Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day Three in Cape Town - Two Oceans Aquarium and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Click here for the previous post in this series: Day Two in Cape Town - the Cape Peninsula Drive!

Almost at the halfway point - Day Three! We had pre-bought our tickets for the Robben Island Ferry for 1pm today, so it made sense to spend a couple of hours after breakfast visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium - also at the V&A Harbourfront area. Tickets are R125 (SGD 14.65) per adult, which is pretty reasonable!

Cape Town Itinerary Two Oceans Aquarium Stone Fish
Stone Fish - Most Venomous Fish in the World!

The aquarium itself is somewhat par for the course - mostly small and medium sized tanks holding all sorts of fish, sea creatures and other manner of aquatic life. There's a touch pool for the kids (and the young at heart), a microscopic exhibit, and of course a big central tank for all the really large sea animals - tortoises, sharks, tuna and the like. Our favorite exhibit by far was the Penguin Feeding which takes place at 11.30am daily. It's cute to see the penguins almost sort of queue up to get sardines hand-fed to them.

Cape Town Itinerary Two Oceans Aquarium Penguin Feeding
Daily Feeding of the African Penguins at 11.30am

In the overall scheme of Aquariums though the Two Oceans Aquarium is perhaps a little mediocre. In comparison with similar aquariums in South East Asia - SEA Aquarium in Singapore, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan in Japan and the Aquaria KLCC in Malaysia for example - Two Oceans is small, less polished and has fewer exhibits. That's not to say it's a bad attraction, just that you should set your expectations accordingly when you visit.

Cape Town Itinerary Two Oceans Aquarium African Penguins
African Penguins striking a pose

It's during our Aquarium visit when we get our first taste of Cape Town's fickle weather - via an SMS informing us that our Robben Island 1pm Ferry has been cancelled due to bad weather. Le sigh! We get our tickets rescheduled and reissued for tomorrow, and on a whim pay R55 (SGD 6.45) each to take a seal watching boat cruise around the harbour.

Cape Town Itinerary V&A Harbourfront Seal Watching
Seal Watching at the V&A Harbourfront

If it seems cheap, that's because this cruise really only takes you around the harbour area sheltered from the huge waves beyond the sea wall. It's still a nice way to spend about an hour - especially if the weather's nice and cool - and you do get to see some seals playing in the seas, or lazing around on tyres or other man made installations.

Cape Town Itinerary V&A Harbourfront Seal Watching
Cape Town Itinerary V&A Harbourfront Seal Watching
Seal Watching at the V&A Harbourfront

After a quick lunch we take a short 20-minute drive to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens to get in touch with some nature!

Cape Town Itinerary Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

Entrance is R45 (SGD 5.27) for adults - uber cheap considering that Kirstenbosch spans a huge 36 hectare (89 acres / 3.9 million sq ft) area, all of which has been meticulously planned, landscaped and sculptured. Maintenance is top notch, too!

Cape Town Itinerary Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch - Check out how low that cloud cover is!

Your mileage may vary depending on your personal tastes, interests and number of small children of course, but the darling and I spent the entire afternoon/evening here just strolling, relaxing, sitting down and stopping very often to (literally) smell the flowers.

Cape Town Itinerary Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Chilling out in Kirstenbosch

For dinner, we visited what is said to be the best steakhouse in all of Cape Town - Carne SA. Like many other countries with a tipping culture, service here is warm and friendly. I especially dig (digged? dug?) the introduction to all the meat available for the night - everything a meat lover could ask for - from the usual suspects Sirloin, T-Bone, Tenderloin, Rib-Eye, to the path-less-taken game meats of ostrich and kudu.

Cape Town Itinerary Carne SA Steakhouse
Best Steakhouse in Cape Town - Carne SA

We decide to go for one of their house specialties - dry aged Prime Rib on the Bone, and a trio of Tenderloins with three of their house sauces (Parsely, Mushroom and Bernaise). Medium rare, of course! We'll be posting the full review separately but a TLDR (Too Long, Didn't Read) summary would be that it's really, really good, especially considering the reasonable R 680 (SGD 79.70) price tag for the both of us including tips, drinks and starters!

Cape Town Itinerary Carne SA Prime Rib and Tenderloin
Prime Rib on the Bone and a Trio of Fillets (Tenderloin)

It was back to the Apartment after that to retire for the night, hoping for the clouds to clear a little tomorrow (we still hadn't even seen table mountain yet at this point). Hope you've enjoyed the write-up, and stay tuned for Days Four to Six still to come!

Click here for the next post in this series: Days Four and Five in Cape Town, Constantia and Stellenbosch Wine Routes!

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