Family time in South Africa

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Change is inevitable. Although it may be challenging at times, change should be embraced. And if not, then just travel and enjoy every moment of it.

That’s one reason I enjoyed every minute of our stay in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town is the most beautiful coastal city on the continent, and certainly would rank high on any world traveler’s list of scenic places.

We went to see the endearing jackass penguins, so-called because of their unrefined singing voices that resemble those of braying jackasses, at the African Penguin Colony in Boulder’s Beach home. I’ve actually seen the penguins a few times, but I never tire of their amazing group family dynamics.

We also had a lovely sundowner at the stylish home of A2A Safaris dynamic couple Lit and Kitty Cortes. A few years ago the couple moved to Hout Bay, a suburb of Cape Town. They are probably only among a handful of Pinoys in that corner of the world.

Minnie Chiongbian, Kitty and Lit Cortes, Marivic Chiongbian, Ram Khu, Willy Chiongbian, Steffi Chiongbian and Sea Princess

The more adventurous members of our travel group went shark diving. I chose to join the younger kids at the Two Oceans Aquarium, where they signed up for the gentler penguin encounter.

Table Mountain National Park defines the city. The flat-topped mountain is the headline act, but there are many other equally gorgeous natural landscapes within the park’s extensive boundaries. Unfortunately, the cable car to Table Mountain was closed for its annual maintenance, so the group hiked up Lion’s Head instead.

Forming part of the Table Mountain range, Lion’s Head offers magnificent 360-degree views of the Cape Peninsula, the City Bowl and Cape Town’s southern suburbs. The view from the summit of Lion’s Head is particularly noteworthy and totally worth the one- to two-hour walk to get up there. For best results, start just before sunrise and watch the sun gradually light up the city.

Dramatic views

Renowned as the most southwesterly tip of Africa, the Cape Point Nature Reserve boasts dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the mountains along the southern coast. The most popular and highest vantage point is the Old Lighthouse perched on top of the peak at 238 meters above sea level.

The Cape of Good Hope Trail is not a difficult hike. You can reach the top on foot or by taking the funicular and there are numerous viewing decks to drink in the breathtaking scenery.

Cape Town has a whopping 72 beaches with a coastline extending 307 km along the West Coast, Cape Peninsula and False Bay. We drove along scenic Chapman’s Drive, snaking around the granite cliffs from Camps Bay to Hout Bay. From there we took another beautiful route from Kalk Bay to Muizenberg, the surfing capital of South Africa, where the kids were brave enough to take surfing lessons despite the winter water temperatures.

Food, wine and shopping

For the foodies and oenophiles in the family, we visited the Winelands villages of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. This area is almost like Napa Valley in California, but framed with granite mountains carving out the vineyards. It’s only an hour’s drive from Cape Town but the famous Cape Winelands feel like a different world.

While there, we had a lovely long lunch at Delaire Graff Estate and also toured such iconic vineyards as Babylonstoren, Rupert & Rothschild and La Motte. We would have done a lot more wine tasting, except that we had too many kids along.

For shopping, I recommend the Pan African Market and Greenmarket Square for the real-deal bargaining experience.

Tribal Trends on Long Street is my favorite home lifestyle shop that carries wonderfully curated African décor and accessories. Shop owner Eugene Kramer can even arrange shipping if you get carried away! Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront is a fine area to shop and also enjoy the scenic view of the busy marina.

Tribal Trends shop at Cape Town

When on safari, Cape Town is always the last leg of my trip, so I can fill up my suitcases and then just fly home directly without having to lug the shopping loot all around. Africa has given me a fondness for tribal colors and styles, an ethnic vibe I find so much like our own.

Wine-pairing dinner

Writing about the Winelands reminded me of when some friends here in Manila hosted a wine-pairing dinner with a range of exquisite French wines.

Newlywed couple Rudy Ngo and Marie Antoinette Nisce-Ngo, owners of Liquor Kingdom, recently held an exclusive wine tasting and dinner party at Sofitel.

The three Bordeaux wines in the spotlight were La Reverance, L’Ecuyer and Marie Antoinette—all from the Pomerol region. With a hint of flamboyance, Marie Antoinette wine has hints of crushed plum, currant and blackberry, violet and anise. The finish is almost sweet but nicely integrated with a rich, dark fruit concentration.

Chateau L’Ecuyer wines are aged in 100-percent new French oak barriques. The chateau is owned and managed by the Petit family, who also owns Chateau Tournefeuille & Rosalcy in Lalande de Pomerol, and Chateau La Reverance in Saint-Emilion.

Emeric Petit, the French owner of the vineyard, joined Rudy and Antoinette in welcoming guests and wine enthusiasts to a quintessential romantic French dinner that would make the wine’s namesake monarch proud. Liquor Kingdom is the Philippines’ exclusive distributor of Chateau L’Ecuyer wines.

‘MaArte’ fair

MaArte at The Pen vignette

A thumbs-up for “MaArte” at The Pen, on exhibit at The Peninsula Manila’s The Gallery until today, Aug. 13. “MaArte” is showcasing 30 artisanal brands, all with distinctly Filipino expressions of style.

Event consultants Vicky Jalandoni and Katrina Gonzalez have transformed The Gallery into a cozy, intimate and elegant shopping venue with a tropical living room ambiance. MaArte at The Pen is a fundraiser organized by the Museum Foundation of the Philippines. Gifts and Graces Foundation is also in this fair so do drop by and shop.

The Pen is serving specialty teas by Tsaa Laya and da.u.de, two featured merchants at MaArte, all of this month during the hotel’s Afternoon Tea service at The Lobby. A portion of all MaArtea custom brew sales has been allocated for the Museum Foundation. Check out museumfoundationph.org and @maartefair on Instagram for more info.

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