We celebrated Earth Hour here in Stellenbosch, South Africa, with two major streets being closed off and locals took to the street to dine.
While it did not seem to be all that dark, as many storefronts did not participate, the spirit was there and everyone seemed to be having a marvelous time.
My camera does not do night portraits well, but you get the idea. I had to laugh when I thought about Kathmandu participating in the Earth Hour, as they do not have electricity for 12 hours per day as it is!
We had dinner of pizza with rocket on the top, with a bottle of the house red - a Cabernet Sauvignon before heading out to join the festivities.
Muizenberg is famous for surfing and its shark-infested waters. Here we sit and enjoy the surf from the Empire Cafe in Muizenberg where we watched the barefooted people go by on their way from the beach. Set on False Bay - South Africa's largest bay, Muizenberg became famous as a beach resort, its heyday being 1880 - 1930. One odd note about South Africa is that people often go barefoot here. We would notice students at the Stellenbosch University walking without shoes, kids in parks and in the schoolyards barefoot.
Still full of charming old buildings, Muizenberg and the Amberley Traveller's Lodge will be our home for the next week as we explore the fynbos of Muizenberg Peak. Fynbos are the native plants of South Africa. More on that tomorrow.
We were lucky enough to get an introduction to the fine winemakers at Ernst Gouws and Co., and a tasting with Ernst himself. The tasting included Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay,
Shiraz, Pinotage and Merlot. Ernst's Chenin Blanc and Shiraz were being shipped to the US for the first time just that morning. If you get a chance to try them, don't hesitate as these wines are well priced and delicious. The Shiraz was not the usual fruit bomb one encounters, but full-bodied yet supple. The Pinotage was tasty as well but the star of the show (for us - our landlady was quite fond of the Chardonnay) was the Merlot.
Ernst Gouws, Ezanne Gouws and Marie Beukes of Marie's B and B after the tasting. Esrnt Gouws and Co is now in its fifth generation of winemakers, with Ernst's children all following him into the wine business. Ernst chooses grapes from many of the area's growers, using his extensive long term local knowledge to perfect his wines. For more information, please visit their website at ErnstGouws.co.za.
The other day we rode our bikes
up the hill to the Blaauwklippen Winery, because we had heard that this
was one of the few wineries in the region that has Zinfandel. A lovely
ride down a long driveway flanked by vines led us to the winery and their small museum featuring 19th Century carriages and buggies.
Our pourer in the tasting room was the charming Wayne, a young man who has just been chosen as one of four 'Wine Ambassadors' for the South African wine industry, giving him the chance to travel to such places as Sweden to promote various South African wineries. Wayne is very personable, enthusiastic and knowledgeable and was well chosen for this job.
At Blaauwklippen, we enjoyed tasting a variety of reds, my favorite being the aptly named red blend Cabriolet. My husband was quite fond of the Pinotage.
Another beautiful garden outside a Stellenbosch fresh produce store. Here we bought 2 boxes of fresh peaches for 10 Rand, among other fruits and vegetables.
I made a vegetable curry over rice for dinner and a peach/persimmon crumble with all those juicy peaches. Heartily enjoyed with wines from Ernst Gouws and Co!
Sunset over African skies from our poolside table. The weather and sunsets have been particularly nice the last couple of days, with dramatic clouds and blessed shade as we ride our bikes.
A closing sunset from last night. We are now off to the Slow Food Saturday Market.
Tonight Stellenbosch is taking part in the Earth Night Movement, where everyone is encouraged to turn off their lights from 8:30 to 9:30 pm. They are closing off portions of two streets and the restaurants are taking over the streets.
Blaauwklippen winery, Earth Watch Stellenbosch, Ernst Gouws, Ernst Gouws and Co. winery, Ezanne Gouws, Gouws & Co winery, Marie's B and B Stellenbosch, South African sunsets, south african wines, Wine routes by bicycle, wine tasting south africa
Much is written about the 'Big 5' in African Game watching. Here is our new version...
This is Roxy, a young pup we met while bicycling by. Today is her 6 month birthday, and she is a lucky little dog.
He's not so little as tortoises go, but we pass this guy every morning and evening as we cycle through the Jan Marais Nature Reserve on our way home. He is over one foot across.
This little grasshopper was resting on an old car at the Wijnlands Auto Museum (future blog upcoming). This big spider makes it hard to tell the time.
This frog would be happy to eat the spider above, I'm sure. He was on our steps leading to our B and B one evening. We have yet to hear his voice, but look forward to it.
Our favorite of the 'Little 5' has traditionally been the Rock Dassie or Rock Hyrax, a curious little rock dwelling creature that can go over a year without water. Gregarious and ubiquitous, look for our further adventures in small underlooked African fauna.