We have this fund. It’s called the Fernweh* Fund and basically every month we both put some money aside into a little savings account, I guess for a “rainy day”, It’s to cover those weekends you feel like indulging yourself, or the skydive you have always wanted to do or that fancy restaurant you wouldn’t splurge on day-to-day. After 6 months of savings, it was looking really healthy, so we decided to take advantage of the long August weekend and escape to Franschhoek.
What a great idea.
(* Fernweh n (genitive Fernwehes or Fernwehs, no plural) wanderlust, a desire to travel, a longing for far-off places.)
Every day was jam-packed with adventure, but only once we escaped the traffic jam out of Cape Town. Equipped with a go-pro, 30 seconds cards and some sing-a-long music, the traffic never felt too bad. And by the time, we met our host at La Chataigne we were in the full swing of holiday mode. The cottage we had booked, The Chestnut Cottage, was absolutely beautiful. It was humble, or as humble as a cottage on a wine farm can be, but it was beautifully redecorated in calming colours and comfortable furniture. The kitchen was fully-equipped with everything we needed to serve ourselves. My main criteria for our booking was the fireplace, and once we had fought with some damp wood, that need was met. The one size-able bedroom fitted with a really comfortable bed and had the most silky smooth blanket I have ever felt. The bedroom is decorated with an old farm style gate as the headboard and a beautiful black and white photograph of the farm. It’s cozy and comfortable. Each room of the house has windows that have either beautiful views of the vineyards or the Franschhoek river. The sound of the river runs soothingly and creates that beautiful background music that makes you feel like you have been blessed by Mother Nature. And then, if like me, you love a really good shower, this one is big enough to dance around in to the rising sun and view of the vines.
But my absolute best was the balconies. A metre away from the front porch are the vineyards, at this time of year, barren and silhouetted across the plain of the valley. But I can imagine in both spring and autumn, the colours to be magical. With a low-lying deck chair, breakfast with your feet up and a book is a must (you might need a chef as great as mine). And the back deck, complete with an outdoor fireplace is situated right next to the river. I can imagine in summer, it would be the perfect place for a long, lazy, afternoon braai.
We had a list of things we wanted to do and were also armed with a number of Entertainer Guide vouchers. We had been recommended a number of things and so decided to tick Reuben’s Restaurant off our list on Friday night. It was a fancy affair, with us only tucking into the starters (A tempura prawn and a grilled calamari) and funnily enough drinking the delicious Chenin Blanc from our wine farm that we were staying in. I have just done a wine course and so I was trying to part with some of the information to Bryce. But I don’t have the best memory, add wine into the mix and well….
The following morning we did an early morning frosty jog in to town to pick up our bicycles that we had hired from Franschhoek Cyles. The guys were so friendly and had heard we were there on an anniversary weekend, treating us with extra love and care (especially with our prices). It was such an affordable and fun way to zoot around the town. We didn’t utilise them enough, but when we did we were in our element. As only the two of us can do, we rushed back to shower, change and cycle back in to town, so we didn’t miss the start of our wine tram.
The number one rule of wine tasting early in the day, is to not do this on an empty stomach, so conveniently one of our vouchers was for a little spot directly behind the wine tram’s information hut (so beautifully done in a green lacquer paint and polished wood). Breakfast was sadly rushed, but well received, before we clambered on to begin our wine adventure. This is a seriously good way to send R290- we started at 11am and were whisked off to five different wine farms. We could have done more, but we loved the balance of moving in between different wine farms and embracing that which they had to offer. You start off on the bus, with a combination of great and lively people. We had a group who were celebrating their 60th, a bunch of young Afrikaans adults, some couples and a lovely group of elderly people with their kids and grand kids. The camaraderie grew from the beginning to the end, culminating in a festive sing-a-long to our final stop.
The five wine stops we did were,
- Rickety Bridge
- Grand Provence (my fave!)
- La Bri
- La Bourgogne
- La Corougne
I am not going to go into detail about each and every stop, but it was a wonderful array of wine, cheese, chocolate, olives, olive oil and Turkish delight. We changed our company at every stop, being entertained and entertaining. By the time 7pm came around, we were fabulously filled with delicious wine and our wine collection had grown (we bought a bottle at every stop). The great thing, was you handed your purchases in at every stop and then the wine tram collected all your wine for you. We just had to go and collect it the next day. It was excellently organised, hats off to them, the trains were always on time and very clean, the drivers were super friendly and the whole day was just perfect! I really don’t think there is any better way to explore the winelands than in an open side tram gliding through the vineyards, especially when blessed with a summer-winter’s day like we were.
We ended off the day with me showing off my latest acquired skill- sabrage!
Just in case you thought, we might take the Sunday to relax, think again- it’s Bryce and I 🙂 We got up and did some yoga in the sun on our North-facing balcony and then took a quick drive down to Babylonstoren.
Blessed with another beautiful day we explored the glorious gardens of Babylonstoren and treated ourselves to a quick bite at the glasshouse. This place deserves longer than we were able to give it, the gardens are immaculate and the delights to rest your eyes on are never ending.
But it was time for our next appointment at Dieu Donne– the gorgeous wine farm up on the valley- where we seriously indulged on food and wine and extended our stay there all the way to sunset. Those long Sunday lunches are always such a great way to go! With Moet Chandon as the cherry on my wine glass, my cheeks were stretched with a grateful smile. Bryce has a beautiful way with people and he really draws the most amazing side out of them, calling all sorts of people to catch up with him whenever they can. And this lunch was just another example of that.
The final day of our long weekend adventure, finally allowed us a long, lazy morning at our beautiful vineyard-side cottage. Me, lazying on the balcony reading my book, with breakfast delivered to my table; fresh fruits and yogurt, scrambled egg and the works! I was most impressed. Sad to pack up, but delighted with the jam packed adventure, we drove away from the vineyard knowing we’d be back.
Before leaving Franschhoek and heading on our next adventure, we made our way to the Franschhoek Motor Museum for a quick little look around:
The Franschhoek Motor Museum offers visitors a special opportunity to look back at more than 100 years of motoring history with its unique and exciting collection of vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and memorabilia in the magnificent setting of L’Ormarins. Across the length and breadth of Southern Africa, only one place can adequately portray the evolution of the automobile, The Franschhoek Motor Museum.
I came across a car, a beautiful old car that was connected to the farm (Prynnsberg), where my Uppa grew up. It was quite a special moment.
We took the scenic Franshhoek pass down towards Elgin, for a final treat of the weekend. Something we had both been wanting to do for ages, The Cape Canopy Tours in Elgin.
To say this was an exceptional way to the end the weekend, would actually be an understatement. I was a little nervous for my first slide, but thereafter, it was brilliant from platform to platform. Again, such a well organised operation. As soon as our car pulled up into the parking lot, we were greeted (by name) and swept into the log cabin reception area. We had a delish coffee and were taken through a safety briefing. It was only Bryce and I on our tour, but they can take up to 8 people. Our lovely guide, Hilda, kitted us up and escorted us to the car (kind of like a game ranging vehicle) where we rolled our way up to the middle of the valley- Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve- the views and the scenery were beautiful. We were harnessed up with helmets on and arrived at the first platform. Bryce was in his element,Go Pro in hand, he didn’t even hesitate just jumped straight off the platform and glided off into the distance. I was slightly more tentative than him, but got such a rush as I stepped off and took my own journey down. There are 13 platforms and you glide through the valley, over the treetops for at least two hours. It would have been longer if we were in a bigger group. Jerry, our other guide was equally friendly and was apart of the crew that set up the tour. He had some great stories for us, which we heard on our one break, where they provided us with drinks and biscuits. The longest run you do is 370 metres and it’s quick 🙂 By the time we did our last run, I wanted to start all over again. They make it even more worth your while by including one of the famous Peregrine Pies in your price 🙂
We have some great GoPro footage of the weekend, which I plan on editing and sharing soon, if you are not bored by now 🙂
What a long post for a great long weekend! I highly recommend every single stop we made! Give me a shout if you need more details!
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