Stellenbosch, South Africa

AKA the heart of South Africa’s wine country.

Surrounded by mountains (which I didn’t see until almost a week after I’d arrived at the Devonvale), Stellenbosch was settled over 300 years ago, and my impression was that it’s still pretty “white” today. The main reason – it is a tourist destination, only 50km from Cape Town (an easy day trip), and the start of many wine tasting routes.  And the wine, well, it is yummy!

This university town is very charming, with shopping, galleries and some fabulous restaurants.  The Cape Dutch architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries is evidenced along the oak-lined streets.

 

 

We ended up at the large SASOL Kunsmuseum  displaying some amazing works of art.  There was one artist, Paul Emsley, whose work from across the room looked like photography, but once you were standing a foot away, you could distinguish the fine details of the chalk and pencil sketches.  I loved it!

 

And then, to our delighted surprise, as we were descending a back stairwell, there on the wall was a South African flag. But not just any flag…this was the flag flown from a helicopter over Nelson Mandela’s inauguration ceremony in 1994, and bearing the signatures of Mandela, Thabo Mbeki, and FW de Klerk.  A real treat.

 

The Oom Samie Se Winkel (Uncle Samie’s Store), preserving the essence of its trading post origins, is brimming with  food, clothes, crafts, tools etc.  It is indescribable…let’s just say, I’d hate to have to take inventory there!

 

The strangest part of our day, I must say, was when, as we were looking at local properties for sale in the window of a real estate office, a 60-ish year old man approached us and started chatting.  Initially we thought he was the realtor, but it quickly became evident that he was just passing by.  Pleasant enough conversation, but then my spidey-senses started tingling by some of his slightly “off” comments.  The one that really caught me and made me start to listen more closely was his off-handed remark about this “apartheid thing”.  It got to the point where I was glaring at Jeff, biting my tongue and forcing a grimaced smile (I was so close to saying something, but his comments were so veiled, I just wasn’t sure).  We finally got away, shaking our heads, and wondering “what the f*** was that!?!”  And yes, unfortunately, there is still a lot of racism in South Africa, subtle though it may be at times.

This fabulous mural is painted on the side of a building.

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~ by betweenthelatitudes on June 13, 2012.

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