Cape Town & Stellenbosch
We spent three nights in Cape Town at Parker Cottage. The B&B is gorgeous, but what made our stay even more special is the genuine interest and attention to guests that is provided by Phil, Tomas and the team. Phil greets us at breakfast and inquires if we wanted some assistance in planning our stay in Cape Town. By the time we are ready to begin the day exploring around town, we have tickets in hand for the tourist bus and Table Mountain cable car, a walking itinerary for the day and dinner reservations at Aubergine.
After the five (yes 5) course breakfast we need to walk all day if we are going to even think about dinner! This is the first exercise we’ve had since arriving! We walked through town and visited the Slave Lodge museum which was eye-opening to the plight of slaves and provided a great overview on the history of apartheid. Hard to believe it was only abolished in 1991 and it’s clear that the vestiges of apartheid still influence South African society today.
The next day we took a scenic day drive down the southern peninsula towards the Cape of Good Hope, passing through quaint fishing villages and seaside towns. We braved a roadside street stall to inspect the local ‘hand-made’ wares. We couldn’t refuse the 50% price reduction and bought a little stone hippo. Around the corner was an Ostrich farm which looked interesting and we stopped to watch these inquisitive birds strut around their pen, looking for the opportunity to give you a good peck!
Hout Bay is meant to be a must see spot, but it was a little disappointing (the scenic pass was closed),so we opted for a long lunch at Camps Bay which was delightful.
Cape Town had a lot to offer and you could certainly spend a week exploring the streets and dining at great restaurants – Phil (Parker Cottage) is insistent we will be back and you could come back to just enjoy his superb hospitality which even continued into Stellenbosch. But before I explain, on the way to Stellenbosch we stopped at the old biscuit mill which has been converted into shops promoting up and coming local designers. One of the things we have been surprised about is how cheap Africa is, pity this is not a shopping trip!
Stellenbosch is only a 1hr drive from Cape Town and we have a 2 o’clock lunch reservation (of course, thanks to Phil) at Cuveé on the Simonsig Estate. Again, our expectations are exceeded with a sumptuous meal, matching wines and superb view.
Phil has also booked us a private wine tasting at a small boutique winery called Rainbow’s End. The car struggles up a steep and bumpy dirt road, we are heading into a narrow valley surrounded by majestic cliffs with vines running up the side. We meet Heinrich at the farm gates and he takes us further into the winery in his 4 wheel drive. He gives us an overview of the winery, its history and the traditional french influences under which the wine is made, many are very labour intensive, including the (still used) by-hand wooden crusher sitting in the yard. The wines are superb and the view magnificent. Phil has once again not let us down and we have a wonderful afternoon. Of course we felt obliged to buy a few (dozen) wines to see us through our travels along the Garden Route.
We spent a morning just meandering through the town of Stellenbosch which I would describe as Double Bay (Sydney) meets Yarra Valley (Victoria). This quaint town clearly has money, even the tourist shops with the same wood carved mementos of Africa (we see everywhere) are up market. The next town in the region is Franschhoek, a bit smaller, but the one main street is lined with restaurants and those same mementos (as you can tell I am a little over the trinkets), it’s all a bit same same. We do stumble on a picturesque winery/restaurant, La Petite Fermé, with superb views over the valley and enjoy a glass of rosé.