Our original plan today was to go to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Rhodes museum and hike or take the tram up Table Mountain. There was an enormous marathon called Ocean to Ocean that was going to block some streets in town for half the morning. We figured they would have been past our area by 9am. We took our time having breakfast and drove out around 9:30. The museum and Garden roads were blocked all day by the marathon. Bummer! And there has been the wind storm from hell across the region and the tram was closed down for the mountain. Even hiking would be treacherous. So change of plans. Out to wine country. On the plane to Joberg we met a local who told us to go to the area called Franschhoek. He said it is a nice town with restaurants and shopping, etc. Now Charles and I like wine. We like good wine. But going to wineries to taste wine bores the heck out of us. We knew the countryside would be beautiful and I wanted to at least see the vineyards. Wow, was it ever pretty.
I took photos but we all know that photos don’t do it justice. Just believe me when I say it was gorgeous. It was a giant Napa Valley but….. different. The surrounding mountains have particular peak shapes. We had some funky weather that was partly sunny and then would storm over and get dark and then sunny again. We caught an amazing rainbow as you can see in the photo near bottom. The town of Franschhoek reminded me of Montecito in Santa Barbara. One long street of white buildings with little boutiques and restaurants. All of the food was great and we found a great local coffee shop that could have been on Capital Hill in Seattle. Coffee shops are very trendy and full of hipsters. S. African ones. The area is known as a Huguenot settlement. French Protestants that settled in the Cape Province a LONG time ago. Funny enough the main st was called Huguenot St. At the end of the street was its monument. On our drive over here we took a wrong exit and wound up in an area called Paarl.
Driving through Paarl, thinking it was taking us to Franschhoek, we saw a very bizarre monument up on a hill. We saw a sign on our street that mentioned it but could not figure out how to get up to the top of the hill. Several wrong “wind shield wiper” turns later we found the Die Afrikaanse Taalmonument. It looked so cool from afar and we were excited to find out that it was representing some great bit of history in the area. No. Some wacko artist who made this thing to represent the melting pot of different languages that
have been part of S. Africa. Each bump and lump was a language. Really? We drove up to the gate and it took a minute for the “gate keeper” to come out to us. A bit spacey he took our entrance fee and opened the gate. Now we were locked in. Only one other car was in the park. There was a very lame gift shop with no one in it. We walked up and through the monument and I must say it was creepy but cool. Make sense? No? Oh well. We were laughing that we were never getting out. It was an alien ship that had crashed long ago and this has been made in to a park in disguise. We were going to be locked in and used as an experiment. Okay, so we got out. But good story none the less.