Tag Archives: Switzerland

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 7 May

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The FNB/Bureau for Economic Research Consumer Confidence Index ‘plummeted’ to -4  in the first quarter of 2015, reflecting the pessimism created by loadshedding, increases in income tax and the price of petrol, as well as ‘social and political turmoil‘.

*   Angelo Scirocco of Chef’s Warehouse and winner of the S. Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year Award for Africa/Middle East, has been ‘paired’ with fashion designer Ashi Studio of Beirut, each designer reinterpreting Continue reading →

Soccer World Cup 2014: where to find the screens, snacks, and Schnapps!

Cocoa Ola World Cup flags Whale Cottage PortfolioThe Soccer World Cup 2014 has kicked off, and one would have thought that Cape Town restaurants and pubs would have shown more ‘gees’.  We have only seen one restaurant on Kloof Street ‘advertising’ its soccer allegiance, with three flags on the outside of Cocoa Oola   In general the soccer event appears to be a damp squib for locals.  A number of restaurants are offering free viewing, some with special menu items that reflect the countries playing on the day.

Check the closing times of the restaurants and pubs before choosing them, as their licence will influence how late they are allowed to stay open. It is surprising how hard it is to find Soccer World Cup 2014 information on the websites of those restaurants and bars attracting soccer fans. We will update this list as we find new information about offers linked to the Soccer World Cup 2014:

*   Mondiall – this restaurant is commendable in being one of the most creative and focused on the Soccer World Cup 2014.  Each day it chooses a lead game, offering a tapas dish and a main course from the countries, with a complimentary drink,  of each of the two teams playing each other on the day, at a cost of R180.  For today, for example, with Germany playing Portugal, the German tapas dish offered is potato soup with crispy pork and chives, while the main course is Bratwurst, and the complimentary drink a CBC Weiss.  The PortugueseMondiall Baked Camembert tapas is peri peri chicken wings, the main course a prego roll, and the complimentary drink sangria. The country dishes for the chosen matches over the next ten days are as follows:

17 June:   Brazil versus Mexico

18 June:  Spain versus Chile Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 1 November

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The Legatum Prosperity Index shows that most African countries, including South Africa (now in 77th position) have declined in prosperity in the past year.  The most prosperous countries are, in order, Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, and Denmark.  Both the USA (11th) and UK (16th) have slipped on the Index relative to last year, particularly the former.

*   World Travel Market, one of the top three travel and tourism exhibitions, and taking place in London from Monday – Thursday, will boost the UK economy by £160 million, and deals to the value of £2 billion are expected to be signed amongst the 50000 attendees.

*   The Gfk Consumer Climate Europe is measuring a small upturn in the economic outlook for the European Union countries, signalling that the worst of the economic crisis in Europe may be over.

*   Ebony Gallery on Loop Street is exhibiting Grace Kotze’s ‘Within’ exhibition from 7 November – 4 December. (received via e-mail from Ebony)

*   A new ranking of climate-friendly airlines by Atmosfair places Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 16 September

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Scandinavians are the happiest in the world, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network World Happiness Report 2013 has found.  Denmark is in first place with the happiest citizens in the world, followed by Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

*   The future of tour operators is uncertain, following the e-Travel Africa Summit, which was held in Cape Town last week, the E-Tourism Frontiers organiser Damian Cook saying that their days are numbered, while SA Tourism’s Chief Marketing Officer Jan Hutton disagrees.

*   The South African National Parks’ free entrance to all bar three of its national parks last week has met with criticism from COSATU (the Confederation of South African Trade Unions) in being discriminatory, benefiting those Continue reading →

Overhex Balance wines are good balance between quality and price!

On Friday I was fortunate to experience a tasting of some of the wines in the Overhex Wines International range, and specifically their new additions to the two year old Balance range, which was held at one of the most popular restaurants in Cape Town, namely Luke Dale-Roberts’  The Test Kitchen.

The Test Kitchen in the Old Biscuit Mill premises in Woodstock is a small space, and we must have been about thirty journalists and bloggers who were lucky enough to be invited by charming PR consultant Nicolette Waterford.  The stature of the event was reflected by the attendance of Sunday Times wine writer Neil Pendock, Cape Wine Master Christine Rudman, Cape Times wine writer Cathy Marston, Christian Eedes, Wade Bales, Spit or Swallow’s Anel Grobler, Joanne Gibson, Greg Landman, and more, and the restaurant venue must have been an important attendance drawcard.   Spread over the two tables were staff of Overhex, including the co-owner Gerhard van der Wath, who manages the company, in close co-operation with JC (for Jean Claude) Martin, who is the Production Director, and is responsible for the wine styles and blends, assisted by Jandre Human, the cellar master.  Being private-owned means that Gerhard and JC can make quick decisions.   They are not restricted to only the grapes of their region, but can buy in the best grapes to suit their requirements, including from the Swartland, West Coast, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch, allowing them to make wines at different price points.  The Overhex farm in the Breede River Valley outside Worcester produces about 10 000 tons of grapes, and about 5 million litres are bought in, JC told us.

JC (on the right, chatting to Greg Landman) has a Swiss German lilt when he speaks, and arrived in South Africa six years ago, having met his wife Carolyn (daughter of Walter Finlayson) on the wine estate in Switzerland on which he worked at the time, where she came to present label designs on behalf of the London design agency she worked for.  His association with Overhex started in 2005.  Alongside the Overhex wine involvement, JC makes his own Creation wines in the Hemel en Aarde valley outside Hermanus.   While this was not a Creation function at all, we did discuss the wines and the marketing of them, which JC does on the side when he represents Overhex wines overseas.  His wife does the marketing of Creation wines locally, and they had an average of 300 visitors per day in their tasting room over the festive season, he said.  They are very excited about the fact that the Western Cape province has placed the Caledon – Hermanus gravel road going through their valley as number one priority on the list of roads to be tarred in the province, and they see this as being of huge future benefit to themselves and their colleagues on the recently created Hemel en Aarde Valley wine route.   I sat opposite JC, and asked him questions abouit Creation – he did not talk about Creation when he addressed the guests.  JC told me he studied winemaking in the French part of Switzerland. Switzerland is not generally known as a wine producer, but JC told me that the Swiss drink all the wine produced in the total area of 25000 ha, and therefore it is not exported.  Whalepod is a new Creation brand, and we have started stocking it in our Whale Cottages.  JC told me that they are launching a new Syrah/Malbec Whalepod blend. Tasting rooms on wine farms are unique to South Africa, in that one can visit most wine farms without making an appointment, making this wine tourism valuable to wine farms selling their wines from the cellar door – for Creation it represents 30 % of their sales. 

In 2003 Overhex was started as a co-operative, and was bought by Gerhard and a partner in 2005.  Initially their focus was on the international market, and they now export to 25 countries.  JC told us that they export to supermarket and liquor groups such as Marks & Spencer, CO-OP UK, and Fosters, making own label wines for them.   Most of the wine is made to the specific requirements of each of these chains, and exported in bulk, and bottled in the UK and in Germany.     Ten Overhex brands are exported, being 3,5 million bottles in total. 

The reason for the launch function was to introduce the new additions to the Balance range, being the Winemaker’s Selection Shiraz 2010 and Winemaker’s Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2010.  They complement the existing Balance range of Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 (won a gold medal at Michelangelo 2010),  Shiraz Merlot 2010, Pinotage Shiraz 2009, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010, Chenin Blanc Colombar, Reserve Unwooded Chardonnay, Sparkling Vin Sec, Sparkling Vin Doux, Shiraz Rosé and a sweet Rosé, aiming them at the domestic market for the first time.  Balance has been shaped for local wine drinkers, and the range is designed to be easy drinking wines with a shorter life span.   We were asked to evaluate the wines relative to their price point, the Winemaker’s Selection Sauvignon Blanc costing R40 and the Winemaker’s Selection Shiraz costing R45, representing incredible value, as none of the white and red Balance wines are more expensive than these two prices.  JC said that the Balance wines should not be judged on price alone, in that a cheaper wine does not mean that it is a bad wine.   Overhex operates ethically and cares about its supplier farmers, in that they offer them a price for their grapes that allows the farmers to survive.  The Balance wines are available at ULTRA intitally, and they are working on expanding the distribution at local outlets.   I asked about the elephant on the label, and the designer was at the function, but she could not explain it, other than that it was on the first Balance labels.  The Balance pay-off line is “for life’s lighter moments”.  The Overhex cellar now has a tasting room and Bistro, and locals are invited to visit the wine estate.  “Our goal with Balance is to get the wine lover to celebrate everyday wine culture, making it easy to enjoy delicious wines from a varied range at an affordable price point”, said Gerhard.

The Test Kitchen food was outstanding, and deep fried sushi was served before we started.  I chose a Trout tartar starter, which was light and perfect for the hot summer’s day.  As I had the kingklip when I had dinner at the restaurant in December, I ordered the beef fillet, and it is the softest I remember ever having, simply presented with green beans.   For dessert the choice was a cheese platter and lemon tart. 

The launch and tasting of the Overhex Wines International Balance range of wines, ‘paired’ with the wonderful food by Chef Luke-Dale Roberts of The Test Kitchen, and the gift pack of Balance wines, was the start to an exceptional day, which ended with the attendance at the U2 360° concert at the Cape Town Stadium for many attending the function.

Overhex Wines International, 71 Stockenström Street, Worcester. Tel (023) 347-6838.  www.overhex.com  Tuesday – Thursday 10h00 – 17h00, Friday and Saturday 10h00 – 16h00.

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

Restaurant Review: Glen Carlou Restaurant full spectrum, from grapes to wine!

I experienced one of the cleverest wine marketing ideas when I had lunch at Glen Carlou Restaurant on Friday.  The Restaurant Manager Janine came to each table with a washed bunch of freshly picked Malbec grapes, so that one can experience the taste of a more unusual grape variety.   This brought the vineyard, in which we could see the Glen Carlou staff picking grapes below us, straight to the table, and stimulated an interest in tasting the wines after the lunch, even though I had decided against wine-tasting initially.

Glen Carlou has been owned by  Donald Hess for the last six years, and he is an entrepreneur with international interests, such as we have seen at Delaire Graff and Grande Provence – international owners of multiple properties around the world, and lovers of and investors in art.  Janine reminded every table about the Hess Collection art gallery, which is behind closed doors in an airconditioned room, containing some interesting works of art – not the place to bring one’s teenage daughter!   Hess has wine interests in Argentina, California, Australia and in South Africa.   The Hess Family Estates had its first beginnings in Switzerland in 1844,  when Johann Heinrich Hess founded a brewery in Berne.  The current owner Donald Hess grew the company, in that it diversified into mineral water, Valser Water becoming Switzerland’s leading water brand.  He loves wine and art, and married these two passions with his first wine estate purchase on Mount Veeder in the Napa Valley in 1978.  Then followed wine estates in Argentina (the highest vineyard in the world), in Australia, and then in South Africa, with the purchase of Glen Carlou (making wines since 1985).   Hess is one of the world’s major collectors of contemporary art representing the last fifty years, and his collection includes 1000 works by 65 international artists.  Hess only acquires pieces that challenge or touch him personally.  “When I have seen an art piece which keeps me awake over several nights, I know that this art piece has touched me deeply and this is one of my most important criteria to buy an art work”, he says in a profile on the Hess Art Collection.

The building is an all-in-one wine cellar (on the lower level) and one can see very little of the wine production side, save for a glass floor section allowing one to see some barrels below, tasting room, art gallery and restaurant.   One enters a lovely air conditioned room, which has the wine tasting counter closest to the door, and the rest of the space is taken up by a very spacious restaurant, with a small lounge section too.   It has a homely thatched roof ceiling.  The terrace has shading so that one can sit outside and enjoy the lovely view onto the vineyards below and the Paarl Mountains in the distance.  I could have sworn that I saw a little buck dashing from one vineyard to the other.  There is attractive white garden furniture outside, with a glass top and aluminium table.  The cork placemats and the old-fashioned wooden salt and pepper grinders seemed out of place with the international character of the wine estate (Peugeot is very in, I have noticed on my restaurant travels), and there is no table cloth, yet there is a material serviette, into which is rolled two forks and two knives, on the assumption that one will have a starter and a main course.  Two big glass containers contain olive oil (from House of Olives down the road) and balsamic vinegar (from Serena, according to the waiter).

I was seated by Janine, who was very friendly, but I felt her Capri pants to be out of character with the stature of this Hess winery.  The chef Hennie van der Merwe has been at Glen Carlou for about two years, and previously owned The Red Hen restaurant on Wildebraam outside Swellendam.   He has also worked at Umami in Stellenbosch, on the QE2, and on the Queen Mary.  I was surprised (and impressed) that I was welcomed by Georgie Prout, the Public Relations Manager, who recognised me from the Winestyle launch at Warwick a few months ago, she said.  She was very helpful in providing information about the other Hess wine farms. 

The menu is presented in a black leather menu holder, and in fact there are two menus.  While I had a look through the menus, introduced two weeks ago, the waiter brought two bread rolls (looked like mosbolletjies to me, but topped with sesame seeds), which again did not match the stature of the wine estate, in my opinion.  Each item on the menu has a Glen Carlou wine recommendation.   As I was just passing through, I ordered two starters, the first being a Caprese salad with Bocconcini (an imported buffalo mozzarella,  I was told), ‘baby plum tomatoes’, tiny drops of basil pesto, and rocket – the chef seems to like rocket, as both starters had lots of it on the plate, and it had a really bitter taste (R40).   It was served with two tiny triangles of toast (what is it with tiny toast triangles?  I had them at Mange Toute as well), which were not enough to eat with the cheese.  I would have preferred the basil fresh and not in pesto form.  Much more exciting was the seared duck breast served with duck liver mousse, and I loved the orange honey sauce that was served with it (R60).  I thought the rocket and grapefruit distracted from and clashed with the lovely duck and sauce, both being too bitter, even though they added colour to the starter.  I would like to see this dish become a main course, so good was the duck and sauce.  The duck liver mousse was on another tiny toast triangle.  Starters cost between R 40 – R65, and other options include smoked trout and asparagus, mussels, and an interesting sounding trio of Kudu carpaccio, steak tartar with poached quail egg and rooibos smoked springbok loin. 

Main courses are reasonable in price, costing R85 – R105, and include roasted pork fillet and mushroom fricassee, sirloin steak, roasted quail, kingklip, duck, and trout.   Georgie told me that Chef Hennie is known for his wonderful sauces.   The second menu has further options, mainly salads and burgers, costing R60 – R85.  The cappuccino (R16) took long to bring to the table, but was in a large cup, and very foamy.   It was while I was waiting for the coffee that Janine came with the bunch of grapes, so it served as a dessert.   Dessert choices are Malva pudding, Crème Brulee, and chocolate mousse, all costing a most reasonable R30,  ice cream at R12 a scoop, and a Boland cheese platter at R85 – they are not on the menu one receives on arrival, but on a menu list which includes side orders, drinks other than wines, and the Kiddies Menu.  

I had a large jug of farm water and lemon to drink, and was surprised at the saltiness of the water.  The waiter said something about putting lemon into the water because of that, but I did not understand this.  The wines are listed in a similar black leather holder.   I was very impressed that there was no mark-up on the Glen Carlou wines on the winelist at all!  This makes them very reasonable to order : Sauvignon Blanc (R18/R65), Tortoise Hill White (R12/R42),  Chardonnay (R25/R90), Quartz Stone Chardonnay (R25/R90), Pinot Noir (R36/R130), Tortoise Hill Red (R16/R49), Syrah (R34/R120), Zinfandel (R36/R130), Cabernet Sauvignon (R25/R90), Grand Classique (R34/R120), Gravel Quarry Cabernet Sauvignon (R80/R375) and The Welder (R22/R89).  In addition, one can buy Hess wines from Argentina (Colomè), Peter Lehmann (Australia) and the Hess Collection from California, ranging in price from R140 – R 395, at Glen Carlou.  I was encouraged via Twitter to try Glen Carlou’s Zinfandel, and having been to a Blaauwklippen Zinfandel tasting a week ago, I tried a small glassfull, and liked it very much.  Janine wanted me to know that the Zinfandel is seen as a ‘hobby wine’, and only 6000 bottles are produced.   She said that the Hess Zinfandel from Napa has a very different character to that of Glen Carlou, even though both have 15 % alcohol.   I then tried a small glassful of the 2006 Shiraz, and it is one of my favourites.  The winemaker is a low profile Arco Laarman, whose name I did not know – Janine said he worked alongside the previous cellarmaster David Finlayson, and has been at Glen Carlou for ten years.

The invoice came in a soft black leather holder, and I was irritated when the waiter came to my table with the credit card machine – I had not put down my card, was still having my grapes and water, did not show signs of leaving, and had no intention to pay by card.

As I drive past Glen Carlou whenever I go to Franschhoek, I will certainly pop in for lunch again.  I used to love their prawn salad, but that dish is not on the new menu.  There are a number of interesting dishes to try at Glen Carlou on future visits.  

Glen Carlou Restaurant,  Simondium Road (R 45), Klapmuts.  Tel (021) 875-5528.     www.glencarlou.co.za  (The new menu is not yet on the website.  Innovative is that recipes are listed on the website, but they are for dishes no longer on the menu).  Tuesday – Sunday.

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

2010 World Cup Golden Ball Award goes to Paul the Octopus!

Never in the history of World Cup soccer has a “player” made world TV and newspaper headlines as has Paul the psychic octopus.   We nominate him for the Golden Ball Award for being the most on-the-ball player of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, having correctly predicted Germany’s four wins and two losses.  

Paul lives in an aquarium in Oberhausen in Germany, but is British-born.  He started duty in the UEFA Cup final in 2008, but made an error when he predicted that Germany would win against Spain.   He was a little known player then, especially due to his incorrect prediction.  But since the start of the 2010 World Cup he has been spot-on with the results of each match, predicting Germany’s wins over Australia, Ghana, England and Argentina, and its losses against Serbia and Spain.  

All eyes will be on Paul as he predicts Germany to take 3rd place against Uruguay in Port Elizabeth today.   He has also bravely stepped out of his league in predicting the winner of the World Cup Final to be Spain, in its match against Netherlands tomorrow.

Poor Paul is being heavily taxed, in that he is now being asked to predict all sorts of other things, such as whether German coach Joachim Loew will renew his contract.

Paul has become such a talked-about VIP that he has his own Twitter page now (@PPsychicOctopus), and boy can he Tweet non-stop, usually putting some “biped” down when he/she make comments he does not like, and just in general, when he feels like it.  He is a cheeky opinionated chap!   He attracted 422 followers in just 2 days, and is hoping for 1000 by tomorrow.  He picks up almost every mention about himself on Twitter, and then replies to it. He has been featured on CNN, ZDF, BBC and SkyNews, and made the front page of the Cape Times and Germany’s Bild, and no doubt many more international and local newspapers.

While I am having fun, I am awarding some other unofficial 2010 World Cup awards:

Goldie Locks Award: goes to Diego Forlan of Uruguay, who has beautiful blond hair kept in place with a blue aliceband, and has the most beautiful blue eyes, for sure the most beautiful soccer player in the World Cup (on the other hand, Wayne Rooney has already been selected by the media as the ‘ugliest’ player of the soccer tournament)

Golden Trend Award:  Cristiano Ronaldo receives this award, for his black nailpolished toes, as seen on German TV station ZDF yesterday

Golden Coach Award:  superstitious German coach Joachim Loew wearing his beautiful blue jersey at every match in which Germany played, and refusing to wash it to not break the luck of his team, that is until it lost against Spain this week.    He was by far the best looking coach of all teams.

Golden Moneybags Award without a doubt goes to FIFA and its President Sepp Blatter, for taking all its money out of South Africa, untaxed as per its contract with the South African government, especially all the MATCH booking monies.  Ticket sales will have largely been received by credit card in Switzerland anyway.

Golden Service Award goes to the 25 000 or so volunteers at 10 stadiums and at the Fan Parks in Host Cities, as well as at airports and FIFA-designated hotels, who worked for a pittance of R 100 per day, irrespective of how long their working hours were.   Volunteers were specifically forced to sign away their rights to protection under South Africa’s labour legislation, such is the power of FIFA!   Volunteers were not even allowed to receive a copy of their 4-page contract.  Volunteers were the machine that made the running of the World Cup smooth and largely incident-free, in offering Spectator Services, Language Support, Transportation, Accreditation, Hospitality, IT and Telecommunications, and many more services to make the World Cup happen.   The ridiculously low “stipend” has to be taxed, at least 30 % being deducted, even for the meal allowance when it was first paid into the bank, while FIFA patted itself on the back for its 25 % increase in its media and marketing income for this World Cup, and announcing that millions of dollars will be paid to Football Associations and its executive.

Golden Aches Award goes to the World Cup Local Organising Committee (LOC), for forcing its 25 000 volunteers around the country to spend half of their R 120 daily meal allowance at a McDonald’s close by, for the past 40 days.  The Green Point branch, which is right at the Stadium, made a fortune from the Cape Town LOC for daily vouchers to the value of R 60 – it could easily be R2 million – out of a blind loyalty to the fast food company’s sponsorship of the World Cup.

Golden Handcuff Award goes to the S A Police Services for safeguarding South Africa and the soccer fans, and for taking over the security services when Stallion Security staff striked in Cape Town and in Durban at the start of the World Cup.   They were patient, dedicated and worked in the pouring rain in Cape Town at three of the matches, and in cold winter conditions for the other five matches, as well as on non-match days, checking bags and other belongings, keeping everyone inside the Stadium safe.

Golden Key Award goes to FIFA and the LOC, for forbidding its volunteers to criticise the two bodies whilst they were on duty, as per the volunteer contract.   What they did not understand was the power of word-of-mouth, aggrieved volunteers talking to each other and posting comments on the Cape Town Volunteers blog  www.ctvolunteers2010.wordpress.com.    E-mails were sent to other volunteers, and one even approached the Weekend Argus about the McDonald’s forced-diet, that uniforms were not supplied to all volunteers in the 5 weeks of them doing duty, prejudicing some in not working inside the stadiums and therefore not seeing all the matches, and that transport problems meant that volunteers stood in the rain and cold waiting for transportation to take them home after matches.

Golden “Gees” Award goes to all South Africans, who become ‘Proudly South African’ in the past month, becoming soccer fans (who was it that said that ‘White’ South Africans do not support soccer and do not watch local matches?) in addition to loving rugby; who went to watch the Stormers and the Blue Bulls play at Orlando Stadium in Soweto (I mean, have you ever?!) and loved the “gees” there just a short while prior to the start of the World Cup; for walking the Fan Walk  (153 000 in Cape Town last Saturday alone) and calling for the Fan Walk to become a permanent feature, locals requesting Capetonians to walk it once a month; for the loyal support for Bafana Bafana, a team we scorned and mocked prior to the World Cup, but who did us proud; and made us proud Africans, supporting BaGhana BaGhana when this was the last African team left in the tournament.

Golden Liquid Award goes to the beer producers and all the staff at pubs and restaurants around the country who made sure that soccer fans remained liquid, either to celebrate or commiserate their teams’ performance!   Vaughn Johnson’s Wine Shop sold 10 000 beer cans in the 4 hours prior to the England versus Algeria match in Cape Town, he says.

Golden Balls-Up Award goes to ACSA Durban for damaging the image of the country when flights bringing German and Spain fans to Durban on Tuesday after the match had finished, due to a congestion of aeroplanes at the new King Shaka airport in the city, reportedly due to private jets clogging up the parking bays and refusing to move their planes, the FIFA one being one of them!  Not surprisingly FIFA and the LOC have distanced themselves from any responsibility for this mess-up.     

Golden Fans Award goes to all the wonderful soccer fans, both local and international, that became infected with the “gees” of the World Cup, who got to endure the vuvuzelas and even bought their own, for dressing up in wigs, painting their faces, and proudly wearing their country’s flags – I can see a whole new fashion trend in proudly-South African colours.   They brought their dollars, pounds and Euros, and bought beers, ate at restaurants (manly pizzas, burgers and steaks), stayed at good value guest houses and did some sightseeing locally.    They showed up FIFA’s MATCH by making their own accommodation bookings (at non-MATCH guest houses) and by buying their own match tickets, instead of falling for MATCH packages.

Golden Rip-Off Award goes to MATCH, the hospitality and ticketing agency of FIFA, which conned the accommodation industry for a second World Cup, promising good accommodation returns, forcing establishments to give 80 % of their rooms, promising not to cancel rooms as it did in Germany four years before, and for adding an unjustified 30 % commission to accommodation rates, giving South Africa an unfortunate image of “rip-off pricing” in the European and English media, thereby keeping soccer fans away from the country.   As if this was not bad enough, the unfortunate accommodation establishments that signed with MATCH received the majority of their rooms back, just a few weeks before the start of the World Cup.

Golden City Award goes to Cape Town, which to date has had the highest number of goals scored (22) of all stadiums, and has achieved the highest occupancy of stadium seats, said Cape Town Stadium Venue Manager Terral Cullen at a Volunteer Farewell Lunch earlier this week.  The Stadium was moved a few meters and a new one built, for the benefit of the view from it onto Table Mountain.   Ironically it was not the mountain that became the focus of the world media, but it was the Stadium itself that formed the backdrop for report after report about our beautiful city and the matches that were taking place.  Even the sport commentators would refer to the beauty of the city during their match commentary.   President Zuma claimed it as the best World Cup city, and FIFA Secretary-General Jerome Valcke said the Cape Town Stadium had the best pitch and was the most perfect stadium, so much so that the Olympic Committee has requested Cape Town to bid for the 2020 Olympic Games.  What an accolade!   Sepp Blatter has taken IOC President Rogge around Cape Town, and personally has recommended the city.  We know that what President Blatter wants, he gets!

Golden Card Award goes to the World Cup referees who loved the red and yellow ones, waving them at players at great regularity, and influencing outcomes of matches as a result – Klose and Mueller’s red and yellow cards were examples for the German team.

Golden Flop Award goes to all soccer players who collapsed every time another player bumped into them – from a distance many of them looked like primadonnas, hoping for a free kick whenever they flopped onto the grass

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

World Cup teams give Cape Town a red card

The tourism industry in Cape Town will be disappointed that none of the 32 World Cup teams have chosen a base camp in or near Cape Town.   The base camp location has an important attraction for fans, who want to stay in the same towns and cities as their home team. 

Despite a deadline of the end of last month, FIFA has given the teams one more week to finalise their choice.  Six teams have not yet announced their final base camp choice.

The Western Cape has 2 teams (France and Denmark) staying in Knysna at Pezula and Simola, respectively, and Japan will be based in George at the Fancourt Hotel. 

Gauteng has the most teams to date, who chose the province for the altitude for their practice sessions, the top quality sport facilities and top quality accommodation : The Netherlands, South Africa, Portugal, Serbia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Brazil, Australia, Honduras, Switzerland, North Korea, and Mexico. 

Pretoria has attracted USA, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, and Argentina.   KwaZulu-Natal has secured Algeria, Ivory Coast, Greece, and Paraguay.   Uruguay is staying in Kimberley.   Ghana  is staying in White River. England and South Korea are staying in Rustenberg.  Chile is staying in Mapumalanga.   Spain has not chosen between Rustenburg and Potchefstroom yet.

Many municipalities spent big money trying to encourage teams to set up base camps in their towns.  Mossel Bay was sure that it had bagged Paraguay, and both Val du Vie and Pearl Valley outside Franschhoek were rumoured to have signed up a team.  The Sunday Times reports that the Mossel Bay municipality spent R 200 million on its bid, and had launched an extensive Spanish language campaign for tourism players in the town.   Bloemfontein, Port Elizabeth and East London also did not attract any base camps.

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

Cape Town 2nd best city in the world!

Cape Town has been voted as the second favourite holiday city in the world by more than 19 000 UK Guardian and Observer readers.   The Mother City ranked 7th last year, and has made a fantastic leap to follow Sydney, as the favourite overseas city, into second place.  New York, San Francisco and Berlin followed as 3rd, 4th and 5th favourite overseas cities.

South Africa did less well on the vote for favourite long-haul overseas country, especially with the 2010 World Cup coming up, and was not included in the top 5 list of New Zealand, Cambodia, Chile, Vietnam and Japan.

Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Sweden and Italy were the top five European countries voted for by the British readers.

Swiss was voted the best short-haul airline, and Singapore Airlines the best long-haul and best business airline.   Silversea Cruises won the best cruise line vote.   Eurostar was voted the best train company.   Taj Hotels won the best international hotel vote – a Taj Hotel is due to open in Cape Town soon.

In the “Ethical travel award category”, Bulungula Lodge in the Eastern Cape won second place.   It is located on the Wild Coast, and was one of the first Fair Trade accredited lodges, and runs on solar power, reports sagoodnews.co.zawww.kayak.com won the vote for the best travel website.

The full list of awards can be read here.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio www.whalecottage.com