fishes.

Direction for Two Ocean Aquarium

This would cover our 3rd day. On 4th day, you can relax on beach or cover any other place which you like to visit again.

Please let me know if this plan was useful for you or you have any suggestions to make it more time efficient and better coverage.
You can read about my Trip to Cape Town here, day wise -
Day1 - Starting to Cape Town
Day2 - Jumping Down the Bridge
Day3 - Table Mountain in Cape Town
Day4 - Robben Island and Wine Yards
Day5 - Penguin Encounter

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

CT Trip Day 5 - Penguin Encounter and Back to Jo'berg

After this, I will publish a post on how we planned this trip and informatino we collected. I hope that would be useful to other traveller and they won't need to face a lot of trouble for their planning.

The last day of Cape Town trip was not that much happening as it was cloudy from morning and it kept raining almost till afternoon. Anyway we had left beaches, Cape Point for this day and had to give it a shot to cover it even if it rains. We started on drizzling rain while going from mid city and covering other side of Cape Town. Once we were on the road along the sea, it made the whole scene exciting. A rail road was paved in between road and sea and it was surprising that how could a train run on it if sea level rises. Anyway it was interesting to see and imaging how it could feel travelling on a train when it is running on that rail.

Our first stoppage was Penguin point. It is actually builders’ beach but you could occasionally see penguins roaming around.We were lucky that in this weather not much of crowd was there and so Penguins were playing freely without any worry. We gave them some. Sorry for it, but we just couldn’t control our excitement and while trying to take some snaps with them, we drove few of them away. Once we realized we made a distance and enjoyed watching them from distance. Not sure if they were angry or habitual of human sight, but none of them showed any interest in us. And I was thinking that ‘Happy Feet’ could be visualized in real life as well.:(

Once we were able to absorb that we have really seen some penguins out of zoo in real environment and it is not a film, we turned to reach Cape Point. We paid entrance fee and started struggling to find right way to reach a good view point. First point was Whale watching point where we were hoping and may be any whale could pop up if we were lucky. We could cover Whale watching point, it started raining. We then skipped rest of wandering and headed straight for highest point, Cape of Good Hope. By the time we reached there, it was raining heavily. We could not even go outside the car to enter the building where we can catch train to go up. After sometime when it slowed, I was the first to run inside building. It was also for purpose that I need to buy tickets for all of us. Train rail was very steep and we thanked ourselves to take a decision for going by train. Not sure if anyone could try climbing that much steep ramp in this rainy season. But hey what a scene, someone was taking a suv up that climb. It was looking so risky…

We boarded the train and captured on whole side of train to our group. It was giving a good view while going up, almost like the Cable Car we took in Table Mountain. We reached up and it was very windy in there. Bhushan tried to take photograph with few of us on the side wall of stairs, but wind force was so strong that we could not stay on that wall. It was safer to be on stairs. We reached on top of light house from where we could see sea till the end of earthJ. There was one pole with different flags indicating direction and distance to few of world’s famous places. Almost everyone was taking photo while pointing a related or familiar place. We also took our turn and most of us pointed for Delhi flag. I am sure nobody has an actual idea if that flag was pointing toward right direction or not, but who was thinking about that then..

Due to clouds we could not see much far and tried hard looking for a place where we can differentiate between Indian and Atlantic Ocean water. It was recently I came to know that it was not the actual point where these two Oceans meet. That much to the rumour spread in this world.

We returned just to find out that power has gone and so train won’t go back down. Everyone was waiting for power to be up so that they can go down. Ultimately, staff arranged a car to take people down in multiple turns. Now we were just remembering the scene we saw while we were boarding the train. Are we going on that slippery path in a car? no way, but then what else… ok. We prayed and sat inside car. I should say that lady who was driving that car was very expert. She smoothly brought us down and we were safely back in no time. We celebrated our return with chips and coffee.

We covered one more point which was told to be a dangerous place for ships. It is a place where ships need to turn around big rocks to go on shores across that point. Many ships crashed during turn while hitting hidden rocks under water. Waves were quite high and forceful here. We had a good time clicking photos while sitting on rocks with waves splashing behind us.

This was the last proper activity of that day as it started raining, though slowly, again. We came out of cape point area with everyone hungry as it is already afternoon. We stopped at one McDonald joint and took burgers. Unfortunately the famous drive was closed due to landslide and so we took diversion to cross the way and reach back to waterfront. We were thinking that we would be able to catch some good sights on beaches though it was cloudy and not much hope was there. It happened so and only few playful surfers were having fun in sea. We came back to our place and started our plan for going back to Johannesburg. There was no point in staying whole night. If we leave early, we can take rest at back home with enough time to relax for next day office.

Few of us wanted to stay one more day so that if lucky they can see some babes on beaches. But when we checked weather it was a storm prediction with almost no chance for sun on next day. So it was decided that we would go back.

On our return journey, as soon as we were out of Cape Town, it started raining heavily. Anand, as usual, was on driving seat with me on navigation and rest all on back seats, sleepingJ. It was quite difficult to drive in that heavy rain with very less visibility. Trucks were also on highway which was making it more difficult as their tires splash a lot of water making road almost hidden. Anand took us on a adventurous ride, though only I was awake to witness it and we managed an average of 140 Km/hour in that situation. It was dangerous but thrilling. I won’t advise anyone to attempt it and would be sorry if anyone gets inspired by reading my story. Anand was a very experienced driver with full knowledge of what he was doing and so we could manage it. Nobody should try it just for having fun when don’t have a good idea of what he is doing.

We were back by afternoon with our fast friend Sudhish at our complex Chianti, arranging food for us. We are very thankful to him as it gave us a good chance to relax for more time and less hassle. We missed him in Cape Town as he had already visited it, but now he was giving company to us in ending our trip, though not a perfect one but quite successful. This is one of journey which I will never forget in my life.

Please give your comments on how you like my journey. Also share your experience if you visited Cape Town and it happened with you. I would like to know your story as well.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CT Trip Day4 - Robben Island & wine Yard

In our Cape Town trip I have covered our journey to Knysna on day 1 (actually, it was a night jounrey) and Bungee jumping on Day 2 while we got a chance to see Table mountain on Day 3. We had a booking for Robben Island on Day4 at afternoon while before noon we could either take a choice to see beaches or wine yard. Both were in opposite direction and with a constraint to return to Waterfront, to catch ferry, it was one of beach or wine yard we could take. Weather was cold and no-one was showing enough dare to jump in sea under this cold climate, so it was decided to get some warmth by drinking wine.. Yes, we were going to see some wine yard.

Most of wine yard are located in Stellenbosch which is about 50 KM from Cape Town. Anand took the driving seat and after about 40 min we were near this city. We had heard about Spier that it is a good place to visit for tasting wine and wine yard. We were disappointed once we reached there that Spier doesn't do trips to wine yard. But they have some good wines to taste and few cafe of different culture to taste different types of food. Also, they have a tiger and eagle breeding place where one could watch and play with them, obvisouly for a charge. We were not so brave to play with tigers while it was their feeding time, so we spent some time watching them eat and then went to watch Eagles. For a charge of R40 one could watch them and have a chance to hold one on his hand. It was quite a exciting experience as Eagle is a strong bird and, if aggerssive, could be very dangerous. There was one instructor, who let us hold one friendly bird. I was almost laughing with joy and excitement that bird was actually interesting in humans and she herself was interested in coming to one's hand and look at face to, may be, recognising something. Initially we tried it with gloves but later few of us even tried bare hand to hold her. It was fun.

We did some wine tasting. Now don't get any ideas that we were actually trying to do it like professionals. We were even lower than novice in this field with few of us tasting it first time in life, so lets keep it like we were just tasting it for getting a bit high or in hope that we could actually sense difference in two wines. In last, for us everything was same except a little bit of dryness or smoothness. Once finished tasting, we were on road ahead as we had still not seen any wineyard. With a bad luck we could not find any which could offer a quick trip (we needed to go back to Waterfront in time, so) but with a better luck we came across a Distelery and person there was very kind to show us the whole processing and explain it with good detail. We also got chance to taste a, I don't remember it was a 70 or 80% pure alcohol, filtered alcohol.

With this luck we thanked the person for his time (we are really thankful to him) and started for our back journey to Cape Town. Everybody was hungry and knowing that we will return in evening with very less chance that we will get anything on Robben Island, we went for our individual choice of food. Anand proposed an extra bucket of KFC spicy chiecken wings which many of us agreed. But what is this? once everybody has eaten, nobody was ready to eat extra chicken wings. Anand literally pushed few of us (me included) to finish 16 pieces of chicken wings after having a heafty meal. But thanks to Anand, we liked it and sorry others who missed it that it was very tasty.

We collected our ticket for ferry trip and went to stand in queue. We were much ahead in line and had decided to take roof as it would give a better view with a lot of sea air. It was a bright day and we started to think once we were on top that was our decision good to come on roof. But once it started the thought was away as cold sea air was actually forcing some of people to grab their jacket and put it on. Photo session started for us to take snaps in different angle (isn't it a boon from technology that now one don't think about running our of reel and take limited snaps:)).

We reached Island in around 45 min. The bus which was supposed to take us to first spot was not available and so we walked to get in there. It was the enterance and main office for jail for which this Island was being used in Africa. Main office means some of their tourchur rooms as well. We also saw cells where many of them were forced to live with only two thin blankets while temperature could go beow zero in times. Cells where many others were put in to live in abondance, away from others as a punishment. It was sad but fact of history.

Later we got a tour by bus for whole Island to show officer quaters, church and other buildings.
We returned to catch back ferry and again we were on roof with a hope that we might catch a sunset from mid sea. But ferry was fast and we reached waterfront back just when Sun set and we missed it behind heights of ships on dock. While on ferry we had fun trying to take snaps and you could see that few others (and beautiful one) joined us in our fun.

When back at waterfron, our schedule went back to same going back to room, order pizza, eat it while drinking and sleep to get up on next day. you can say that our evenings were boring and we could have done a lot in Cape Town but I think we were able to do a lot in day time that we didn't wanted to spoil it with another tiring dance or roaming in night. Also we need to get up early next day so that we don't miss any place which could be of importance. You will see that on our last day of trip our decision was not wrong and we did happen to get few exciting events even when it was raining most of the day.

Note: I request you to please comment on how you liked it and let me know what could have been improved.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

CT Trip Day3 - Table Mountain in Cape Town

5:00 AM - Beep, Beep. Beep, Beep... It was my alarm clock on morning of day 3 of our cape town trip. Read my first post and second post for previous day journey.

I got up from my double story bed and opened door to get ready. I was sleeping in an outside corner room of house and door opens directly on a field. It was very refreshing to breath in clean, cold, moist air in that open field. Anyway we didn’t have much time so I freshened up and start calling names for people to get up. Anand was determined to take wheels again and so he was the last one to get up from bed. We left Knysna around 5:00 AM and soon we were on road to George on same way back through which we came in. We thought of stopping at Dolphin point, on the way, but it was still not full light and no one was expecting any dolphin to pop-up in this cold and rainy weather.

We took Garden route from George to Cape Town. As expected, Anand was in his formula one driver suite on highway. On a down ramp seeing that there, possibly, should not be any camera, everyone shouted on Anand to cross 150. Before our shout could go down, their attention went on speedometer which was already above 150. He even touched about 180 but our cameraman was a bit slow in running car with a touch of fear in his mind and he could capture only a 170 snap (I am in no sense trying to advocate a high speed here. It is a very risky attempt we took which could be dangerous not only to vehicle over speeding but to others as well).
As sun came up, we were on a road stretch with large mustard fields, plant blooming with bright yellow flowers. It was looking like someone has placed a green and yellow bed sheet with dark brown dots at road side. We all went out and took some snaps to record this memory. We even took one Haldiram’s bhel packet out and made one special Indian dish bhel. It was a fantastic way of eating one Indian dish beside a field full of plants. It was an amazing feeling.

Rest of way was also nice with a lot of good scenes but we didn’t take another stop to save time. We didn’t want to leave our chance of seeing Table Mountain on luck. It was a bright sunny day and we were determined to use it for covering Table Mountain. We only stopped at one petrol pump when we were near Cape Town to fill tank. It also turned out to be good for us as we saw biggest chicken of our life in there. There were goats, lambs and pigeon we well but this chicken was taking all attraction from crowd. After this chicken encounter our destination was direct Cape Town and we made our entry in Waterfront as our stay was addressed near it. Now you need to follow up closely as most of us had a bigger adventure than Bungee jumping in reaching to the room for our stay in Cape Town.

We had paper map and map software on laptop to plan our drive through Cape Town. For this location as well we had a rough map sent by owner to help us. Somehow we could not relate given direction to any of our maps and could not take a direction except roaming in Waterfront area. We stopped at a petrol pump and asked on of taxi driver to help us find it. He was also not sure if he has heard about those streets we have in map. After trying many other people, we even tried traffic police which happened to be there on petrol pump, but in vain. Now what!…we called the owner to pick us up from that petrol pump while we wait there. After 30 min passed and we could not meet, Rajesh went on phone with her (owner was a lady) to give our location. He told her that we have a McDonald in front and a Holiday Inn hotel beside that Calson petrol pump. As per her she was there but could not see us.
What is going on???? Nikhil took phone and talked to her.
Ok! I am seeing McDonald in my front.
Yes! It is there.
On my back I have Ship.
Ship? …????
Ya! Two Ship.
Ship?...???? Where are you? There are no Ship in here.
We are in Cape Town.
And I am in Bloemfountein.

Talk went on for a while on why this confusion happened but it was not the time to go long on it. It was decided that we would talk later and first try some quick stay arrangement for living in Cape Town. Many of us called their friends and tried to take any contact which can help us. Luckily we got a contact in next 10 min and accommodation was available for 8 of us.
Thank God! Once we were relaxed that we have a place for us, everyone laughed full heartedly on this incident. All of who had done bungee jumping agreed that they had there heart beats going up more than they felt in jump from the bridge.

In last and short, we got a good place, settled, freshen up there. Had a quick snack and up, we were ready for Table mountain. New owner was kind enough t o give us directions for Table Mountain and what else we could do after that.

Table Mountain was as big and overwhelming as we expected. We got our tickets and soon were in line for Cable way to reach on top. It was a superb experience seeing Cable Car going up and coming down. We were excited to feel what it would be like from inside Cable Car. It was not disappointing and we almost felt running like a child once it started moving. A good thinking was applied to Cable Car to rotate it while it was moving so that everyone will get to see each side. I especially found, sight of either start point or end point of cable car mesmerizing. I was just not able to take my eye off once I focused on either one. See below pics and let me know if you also feel so...

Once on top, Mountain was what you can call is magnificent. A huge stretch with a great height; it was a lifetime experience to be on it. Before one could start running on there to cover whole mountain, a good detail was given about history of Mountain and even routes were craved on a model to guide travellers for their planning. We spent more than 30 min, just to cover 3-4 points from where we could see look at Cape Town below. It was like seeing it in Google Earth. A lot of photo session took place and at one time our group was even trying 3 cameras to take snap of one point from different angles. Mountain height was driving us crazy.

Really, it was a view just to sit and absorb. Alas! Being on a trip we didn’t have luxury of spending days on it so we had to kept moving so that we could cover most of it. We walked major route on it while left a harder one as everyone was not ready to do some hiking and rock climbing to reach another corner of Mountain. While in our route, we tried many angels to capture our memory in camera with many weird positions. I am sure we made few other people happy by letting them watch our attempt to take a snap while person would climb on a corner of stair wall and stretch his hands like he is flying. You can see that Rajesh tried a place to stand for his photo which was the edge of mountain and next to this edge was a fall, bottom of which could not be captured due to its depth. Were we crazy or were we crazy? :):)
We took our time to relax on our way back spending few minutes to enjoy time to time cold breeze and watching other people having fun. Near canteen there were some statues which few of us captured along with us to keep a memory of that place. We took beer and cold drinks while sitting and sharing our feelings about mountain and how lucky we were to cover it on first day. While talking, laughing and enjoying our drinks, we ended our trip (only for Table Mountain, not to Cape Town, that is still to go 2 more days) and cheered our visit to Grand Table Mountain.

It was already evening and everyone was tired from morning adventure and long walks on Table Mountain. We went to Waterfront and just roamed around to look for various activities available in there. We also visited one mall just to see the crowd. We did some shopping and called it a day to enjoy a good night at our stay place. We called for pizza delivery and had some drinks along with it while talked about what all has happened and what is the next day plan. Once quite full everybody said good night and slept on their beds.

Our next day plan was a bit hasy as were sure about one part (Robben Island) while what we will do before that was in undecided state. See my next post for where we went and how did we like the Island.
Note: Did you like it? Please leave your comments to let me know.