Monday, February 29, 2016

Stellenbosch to Cape Agulhus to Cape Town, February 29, 2016

We left Stellenbosh, heading to the most southerly tip of Africa: Cape Agulhus.

Along the way-

The fields are huge-

and I've only seen a few two wheel drive tractors.  The countryside is beautiful-

The style of homes in the towns like Napier is interesting-

Most towns also have a large church-

Cape Agulhus-

is Africa's most southern point and is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet-

The waves are the second highest in the world, after Cape Horn-

and there have been many shipwrecks, including the Marie Else.  This is a figurehead replica from the French ship that went down in 1877-

We've been warned!

Driving in to Cape Town we passed many townships or slums where blacks live-

Homes are made from whatever they can find-

Government built homes-

It's the last day on the truck - the past 4 months have gone quickly (some days) and dragged others đŸ˜€.  We've driven over 21,000 km in 4 months and experienced a lot.  I am so lucky!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Stellenbosch, South Africa, February 28,2016

There are 160 wineries in this area - am I dead and in heaven?  Today we visited 4: Simonsig, Fairview, Dieu DonnĂ©, and Zorgvliet-

Simonsig was the first farm to make champagne in South Africa in 1971 which they sold for 3 rand/bottle or 25 cents.  Today they sell 1.9 million bottles (not just champagne) to 49 countries.  

Chenin Blanc makes up 60% of all grapes grown in S.A.  Not only is it used to make white wine, but it's also used to make brandy.  

White wine will have a yellow or green hue.  Yellow means it contains more alcohol and comes from a warmer climate such as South Africa.  A greener wine means it has less alcohol and comes from a cooler climate such as France or New Zealand. 

When sampling wine, it's important to look at 3 things: color, taste and smell. 

The grapes that make up my favorite wine, Shiraz, are 6000 years old and originated in Persia - today's Iran.

Red grape skins are used for color and produce tannins which are what make our mouths do backflips if it's not a great wine.

I don't mind pinotage which is a combination of Pinot Noir and Hermitage.  It has made a huge comeback because in 1960 there was only one bush left - it's the only grape that grows on a bush - all the others hang down in clumps.

At Fairview we enjoyed cheese and wine pairings: Sauvignon Blanc with Camembert, Viognier with Roydon- cow and goat milk cheese and Pinotage with Chevin - goat's milk, black pepper and paprika.  The last 3 cheeses are Crottin, Camembert and Blue Rock.  They were paired with red blends-

Harvest takes place in February and March.  The grapes are picked, their sugar content is measured, the skins are crushed and the juice is collected in these 51.000 litre drums-

Yeast is added and it combines wth the natural sugar in the grapes to form alcohol.  Only champagne and dessert wines have extra sugar added.  The percent of alcohol is determined by the reaction of the natural sugars and yeast as well as the time the wine stays in oak barrels like these that cost $1200 each-

The barrels come from France and can only be used for 5-7 years.  

I had a great day and am looking forward to more wine tasting in a few days when I'm on my own.  We're off to Cape Town tomorrow - it's our last day.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Stellenbosch, South Africa, February 27, 2016

We drove through miles and miles of harvested land-

I have no idea what was planted but finally we came across a storage facility-

Stellenbosch seems like a nice, modern, touristy place but all the windows are barred and this is a typical sign going into a business-

The tour is winding down and soon we'll be going our separate ways-

Adam is from Lancashire, England-

Rob is from Lincoln, England but currently lives in Estonia-

Rhod is from North Wales-

Dougie is from Auckland, New Zealand and Helen is from Kent, England-

Jess and Poppy are from Guildford, England-

Looking forward to a wine tour tomorrow!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Olifants River Valley, Trawal, South Africa, February 26, 2016

The border crossing was uncharacteristically quick and soon we were enjoying the scenery of South Africa-

We stopped at Springbok for lunch-

These cooked goat or sheep heads were ready for sale.  No, I didn't buy one! But I did buy a hertzoggie for dessert - it's jam and coconut - delicious!

There was a lot of construction along the way. Workers wave a flag like at a NASCAR race letting you know you have to stop ahead-

I've spent a lot of time on 'the beach' lying down, watching the road ahead-

I've found it to be the most comfortable way to travel on this truck and I like seeing what's coming.

We stayed at Highlanders, a vineyard in the Olifants Rver Valley close to Trawal-

We enjoyed a wine tasting-

complete with a variety of cheese and crackers-

Sparky and his wife have 4 hectares of white grapes and take their produce to a local winery with 67 other wine farmers.  They sell all over the world, including British Columbia.  They are able to sell all they produce and have won numerous international awards.  His hope is to start making his own wine in the near future.  The etiquette, or label, has changed numerous times to entice the buyer because apparently we usually buy wine because of the look of the label.

The grape growing part of the plant has been grafted onto a stalk-

and the newest one Sparky is trying is US 65.  Vines live 40+ years.  They produce nothing in the first year, 50% in the second, 80% in the third year and 100% in the fourth.  Wine in this region is 12-14% alcohol!  

Without the canal-

that was built by POW during and after WWI, this valley would be nothing but dry desert.  

This springbok used to be a liquor dispenser but it's not working anymore-

The view from the shower-

Tonight is the LAST night in my tent.  I had thought to leave it in Africa because some of the screen is tearing but I am going to bring it home in case I get to go tenting again-

Looking forward to Stellenbosch and wine tours tomorrow!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fish River Canyon, Namibia, February 25, 2016

Driving along-

The base rocks in Fish River Canyon are over 2,000 million years old.  Tectonic shifting, volcanoes, glaciers and erosion have shaped the canyon.    It's the second largest in the world, after the Grand Canyon, measuring 90 to 160 km long, 27 km (maximum) wide and 549 meters (maximum) deep.  The Fish River meanders along-

Volcanic rock-

The Quiver tree is found in southern Namibia where there is less than 150 mm of rainfall/year-

We stopped at some hillbilly town where they live in grass huts and/or corrugated tin-

I can't imagine how hot it is in the tin ones.  Further along in the suburbs were some with pitched roofs-

They must all work in the vineyards where they produce table grapes for the European market-

Quite a difference to see such lush fields after miles of desert.  

Our campste was beautiful-

Looking forward to moving on to South Africa tomorrow!

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