South Africa 2011 (Part 2: Liana) travel blog

Waterford Winery in the Stellenbosch region. Saw a great braii cookbook here...

Typical of houses in Stellenbosch which is not only wine country but...

Another Stellenbosch house

We two in one of our favourite environments, this one being the...

Lanzerac Manor, in the shelter of the Stellenbosch Mountains, was started in...

Bruce and our Super-Hosts, Anschu and Charles (we met Charles when he...

The main house at Vergelegen

Massive camphor trees at Vergelegen

The 'temporary' marquee for a wedding at Vergelegen

The decor inside the temporary wedding marquee

Shanty town beside the highway. Power & water pumps have now been...

A minuscule part of the crowd at the start of the 40,000...

Hail the conquering hero comes: he finished the 110 Kms in only...

This is where we might have seen Bruce at the finish line...


March 12th

It’s a lovely thing when camping to wake up and find that your tent is NOT wet! I’ve found the nights are a bit cold in the wee small hours, but Lucia has given me a couple of small throws to stave off the chill, in addition to my lightweight (Palm 1) sleeping bag from Australia.

So, after the usual coffee and rusks (you dip the rusk in your coffee) we piled into the jolly old People Mover (it’s a brand new, quite large Volkswagen van with three rows of seats) and headed for the lovely University town of Stellenbosch. The town has numerous examples of old colonial houses that are decorated with white wrought iron filigree (‘lacework’) and have corrugated iron roofs with sloping corrugated porches over railed verandas. We were struck by the similarity to houses we had seen in Australia when we were there, but of course many of the early settlers would have been the same people who settled Australia around that time. We visited De Bergkelder Cellars and tasted some delicious wines. I ended up buying a bottle of late harvest reserve that was incredible. In Canada it would easily cost above $60 – here it was only 130 Rand (less than $20!) – and it was just as good as any Canadian or Northwest dessert wine as I have ever had.

From there we went on to Lanzerac Manor, a beautiful farm which was started in 1692. Some serious people have passed through these doors for important gatherings, amongst whom was Nelson Mandela. After Lanzerac we drove on to another beautiful estate: Vergelegen, where we had lunch on a café patio alongside persimmon trees (in fruit) and massive camphor trees.

Afterwards we toured the house and strolled the extensive grounds where they were setting up for a lavish ‘society wedding’. I have never seen such a setup - I’m sure the cost of the wedding would buy an average home for most couples! It was amusing to see a parade of the bridesmaids, each wearing identical bathrobes and slippers, with their hair set in giant rollers, being photographed by a couple of official photographers as they entered a building. The marquee was a massive, temporary aluminum building with glass and domes, and stunning décor.

March 13th

The ‘Pick ‘n Pay Cape Argus Tour’ Day. Bruce, Charles and Andre were up early (about 5am). Anschu had decided she wasn’t going to participate (although registered) and I had sold on my registration when I thought I wouldn’t be coming to South Africa so Andre got up to drive the two intrepid participants to the start area. I promptly did what any self-respecting bed-hog would do and appropriated Bruce’s mattress (to put under mine) and his lightweight sleeping bag (to put on top of mine as the nights are a bit chilly) and his full-sized pillow (as I have only a small camping one with me) and I curled up snugly and warm and went back to sleep until well into the morning – it was lovely!

We did camp chores (laundry, etc.) then Andre, who had returned from the start line took we three women to Stellenbosch so that we could do our ‘Pick ‘n Pay’ thing – we went to a Pick ‘n Pay clothing shop where they had incredible deals and we each picked up “stuff”.

Afterwards we went to the finish area for the Cape Argus riders and, with great difficulty, found somewhere to park the van and trailer (for the bikes) then went back to find Bruce who we thought would be in by then (his start time was more than an hour earlier than Charles’). We could NOT find him! There were thousands of people milling about and we were waiting for him to phone us and let us know where he was. He didn’t have a cellphone but everybody else does, so it shouldn’t have been a problem. We four hung about and searched for him (having no lunch) and, finally, heard from Charles when he finished. We knew Bruce was done as we had checked in to the information office, so knew he had to be about somewhere and couldn’t understand why we didn’t hear from him. Charles went riding around on his bicycle looking for him and, finally, we decided to head back to the van and try to bring it a bit closer as the crowd was starting to thin. Then Charles phoned and said he had found Bruce. Turns out that Bruce had made three phone cal We took Lucia and Andre back to camp where they were to have a quiet dinner a deux then the other four of us ls and left messages – all to Charles (who was riding) and not to the people who were to pick him up and Charles’s phone was turned off. So Bruce had gone for some lunch!!!!! Anschu and I were mad at both of them and, as it turned out, Bruce did have Anschu’s phone number with him but had forgotten! Anyway, he turned in a very good time for the 110 kms ride (about 4hrs, 20 mins) but Charles had some problems with his bike that stole time from him so he was a bit longer.

We went back to the camp and found a surprise had been arranged. We were told we needed to quickly pack up all our stuff and our tent as we were not staying at the camp that night (except for Andre and Lucia who were going to remain and have a dinner a deux). It was very hasty, but we did everything except fold up the tent then it was back into the van again and off to the airport to pick up Charles and Anschu’s second son and daughter in law, Marais and Marietjie (Maricki) who had brought their tandem (they were on a tandem in the Himalayas with Bruce last September and the other ‘kids’ – Charles Jr. and Tanya). From the airport Marais drove us out to a fabulous winery (Spier) that we had spotted earlier in the day but had not gone into. There they have a very exotic outdoor restaurant (Moyo) where tables are set back from pathways through the trees with little lights everywhere and Xhosa drummers at different locations. The buffet was a wide selection of meats such as kudu, springbok, lamb and malva pudding (a local fruit) for dessert.

After a lovely evening we drove out to the Boschendal Estate (another winery) where Marais and Marietjie had rented Cecil Rhodes cottage for a week and it was there that we were to stay overnight! What an exciting historical trip! Marais had, apparently, stayed there a number of times before when he needed peace and quiet to work. The cottage has three bedrooms so we were all very comfortable - hard to imagine the pure history in which we are sleeping. Not to mention the great company and beautiful surroundings.

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