Wining, weekending and losing my voice in the Western Cape

 

You should be grateful that I am typing out this story as opposed to telling it because I happen to sound like a chain smoking 90-year-old prostitute (not that I really know what that sounds like) but the less said about me losing my voice the better. But yes, onto more exciting things. Who doesn’t love Cape Town or the Western Cape in fact? When I found out that my year end function would be on a wine farm in Stellenbosch, after sending through my RSVP at lightning speed and bragging to all my friends, it only made sense to stay the weekend. The fact that it was sister’s birthday weekend and that I would get to see my niece and nephew only sweetened the deal. So off we set, for a weekend of wine, family and some relaxation. We arrived on Friday to beautiful weather, the usual Cape Town wind carelessly lifting the hem of my dress and sun seeming to tell us that it had been saving a magnificent sunset for our arrival. I must mention that in a dull and dreary Durban on the Wednesday before I had gotten a terrible sore throat and that I had assumed that wine was a suitable cure (wrong), so I did arrive slightly worn down to Cape Town’s splendour. Sore throat forgotten in lieu of a glass of red and we’re sitting at the Kirstenbosch gardens, waiting for the sun to go down so that the movie could start.

 

The idea of an open-air cinema is irresistibly romantic and The Galileo (http://thegalileo.co.za/) certainly did a phenomenal job setting us up for a wonderful Friday night (I shall not fault them for the slight rotund woman sitting in front of me who had an uncanny ability to always shift herself into my view no matter where I moved). I remember sitting there, thinking “The movie’s about to start, why don’t they turn off the lights” before I realised that it was the day who was reluctant to be seduced by the night, holding onto her virtue until she could resist no more and the last embers of light dissolved into the night sky. How remarkable to be able to gaze up to stars, a sparkling display set out especially for me, no doubt a sight more beautiful than any movie could recreate. The unexpected chill in the air was offset with blankets and the green grass made even more comfortable with the low cushioned “chairs” (or was that all the wine?).

The next day, I awoke feeling slightly worse for wear but as my grandmother taught me, I self-medicated, had a cup of coffee and decided that a dose of sunshine would be the cure. The fact that the sun shone so brightly almost daring me to complain about feeling sick on such a beautiful day was motivation enough for me to put on my big girl panties and get over myself. So off we set to Warwick Estate for a long, delicious picnic lunch punctuated with laughter, lubricated with wine and easily one of the nicest work functions I’ve ever been to. My camera was long forgotten, that’s why I only have pictures of the last few stragglers and why none of the pictures are actually straight.

Post the picnic, filled with wine and warm feelings for my co-workers we headed off to Paarl where we would spend the next two nights. Paarl was quaint and hot, streets strewn with purple Jacarandas, green vines creeping over white walls eager for a view of the other side. My camera skills lacked the ability to adequately capture the charm of Paarl, so at some point I decided to just soak up the atmosphere instead. Dinner at Terra Mare (http://www.terramare.com/), where the service matched the food, both a pleasant surprise and I left content and sated with a few tiny whisks in hand. Definitely worth a try if you’re in the area.img_0090

The next morning was an early one and the heat in Paarl under prepared us for the cool breeze that met us at the bottom of the Lion’s Head hiking trail, biting through our thin cotton shirts and at the exposed flesh of our legs. The sun, no doubt weary from it’s show of brilliance the previous day was lazy, coyishly hiding behind a few clouds, some careless rays of sunshine thrown tauntingly over a mountain peak. It was a gentle walk, we stopped frequently to indulge my tourist tendencies and to test out my new camera (there is nothing so heart-breaking as to realise that a camera does not make up for your lack of skill, a bitter pill I had to swallow upon looking at my photo gallery). I’d like to believe that the pace of our walk was dictated by my eight-year-old nephew and my soon to be five-year-old niece but in all honestly, there was no way I would have been able to keep up with them. They ran from rock to rock, finding all sorts of joyous treasures that only children could, reveling in the few moments when their parents were distracted so they could test their independence. On the way back down, the route had gotten far busier and we managed to catch a few paragliders running down the slope of the mountain and being gently lifted into the air, turning this way and the next, gliding through the air and nearing the surface of the calm seas beneath. If you’re planning a hike up Lion’s Head, don’t be swayed by the recent articles regarding the potential perils, a trip during the day is safe and most people happily greet you as you pass them along the route. It’s a wonderful way to spend a morning and the views are quite spectacular (don’t trust my shoddy pictures).img_0138

Post hike we set off to Caturra Coffee Bar in Sea Point, to scoff down a few pizzas and recover from the mornings hike. You’ve got to love the number of Halaal friendly places in Cape Town and this quirky little place was certainly one of the most unusual Halaal restaurants I’ve eaten at. The coffee was good, I’m not so sure about my choice of fig, camembert and macon flatbread though, but the tandoori chicken flatbread proved a winner. Our faces stuffed, a walk long the promenade with a lesson on how to eat ice cream in the wind before hugging our goodbyes.

Driving back to Paarl, already missing the kids, I looked out the window and couldn’t help but wonder if the neat homogeneity of the abundant green vineyards was not a metaphor for people in general. Beautifully crafted rows, each one indistinguishable from the next, coming together to form a coherent whole. Maybe from a distance we all resemble each other, more some those of us from the same race (no I’m not that Indian girl you know, I’m the other one), yet up close we are all different, just like the vines. Some are tall with stalks reaching for the sun, others are skittish almost afraid of their own glory, some bear fruit in abundance, others are heavy with the burden of infertility. All beautifully the same from a distance and striking marvellous in their individuality up close. There is something so tranquil about spending the afternoon on a wine farm, the lush greenness abounds and for a moment you are transported to a place where nothing exists apart from you and a glass of wine.It is almost as though you enter into a world of possibility, sharing stories never heard, blurring lines between reality and impossible dreams.

We surprisingly had energy enough for two wine farms, the latter being Laborie where I was enticed by the MCC and cheese cake pairing. When all was said and done and the staff had begun clearing up, we knew it was time to head off.  Reluctantly, we took a lazy walk back to the car wanting to prolong our time at the vineyard, to absorb as much of the beauty as possible, to remember the slowness in our pace, the dreams laid bare and the memories made over the last few days. img_0183

Every visit to the Western Cape, I am overwhelmed by the beauty, enthralled by the white sandy beaches, hypnotised by the homogeneous rows of lush green grapevines and every visit is never long enough. Till the next weekend in the mother city!

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