Cape Town – Paarl – Robertson – Montague

DSC09980So exciting when we woke up to see the beautiful vista of Cape Town fast approaching.  It was an absolutely perfect day: blue sky, no wind and the whole of Tabletop Mountain and the Lion’s Head peak clearly visible.  One of the most spectacular sail-ins I think.

We were due to dock at 9 and as this was already later than we’d planned, we got to the top of the gangway early and just waited.  Lucky we did because a massive queue built up behind us.  Apparently, the immigration officials only put 2 people on at first to process the 3000 odd passengers.  By the time we got off at around 930, they had 7 going though.  Got through that reasonably quickly and easily found a taxi to take us to the Hertz office.  That was SLOW SLOW SLOW….  We finally drove away from Hertz at about 1055!

So wonderful to be on the open road.  As soon as we got past the airport outside Cape Town the traffic thinned, and soon after that we turned off on the country road towards Paarl, our first stop.  Paarl is deep in the wine country of the western Cape and as we approached, we could see the vineyards stretching out in all directions.  We called in at one called Fairview. Fairview An absolutely beautiful place.  An old Dutch colonial style country house surrounded by gardens and of course the vines.  Fairview not only make prizewinning wine but also cheeses: goat and cow.  They are famous for their snowy white goats who live in palatial houses with facilities including bridges, and a Goat Tower with a winding stepped ramp up which they can climb.

We opted to have the wine and cheese tasting here.  6 cheeses and 6 wines for 40 rand.  That’s about £2.35!!!!!!  The cheeses were absolutely yummy as were the wines.  We tasted 2 whites and 4 reds and decided to buy a bottle of the chardonnay to take back to the ship.  It was really good and super good value for the quality at just under £6.

Could have stayed there all day nibbling but we had to get on.  It was very hot by now.  We had a drive around Paarl which was quite touristy and traffic jammed but oldy worldy and quaint.  We went up into the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve and had a drive around up there – dirt roads but not too bad.  The scenery was amazing.  Not unlike Yosemite as there were big bald mountain tops, like El Capitan.

We then picked up our main route for the next few days: Route  62.  This is mountain/country route across the Cape mainly through the wine country, same sort of concept in a way as Route 66 in America, linking a lot of small towns.  We first headed over the jawdropping Du Toits Kloof Pass, a winding climbing road that takes you through a narrow pass through the mountains.  At one point they have blasted a square “gate” through a rock wall and the road goes through that.  Incredible views in every direction of rocky peaks and then the valley below full of vines.

On to Worcester and then Robertson where we stopped for a snack at a lovely bakery opposite the church.  We shared a steak and kidney pie and drinks which cost £1.50 all together.  The pie was excellent, very thin pastry.  Robertson is a very pretty town, lots of old Victorian houses, jacaranda trees, roses…… Very quiet and peaceful.

Finally we came to Montague our base for the night.  We are staying at Airlies Guest House, a fine old historic b&b.  Airlies   We have a large deluxe queen room, decorated in antiques and with a very comfortable bed.  The bathroom is bigger than some hotel rooms that I’ve stayed in.  It’s £62 for the two of us including breakfast.  Good value.  We received a very warm welcome from the owners.  There is so much space here both indoors and outdoors on their terrace and garden, that it feels like we are at home. Especially after our cabin!

Walked around the corner tonight to a wonderful restaurant called 22 Church Street.  Reviews   We sat outside, which for me, is such a luxury.  Lovely welcoming service and they were buzzing and deservedly so.  I started with baked figs, wrapped in prosciutto, stuffed with gorgonzola and walnuts and glazed with a balsamic syrup.  Unbelievable!  Bob had chilli poppers – enormous and stuffed with delicious goats cheese.  After that we both had 300g 35 day aged ribeye steaks with greens and chips and sauce of choice.  Just excellent.  No room at all for dessert but we wrapped it up with coffees and I had a local brandy and Bob had a Jägermeister (!!!!!).  We had a bottle of wine with dinner and a bottle of fizzy water.  The whole lot with service came to £52!!!!!  Not each….  It’s such amazing value for money here.  Honestly, I don’t know what that dinner would have cost at home given the portion size, quality and the nice ambiance.

Could definitely stay a few days here and use it as a base.  Absolutely beautiful part of the world and feels very safe.  I don’t know when I last saw kids playing in the street as they do here, parents quite happy to let them do so.

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