One of the great things about South Africa is the naturalness of the country. While one could sometimes wish for more sophistication, that is a First World problem, not a South African problem. I have been fortunate that I have been in places where it is reasonably safe. So with apologies to Bill Bryson…..here are some of my walks
After leaving Cape Town, I drove about 150km up the West Coast to Langebaan. Langebaan is a weekend retreat for Capetonians. In the week it is very quiet – it almost seems like a large retirement Village. I walked out of the town along towards Shark Bay, which is a place people like to go windsurfing. Having suffered the wind here, I can see why they would enjoy it.
Houses here are solid and there were very few flat roofs. Mostly quite high angles. I was blown back by the wind in the end, and can see why that type of construction is needed in the conditions here. I can only imagine what it was like for sailing ships sailing down this coast. No wonder they looked for the Cape of Good Hope!
While at Langebaan, I was working over at Hopefield – a small town about 30 minutes out of Langebaan. While walking around the centre (which took about 5 minutes), I noticed a coffee place. I went in and not only had a good coffee and lunch, but also saw some Rooiboos Red Mocha tea, with Coffee Nibs in. The owner had never tried it, so I bought it anyway and have been drinking it regularly. With Cocoa and Coffee in it (and no milk!), it tastes like a light mocha coffee.
After Langebaan, I travelled on a late Friday afternoon over to Stellenbosch. I arrived at the height of the traffic…and traffic here is often at a stop.
Stellenbosch is the centre of the Wine District around Cape Town. There are wine Estates all round and it fills up on friday with people visiting for the weekend, making the place full to the brim with mostly visitors. I went for a walk on my first weekend along the Eerstes river. Note the Brown water – from tannins in the timber further upstream. It seemed pretty safe, until I came to a notice on a fence and gate saying to only go further in a group etc. So I turned back.
During the week I travelled back and forth to Paarl, a road which seemed full of roadworks. they have a stop-go system which goes for kilometres. I waited once for 15 minutes before being allowed to proceed. The locals get out of their cars, have a cigarette and a chat while they are waiting. However they were certainly very impatient at other times. In south Africa, if a car pulls up behind you , you are expected to pull over to the shoulder and let them pass you. If you don’t, they flash headlights and horns etc.
This weekend, my biggest outing has been to the Lanzerac Wine Estate. I went there because I could walk the 3km there. I was not prepared to drive and do any wine tasting, so it was the only alternative. Lanzerac is one of the older Wine estate in South Africa. They have a large estate, with a hotel and restaurant and deli/tasting room. I went to the latter, as it seemed the least pretentious.
They offered 5 wines paired with chocolate, so I changed my mind from the five reds I had been going to try and went with their fixed alternative. As it turned out, it was a unique experience. The little chocolate bars were very different in taste to complement the wines. The Sauvignon Blanc was quite fruity so there were berries and fruits in the chocolate. The Chardonnay was so young, it was still growing – quite a bad advertisement for what can be a lovely wine, when well done. The Reds (Merlot, Pinotage and Cabernet Sauvignon) were quite good. Thbe choclate with the Pinotage had some coffee flavour. With the Cabernet, the chocolate included cinnamon and almond. Overall I found the wines a little bland and didn’t take anything back home to the hotel to drink. Instead I went into town and bought a bottle of the Diemersdorf Coffe Pinotage, which is another unique wine here that I have not seen anywhere else.
I also walked in the other direction along the Eerstes river. The highlight of this was seeing people washing their clothes in the water, but I did not feel comfortable to take photos of them. I also saw a squirrel which let me get close enough to take a camouflage photo, past one of the university buildings where I am working next week.
Another few days here, before flying to Johannesburg for my last week. I doubt I will get out much in Johannesburg, so I have enjoyed it here walking among the vines.