Our guesthouse in Franschoek the ‘Maison D’Ail’ was beautiful – only five years old with every attention to detail possible. The pool looked inviting but there was always a cool to cold wind blowing in the shade. Our room looked over the Franschoek mountains directly behind us.
We walked into town only a kilometre away the next morning and had a good look around the wine town with a myriad of souvenir, diamond and homewares shops as well as countless restaurants and cafes. We walked back to the guesthouse, had half an hour’s break and then headed out to do some wine tasting (well me anyway) at four different wineries. The whole area reminded us of Margaret River in the south west of W.A complete with many gum trees. I tried various wines at ‘Holden Manz’ La Petite Dauphine’ ‘Grande Provence’ and ‘Mont Rochelle’. Our favourite place with the friendliest staff was La Petite Dauphine. The staff at the other properties were OK but their spiel on the wines was very rehearsed and you knew they had said it countless times. We ate dinner at ‘Allora’ Italian restaurant in Franschoek. There were a few more South Africans working in this area and not as many Zimbabweans.

There was also a lot more Africaans spoken there and many of the guesthouses and businesses had French names which dated back to the Hugenots who settled the area many moons ago. The most widely spoken language in South Africa is Zulu.

After two days in Franschoek we took all day to drive via Hermanus (a whale watching area, however there were few whales to be seen this year) and Swellendam with it’s Cape Dutch style houses to Wilderness an area with a small village near an estuary and across the road from the ocean. From Franschoek it was a beautiful drive through rolling hills of grain crops for about at least a hundred kilometres. The grain and hay was being harvested and stored outside and in enormous silos. We stopped at the ‘Stone House’ cheese factory and bought some of their tasty cheeses, all of which we could taste.
We arrived about 8hours later at ‘Moontide’ bungalows some their thatch roofs overlooking the estuary at ‘Wilderness’. The owner and staff at ‘Moontide’ were a friendly and helpful bunch of people. Their three husky cross dogs were very placid and did not bother anyone.

The roads from Capetown and along the garden route were excellent and drivers were very polite, flashing their lights when you let them pass. The only radio stations we could get in the area were all in Africans with Africans and English music. There were a few African shanty towns on the way and more substantial local housing.
All along the coast were very large houses. We had more delicious fresh fish and calamari at ‘Salinas’ a huge two storey seafood restaurant right on the beach.
Maurice stayed with the car while I went to take some photos of the coastline a there was no car-guard around and when I got to the end of the pathway I found the sign saying ‘Be aware – high mugging area’ so I promptly walked back to the car along the road. We are careful everywhere we go in the world and for us South Africa was no more dangerous than anywhere else. We just had to keep to the main roads and keep some change to give to the unofficial car minders with their fluorescent jackets.

We went back about 20kms to Mossel Bay but it wasn’t a very interesting place apart from the lighthouse with an enormous rock cave below it and lots of Rock ‘Dassies’or Hyrax who scampered quickly up and down the rocks. We left there and went back to Wilderness and drove up the mountain to a viewing point called ‘Map of Africa’ and looking down the landscape with the river flowing around it did look like the map of Africa.
We drove also to Dolphin point but did not see any dolphins. There were many surfers at ‘Victoria Bay’ where we could walk along a boardwalk.
After a couple of days in Wilderness we drove to Knysna where both Maurice and I did some clothes shopping. There was a large mall with a great variety of clothing shops, most very reasonably priced. Every town in the world now seems to have the cheap Chinese shop whether it be in a village in Italy or in South Africa. They sell a bit of everything and all cheaply priced items.
We had to share an enormous piece of Lemon meringue pie. They have the highest meringue toppings on the cakes here in South Africa.

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