"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Africa Journals, Ch. 49, The Winelands of South Africa

The Africa Journals

Chapter 49
The Winelands of South Africa

Reminds me of my safari in Africa.  Somebody forgot the corkscrew and for several days we had to live on nothing but food and water.—W.C. Fields 

Congratulations,” says Brian.  “This group has set a new record.   You drank 14 bottles of wine at our meeting last night.”   

Well, we WERE in the heart of Stellenbosch, South Africa’s world-famous wine-growing lands, so drinking wine was de rigueur, no?   I did my part—a half glass of white wine.

Not only were we in Stellenboch, we were at the four star Spier Hotel.   We arrived late yesterday afternoon after leaving Kruger National Park, driving to Mpumalanga airport, and flying to the Cape Town airport.

Brian in the lobby of the Protea Kruger Gate Hotel.  Is he sleeping.?  He said he was checking messages on his phone or playing a game.   Looks to me like he's doing it with his eyes closed.

Table decor in the lobby of the hotel.

Flying over the outskirts of Cape Town

The iconic Table Mountain of Cape Town with Lion's Head on the right.

After a short drive past enormous squatter towns and then orderly vineyards, the driver slowed and pulled into the hotel grounds.

South African towns always had squatter towns, but they became enormous after Nelson Mandela was elected and essentially opened the country's borders.

Even modest homes have squatter shanties in their backyards, often inhabited by grown children or rented out.

Adjacent to the freeway, the shanties are constructed of anything that can be scrounged.

We had time to get settled in our rooms and then look around before the meeting, which was, as Brian said, the time to lure us into our next trip with Vantage World Travel.   His problem is that he hasn’t been on any of the many adventures the company offers though he has been with the company for a decade.  They keep him busy with these three-week trips like ours.  Also, his long-time girlfriend is a guide, though for another company and for shorter trips, and is much in demand because she is multilingual.

So, we began talking about our adventures and encouraging him to go when he had time.  Tony and Carol were on their 12th trip, and already signed up for another.   I was on my 3rd, having traveled with Vantage to Russia, Antarctica, and now Africa.   Many others offered their experienced suggestions.

The meeting room where our group of 24 consumed a record 14 bottles of wine.  I was early.

An outdoor sitting area.

Hors d-oeuvres to go with the wine:  potato chips, biltong (sausage--a South African favorite), peanuts, olives, and (hmmm...) I think this was dried beef.

Then, it was time for dinner.

Our group at dinner, with more wine.

My dinner:  Looks like marinated artichoke, a cherry tomato, broccoli, rice, squash, chicken, a couple pieces of potato, and I have no idea what that other thing is.

This looked way too much like Pavola for me.   I took a photo because I liked the colorful fruit topping.

Fruit salad.

Now, come with me and I'll show you around this gorgeous hotel and my fabulous room....

So, we check in at the desk in the lobby.

Reception bar in lobby.

Made entirely of beads.

Made of beads.

Cocktail lounge

Lobby wall decor

Room key in hand and pointed in the right direction, I head for Riverside Lane, which turns off of Village Walk.   It's a good thing I have a map, otherwise I might still be dragging my hand carry around the grounds of Spier.

My friends have found their street.

Through the arbor...

Here we go.

And, wow!


My door...

And, ohmyword, my room:

This is the largest hotel room I've ever seen.   I'm guessing at 16x16, plus the bath and closet.


The mini-bar.

There's also a separate shower.


An iron bar holds the shutters closed.

Each room has a fireplace.

Let's go outdoors.

 Each group of village-style rooms surrounds an interior courtyard, each with its own pool.

The courtyard.

My room is the one on the lower left.  It appears there are four rooms to a building.

Tomorrow:   more wine and a little history.