Fortunately, we got to sleep in, as we were going somewhere local today. As it was our last breakfast, we decided to finally have some of the "free" champagne that was available with the breakfast. Justin also ordered the waffle with cinnamon sugar and vanilla ice cream. We headed out at 9am to Kirstenbosch, a world famous botanic garden on the "backside" of Table Mountain . It is best known for its protea garden, which is what Justin wanted to see.
Before we left the US , he contacted some of the authors of his protea books, who happened to work at Kirstenbosch, to see if they had time to chat when we arrived. They responded, and in fact set up a private tour with the lady who was in charge of maintaining the protea garden at Kirstenbosch, Monique. When we arrived, we had the information desk contact Monique, and we walked up the hill to the garden house. Kirstenbosch is set on a hillside, with the entrance at the bottom of the hill, and the garden house is near the top, so we had to walk off our 4 course meal from the night before.
At the top, Monique was waiting, and wondering why we had walked instead of having a cart bring us up – we were wondering the same thing. She showed us around the protea garden, which was set in an amazing location, with the mountains as a backdrop and the city bowl is the distance.
Justin asked a number of questions on soil preparation, watering schedules, fertilizer, and other tips for cultivating proteas. He found out that several of the things he had read in books and heard in California were not accurate, at least as far as Kirstenbosch was concerned. He may end up re-doing our protea bed at the house, as the weed fabric and lava rocks may be counter-productive to growth. He was relieved to see, however, that the garden seemed to kill as many proteas as he did – they just planted 3x as many so no one noticed when plants died. Some of the highlights included:
After showing us around the protea garden, Monique took us into the growing area – usually off limits – and showed how they cultivated new plants from either cuttings or seeds, and how they grew them from babies. When she finished showing us around, she went back to work and we went back to garden viewing. Justin wanted to go back to the protea garden, because he actually did not get much of a chance to take photos when Monique was showing us around. We looked around there, then headed back towards the entrance for lunch, but not before passing by an absolutely massive Ficus craterostoma.
For lunch, we went to eat Cape Malay food at Biesmillah. We really liked Malaysian food when we were in Malaysia in 2005, so we were looking forward to seeing the Dutch twist on this. Biesmillah was in the Bo Kaap region of Cape Town , with all of the brightly colored housing. We had samoosas, spring rolls, potato balls were the appetizers. For the main course, we shared Tomato Breedie, Butter Chicken, Chicken Kalya, and some dish we can't remember that started with a V. Again, we were the only people in the restaurant, but that perhaps could have been due to the hour, plus the fact it was Ramadan and we were eating lunch.
We headed back to Kirstenbosch after lunch. We went first to the Arboretum, with Justin in search of Schotia Brachypetala. We found one, but it was not quite in bloom. Then we went to the cycad garden, which must be worth a fortune given what those cycads cost for small plants in the US . We walked around a bit more, then went back to the protea garden one more time. Some of the afternoon highlights included:
Finally, we hit the bookstore, and Justin bought two books – one on growing fynbos and one on growing proteas specifically. We headed back to the hotel, and again got cleaned up for dinner. This time, we needed no car, as we were going to Baia at the V&A waterfront, within walking distance. We made a pit stop at the Nike store, since Crystal had packed one shirt too few for the trip, but it was way too expensive. She ended up purchasing a shirt at one of the kiosks in the mall so she'd have something clean for the next day. We got to Baia early, and went to the bar. Crystal got a Vanilla Citrus martini, which tasted like an orange creamsicle. Dinner was ginormous – the shellfish platter was about three feet wide. None of had our cameras, so Crystal used her camera phone to take a picture. After dinner, we went home and packed, which was tough because we were tired, but we needed to because we were waking up early and had a long day ahead of us.