Thursday, 12 August 2010

Whales and wine


From Little Brak we drove to Hermanus via cape Agulus. The additional 200 km drive to visit the southern most tip of Africa was worth it for little other reason than being able to say we've done it. It is a bleak windswept point on the coast that is battered by waves. This point is the meeting place of the Indian and Atlantic oceans, and the place where you supposedly see the two great currents collide. All you actually see is a churning mass of turbulent water.
At Hermanus the weather was greyer and colder. Hermanus is a small town that has become very popular with tourists due to the southern right whales that collect in the bay from June to September. It is advertised as the best land based whale watching in the world, with whales sometimes coming right up to the low rocky shore jutting out into the bay. Due to all the tourism, Hermanus is a reasonably expensive town. We were lucky enough to find a small add for a granny flat in a local magazine. For the same price as a double without a bathroom in the local backpackers, we got a one bed cottage with kitchen. The owners were as friendly and as generous as everyone else seems to be in South Africa, and gave us a book on the history of the area when we were leaving. Sadly the whales were not as prolific as we had been led to hope, but we did get to see a few groups further out.


From Hermanus we drove to Stellenbosh, South Africa’s wine capital. Stellenbosh is only an hour from Cape Town and is now a huge university town. It's popular with both locals and tourist alike who go there to enjoy some of the 158 vineyards and wineries. It is an amazing place, miles of green vineyards and beautiful white buildings set against a backdrop of dramatic mountains.

We stayed in a draughty, noisy, overpriced backpackers. Thanks to this we spent a lot more money than planned. We ate out a lot just to avoid having to go into the dirty ill equipped kitchen. While the accommodation was disappointing, the wine was not. The first evening we drove to Franchoek and visited two vineyards; Alue Blue and Delaire. Delaire is owned and has been recently remodelled by an English diamond tycoon who apparently has the largest private art collection in the world. Not sure how true that is, but the $1000 a night lodge and vineyard is definitely amongst the finest in the world.

The next day we were taken to six vineyards with the 'Vine Hopper', a minibus that you hop on and off as you choose. We went to Bergkelder, Beyerskloof, Simonsig, Delvera and Delheim. We only had lunch at one of the farms and were too drunk to visit the sixth. It was a long day and we really appreciated the beer with dinner. We'll be having a break from wine for a while I think!

No comments: