South Africa: The Winelands

In the colorful Bo~Kapp district

In the colorful Bo~Kapp district

We headed off for new adventures today as we took in some key sights in town, including the Castle, Bo-Kaap (Malaysian/Muslim) district & Parliament area. Then we headed off to the Winelands and the historic towns of Dutch-influenced Stellenbosch and French-influenced Franschhoek. We began with a visit to the typically-Dutch estate and winery of Meerlust, in the same family for 8 generations! Afterward, we saw the beautiful, quaint town of Stellenbosch with it’s charming Dutch-gabled architecture, churches, homes and leafy tree-lined streets with flowers blooming and birds singing. Then, off to learn about the great (and famous) South African wine – Pinotage, at the award-winning Kanonkop winery. They get the KFB prize for the best wine of the day.

We’d had enough wine to require heading off to lunch at the lovely, relaxing La Petite Ferme, for an amazing gourmet meal. If you’d dropped us in the spot, I would’ve bet my next trip that we were in Europe ~ based on the ambiance, views and wonderful food.

After walking off some (not enough) of the terrific lunch, we visited the lovely village of Franschhoek and saw enough restaurants and interesting shops to make us regret having to move on so quickly . . . . but, alas, we needed to make it to at least one more winery – and we did: the Rupert & Rothschild facility. We sampled their offerings, including their new olive oil (many of the vignerons here have decided growing olives is compatible with wine), in a lovely garden setting, before making the one hour journey back to Cape Town.

And then, we had to rest . . . .

A Local Resident, a Southern Right Whale.

A Local Resident, a Southern Right Whale.

Off around the coast today with our South African guide, Karin. We started out with the beach-front suburbs and beautiful homes along the hills; then the 12 Apostles (and no, they don’t have individual names); Hout Bay; the fabulous Chapman’s Peak drive and eventually into Table Mountain National Park to visit the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.

We could not have ordered a better day of incredible weather! Once we were at the Cape Point Lighthouse, we did a hike, for about an hour, to the Cape of Good Hope. Photos don’t do it justice – they just don’t capture the ruggedness, stiff breeze or cool chill in the air, much less the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks far below, the smell of salt air and an incredible sense of beautiful isolation.

We continued our trip around the coast to Simon’s Town, it’s famous False Bay and the “Boulders” where we visited the really cute African Penguin colony at Foxy Beach.

By now, it was late in the day and we had worked up quite an appetite – so off to Kalk Bay for another incredible seafood meal, this time at the Harbour House restaurant hanging right out over the Atlantic.

After resting and refueling, we headed back towards town and made a stop at Kirstenbosch, the national botanical garden. What a wonderful way to end an amazing day.

 

View from Table Mountain

View from Table Mountain

We arrived in Cape Town just after noon, on a plane that was on time and with the miracle of our bags actually arriving with us. J-burg Tambo airport has a little trouble with the staffing system for their domestic connecting flights & baggage re-check, and a whole lot of guys standing around to “help” you get the job done . . . we did not have confidence . . .

In any case, we are here and feel pretty good despite a 24-hour trip; the weather is crystal clear with beautiful blue skies and a temperature in the low-mid 60s. So we decided to take the advice of the travel writers and our hotel concierge, and take the cable car to Table Mountain today (even though we were supposed to see it tomorrow). The weather can change so fast here that clouds and/or strong winds often keep visitors from experiencing the incredible views.

Our lovely hotel, the Cape Grace, has cute drivers in new, top-of-the-line, BMW 760s to take you places and pick you up, so it’s very convenient and pleasant. Traffic is moderate and the city is very clean, although has areas of slums on the outskirts.

We spent some time late in the day walking around the waterfront and decided to have a relatively light seafood dinner at Quay 4. I actually had the best mussels ever and did something I haven’t done since traveling in Mexico years ago ~ ordered another round;  of mussels, of course!

%d bloggers like this: