Tag Archives: Casablanca

My Top 21 recommendations for what to see and do in Havana, Cuba!

I arrived in Havana on 3 July 2019, with no preparation of what I wanted to see or do, except that I wanted to learn to dance the Salsa. I was lucky that a slightly out of date ‘Cuba’ Guide by Lonely Planet was lying in the lounge of the San Lazaro BnB I stayed at. I annexed it for the more than three weeks that I stayed there, and found useful background information in it, but perhaps it contains too much information, not just focused on Havana, my only destination in Cuba, therefore making a large part of the book irrelevant to me. Much more useful was the Guidebook ‘300 Things to love about Havana’ by Heidi Hollinger, focused on Havana, divided into the various suburbs of Havana, with an address, a good representative photograph, and largely accurate in its descriptions, even if published in 2018. 
 

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Ernest Hemingway: an earnest author as well as drinker, a man’s man, who has left his mark on Cuba!

I have a fascination with the late author Ernest Hemingway, referred to as ‘Papa’ in Cuba, but I have yet to read one of his books. In Havana I followed in the author’s footsteps yet again, after having been ‘introduced’ to him in Pamplona in Spain whilst walking the Camino in 2018. My interest in him is growing, and I will look to buy his books on my return. There is no doubt that Hemingway may be equally or better known for his drinking and hanging around in bars as he is for his books!
 

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Delaire Graff Restaurant Best Winelands Restaurant!

Delaire orangeChef Michael Deg of Delaire Graff Restaurant must be a happy man, with the news that the restaurant has been named the Best Winelands Restaurant in our country, in the 2016 Great Wine Capitals Global Network Best of Wine Tourism Awards!

The news must be  even more joyous for Chef Michael, given that he was excluded from the Eat Out Top 20 Restaurant Continue reading →

Cape Town 4th most expensive city for accommodation in Africa!

imageA survey conducted by STR Global Hospitality research firm has found that Cape Town is the fourth most expensive accommodation city on the African continent, and is more expensive than Johannesburg!

Addis Ababa in Ethiopia was found to be the most expensive African city for Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 22 April

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Only two South African hotels have made the Conde Nast Traveler list of 60 Hot Hotels, on the basis of ‘Good Food’.  This is a surprise award for the Mont Rochelle Hotel & Vineyard (now owned by Sir Richard Branson, but not much is new or ‘hot’ in this restaurant, having the same chef and waitron staff since he took over!).  The Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff has also made the list in this category, with a chef unknown to most.

*   Travel agents and tour operators are no longer marketing South Africa as a destination due to the new Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine new headlines: 6 November

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The 2014 MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index shows Johannesburg as being the most popular ‘destination city in Africa’, the second time that the city has won the accolade two years running.  The city is expecting 4,3 million visitors this year, a 5% increase on last year, with an estimated expenditure of $3,2 billion.  Cape Town follows in second place, Durban in 3rd place, Cairo in 4th, and Casablanca in 5th place.  Cape Town is expected to receive 1,6 million international visitors this year, with a spend of $2,2 billion.

*   It is ironic that SA Tourism CEO Thulani Nzima could not attend World Travel Market (WTM) in London this week, to represent our country at the second largest travel and tourism exhibition in the world, because he did not have a valid visa for the UK 

*   Cape Town will host the 2015 Responsible Tourism in Destination Conference, the City of Cape Town has announced, forming Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 27 August

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*  SA Tourism will spend R100 million to market our country domestically, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has announced.  The domestic campaign ‘Nothing’s more fun than a Sho’t Left’ communicate that local travel is fun and economical.  Local tourists spent R24 billion last year. The goal is to have 18 million domestic tourists by 2020.

*   The Wine & Spirits Board has revised its definition of premium brandy, following legislation to this effect.  The legislation dictates how vintage and potstill brandies are made. Vintage brandies must be matured in oak casks of maximum 340 litres for eight years or more,while potstill brandy must contain 100% potstill brandy, previously up to 10% unmatured wine spirit having been allowed.   Our country’s brandy industry is worth R3,5 billion per annum.  The changes were introduced as brandies compete directly with single malt whisky and cognac. Continue reading →

Vergelegen new SA 2014 Great Wine Capitals Global Network Best of Wine Tourism winner!

Vergelegen Camphors interior Whale Cottage PortfolioWhile Vergelegen may have been disappointed in not scoring a 5 star wine at the Platter’s South African Wines 2014 on Friday evening, the wine estate must have been in seventh heaven to have done so well at the Great Wine Capitals Global Network Best of Wine Tourism Awards for South Africa, for which the winners were announced on Thursday at a gala dinner in the Napa Valley.  Vergelegen won in the Arts and Culture as well as in the Restaurant categories, and performed well in four further categories.  The award-winning performance makes Vergelegen the South African Best of Wine Tourism winner for the third time, having last won in 2009.

In addition to winning two categories outright, Vergelegen came second in four out of a total of seven categories:  Architecture and Landscapes, Innovative Wine Tourism Experiences, Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices, and Wine Tourism Service.  It is Camphors at Vergelegen, one of two restaurants on the wine estate (with Stables at Vergelegen Bistro, a more casual daytime restaurant), that is recognised in the Restaurant award.  The seventh category (Accommodation) was not entered, as this service is not offered.

Vergelegen joins nine other winelands region winners this year:

*   Bodegas Dinastia Vivanco in Rioja, a museum and winery complex, celebrated for its Enoturismo y  Experiencias that offers a wide range of exhibitions, courses and other innovative experiences

*   Château de Rouillac, that dates back to the 19th century when it Continue reading →

SA wine tourism ‘revolution’ praised by leading wine writer Robert Joseph!

South Africa’s wine industry was praised for ‘amongst the most exciting wine countries in the world’ last week by top UK wine writer Robert Joseph, who also praised it for ‘the complete revolution in wine and wine tourism’ in the past 25 years, says the media release of Great Wine Capitals Global Network. The organisation hosted an awards lunch at La Motte, to celebrate the South African winners in the annual Great Wine Capitals Wine Tourism Awards, with Joseph as the guest speaker.

Despite praising the progress made in the R5 billion South African wine tourism industry, with about 300 local wine estates according to Business Report, Joseph said that wine tourism should be developed more aggressively around the world.  ‘There is a common misconception that wine tourism is about tasting and buying wine. It is not. It is about entertainment and building profitable relationships. Wine tourism needs to attract more visitors, get them to spend money, get them to become regular visitors and encourage them to become ambassadors. It is also about learning from your visitors and addressing their needs‘, he told the wine industry representatives.  He shared that 9% of the American wine purchases for home drinking is bought at the cellar door.

Joseph urged wine estates to not offer free cellar-door tastings. ‘If you charge, you have to think about what you are giving them and you have to give them fair value. Charging means your visitor knows where he or she stands. Paying implies a clear-cut and transactional relationship.  When you don’t charge, the parameters are not clear and often the interaction between producer and visitor can feel more like a bad blind date. It’s far better to subsequently give a complimentary offering and to be thanked than to be expected to give something for nothing at the outset’, he said.

Addressing customer feedback, Joseph urged wine estates to pay close attention to what visitors were saying about them, by monitoring tourism feedback sites and responding to both praise and criticism, to develop relationships with their wine customers.  He urged wine estates to pay attention to the search engine optimisation of their websites, to ensure that they are mobile-friendly, and that the labels and tasting rooms have QR codes to allow customers to seek further information about the wines.

He also urged a focus on designated drivers, given the stricter drink-drive legislation in most countries.  More should be done to make designated drivers feel welcome, he encouraged.  ‘The same goes for any non-wine drinkers who are part of a group, and also children. They also need to be entertained.  Offer more than just wine.  Offer activities that will also appeal to those not drinking wine. If you don’t provide food, allow people to use your facilities so they can barbeque or picnic at your venue. Let them bring their pets.

He recommended that wine buying by international tourists should be made simpler and cheaper. ‘Instead of shipping from your winery, arrange for distributors in the home countries of your visitors to deliver to them directly. This model is being used by some producers in Europe and is working successfully’.

At the Great Wine Capitals Global Network event, La Motte was announced the 2013 South African Best of Wine Tourism Awards winner, the second year running, and was a Global winner in the Sustainable Wine Tourism Practices category this year.  Although announced six months ago already, the awards per category were presented to the winners at the event last week:

*   Creation: Innovative Wine Tourism Experience

*   Grand Dedale Country House at Doolhof:  Accommodation

*   Grand Provence: Art and Culture

*   Tokara:  Wine Tourism Restaurant

*   Waterkloof:  Wine Tourism Services, and Architecture and Landscapes.

Cape Town/Winelands, Mainz-Rheinhessen in Germany, Bilbao-Rioja in Spain, Bordeaux in France, Florence in Italy, Mendoza in Argentina, Porto in Portugal, San Francisco/Napa Valley in the USA, Christchurch in New Zealand and Valparaiso/Casablanca in Chile are members of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network.

Joseph is editor at large of ‘Meininger’s Wine Business International ‘ and author of the ‘Wine Travel Guide to the World’. He is also the founder of the UK-based International Wine Challenge and of multiple Wine Challenges throughout Asia and eastern Europe. Joseph’s thejosephreport.com is one of the most respected and controversial international wine industry blogs.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Restaurants with ♥ for Valentine’s Day

The following restaurants are offering Valentine’s Day specials, and the list will be updated as we receive more information about Valentine’s Day offers:

*   Franschhoek Kitchen, Holden Manz Wine Estate, Franschhoek: Picnic at R295 per couple, including bottle of Rosé;  3-course dinner with glass of Rosé R200 per person.   Tel (021) 876-2729

*   La Mouette in Sea Point: 4-course dinner R290, or R420 with wine.  Tel (021)433-0856

*   Café Chic, Breda Street, Gardens: 3-course dinner R225.  Tel (021) 465-7218

*   Allée Bleue, Franschhoek.  3-course dinner (set menu) and performance by Nianell, Sunday 13 February 18h00,  R350 per person.   Tel (021) 874-1886

*   Cosecha, Noble Hill Wine Estate, Paarl:  Valentine’s Day picnic for two costs R218 on 14 February.   3-course set menu on 13 and 14 February with bottle of Noble Hill Chardonnay, R168 per person.  Tel (021) 874-3844.

*   Brunia Wines, Stanford: 3 course dinner, dance and welcome glass of sparkling wine, R180 per person. 12 February. Tel 028 341-0432.

*   Five Flies, Keerom Street: 3 courses and a glass of sparkling wine R250 per person.  Tel (021) 424-4442.

*   Warwick Wine Estate, Stellenbosch:  Picnic basket for 2 plus bottle of Professor Black Sauvignon Blanc R 375 per couple.  13 and 14 February  Tel (021) 884-3144 

*   Salmon Bar, Franschhoek: cocktail and 3-course meal plus Porcupine Ridge wine “gift pack”, 14 February. R 265 per person.  Tel (021) 876-4591

*   Pappa Grappa, Paarl: 4 course meal plus grappa and ‘mystery gift’, R 245 per person.  Tel (021) 8633 555

*   Laborie, Paarl: Picnic plus Casablanca movie screening 12/2 R400 per couple; “Phantom of the Opera” theme, rose, glass of Rosé, 4-course dinner 14/2 R 315.  Tel (021) 807-3390

*   Buitenverwachting, Constantia:  3-course dinner R295, 5 course R 375, includes glass of sparkling wine.  Tel (021) 794-3522

*   Catharina’s, Steenberg Hotel, Constantia:   Seafood grill for two R1400; 5-course dinner R695 per person 14/2 Tel (021) 713-2222  

*   Grand Daddy Hotel Rooftop, Long Street: Picnic basket with romantic movie R190 per person, add R50 for bottle of Beyerskloof sparkling wine.  Tel (021) 424-7247

*   French Toast Wine & Tapas Bar:  7 Tapas and glass of Graham Beck Brut Rosé R470 per couple.  14 February. Tel (021) 422-3839

*   Rick’s Café, Gardens:  1 course R125, 2 courses R150, 3 courses R175 + glass of Pongracz Rosé. Tel (021) 424-1100  

*   Cape Town Hotel School, Mouille Point: 3-course dinner R250 per person.  Tel (021) 440-5736

*   Trees Restaurant, Townhouse Hotel: Glass of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel and 3-course meal R180 per person

*   Rickety Bridge, Franschhoek: 3-course gourmet lunch, R200 per person. 13 February. Tel 083 377 4103

*   The Square Restaurant, Vineyard Hotel:  Glass of sparkling wine, red rose, 3-course dinner, departure gift R295.   Dinner at Liesbeeck River R425 per person.  Tel (021) 657-4500

*   1800 Degrees, Cape Royale Luxury Hotel: Glass of sparkling wine, amuse bouche, 3 courses  R250 per person.  14 February.  Tel (021) 430-0506.

*   Cuvée Restaurant, Simonsig wine estate, Stellenbosch: Candlelit 3-course dinner outdoors, bottle of Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel, and box of chocolates.  14 February. R 350 per person.  Tel (021) 888-4932

*   Jordan Restaurant with George Jardine, Stellenbosch: 6-course Tasting Menu and ‘lots of bubbly’.  R1200 per couple.  14 February.  Tel (021) 881-3612

*   Ken Forrester Vineyards, Stellenbosch: Glass of sparkling wines plus 3-course dinner R 295 per person. 14 February. Tel (021) 855-2374

*   Morgenhof, Stellenbosch: “Under the Stars Dinner Concert” – glass of wine and port, 5-course dinner, live music R 295.  14 February.  Tel (021) 889-5510

*   Hartenberg, Stellenbosch:  3-course dinner, with wine paired per course.  R280 per person.  Tel (021) 865-2541

*   Adega, Willowbridge: Glass of sparkling wine, 3-course meal, Don Pedro, R 275 per person.  Tel (021 914-5091

*   Planet Bar, Mount Nelson Hotel:  12 oysters and bottle of Pongracz Brut Rosé R 220.  Tel (021) 483-1948

*   Planet Restaurant, Mount Nelson Hotel:  4-course dinner R 395 per person. Tel (021) 483-1948

*   Il Cappero, Barrack Street: Glass of bubbly plus 3-course dinner R 300 per couple. 12, 13, 14 February.  Tel (021) 461-3168

*   Cognito Restaurant, Stellenbosch: 3-course dinner R 160. Tel (021) 882-8696

*   Glenwood wine estate, Franschhoek: Bring your own picnic, taste wine R30, wine and sweets R50, cheese platter R60, play boules. Sunday 13 February. Tel (021 876-2044

*   Pure Restaurant, Hout Bay Manor: 4-course dinner R440. 14 February.  Tel (021) 790-0116

*   Cafe Max, De Waterkant: Glass of bubbly and 3-course dinner R 220 per person. 14 February.  Tel (021) 425-5102. 

*   Bovlei Valley Retreat, Wellington: 4-course dinner R 200 per person.  14 February

*   Diemersfontein, Wellington: Glass of bubbly, picnic basket and bottle of wine R R450 per couple, lunch and dinner, 14 February

*   Krugmann’s Grill, V&A Waterfront: Glass of bubbly, 4 prawns, 200g steak and strawberry daiquiri R 95 per person. 14 February.  Tel (021) 418-9393

*   Blakes, Gardens: Masquerade theme evening – glass of bubbly, DJ, platters of tapas.  R120 (webtickets.co.za) or R150 at door.   Tel (021) 426-2369

*   Pavilion at The Marine, Hermanus: 3-course dinner, glass of sparkling wine, 2 oysrters and ‘sweet treat’ R 320.  14 February. Tel (028) 313-1000.

*   Seafood at The Marine, Hermanus: 3-course dinner, glass of sparkling wine, 2 oysters, ‘sweet treat’,  R295.  14 February. Tel (028) 313-1000.

*   Café Benedict, Franschhoek:   Glass of Dieu Donné sparkling wine and 5 course dinner R 200 per person. 14 February.   Tel (021) 876-4404

*   Trinity, Bennett Street:  3-course dinner R300 per person. Tel (021) 418-0624

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage