Wine and Whales

From Cape Town we headed east to visit two more regions: the Winelands and the Whale Coast. We saw, and sampled, plenty of wine at the former, but saw no whales at the latter – it’s the wrong season.

No Whining in the Winelands

In three days we visited 10 wineries and a brandy distillery, tasted about 40 different wines (as well as brandy, cheese, chocolate and olive oil), and bought 14 bottles of wine (plus brandy, cheese, chocolate and olive oil). It is clear we have not been idling about.

We visited three towns in the Winelands. On the first day we went to Somerset West and looked in two wineries. As he was driving, Ian only tasted olives and olive oil, but Sandie tried five different wines at one place.

The manor house at Vergelegen winery

The manor house at Vergelegen winery

Vergelegen winery

Vergelegen winery

Tasting olives at Morgenster winery

Tasting olives at Morgenster winery

Morgenster manor house

Morgenster manor house

We drove on to the attractive little town of Stellenbosch and stayed two nights. There we did a ‘Vinehopper’ tour by bus of five wineries and a brandy distillery. We took turns doing the tasting, and returned to base not too much the worse for wear.

Historic equipment at Van Ryn's brandy distillery

Historic equipment at Van Ryn’s brandy distillery

Making barrels at Van Ryn's

Making barrels at Van Ryn’s

Which of these expensive brandies do I prefer?

Which of these expensive brandies do I prefer?

The expert evaluator at work

The expert evaluator at work

Raw materials

Raw materials

Classic cars at Bilton winery

Classic cars at Bilton winery

A church in Stellenbosch

A church in Stellenbosch

Some of our spoils

Some of our spoils

Crazy models on a farm near Stellenbosch

Crazy models on a farm near Stellenbosch

Our third town was Franschhoek, which has a history of settlement by Huguenot refugees, and a large Huguenot memorial in the town. We did a walking tour of the town and its surroundings, taking in three wineries on the way.

Dutch-style gable at Franschhoek

Dutch-style gable at Franschhoek

Huguenot memorial at Franschhoek

Huguenot memorial at Franschhoek

Unfortunately we are really frauds when it comes to wine tasting, as we can’t speak or understand the ‘wine-babble’ about ‘nose’ and ‘finish’ – we just know what we like. So after three days of non-stop wine, we decided it was time to move on.

The Southern Tip

The so-called ‘Whale Coast’ is around Cape Agulhas, which is the southern tip of the African continent, where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. In the right season you can see whales passing by, but in March it’s just holidaymakers. We stayed in the ‘honeymoon suite’ of a B&B – the room had an enormous bath, two toilets, two washbasins, two showers and a bidet in it, plus 17 pillows and cushions.

We explored Cape Agulhas, including the southernmost point and the wreck of a Japanese trawler. We also walked along (part of) Struisbaai beach, which goes on for about nine miles and is allegedly the longest one in the Southern Hemisphere.

Flower at Cape Agulhas

Flower at Cape Agulhas

Wind-ruffled bird at Cape Agulhas

Wind-ruffled bird at Cape Agulhas

At the southern tip of Africa

At the southern tip of Africa

A wreck at Cape Agulhas

A wreck at Cape Agulhas

We also visited a nearby town called Arniston, famed for an enormous cave which is supposed to be able to hold a wagon and horses inside. Arniston has an area of attractive fishermen’s cottages, which are whitewashed with grey thatched roofs. Similar buildings have sprung up at Arniston and Struisbaai, but these are upmarket holiday homes and not houses for fishermen.

Fishermen's cottage at Arniston

Fishermen’s cottage at Arniston

Africa?

We remain rather disorientated. Geography tells us this is Africa, but everything around us says Europe, or perhaps Australia or New Zealand. Are we really in Africa? Watch this space as we travel on.

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