Welcome to my blog, these are the ramblings and musings of an (upper) middle aged biker and if you enjoy braais, (barbeques) beers and motorbikes then hopefully you will enjoy what Janet and I do; we do lots of braais, we drink lots of beer and we tour South Africa on our motorbike, which at the moment is a BMW R1200RT. Join us, read about what we do and please leave us your comments.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Stellenbosch and Franschoek

As I said on my Facebook page; "I haven't had enough riding yet" - so on Saturday morning we packed a few things into the panniers which included a spare pair of underpants (each), a toothbrush (each), and Janet's hairdryer and off we went in search of more adventure. I figured that I only have two more days before I have to go back to work, the weather is beautiful so let's ride!I had to park in front of this sign because that's what lots of people call me!
It has been many years since we have ridden the R315 from the R27 through Darling, where Pieter Dirk Uys and his alter ego Evita Bezuidenhout have a theatre/restaurant "Evita's se Perron", and now I remember why! It is a terrible road, incredibly rough and even the BMW's adjustable suspension had a hard time of it so we cruised the 50 some kilometres and just enjoyed the scenery and the calm, warm weather.
From Malmesbury the road improved and we were able to open it up a bit, the weather was warming up and we were starting to feel the heat. We sped along the R302/304 with motorists very obligingly moving over to the side for us, which I always acknowledge with a slight wave of my left hand.
After about an hour we cruised through the University town of Stellenbosch and into the wonderfully picturesque "Morgenhof wine Estate" for lunch.
It seemed to be alright that we were bikers, at least nobody seemed to mind and we got a table even though the waiter asked us "Did you made a reservation?" and I was like "No!"
The food was outstanding, but it was to get even better as I was to discover later on that day. My starter at Morgenhoff was "Salmon gravadlax served on a herbed blue cheese shortbread, mushroom panna cotta and baby greens dressed with aspargus coulis" (R50) and it was delightful, the mushroom panna cotta was sublime and Janet's "Smoked tomato soup with kingcrab mousse and avocado foam" (R45) was delicious - I had some so I can vouch for it.
The mains were just as good; My "Springbok loin served on prune gnocchi, braised cabbage, glazed pears and coffee and walnut puree" (R135) was unbelievably good and there was plenty of meat too, Janet had a cheese and fruit platter which was too much for her to eat so I also had some of that! This you might think a bit excessive for a couple of bikers who might normally be happy with a burger but we had decided that as this was the last weekend of our holiday we were going to enjoy it.
By then it was unbelievably hot so (even though Frank would not have approved!) we packed our jackets into the topcase and rode in tee shirts back to Stellenbosch for petrol and then into the fantastic "Hellshoogte Pass" on the R310, about halfway though we pulled into the parking area of the 5 star Delaire wine estate where a tasting of four wines cost R35, I did buy two bottles of their really good Rose' to take home with us though.
Just look at that setting! The scenery around Stellenbosch and Franschoek is absolutely beautiful and the roads are made especially for bikers to enjoy, wide and smooth with lots of twisty mountain passes! From Delaire we rode through to "Boschendal", a well known estate where the wines and the tasting is a lot more reasonable; R15 for 5 wines.
Now before you all get on your "high horses" about us biker scum drinking so much wine while we are riding our motorbikes, let me just point out that five tasting glasses are the equivalent of one regular glass of wine, so after lunch (where we had two beers and a bottle of wine) we only had two more glasses of wine each.
Pretty soon it was time to find accommodation so we rode through to Franschoek, a ridiculously popular tourist village and it was crowded with foreigners; I saw gloriously attractive young Dutch girls and German girls in flimsy, short skirts and clinging tops barely concealing pert breasts............but enough of that! I had to concentrate, we needed a place to sleep and eventually we parked the big red machine next to "Orchard cottage at Bo La Motte Estate" (R700) for the night but we had no alternative and it was very nice.We got settled quite early so Janet had a bit of a snooze and I relaxed with a book and we just tried to cool down a little and just after 5pm we went into the village, our first visit was to "Reuben's" where the bar counter is made from the wing of a Douglas DC3 Dakota, pretty cool and the beer was cold.
We tried to book a table there for dinner but I was told that it was fully booked, this turned out to be a blessing although I was beginning to doubt that we would be able to get into any of the restaurants that night. We spent a very pleasant evening wandering around the village, had a couple of beers at "Taki's Place", a pub on the main road where I was able to watch more of those pretty young foreign tourists wandering around and eventually we ended up at "Le Bon Vivant" for dinner. What a fantastic experience that was!
Here's my starter; grilled scallops, tomato confit, black pasta, dried onion and squid ink jus. (R90) I cannot decribe how good that was, I have never had "Squid ink" before but it was delicious! Janet had a prawn starter which was just as good and then the mains;
I had Norwegian Salmon, basil and marscapone stuffed calamari, potato beignettes with a mango sauce (R115) and now I get it; This food was a bit more expensive than the usual but it was outstanding food!!!!!! Usually we go to restaurants where the food is not as good, or just as good as we can do at home, now we need to go less often - like once a month - to this kind of place where the food is prepared by a chef, and it is definitely not what we can do at home. Just look at the Tiramisu that we shared.We relaxed on the veranda after our meal and finished our bottle of wine, it was a wonderfully calm and warm evening and riding the motorbike back to our cottage was particularly enjoyable later that evening. We had a comfortable sleep and over a cup of coffee the next morning we packed up early and got on the road.

It is not a long way from Stellenbosch to Saldanha so we took it easy and just enjoyed the cool morning weather, there was not much wind and we could feel that it was going to be hot later on.
We stopped along the way for a bit of a leg stretch and the obligatory photo opportunity and then cruised on home, all in all a tremendously enjoyable few days on the motorbike. There it is; Saldanha 6km - the ride's over and we have to go back to work. Pity about that! My next scheduled ride is the weekend of 12-14 February when I will be going to the Freedom Road Rally in Stilbaai - already looking forward to that! I am sure we will ride before that so I will keep you posted, stay on two wheels and stay safe.


Your pool nemesis said...

Wow, what a great mini-holiday. And you'd have thought you'd be all holiday-ed out by that stage. I'm now very hungry!

the rider said...

Cheers Andy! Yes we ended our holiday off well, had a great time now it's back to the grindstone.