Friday, November 6, 2015

November 6, 2015 - The Great Cape (Town) Escape Part 5

Days 8 and 9!

When we said goodbye to Old MacDaddy's, we headed a bit closer back towards Cape Town so that our commute to the airport at 4:00 am on Saturday wouldn't be quite as brutal (but I mean, come on...who were we kidding?!).  While I knew that spending days doing wine tastings throughout the well-known Western Cape wine region was not going to happen with our three kids in tow, I did want at least ONE wine tasting experience.  I have loved many wine tastings in the past.  But we needed something family friendly!  So we visited the Spier Wine Farm for our last two nights of vacation. I could tell from reading a lot online that they had a great formula for us:  large family rooms, pool(s), kids club play room with babysitter, outdoor playground and picnic area, big bouncy castle, and a rescue place for "birds of prey" like owls and eagles who have been "human imprinted" or rescued from illegal trafficking.  In addition, you could go for a wine tasting and they would give the kids a grape juice tasting at the same time.  BRILLIANT!  So that is how I wanted to end our trip. 

Reality was pretty closely matched with the vision I found on the Internet.  First we got settled into our spacious room and headed to one of the restaurants which had a shop for buying picnic food.  You could even rent a picnic blanket!  So we did just that and settled on the beautiful lawn by the pond and the playground for a picnic.  Aya slept through it but Grace and Noah got their first taste of a proper garden picnic.  They didn't love it as much as I wanted them to, but they also were just pretty eager to get to the owls! 
And then came the birds.  The kids really liked seeing all of the birds and figuring out what was wrong with them (some birds were being trained to be released and survive back in the wild; some were too disabled to ever leave the sanctuary).  They also liked finding tortoises, goats, pigs, rabbits, and emu at this place too.  Real animal lovers we have!  And we found out that Noah gets really sad when he sees animals in cages. He wants them to be free!

The coolest part was definitely petting some owls.  We also saw one of the professionals there feed some handicapped Secretary Birds (fascinating but they were too fast so I didn't get still pictures).  And we saw her also "training" or "flying" some of the birds.

Aya could say: "anana owl" or "anana bird".
Everywhere we went in Cape Town: playgrounds!  Totally crazy ones too!

The bird show was great because the kids got to hold or feed some birds.  
This first owl was particularly friendly and active.

I thought she was going to lead him to my hand, but the trainer put some food on my head and this guy sat on me for a few minutes.  Much to my surprise - he had pretty sharp talons!

Grace was super brave - she had to stand with food on her hand, and then the bird (sheesh, sorry, I already can't remember which kind of bird it was) would fly to her, scoop up the food quickly, and then fly off.  But this guy liked Grace so much that instead of flying off, he just kind of stayed on her arm a bit longer.  She LOVED it :)
That night we booked a hotel babysitter to come stay with the kids so we could get dressed up to go out to dinner at the hotel.  I wanted a nice picture of us dressed up...but this is what we got from our two kid photographers.
Photo credit: Grace

Photo credit: Noah

The next day, our last day, I was determined to get my wine tasting in.  But first, something for the kids.  About 20 minutes from the hotel was a place called "Monkeytown" with over 230 monkeys and some other animals (birds, ducks, black swans, emu, etc) as well.  The premise is that the people are walking through a maze that is a big cage, and the monkeys are outside (really just in a bigger cage) in wide open spaces. So we woke up to a big amazing hotel breakfast buffet (heaven!) and then went to see the monkeys.  

It was an interesting place - a bit run down, nothing fancy.  But there were tons of monkeys in there!  And most of us enjoyed walking through and seeing all of them (note that Noah still wanted all the monkeys to be freed) - the 3 chimpanzee sisters were especially interesting!  But the best part was definitely when we could go into a "human interaction zone" where there were a few tame, people-loving monkeys that we could feed and have climb all over us.  Aya would have loved it but she was napping in the stroller, so the four of us had 20 minutes together to play with these soft, cute little guys.  Those 20 minutes were worth the whole trip!
(love how you can see that the monkey jumped from Noah on to Grace!)

Kristoffer particularly liked this guy...

After the monkeys, we went back for more picnic lunch food but this time in the little garden behind our own hotel room - where the kids could play and I was blowing bubbles with Aya and Kristoffer took a wee nap.  Then the big kids were ready to try out the Kids Club!  Amen to that!  Because there were no other kids there at the time, the babysitter was happy to have Aya with her as well - promising to call us if we should come back to get her.  Aya was thrilled to say, "Bye bye Mama, Bye bye Far." Woo hoo!  Because then we could go off to do our wine tasting at hotel without kids - no grape juice needed!  

And what a wine tasting it was!  We chose to do the "chocolate tasting" which included three chocolates paired with two wines each.  The chocolatiers created each chocolate specifically to go with the wines - and each wine brought out something different in the chocolate.  It was Kristoffer's first wine tasting - and we loved every second of it!  

Once I got my wine tasting in - magical as it was! - I felt we were ready to pack up and go home. Vacation is fun, but also exhausting!  But first, Kristoffer and the kids had afternoon swim in a freezing cold pool!

The big kids were invited for dinner and a movie at the Kids Club, so they got all cleaned up and we dropped them off, taking Aya with us to our early dinner.  The 4 am departure for the airport would come very soon.  So the last picture of our vacation is: rub-a-dub, three men in a tub!

Oh my, the trip home went mostly well but...was also stressful! Our first flight to Johannesburg was late which meant that we could miss our connecting flight to Dar.  There were many people in the same situation - and we ALLLLLLL had to run for it to catch that plane.  Jo'burg is not the easiest or most intuitive airport to navigate, plus we had to go through passport control and security again.  Big kids slept on the first flight, but not Aya.  She fell asleep when I was carrying her as we ran through the airport and slept for most of the second flight.  We all made it to Dar, just not our luggage, which arrived later in the evening (all of it, at least!).  

I have one more Cape Town blog coming tomorrow - a final wrap up and reflection!  It's nice to be blogging again, so I'll try to keep at it a bit longer.

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