Monday was our last full day in Franschhoek and we had already booked our driver from Thursday and Friday night (Hannes) to take us on a tour of wineries for the day, finishing with a late lunch at Roca, the restaurant in the Dieu Donne vineyard. I’m not sure how your Monday mornings are shaping up these days, but if it’s better than this one, I’d be surprised.
We set off at 10:30 and headed out of town on the road towards Stellenbosch and Paarl to visit Vrede en Lust vineyard. The tasting they offered us was a remarkable 6 wines for ZAR 50 per head. One thing that comes as a constant surprise is the opportunity to sit outside, drinking wine in the warm summer sunshine, and admiring the Christmas decorations. Jarring. But pleasant.
We took our time enjoying the three whites and three reds they provided then headed back to the car. When I say we took our time, I was surprised to find that we had been there for an hour and a half.
Next stop was intended to be Rupert and Rothschild, but it was closed. Hannes knew I was fond of the occasional beer, so he offered to take us to a winery that had both wine and beer. And chocolate. The Spice Route farm near Paarl has a number of different tasting experiences available but, in the end, we plumped for a dozen different amazing chocolates for ZAR 20 per head, and went straight on to the five wines for ZAR 40 per head. We burned up another hour here, so we were running out of time to do anything else. Nevertheless, we squeezed in a quick visit to Fairview. We felt we had already managed a lot of wine at our stops so far, but we hadn’t had any cheese! Fairview is a renowned South African cheese maker and, despite the splendid wines on offer elsewhere, this was by far the busiest venue we visited today.
We paid ZAR 20 to enjoy 6 cheeses, each of which was excellent but the standout was the garlic goats cheese. We bought a small amount of that in case we decided on a late supper that evening after our lunch.
On to Roca, where we enjoyed an excellent lunch and where, I think, we redeemed ourselves for the instagram generation. I had free range, deboned, Mozambican chicken with roasted vegetables, peri-peri sauce, and hand-cut chips.
Ishbel went adventurous and had a medium ostrich fillet with pommes puree, young vegetables and a creamy peppercorn sauce.
To follow, Ishbel had the vanilla creme brulee with wild berry puree and strawberry sorbet and I went for the cheese board.
Also, if you remember how I raved about the Chocolate Block wine when we arrived in Franschhoek last Thursday, I’m delighted to have ticked that particular box at Monday’s lunch.
I was so delighted, I even sent a gloating Whatsapp to friends back home, which was unworthy of me. Sorry Dims.
After lunch, we drifted back to the hotel in a stupor and made a half-hearted attempt at packing for the following day’s flight. Our Johannesburg flight was leaving Cape Town at 12:20, so we needed to get a reasonably early start on the one hour drive, but it wasn’t a desperate rush. What we did find was that, once again, BA decided we had too many flights on our booking to allow us to check in online. This feels like a fundamental flaw in how they market and sell round-the-world tickets. But I’m still not paying an extra 70 quid a head to book a seat.
Anyway, as Tuesday dawned, we had an early breakfast and headed to the airport to return our Toyota Corolla, which had served us well, and check in for the flight. It all turned out well enough and we were in 2E and 2F. Not what I’d have chosen if I’d had access to the seat selections earlier, but at least we were next to each other.
The flight was uneventful, and we arrived in Johannesburg on time. We made our way over to Avis, which is much closer than at Cape Town, but really badly signposted. They try to make you go down and up in an escalator to bypass the airport road, but since we had trolleys, this was impossible. Eventually, we just went straight out the front door and across the road, which was nice and easy.
As with Cape Town, we had booked a small car and, as with Cape Town, they upgraded us. This time to a Nissan Almera. If you intend travelling like this, it is definitely worthwhile joining the Avis Preferred, or whatever loyalty program is offered by your preferred renter. It definitely makes a difference, both in length of queue and type of car.
Anyway, we picked up the car very easily. I had also rented a mobile hotspot from them, We don’t have free data access here, so this is a cost efficient way of accessing the net and using phones as SatNav solutions. This got us to our AirBnB in Melville, Johannesburg in a fairly straightforward fashion. We settled in and did a quick grocery shopping. Thanks to the business class on the plane, we had enjoyed a substantial lunch so we got some cold meats for a light supper plus, of course, the wherewithal for a pot of tea.
We’re two flights in to the journey and now the Johannesburg adventure starts. Keep checking in for the updates.