Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Winelands of Franschhoek

It was a long yet amazing drive to Franschhoek, our final destination before we hit Cape Town. The village of Franschhoek (French Corner) is tucked into the Cape Winelands of South Africa. It is known as the country's food and wine capital. The vineyards here are established more than 300 years ago and cascade over the hills outside town. 



 Wine-tasting tours to trout fishing and hiking are popular here, but because we had limited time, we weren't able to go on a wine tour. Instead, we checked in a vineyard to have that unique Franschhoek experience.


Our place was the La Gallinere. Our villa was secluded into one of the corners of the vineyard, providing us with utmost privacy. It was a self catering villa, so we had a kitchen and living area again. It was again a very different accommodation from what we had experienced so far.



The pool was just in front of our villa, so it seemed to be our own. However, the pool wasn't maintained, so we didn't dare take a dip in it.


The vineyard was not as huge. It looked like a small plantation of grape vines just in front of the villas and the main house. There weren't any activities do to as well, so that was quite disappointing.

 


Nevertheless, it gave us the feeling of our own vineyard as we were the only ones in the estate. We wanted to visit another vineyard, but even having lunch or dinner in those estates were not possible, because they were already full booked.


So we decided instead to head into town. The center of town was filled with galleries and antique shops along the tree-lined streets.  


It was actually a very beautiful town. There weren't a lot of people around, so we figured why every restaurant was booked.


While walking, we decided to find a restaurant as well that could accommodate us for dinner. Franschhoek is known for its restaurant scene, so we had to have dinner in some restaurant. The top restaurants were booked, so we were lucky to grab table at Dutch East, one of the recommended restaurants in town. After dinner, we headed back to our villa and spent the night just watching movies. It started to rain anyway.


The next morning, we wanted to do some activities in town. We visited the Huguenot Memorial Museum that honors the town's early settlers, who fled religious persecution in France. The surrounding gardens of the museum had spectacular views as well, so it was well worth the visit.




We then booked a spot in the chocolate tour of Huguenot Fine Chocolates. After wine, this place puts Franschhoek on the map. It is a famous Belgian chocolate shop in South Africa.


The tour lasted for over an hour, and the chocolate chef gave us a brief history of chocolates. I learned a lot about the types of chocolate and their health benefits. We then proceeded on how their products were made.



These were the chocolates that we made (well, we just poured melted Belgian chocolate onto a mold). It was really a marketing scheme, because afterwards, you will be compelled to buy their chocolates, which were really good by the way.



After the chocolate tour, we hung out at a creperie where we booked our hotel in Cape Town. I was having sugar overload already, so I was very perky and ready to drive the next hour to Cape Town.


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