Two Oceans named one of the world’s best aquariums

TripAdvisor has named the Two Oceans Aquarium (Cape Town, South Africa) as the 10th best in the world and with more than 3000 marine animals to view, this is not a surprise at all!!!

The popular travel review site awarded the aquarium this honour on the list as part of the 2014 Travelers’ Choice Zoo and Aquarium Awards, which is based on the reviews and opinions of millions around the world. To top it all… they are the only aquarium in the southern hemisphere to have made it on this list!

Comments from travelers include: “Best aquarium I have ever been to” and “I really liked the variety of animals here. You see animals that you do not normally see. The animals are also quite large. It is very affordable”.

Some MUST DO’s at the Two Oceans Aquarium includes: diving with the sharks, feeding of African penguins, watching the antics of Yoshi, the loggerhead turtle, feeding of ragged-tooth sharks on Sunday afternoons and experiencing the interactive ‘Nemo’ exhibit.

First place in the Travellers’ Choice Awards went to Monterey Bay Aquarium in California, USA. Other aquariums in the top 10 include Oceanario de Lisboa (Portugal), Georgia Aquarium (USA), Tennessee Aquarium (USA), Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (USA), Aquaworld Aquarium (Greece), Dallas World Aquarium (USA), Vancouver Aquarium (Canada) and Mundomar (Spain)

Head to the Two Oceans Aquarium website for more details.

 

Flying Around

Apparently I enjoy being in the sky…this started with my first visit to my grandparents in Cape Town (lived in George) with South African Airways. It was a short effective flight and one amazing experience for a 14 year old boy. My next flight was when I was a manager at a guest house in Port Elizabeth with two Canadian clients – this was in a helicopter ride over the coast.

After that I took a few more domestic flights, mainly to visit family in the “many” holidays I got in those days.

With PG Tops I managed to do 5 flights…

My 1st flight was from Johannesburg to Cape Town after our excursion to Kruger National Park and watching the Boks play at Ellis Park and Bafana Bafana in Mbombela

The 2nd trip was a helicopter flight with my colleagues in Cape Town with Cape Town Helicopters. Here I got my first “bird’s eye view” of Cape Town which was great!

My next 3 big trips happened within a period of 3 months… 3rd was a trip to Turkey – AMAZIG! 4th was a hot air balloon flight in Göreme (Turkey) with Mohamed as my pilot – early start, light wind which is good.

5th and most recent was my paragliding experience with Cape Town Tandem Paragliding and oh my! Again? YES PLEASE! I was in the capable hands of my pilot, Mias, he has been a pilot for the last 12 years and well, if you look at the pictures and videos you can see his tough working conditions…thought we had it tough.

This activity came as a bit of a surprise – a very pleasant one if I may add. This experience was totally amazing and something that I would recommend to everybody! You get to really experience Cape Town from a different angle with only the wind in your ears – no engine sounds – nothing…well, except your shrills of pleasure and the instructions of the pilot (I got to steer a little).

If you are in Cape Town and not 100% sure what to do…call us, we will sort you out. If you want, we can book you with Cape Town Tandem Paragliding and with the help of Manu and his team give you a few minutes in the sky whilst you contemplate what else you would like to do during your visit to Cape Town.

 

Till next time! RH

PG TOPS Jan 2014

PG TOPS – Roll on 2014


We’re already raced halfway down January 2014. The only reason I’m aware of how fast time is flying by is by the size of my dog, who is statistically oustripping PG TOPS’s growth, and that is no mean feat.
PG TOPS TRAVEL AND TOURS is in its sixth year of operation, and so I would like to focus on the number six for this newsletter:

SIX IN NUMEROLOGY
SIX PG TEAM MEMBERS
SIX STAR WARS MOVIES
SIX SIGMA
THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN
THE BIG SIX

 

SIX IN NUMEROLOGY:

Six is the most harmonious of the single digit numbers. It is the motherhood number, and the glue that keeps a community together.  It’s all about sacrificing, caring, healing, protecting and teaching others.
Five (by this logic last year’s number) is the dynamic, energetic number. And Seven is the deep soul- the introspective, spiritual number.

So in PG TOPS context, last year we energetically built the business and sat on our Blackberrys 24/7, this year we’re going to nurture and care for it, sacrifice a lot for it and do a lot of teaching by educational, book and app, and next year we’re just going to sit around and think about stuff. Not really email clients back, you know. Just think about it. Deeply.

SIX STAR WARS MOVIES (CURRENTLY, BUT LUCAS HAS SOLD THE RIGHTS TO DISNEY, SO EXPECT MORE IN THE NEW FUTURE)

If PG TOPS was a box office conquering scifi franchise, that would make sense too. Think about it. And let’s do it in terms of chronology, not the actual sequence in which the movies were made…
EPISODE 1: THE PHANTOM MENACE – PG starts the business. He is menaced by the really obvious lack of clients. He is saved by the Force – in the form of a the British and Irish Lions. KUUUDDDUUU. Bad movie, disappoints on most levels but some promise shown.
EPISODE 2: ATTACK OF THE CLONES – We are invaded by Hundreds of Thousands of Football Fans for the World Cup. PG Speaks a lot of Spanish. Doesn’t help us to defeat the Mexicans. South Africa is the big winner though, and the world takes notice. Better movie. Not good yet though.
EPISODE 3: REVENGE OF THE SITH – the best movie of the prequels. The best year for PG TOPS so far, as things start to get busy.  Yolanda Bekker starts. The Force is strong in this one.
EPISODE 4: A NEW HOPE –a classic movie. A classic year. Roelf Hamman joins the team, much like a young Luke Skywalker. He eventually tells PG to stop asking him to “feel the force”.  The fans look back at this episode as the foundation for the franchise, and the legend.
EPISODE 5: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK – widely believed to be the best of the series. The number don’t lie, and the stellar cast of Luke (Roelf), Leia (Yolanda), Han (PG) is joined by Simba (Chewbacca),  Bianca (C-3PO) and Rudi (Artoo Detoo).
EPISODE 6: RETURN OF THE JEDI – the first one I ever saw, and probably my favourite. This chapter will tie up all the storylines. Darth Vader dies (there is a major political shift as South Africans vote) but not really, the force is too strong in him as he redeems himself in the end (introduces a youth wage subsidy) and returns stronger than ever. In the end there is a helluva interstellar party with a lot of dancing teddy bears (this might be JZ).

 

 
THE BIG SIX
Take your pick. This could refer to:
Robben Island, Table Mountain, Cape Point, Boulders Beach, Kirstenbosch Gardens, The V&A Waterfront
OR
The CBD, The Townships, The Peninsula, the Winelands, Shark Cage Diving, Safari
OR
Bungy jumping, hiking in the forest, kayaking in the wilderness, Paragliding in Sedgefield, skydiving in Plett, ziplining in the trees
OR
Lions, elephants, rhinos, buffalo, leopards and squirrels
OR
Sabi Sabi, Singita, Lion Sands, Londolozi, Kruger Park, BotlierskopThat last one was a shameless plug for new business Luxury Safaris South Africa.We’ll be launching it with all the bells and whistles within the next SIX months… watch this space.Take care of yourselves, and each other!

PG
www.pgtops.com

 


SIX PG TEAM MEMBERS

Less esoterically, I now have six troops on the payroll. Yolanda  remains the Queen Bee and Operations Manager, Roelf our stalwart allrounder, Bianca our very pregnant control tower, and Rudi our happy go lucky tour guide. They are joined this month by Caren Schoeman who will be the reservations manager for new business unit www.luxurysafaris.co.za, and Sofie Otto who will take care of things for Bianca while she takes care of the motherhood business. Welcome to the newbies, they walked into absolute chaos as PG TOPS has been absolutely swamped with enquiries both large and small. Roll on the good times.


SIX SIGMA (SOUNDS LIKE SIMBA)

Six Sigma was Jack Welch (of General Electric Fame)’s pet project that drove that business to the top of the food chain. The nerds describe it thus:  Six Sigma at many organizations simply means a measure of quality that strives for near perfection. Six Sigma is a disciplined, data-driven approach and methodology for eliminating defects (driving toward six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit) in any process – from manufacturing to transactional and from product to service.
This kinda works for me. At PG TOPS we strive for perfection, and we’ve built systems that enable my amazing team to be the best at what they do. We’re not perfect, and we make mistakes, especially with the strong growth we’ve had… but I do believe the Quest for Zero Defect is valid and sustainable.
Having said that, we made a few mistakes over the incredibly busy summer weeks. The business doubled in turnover, we dealt with a whole bunch of products and variables that were new to us – but I hope we learned our lessons, and we’ll walk away stronger for it. Thanks to our loyal support base and fantastic subcontractors for bearing with us…

 
SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN
Or as we called Steve Austin when I was a kid: Die Man van Staal.
“We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic manSteve Austin will be that manBetter than he was beforeBetterstrongerfaster.”
That’s the guide team at PG TOPS. Better. Stronger. Faster.
And if you don’t believe me, check out the more than 117 reviews on Tripadvisor. They love us. Well except for that one angry lady.

 

The annual Agri Cheese Festival is here again. The festival runs from 26 – 29 April and we will be providing daily transport from Cape Town CBD and Durbanville (Toys R Us) to the festival at R200.00 per person return.

We will depart for cheese festivities at 09:00am from Heritage Square in the city and 09:30am from Toys R Us in Durbanville we will return from the Cheese festival the afternoon at 16:30pm.

To book call Pieter on +27 (0)83 288 4944 or email info@pgtops.com

We also have private transfers available, for rates please contact us.

For more information on the festival click here or Contact us!

http://pgtops.com/blog/3283/

Kirstenbosh Summer Concerts

PG Tops does Kirstenbosch summer concerts

The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain has a host of amazing performances by local and international artists every year throughout the Summer season!

Here is the 2013/2014 schedule!

Date Event
24-Nov-13 Prime Circle
01-Dec-13 Jack Parrow, Francois van Coke
08-Dec-13 Tailer, Matthew Mole, Nakhane Toure
12 to 15-Dec-2013 Rotary Christmas Carols
22-Dec-13 Mango Groove
29-Dec-13 Oliver Mtukudzi
31-Dec-13 Goldfish, Yaov and Tailor
05-Jan-14 The Parlotones
12-Jan-14 MACSTANLEY, Craig Hinds, Ard Matthews
19-Jan-14 Johnny Clegg
26-Jan-14 Jimmy Nevis
02-Feb-14 Fokofpolisikar (PG)
09-Feb-14 Civil Twilight
16-Feb-14 Freshlyground
23-Feb-14 The Cape Philharmonic Orcgestra
02-Mar-14 Mi Casa
09-Mar-14 Hugh Masekela
16-Mar-14 Cape Town Folk ‘n Acoustic Music Festival
23-Mar-14 Desmond and the Tutus with Shortstraw
30-Mar-14 Lira
06-Apr-14 Jeremy Loops

Keep The Kirstenbosch Summer concerts in mind when planning your holiday – they really are a unique South African activity!

The Famous Garden Route and R62

Once in a while you want to get away from the daily hustle and bustle and then I think about all the fun we had by ourselves and with clients on the Garden Route.

There is something magical about the Garden Route; it is the home away from home and the nature lovers retreat with various wonderful activities to see and to do! We all have our favourites and preferences.

Depart Cape Town and drive via Route 62, if you are not the driver, stop off at Arabella Wine Estate for a wine tasting and be sure to buy some! After the tasting head towards Barrydale, here you stop off at the Country Pumpkin and enjoy a “lekker” lunch before continuing your journey.

Ronnie’s Sex Shop is a stop that one MUST do – even if it is just to use the loo – the idea here would be to have a brandy and coke, seeing that this is the drink that made Ronnie’s famous!

From Ronnie’s you follow the road towards Oudtshoorn; if you love Port have a stopover in Calitzdorp where this town boasts with some award winning ports. If you find yourself here between 14 and 15 June 2014, join in the festivities of the Port and Wine festival…no surprise that R62 is known as the world’s longest wine route.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your final destination will be in Oudtshoorn for the day. It is a bit of a drive and fully packed. There are quite a few places to stay but De Denne Country Guest Lodge, once again, one of my favourites!

The next day you can have a leisurely lie in, enjoy some breakfast and then go exploring! Oudtshoorn has a few good attractions. There are the Cango Caves, The Highgate Ostrich Farm, Cango Wildlife Ranch and various museums, art galleries and restaurants.

From here you get onto the N12 and go down the picturesque Outeniqua Pass. Be sure to stop off at the four passes view point and, well, enjoy the view! Knysna I would put next on my list as it is not that far. There is however another option, if you like a younger “backpacker” vibe then definitely check out Afro Vibe on Myoli Beach in Sedgefield! They can organise various tours and activities for you and the vibe is just great! The rooms are clean, linen is provided and the owner, Lyle, is one amazing guy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Knysna there are also a few “not to miss” activities. One is a walk/view of the Knysna Heads. A trip that I enjoy here is the Knysna Featherbed Experience. Here you get to go on a boat, do a fun 4×4/trailer drive, have some excellent views, have a nice walk in local flora and see some various fauna – if you are lucky you can see the little Blue Duiker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plettenberg Bay is also a quaint little town that gets crazy busy during the December months. There are some great activities out here as well; Birds of Eden, Monkeyland and the Elephant Sanctuary are some great spots. Within an hour drive from Plettenberg Bay you can visit the World’s Highest Bungee Bridge, have an awesome hike within the Tsitsikamma National Park and see the suspension bridges and then a stop at Stormsriver Adventures – locally run and supports the community – will also be able to keep you busy for some time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, depending on your time and how you feel, I usually turn around here and start heading back to Cape Town, having another night at Afrovibe and the next day drive towards Mossel Bay via the N2.

In Mossel Bay I enjoy to visit the Diaz Museum Complex and The Point to do the hike to the Cape St Blaze Lighthouse and then, the most important, have an ice cream from the ice cream hut there – respect my culture!!!

Spending a night in Mossel Bay is optional; from here I like to continue the road towards Cape Town and then taking a detour to Cape L’Agulhas, the most Southern Point on the African continent. Here I enjoy the views from the lighthouse and naturally visit the little beacon showing you where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet geographically – more about that when you visit Cape Point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a tranquil evening and a dinner at the The Michael Collins Irish Pub – my favourite – you take the easy drive back towards Cape Town via the towns of Hermanus, Betty’s Bay – the Botanical Garden and the Penguins are quite a sight – Strand and Somerset West. If possible, make use of Clarence Drive. If you are an adrenalin junkie, don’t miss Kleinbaai! Here we have the Shark Cage Diving which is an adrenalin thrill!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then ease your way into Cape Town, sleep at one of the many hotels in the area and welcome to my slice of paradise and most importantly, welcome to my life!

Now, if you do not feel like going through all the hassle of driving and booking accommodation then just contact us and we will sort you out!

Hope you enjoyed reading the article as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Till later RH

Oct/Nov Newlsetter

PG TOPS NOVEMBER
This month’s newsletter is admittedly a little bit late – but we have cause, I reckon. October has been another exceptional month at PG TOPS – heck, if it wasn’t for September, this would’ve been our biggest month yet.
I’m going to dedicate my discussion this month to the issue of GROWTH over the last five years, as we are celebrating our 5th birthday on 1 December:
------------------------------------------------------------
PROSPERITY - WHY SA IS ROCKING ON
PEOPLE - WE ARE BULGING, GRADUATING, MENTORING AND RECRUITING!
PARTIES - WE ONLY HAVE FUN CAUSE IT'S FOR A GOOD CAUSE
PRODUCTS - NEW AND EXCITING PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

** GROWTH IN PROSPERITY
Some quick facts you didn’t know about how well our country is doing:
·         GDP (PPP):
o    $555.1 billion
o    3.1% growth
o    2.7% 5-year compound annual growth
o    $10,973 per capita
The good news? The Government has built more than 3 million subsidized houses for poor families since 1994. The bad news? 12 million to go…http://www.property24.com/articles/affordable-housing-in-south-africa/16400

The good news? South Africa’s BLACK middle class has grown from 0 to 5 million since 1994, with total purchasing power of R400m, more than the white middle class. The bad news? There’s a helluva lot of people still out there on the poverty line… but if the evolution of strong middle class is the solution, we’re definitely getting there…http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/2013/04/28/black-diamonds-outshine-whites

The good news?  The “Boere Buffet” Jannie Mouton, through investment company Zeder, is betting big on agriculture in South Africa and Africa. A country and continent as fertile as ours should not be importing basic foodstuffs – and once we get it right to provide in our own needs, further prosperity will follow. Where he treads other are sure to follow… The bad news? Government still not doing enough to give assurance to commercial farmers. http://www.howwemadeitinafrica.com/a-really-big-opportunity-inside-psgs-46m-zambian-farming-deal/18022/

Meantime, PG TOPS grew by 30% this year. This was our year for bringing in resources, structuring things better and now… bring on 2014. We plan to do some exciting things, and shake things up again!
------------------------------------------------------------

** PARTIES GROWTH: 200 SANTA SHOEBOXES THIS YEAR!
We had the packing party on 20 October, and as always, it was huge success. Thanks to the tireless work of Yolanda, Roelf, Nela, Leanie, Bianca, Kobus and Roelf both upfront and on the day, and then with all the myriad Christmas pixies pulling in for some fun and packing – we packed 200 boxes! That’s 200 kids who are gonna have a big smile this Xmas! Thanks to all, to everyone for donating – we were actually oversubscribed and are already 40 boxes strong for next year!
The final pledge list and packing video on http://pgtops.com/santa-shoebox/
------------------------------------------------------------

** ORGANIC STAFF GROWTH
We are pleased to announce that Bianca’s belly is growing exponentially, and we are looking forward to welcoming the first PG TOPS 2^nd Gen Tour Guide in February.

Congratulations to Yolanda for writing her finals – she will now add a degree in Tourism to her list of accolades.

Rudi completed his Garden Route exams and is now ready to take on our ever increasing Garden Route itineraries.

And as for team mascot Simba – he is double the size, eating everything in sight and no longer a cute little puppy. Just a cute puppy. Growing both in size, speed, strength, and ability to jump on tables, couches and destroy fluffy toys.

Roelf has also stepped quite voluntarily into a mentorship role for the new staff, showing them the ropes and arranging activities for learning. Good one Roelf!

We are currently interviewing for:
1.       Contract tour guides – we are desperately short of quality tour guides and drivers, please contact us should you be interested in guaranteed work.
2.       Office personnel – we will need a replacement for Bianca while she is on maternity leave next year, and there are strong plans afoot to aggressively expand our product portfolio. Interns and eager youngsters will also be welcomed, send CV’s to info@pgtops.com (mailto:info@pgtops.com)
------------------------------------------------------------

** PRODUCT GROWTH
------------------------------------------------------------
It’s an amazing thing to live in Cape Town, South Africa. There is constant innovation and new things to do, see and taste. Wine farms, restaurants, activities, destinations… from windkarting in Muizenberg to ziplining in Hermanus to fine dining in Stanford.
I recently had the pleasure to be invited to Springfontein Eats, a culinary experience soon to become a regular stop for the discerning traveler, and conveniently located on the way to Gansbaai in Great White Shark country. Check out my experience review on http://pgtops.com/blog/2013/10/28/springfontein-eats-gourmet-dining-in-great-white-shark-country/
Our Garden Route offering has been nicely streamlined – be sure to check out our family friendly options (http://pgtops.com/garden-route-4-day-private-tour-family-package/) , as well as our offering for individual travelers (http://pgtops.com/our-trips/multi-day/garden-route-3/) .

** PG's WINELANDS BUCKET LIST:
------------------------------------------------------------
Dinner at Reubens
Grape stomping in the cellar
Blending my own wine
Horse ride at Rhebokskloof


** PG TOPS 5 years
------------------------------------------------------------
We owe a huge thanks to everyone for getting involved with the business over the years - clients, suppliers, staff members, ex-girlfriends, colleagues... it's been a fantastic journey so far, and as we celebrate my first client (in my mom's Mercedes) on 1 December, I am once again driving around in my dad's car... because we are all out of vehicles. Blessed to be so busy.

I will do one more missive before Christmas engulfs us... but until then...

Take care of yourselves... and each other!

PG

Welcome to my life...

Springfontein Eats: Gourmet Dining in Great White Shark country

Springfontein Eats

A number of years ago, a good friend of mine suggested I shift my business into the realm of high end clientele and “gourmet” experiences.

Being a card carrying philistine who regularly spoils my housemate (the Gentleman)’s sterling culinary efforts by liberally applying too much Tobasco, I have never quite felt that that was really what we do…

But then, unbeknownst to me, a few key factors conspired to change the way I deal with, look at and appreciate food:

  1. I grew up. Made some new friends. Kept the old ones, and I still prefer a good old braai on my porch any day of the week – but that’s because my porch is awesome. However, a lot my current mates seriously enjoy the finer side of life and food, and I couldn’t help but be influenced.
  2. My business grew up.  While the core philosophy has always been “welcome to my life” and sharing the amazing stories we have to tell here in Cape Town, after a while I realized Swedish 20-year old backpackers might be fun to look at, but they don’t necessarily help pay for my puppy’s lunch money or my expensive collection of wine. As the clients changed, the place we take them to changed, and now La Colombe, Test Kitchen, Babylonstoren, Reubens et al are all regulars on our recommendation list..
  3. Cape Town grew up. From a city famous for its laid back citizens, beautiful beaches and mountains and cultural diversity and wind and wines and vineyards – a new element has crept in during the course of our re-integration into the world post-apartheid. The city – and the region – has become a culinary hotspot:  Attracting not only food lovers with a nose for a good deal, but commensurately, food lovers with a passion for cooking and living in a place that is arguably THE most vibrantly growing environment in the world.

Cut to present day. My friend, foodie and non-ginger (he argues he has a chesnut beard) Tudor Caradoc-Davis asked me to assist with transfers for a media lunch at a new venue in Stanford. And come check it out, while I’m at it.

Stanford? Really?

This small, sleepy coastal town past Hermanus in the Overberg region is admittedly charming, but in my experience mostly merited a howzit on a driveby on the way to taking my clients Shark Cage Diving in adjacent Gansbaai (http://www.sharkwatchsa.com/en/home/).

But Tudor caught my attention with some snippets of the inspiring story behind Springfontein wine estate – and I decided to hop along for a free lunch.

The drive from Cape Town is about 2 hours, and can be enjoyed going through the picturesque Elgin and Overberg region, or along Clarence Drive hugging the False Bay coast. We do this drive all the time taking small groups to Marine Dynamics for their whale watching or Great White Shark experience. In this instance, I was essentially a guest, so I got to sit back and shoot the breeze with the interesting other passengers, comprising a few journalists, online folks and various interesting and interested parties.

Our destination? Drive through the town of Stanford, keep on going on a dirt road for a couple of kilometres and you come to the farm of Springfontein.

There is no gate. I would later learn that Jurgen took a sledgehammer to it. This place will be OPEN!

The estate has a charming and unpretentious feel to it, although it is clearly well run and they are in the process of upgrading it even further. I was struck by my immediate sense that this is a WORKING estate, as opposed to a showpiece winery that is just the pet project for some rich investor.

Continue to the restaurant, where we were greeted by too many smiling faces to count. Everyone from the proprietor (charming and gracious host Jennifer Packard Weber) to the winemaker (gentle but passionate Tariro Masayiti ), his gorgeous partner Hildegard Witbooi and most significantly the chef couple Jurgen and Susanne Schneider made us feel immediately at home.

I need to address two separate elements at this point: The Dream and the Food.

THE DREAM: Spend the latter years of your productive working life on a labour of love – a winery in Africa. Choose a region that is exploding with potential for its fantastic white cultivars,Pinot Noir and Pinotage. Buy a property that has huge potential but little current infrastructure, and proceed with the business of creating amazing wines through careful cultivation, meticulous planning and hiring the very best and brightest to assist. Collaborate with a couple team that share the same dream, and proceed to convince them to leave a secure (but ultimately unfulfilling) life in Germany owning and running a five-star Michelin Restaurant – because you’re going to just do it all over again, in the place that will allow you to live the life you’ve always wanted to live, develop people to their amazing potential, and work with new and exciting ingredients, flavours and recipes.

Hats off to Jurgen and Susanna for making this leap, and to Jennifer and her husband Johst (not present, but he’s the money – therefore equally important as the one bankrolling things!) They have joined hordes of European expatriates that have, wisely, realized that the Western Cape is the ideal place to live, love and play.

The interesting Segway to this story is that my friend Tudor used to be a professional rugby player in Germany. This quite uncommon reference is why he ended up in a region with the “last star from Moscow” ie Jurgens restaurant – where he not only played fullback for the local team, but competed for the title of champion dishwasher with a little old Romanian lady for his nighttime gig. He admits she beat him hands down in efficiency and workrate. Jurgen tells the funny story where he went to his wife to tell her that they were going to have a problem with their dishes that night, as the newspaper reports their dishwasher had been seriously injured in the weekend game.

Now, 15 years down the line and many investigatory visits later… they have built, sweated and laboured day and night for the last few months to open Springfontein Eats, sure to become the new hotspot for culinary awesomeness.

WHY?

And so to the food part.

Our six course lunch was wonderfully paired with their delicious wines. Tariro Masayiti is a huge man, and interestingly, one of the very few black winemakers I have met. His inspiring story brought him to South Africa from his native Zimbabwe, where he has carved out a reputation for his winemaking skill first at Nederburg, and now set to take the market by storm with the Springfontein range.

Before sitting down to eat, Jurgen first presented us a with a tray full of herbs from the estate. His favourite thing is foraging for interesting herbs and flavours on their estate, which he then experimentally couples with the different gourmet cousine choices that he will present on the day – therefore every dish has some kind of local flavour right there from the estate- even the desert!

I liked all of it. It was indicative of the quality that the foodie group round the table was scooping up every morsel – and the flavours were beautiful. It is, however, above my pay grade to explain to you exactly what each course was – google Springfontein Eats for the foodie blogs sure to pop up soon, and they’ll go more into the detail.

What I can tell you, is that the one thing that absolutely fascinated us was the veal accompaniement Mushroom pate – but that description doesn’t even do it justice. It looks like a slice of blood sausage, tastes like heaven and transforms the veal from great to awesome.

The finished off the meal with a lovely lemony desert, and a wonderful selection of pastries with some seriously good coffee.

The best way I can describe the experience is listening to the Philharmonic. Without understanding the technicality that goes into producing this awesome sound, if done well and under the right direction, you are swept along by the technical symbiosis, the individual brilliance but above all the tangible passion that is the mark of a great team.

We left happy, sated and slightly tipsy. I can highly recommend the experience.

They do lunches and dinners, and courses range from 2,3 and 6 course options.

You can contact Springfontein Eats by calling Tel: 0027 (0)28 341 0651, go to the website http://www.springfontein.co.za/content/springfontein-eats or email them on hospitality@springfontein.co.za.

Or email us on info@pgtops.com to arrange the day out for you, for foreign guests it would particularly work with a Shark Cage Diving or Whale Watching experience in Gansbaai (http://pgtops.com/our-trips/cape-town-day-trips/sharks/).

August 2013 Update

Rand slides against Dollar means Cape Town even better bang for your buck!
South Africa has a lot of strengths. People are resilient and super friendly. We have awesome landscapes, world class infrastructure, great educational insititutions, fantastically diverse culture, rich textured history, delicious food and wines, great sportsmen and women, Nobel prize winners, groundbeaking surgeons, semi saintly world paragons, and let’s not forget biltong.
Unfortunately, there’s a few things we also lack. Snow – so no skiing. A president and for that matter a ruling party with credible moral leadership.  Economic and social equality.  Comprehensively effective primary education, especially in maths and sciences.  Swimmable water temperature in Cape Town.  Most brutally for PG TOPS, the Rand slide against foreign currencies, especially the Dollar, really affects the gas price and our bottom line.
However,  the good news for all our clients is that we fixed our prices for the year before the currency went kablooey – foreign visitors to these fine shores therefore get more bang for their buck and can eat, drink, be merry and hire awesome tour guides more than ever.

Happy to report we are currently sliding UP the Tripadvisor scale, and currently sitting at No 7 out of 154 Activities in Cape Town Central. A big thanks to the whole team for this, but especially to super guide Roelf Hamman who is all over our Tripadvisor these days. Challenge accepted for the rest of the team!
Our Dutch Chickens come home to roost
Piet Hein and the visiting hockey players from Kennemer Lyceum were back this winter to compete in the Cape Town Hockey festival. Yolanda had her hands full with 20 Dutch Schoolboys this time. Among other things they visited Newlands rugby stadium, were semifinalists in the tournament and had an overall great time with the PG TOPS team.

 

It needs be said that PG spent some time with the Dutch as well, but in a different setting. While the team were running around showing off Cape Town, I took a family holiday that stopped off at the Tour de France and World famous Alpe d’Huez, where I was respecting a lot of Dutch culture (read Heineken).
Summer weather
While I was gallivanting, PG TOPS enjoyed a bumper July, which is unusual for wintery July. The Cape Town winter weather of course is still better than London summer, but still. We didn’t expect to have our second best month ever! If I had three thumbs they would all be up!


Big thanks to all the usual suspects for the support, to the Big Guy upstairs for giving us great sunny weather balanced with some intense rain (the reservoirs are full on the mountain), and to the team for all the hard work. Special mention to not-so-newbie Bianca, who really stepped it up in the office this month to keep things together while Yolanda was going Dutch. 

 

THE RULES
We have three governing principles in PG TOPS:

1.Welcome to my life

2.Spread the good news

3.It’s about how well I do NOT my job (read: Exceed Expectations!)
As my life doesn’t normally involve buying diamonds or ostrich handbags (this might be why I’m still single) neither should yours. Grounding principle for us is that we don’t have a cousin/brother/sister with a carpet/perfume/diamond/leather handbag shop that you just HAVE to visit. I was reminded of how much time people waste on tour on my recent visit to Turkey, where by careful maneuvering from our tour guide, I managed to watch a leather jacket fashion show in the middle of a Turkey heatwave, got a carpet weaving demonstration, watched how they crack onyx rocks, got diverted into an overly expensive pool once used by Cleopatra (I do look 7 years younger now, but that’s beside the point)  and generally found myself bemused by the overt chasing of retail sales and wasting of my time.

So although I LOVVVEEED Turkey, I am also happy to know that there is a lot of bad practice out there concerning supplementing tour income with commission on shopping – and that’s a reason why we are as busy as we are. We just DON’T DO IT (sorry Nike).

I do have a cousin with an art gallery. But then I have a helluva lot of cousins. Just saying.
Santa Shoebox Project

Time does fly! It’s almost October again, which is when we go into overdrive at PG TOPS to pack Christmas shoeboxes for underprivileged kids. The Santa Shoebox Packing Party will occur on 20 October. 40+ Christmas pixies will roll in to laugh and have fun while packing over 200 boxes. We are going to start the pledging drive in all earnest come 1 September and the lists open – in the meantime, please contact us if you want to get involved. A donation of 20USD (payable through Paypal or EFT) buys a single box, and the generosity of friends, family, clients and suppliers helped us hit 150 last year.

Should you want to get involved in your personal networks to raise some money for us to pack boxes for you, you can email us at info@pgtops.com for more information. R150 or 20USD buys a box for an underpriviliged kid containing the following items:

Toothpaste and tooth brush
Bar of soap and wash cloth
An outfit of clothing
Educational supplies
Sweets
A toy

 

To see how much fun we had last year, check out the Youtube video on here.

That’s it for now sports fans… roll on the rest of 2013!

Fynbos – some interesting information

I actually need to work on my Nature Walks assignment now, but then decided a blog on Fynbos will be better. It will in a way a learning process as I need to do a little bit of research at least for this. This is yet another successful procrastination method!

Fynbos is Afrikaans that literally translates to “fine bush” and this is due to the fact that the leaves and stems of the plants are very fine and fragile. The Cape Floral Kingdom, one of only six kingdoms, is the most diverse with flower species than any other Floral Kingdom.

One of South Africa’s eight heritage sights is the Cape Floral Kingdom and is the smallest floral kingdom in the world! Stretching only 90 000 sq. km it boasts with 1300 different species per 10 000 sq. km.

Looking at my research material I can really agree that it is the smallest but the richest of kingdoms as all the flowers look the same in the nature guide that I bought earlier this year and this is going to be a daunting task ahead.

There are three main groups in which the Fynbos can be classified into:

  1. Protea – usually tall shrubs with broad leaves
  2. Erica’s – heath like shrubs
  3. Restios – similar to reeds

The Protea family area usually shrubs or small trees that almost seem stemless. There are over 360 species and was named after the Greek god, Proteus, who has the ability to change himself into various forms. The National flower of South Africa is also known as the Protea, in a way making sense as well due to the fact that we have so many wonderful cultures here in South Africa!

Erica’s has about 860 species and is also known as heath as they share some a close resemblance with appearance. There are about 660 species that are endemic to the Cape, meaning only found here and is one of the bigger genus in the Fynbos family.

Restios is a very versatile plant species as it basically occurs in all the Fynbos habitats. They also rely on wind for pollination and some of the species are used in South Africa as thatching for roofs of houses and other structures.

More than 8000 species of the Fynbos also needs fire to survive and flourish. Some of the Protea species only release their seeds and germinate after being exposed to fire and smoke; due to this the Table Mountain National Park has controlled fires every 12 – 15 years to ensure that this species continues to flourish.

The Fynbos species also enjoys nutrient poorer soils and is thus great for the Cape region as we have a lot of sand stone. The plants get introduced to the slopes, spread out and with their root systems help prevent ground erosion in certain areas. The species also has a higher burn temperature, if I can put it like that, and is also planted to prevent wild fires. There are a few alien removal programs where they take out the water thirsty, easy burning alien plants and reintroduce our natural plants which are very waxy, helping them not to burn. It is quite interesting how nature was created and how every little specie and stone basically has a function in the Cape.

Rooibos (Red Bush) is also part of the Fynbos family and is a proudly South African herbal tea. It also looks like the French want to trademark this…but that is a different story.

I think I am motivated now to go work on that assignment, 12 days is the deadline I set myself, but I don’t think this is going to happen. First, a cup of Rooibos tea and a snack will have to be in order!

Till next time…