We wake up by drilling man and his friend the carpenter, after a few minutes I call reception who already know about this and already spoken to them. Well well, we got up early but hopefully this will not be repeated tomorrow. After a nice breakfast buffet we were picked up by Easy Rider tours, who operates from Stumble Inn backpackers. So on todays agenda are 4 Vineyards with a total of 21 wines to taste. Add a cheese tasting, lunch and transports to that and 35€ per person seems like quite a fair deal.
First off was Simonsig, good wines with one red particularly good, Redhill Pinotage, requiring to be bought for 18€. After the tasting and the wine cellar tour we headed off to the second vineyard, Fairview. Fairview also have goats and this was the place for the cheese tasting. They also played with words and produced wines like Goats do Roam (Cotterone), Goatfather etc. The wines were ok but the cheese was really nice. We grabbed a bunch of cheeses to have for later and a fair size of blue cheese was not more than 1.5€ or so. Very nice. By know the whole mini-van of tourists were giggling and the volume of chatter had increased significantly compared to when the tour started. Luckily it was time for lunch, otherwise the condition could quickly gone from tipsy to drunk for the lot of the people. In these tastings one does not spit out the wine.
Lunch was at some restaurant in Franschhoek where the Halumi salad tasted really good. After some sobering up it was time to leave for Boschendal, by now quite a few wine tasters only made minor notes regarding the different wines and instead focused on the drinking. The last stop, Tokara had splendid views over the grapevine and olive fields and while sipping the excellent red Pinotage and enjoying the view South Africa felt like a decent place to spend your afternoon in, despite the god awful drums.
As we got back to Stellenbosch we had a little siesta, not exactly drunk but the heat and the wine had made us sluggish at least. Mona ushered me out for dinner and revealed that she had in secrecy ordered tables at Volkskombuis, a traditional african restaurant, earlier during the day. I had calamari for starters and trout for main course which tasted really nice and service was good as well. To drink we had a large carafe of water – for some reason we were not that eager to drink more wine. I had somehow caught a cold or similar as well and spend the better part of the evening blowing my nose, I suspect that the air-con was the reason for this and we decided to leave it off for the night and after walking home I fell quickly asleep.
We woke up to a familiar sound, our indian neighbors had apparently had a little too much to drink and were now busy praying to the porcelain god. The best german word in the english language, schadenfraude, possibly describes my feelings best. It also struck my mind before I fell back into sleep that perhaps not all things are bad about someday possible becoming a teenage parent.
Waking up after another night of well-deserved rest we check-out and drop our stuff at Blue Mountain backpackers, just a block further up on Long street since we will spend our last night in Cape Town there. I also secure a shark cage dive after some consideration. I’m not too convinced it will be worth the money (110€) but on the other hand it’s an opportunity not had by many (if any?) other places in the world so what the heck.
We walk along Kloof street for further shopping and have breakfast at a place called Depasco, the almost mandatory muesli with fresh fruit and some greek yoghurt tasted nice as always. I believe it will be hard to get used to the cheese sandwiches at work again. We then walk down to waterfront where the Robben Island tour starts as well. We take the ferry to Robben Island, where among others Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years incarcerated.
A place originally used for common law prisoners but then was mainly used for political prisoners refusing Apartheid. As always such places are interesting but not necessarily pleasant to visit. The actual prison guides are actually former inmates who have chosen to work there after being set free, which adds to the whole experience since they can describe from their own experiences what had happened there, some good but mostly bad memories. Compared to some other similar establishments (S-21 in Phnom Pen comes to my mind) this was not that bad place to spend your time at, however the systematic abuse, censorship and ill treatment of people fighting against Apartheid brings thoughts of the lacking of humanity among us humans. The guide joked that the first democratic resolution was written in the cave above, where the political prisoners were allowed to eat/bathroom while working in the limestone quarry but instead used for political discussions and teachings.
The tour was interesting and a good way to spend your time, however the 3 hours the tour would take apparently ended at Robben Island. So being slightly late and adding the 45 min boat ride back made the whole tour 4 hours. Which was about all the buffer we had before trying to catch the bus booked for Stellenbosch. So in upped tempo we caught a cab, picked up some of the gear prepared at Blue Mountain and then used the same cab to drop us off at the Bus (and train) station. After checking in while Mona grabbed us some local fish’n’chips we finally got on the bus with a whole four minutes on the safe side.
The bus managed to somehow get 20 minute delayed during the first hour of driving before dropping us off in the middle of nowhere in Stellenbosch. Not at any station which we had expected, well well. We start walking, and after a few minutes met two chaps who had a map, and together we found that we were quite close to our place. We find Rhyneveld Lodge, check in and get an awesome room. We unpack our stuff and start to watch a movie but quickly fall asleep dreaming about the Wine Tours of tomorrow.
We wake in the dungeon to the sound of knocking and a female voice asking something about cleaning, we explain we will have the room for another day and continue our sleep. Waking up late in the silent, dark room was actually quite nice – the fact that it’s hard to tell what time it could be is not necessary a bad thing. We get up and did the casual strolling around Long street and Loop street and ended up at a nice place called Sidedish where we had a tasty breakfast.
Well fed we walked down to the Waterfront, the main tourist/shopping area – there were shoes to be shopped and sights to be seen. On the agenda was also sorting out the transport to Stellenbosch. This seemed not that hard, booking a bus ticket can’t be that difficult, can it? It can. After failing several tries using their website, standing in a queue for 20 minutes and then failing with a actual person it was time to go through all the details again over phone to their call-centre, to again fail. Apparently something “was down on some server”. Hooray, we gave up and booked a ticket with another operator, slightly slower and more expensive but on the other hand possible to book. Slightly annoyed we headed off to leave but were unable to pay for our time using Internet since the person preferred answering the phone (as we spoke). We gave the person a warning that we would leave and then did so, expecting them to rush out – nope, I’ve yet to see a south african service employee move faster than a turtle on Stilnoct.
We walked back to Long Street, where we are greeted by our favorite transvestites again, and then returned to the dungeon for some freshening up. Speaking of freshening up, I think that the fact that our room is labeled as en-suite deserves a picture of the sink in our room. It’s there alright, not connected to any water or so but still there. The whole place seems like a very recently refurbished office area, with some random pipes installed to provide water here and there. As for doors or shower separators they have used trusty plywood or other materials known to work very well in damp areas. It was the only backpackers I’ve seen so far where the majority was colored, or actually we didn’t see any whites except ourselves if I recall correct. Another interesting experience, and we looked forward to our slightly higher standard room booked in Stellenbosch.
We had dinner at Fish, a place owned by the same owners who has the Codfather, yet another of Hanna’s recommendations. We had King fish chopped up for us and cooked very nicely and the oysters I had for starters where nice although a bit too small. Feeling a bit tired we headed back to our dungeon again, the place most similar to yours truly’s flat in Göteborg in a sense.