We could have stayed in Cape Town (and our gorgeous loft) indefinitely, but alas, there was more of South Africa to explore and this time, we felt confident enough to explore by car.
Renting the car from Avis was a sinch. Putting one foot in front of the other; however, was not (at least for Brian). Let me explain. After Brian convinced both me and the Avis representative that we did not need the added insurance, we collected the keys and followed the agent outside to the car. Well almost. I’m not sure what happened. As we left the counter, there were a couple stairs we had to walk up to get out into the garage (where the cars were parked). Brian was trailing behind (per usual) while the agent and I were making conversation when all of a sudden, we heard what sounded like a dying baby giraffe and a polar bear kicking down a door (I mean, I’m pretty sure thats how all of those things would have sounded). I instantly took the duck and cover position as I imagined we must have been under attack only to see Brian, and all of his belongings, scattered through all four corners of the room. I mean, our stuff was everywhere. I'm not sure what happened, and I'm usually (always) the clumsy one! Somehow, from the time it took us to fill out the forms and rent the car, Brian forgot how to walk. The poor guy didn’t even jump up immediately, and if I wasn’t doubled over laughing so hard (and thinking OMG THANK GOD THAT WASN’T ME), I definitely would have tried to help him (and taken photo evidence). It. was. hilarious. We immediately went back and added the insurance. Thankfully, the Avis rental car incident wasn’t foreshadowing how our two week drive would pan out, but it definitely made for fun car converstion.
Chapman's Peak and Boulder Beach
Our first stop with our rental was South Africa’s wine country. We spent one night in Stellenbosch at a beautiful 300 year old farmhouse outside of town and two nights at the most charming bed and breakfast in Franschhoek. We didn’t do any wine tasting in Stellenbosch as we arrived super late due to our leisurely pace through Chapman’s Peak out of Cape Town and spending more time than we had expected at Boulder Beach. And this is why!
It seriously felt like a scene out of the March of Penguins. The only thing missing was Morgan Freeman’s voice (if only we could always have Morgan Freeman’s voice narrate our lives). It far exceeded our expectations, as did the drive. It was so beautiful, and we stopped to take pictures every twenty minutes.
Stellenbosh and The Hawksmoor House
So, as soon as we arrived at Hawksmoor House, we had to jump back in the car (because I was closing in on The Shiva Monster levels of hunger here) and head out to Dorp St. for a glorious dinner at The Big Easy. When we returned a little too tipsy and way too full, Brian tried (and failed) to start a fire in our glorious room, and I took a bath in the most beautiful clawfoot tub I’ve ever seen. Can every day be like this?
Franshoek and Le Petit Paris
Stellenbosch is definitely a college town and while the downtown area is cute, it wasn’t what we had in mind when we envisioned South African wine country (Northern California, you have seriously spoiled us rotten). So, in the morning, we took a stroll, enjoyed a flat white, and drove over to Franschhoek. And then we were in heaven. Franshhoek, which translates to “the French Corner,” was everything and more. If you have ever visited St. Helena in Napa, it was a bit like Main St. there, but with a cute factor of 1000, plus everything is french. Our bed and breakfast, Le Petit Paris, was absolute perfection. The owners, Colin and Annelise, went above and beyond to make our stay memorable (including a champagne breakfast complete with everyone singing Happy Birthday to Brian).
As it is with all of Brian’s birthdays (and Curtis's for that matter. Julie, we really need to step up our birthday game), it was spent somewhere epic. We decided to take the Wine Tram, even thought it's a bit touristy, we were tourists after all. If you find yourself in Franschhoek, you definitely should consider the Wine Tram (unless you are a baller and can afford a driver). Basically, its a cute open bus (there is an actual tram/train but it only goes to two stops) that goes in one direction and you can hop on and off somewhat at your leisure. You pick a route (we picked the green) and the tram stops at eight or so wineries for one hour exactly. You can pick up to six wineries to stop at but if you want to stay longer at some (like we did), you just skip out on one. We had the best time, met some great people (thanks again for the wine tasting Shamette and Becky, we paid it forward in India!), and ended our trip by losing the following items: phone, power bank (2nd one), Brian’s sunglasses (again), and our tripod. I would say it was a success!
Colin and Annelise graciously made us a special birthday dinner reservation at ROCA where we somehow managed to drink even more wine, eat another mouth watering steak (I’ve never eaten more red meat than in South Africa), and a special birthday dessert. I thought the five pounds I gained on safari were bad, South Africa is definitely trying to one up (or more like ten up) that threshold. UGH (but everything is SO delicious). We left Franschhoek the same way we leave most places, with me convincing Brian of all the ways we could definitely live there. Seriously though, I think we can make it work! I swear!
Living in Northern California for the last nine years has really spoiled us rotten, but there is definitely something to be said about South Africa's wine country. Just like Cape Town was to San Francisco, the landscape here was just so much more dramatic. As the saying goes, "same same! But different."
Next up, the Garden Route!
PS. Somehow we found all of the items above. They were left along our wine tram route at various wineries and we were able to collect them all the next morning. Brian’s sunglasses are seriously the feline of all sunglasses: They have nine lives and I’m pretty sure we’ve used up six of them.
PPS. Colin and Annelise have adopted three beautiful dogs that live at Le Petit Paris. We loved waking up every morning and being greeted by these selfless animals. #BeKindToOneAnother includes all creatures, not just the two legged kind.