South Africa 26 — Proteas


So I realized that my series on posts in South Africa nearly 2 years ago ended with #25, a chocolate and wine tasting at the Waterford Estate, here. Work yourself backwards in the archives for July and June 2014 if you didn’t read that set of posts. I never got around to finishing the series, and I will now, or at least cram the best photos into a few more posts. The South African posts are amongst my favorite travel “journals” in over 10 years of blogging, so I wanted to complete the series.


Once we had settled into our hotel in Cape Town, we were ready for a couple more days of sightseeing down to the Cape of Good Hope and some shopping to fill our duffel bags with local goodies to take home. We stayed at the Table Bay Hotel, and while I had been planning to do a full post with all that went wrong there, let us just say I would never recommend the hotel. It is well located, but overpriced, impersonal, with phenomenal service slip ups when we were there. And folks who tidied up the rooms had a really questionable habit of leaving our veranda doors unlocked even though the terrace connected to many other rooms on the floor… in other words, we could easily have been robbed. At any rate, suffice it to say Marketman would suggest you try many other highly rated hotels rather that the Table Bay Hotel, and we otherwise wrote about nearly flawless experiences at hotels elsewhere in South Africa.


However, in the lobby of the hotel, they had a beautiful huge arrangement of proteas… seemingly prehistoric looking blooms that are plentiful on local hillsides and one of the most recognizable blooms from this area. I wasn’t thrilled with them at first (the same way I don’t like colored bromeliads), but they started to grow on me the longer we stayed and the more we saw them in use.


We came across several types of proteas, and these ones from a local market were particularly colorful.


I am presuming these blooms are more mature and opened up.


We also spied them on hillsides growing rather naturally.


I wouldn’t say these are my favorite of flowers, but they certainly were a favorite of locals in Cape Town.


13 Responses

  1. So timely as I came across your SA posting while trying to decide whether to take an Antarctica expedition or safari to celebrate a milestone… now on your SA 14. Thank you for the postings, looking forward to more.

  2. The proteas is the national flower of S Africa and also because of a long shelf or vase life , it is favored in many flower arrangements in the country. Note also that the S African national cricket team is nicknamed the Proteas, after the country’s national flower.

  3. In full bloom, they do give off a whiff of Little Shop Of Horrors vibe so maybe you are just wary they’d need periodic propitiating with burnt offerings. Not to worry then, they would thrive well close to your lechonan.

    My neurons actually return gerberas when I hear flowers and Africa and of course, the jacaranda trees in bloom all over Pretoria. Mother planted rows and rows of them (gerberas) year after year and called them African daisies.

  4. The close flowers are like tulips from afar but I agree with Footloose on the little shop of horrors in full bloom :)

  5. Never came across a bouquet of proteas as the local Costco, for obvious reasons, right ?? and Footloose, I like gerberas, the ‘African daisies’, like sentinels all in a row in the garden.

  6. Keep up with the travel posts MM. Hopefully you can also cover your trip to Portugal last year in the next posts.

  7. denise, perhaps it has improved since, that’s always possible (or our stay was one of those outliers of a horrible visit). But I didn’t detail the stay when we were there. First, a mix up on arrival on the type of room, and it wasn’t ready until much beyond arrival time. The room was tiny compared to all of our other accommodations (on safari, in Stellenbosch, etc.) and certainly the worst value for money. It was filled with group tours of Chinese (nationality is irrelevant, you could replace that with Indian, Pakistani, Mexican, Filipino and it would be the same) and other tourists, some with their feet up on lobby couches, smoking where they shouldn’t have been and unable to communicate with restaurant staff in even the simplest manner, resulting in horrible argumentative situations and lines waiting to get into simple breakfasts. There were so many in these huge tour groups, they set up temporary satellite dining areas in other outlets, and much of the breakfast buffet was middling to poor in quality. Our room, was reasonably outfitted, but poorly maintained. I even took a photo of the toilet bowl which had so much dark or black scum on the rim of the bowl it looked like it hadn’t been properly cleaned in several days, and certainly without a five star eye for hygiene. We had lamps for paintings with busted bulbs. We had flower vases with water but no flowers in the bathroom and room, bizarre cleaning habits of rooms staff leaving cleaning materials in the room on tables and the television. Sometimes we had things, other nights they were not replenished. There was a dead plant on our terrace table, seriously, if it’s dead, get rid of it. And worst of all, since this was the tail end of the trip and we had passports, bags, and other valuables in the room, the room staff left our terrace door unlocked on 2 or 3 out of the nights we stayed there. We called their attention to it and they just shrugged. It’s an issue because the terrace connected with several other rooms and people could have easily entered our room while we were away. Do you think the hotel would reimburse for a crocodile handbag stolen or a favorite scarf spirited away, had it happened? I don’t think so. Yes, it was a big hotel, yes it was well located, yes it has a a good reputation. But we either had a really bum visit or other guests didn’t run into the things we did on our stay. If I published the photo of our toilet grime in any other 5 star hotel, I suspect the head of housekeeping at those hotels would risk getting sternly reprimanded… I have stayed at least 3,000+ room nights in hotels over the past 25 years, living in one hotel for nearly 5 straight years, and I can confidently say the Table Bay Hotel during our particular stay was a HUGE disappointment in an otherwise nearly FLAWLESS trip to South Africa with fabulous stays in several other properties I have already written about. :( If we stayed in the same area again, I would definitely book at the Cape Grace Hotel instead or alternatively, one of the other boutique hotels in other areas of Cape Town. If you want an upscalish big chain hotel feel, then you might pick the Table Bay Hotel. For us, life is too short and jaunts to South Africa so infrequent, that I wouldn’t give them a second chance when there are several other nice places to stay in…


    Arrival screen on our television. Daughter’s name incomprehensible “Ms. Madibane” and misspelled our last name. Petty, I agree, but details that would never happen at Singita, Amanresorts or the Peninsula or Mandarin hotels…


    Beautifully minimalist flower vases with water but no flowers…


    Mislabelled shower faucets with C being hot and H being cold…


    Magnify to see the scum in the toilet bowl that remained for all of the days of our stay, despite a call to housekeeping on our first evening.


    The locks on the door to our terrace were locked every time we left the room, but open three late afternoons after turn down service.


    Dead cactus on our terrace. Unless they have black hibernating cacti in South Africa, it is otherwise pretty hard to kill a cactus, and they did and didn’t bother to remove the pot. Where is the housekeeping supervisor/inspector in all this?!


    The lamp for the paintings is completely off its hinges and this was over the king-sized bed. If it fell on my head, I would have bopped the duty manager with it. Again, pointed out on our arrival and never fixed. I wish I took photos of the lobby when it was filled with group tours and the breakfast buffet that wasn’t worth our getting up for.

  8. I checked TripAdvisor, and the hotel still gets a lot of complaints. I asked our client and seems they only like it because it is near their offices along the waterfront.

    That toilet bowl is nasty! Even the budget hotels here in the Philippines don’t have toilets like that!

  9. Thank you for posting proteas ..available quite a few times at Pikes market,I love thier exotic look and long lasting flower so I don’t fail to get them,they add edginess to my otherwise romantic flowers in my garden.

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