September 14, 2008

Stellenbosch Walking Tour & Dieu Donne in Franschhoek

After settling into our rooms, we proceeded to the university town of Stellenbosch for a walking tour. The local guide handed out umbrellas and started with a brief history of Stellenbosch, founded in 1679 and the 2nd oldest town (after Cape Town) in South Africa. First stop was to the H-shaped Rhenish (of or related to the Rhine River) Parsonage.

Our guide was most excited about the Stellenbosch water scheme for residents. The river running through town is diverted down two paths before it reaches the “mill”. Half the residents get free water for their gardens on one day and the other half get free water on the next day. Our guide knows residents who won't leave home until their water has been received.
We strolled through South Africa’s oldest hostlery d’Ouwe Werf Hotel and its fine 1802 Restaurant. We briskly passed by key sights, including the Moederkerk (French Huguenots) and ending at the Theological Seminary, established in 1859 to train ministers for the Dutch Reformed Church. Between the difficult South African accent of our walking tour guide and Elizabeth's relative lack of interest in history, I did not glean many factoids from this tour.

We passed over Helsoogte Pass to Franschhoek (French corner). We enjoyed our first of many wine-tastings ($2.50 per person for 5 wines – we sampled Maingard Brut, Shiraz, Pinotage, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon) at one of the smallest wine estates in the country – Dieu Donne. This was followed by a leisurely (all-afternoon leisurely) lunch at Dieu Donne. Kris and I both started with lamb and lentil soup. I had a cheese platter, and was able to save half of the cheese for our mini-bar. Kris had paella and a delicious ale from the Dieu Donne microbrewery ($45 for both meals). By now, it was 4 pm and time to return to Rosenview for some rest before dinner (which Kris and I skipped in favor of sleep).

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