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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Winelands & Coast 9.4

  • Vergelegen Estate
  • Hermanus
  • Coast Drive Route 44 
  • Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel
  • Miller's Thumb Seafood Restaurant

Akademe's owner, Katherine, greeted us in the courtyard when we came down for breakfast.  Two black ladies dressed in white aprons were working in the separate kitchen preparing breakfast.  The table was set in the elegant dinning room for the two of us.  The breakfast included various fresh and pickled fruits, yogurt, bread, and made to order eggs, sausages, bacon, etc.  The whole setting felt quite "Gone with the Wind" to me. 

Over the breakfast conversation with the owner, we learned that the Route 45 & Route 43 from Franshhoek to the coast was closed due to the heavy rainfall.  It was supposed to be a beautiful drive taking us through the mountain and lake.  Instead, we had to drive back to Stellenbosch before getting to the coast.  What a bummer. 

After checking out of the hotel around 10:30 AM,  we headed to our last winery visit, Vergelegen Estate. This was the only estate that we visited that charged an entrance fee (R10). However,  it was well worth it.  There were 17 themed gardens in the property and six magnificent Camphor trees over 300 years old standing in front of the old manor house.  

For every charming chic town that we drove through these past two days, there were always townships nearby along the highways.  It was not an uncommon sight to see the black Africans from the townships hitchhiking or running across the highways.  The sharp contrast of the racial/economic divide is still quite apparent everywhere we go. 

During breakfast, I asked Katherine if it was worth going to Hermanus if we did not plan to spend too much time doing any whale watching activities.  She hesitated, but told us to go anyway.  Turned out, her initial hesitation was probably a better indication.  There was not much going on in Hermanus  except some whale watching tour operations catered to big tour groups.  The immediate surroundings did not feel safe to me so we stopped for 5 minutes and quickly drove away. It was absolutely a waste of time visiting Hermanus.  H told me that I was being way too paranoid on this trip. Maybe I was, but I'd rather be paranoid than sorry. 

The drive along the coast back to Cape Town was absolutely incredible. On one side of the road were the majestic mountain, and on the other side of the road was the ocean.  It was one of the most dramatic and scenic routes we had ever drove.  

The Cape Cadogan Boutique hotel was where we would stay for the next two nights before the Safari trip.  It was an elegant old victorian-Geogrian building sitting on a hilly quiet street located in the Gardens overseeing the Table Mountain.  The hotel was tastefully decorated and the staff were all very friendly.  

The surrounding area of the hotel was safe to walk around at night.  We decided to walk over to a nearby seafood restaurant for dinner.  The hilly streets of the Gardens reminded me of San Francisco, but the view of the mountain was uniquely Cape Town.

Growing up in Taipei city, a basin surrounded by the mountains, this trip made me realized how much I missed having the mountains within reach.  It also brought back the fond memories of late night drives to the mountains overlooking the city dazzled in lights.    

Miller's Thumb is a casual seafood restaurant with a simple and straight forward menu.  Kingklip and Pinotage had became my  go-to choice of seafood and wine on this trip.  All were good and fresh.   

After dinner, we took a walk along the bustling Kloof street.  We were driving most of the time on this trip, and it was nice to be finally on our feet walking around the city for a change. 


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