Stellenbosch ~ Old Homes and Chocolate Sticks

For our last day in Cape Town we took a tour north of the city to the wine growing area along the Atlantic coast. We traveled to Stellenbosch via Settler’s Way, the route young Dutch farmers walked in 1680 to find good agricultural lands on which to establish farms. This fertile area is nestled a broad valley of the Eerste River and sheltered by a group of mountains. Today the Stellenbosch is a major university town with a well-known wine industry. Many other crops are also raised n this area including cattle, grain, fruits and vegetables.

Stellenbosch is characterized by Cape Dutch-style architecture and is a clean, quaint, bustling village with oak tree lined streets. Mary Jane and I split up and she walked around the village and I went to the museum so each of us has completely different pictures and memories from our visit.

I found the museum fascinating! It was a living history museum comprised of four different houses depicting different eras (Schreuder House 1709; Bletterman House, 1788; Grosvenor House, 1800-30; and OM Bergh House, 1850). I had an hour and was able to see and photograph only three of the four houses. The third one was a movie set and a film crew kept us well away from the house and elaborate gardens. More importantly, I also did not have time to go through the fourth house as I had spent too much time seeing everything I could and conversing with the in-house guides to have done another one and gotten back to the bus on time.

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MJ had a great time strolling through the village and also bought me a chocolate stick that is a deep fried pastry stick delicacy, which was delicious. It’s great to have a wonderful and thoughtful sister to travel with! Now for Mary Jane’s pictures.

I had lots of fun exploring Stellenbosch that morning. It is a university town so there were a number of students on the streets going from one class to another. Beautiful buildings on the campus.

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Stellenbosch is definitely Dutch in flavor and architecture, but with a number of African accents here and there.

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I liked this lady’s blue boots, so she let me take a picture of them.

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I could not resist visiting the Old Bank Bakery once I saw their sign in Dutch and the cute flower planters outside. Did not know what I would find inside, but immediately spotted the “chocolate sticks” (fried dough shaped into long stick shapes studded with dark chocolate chips). I bought one and it was yummy.

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Then I met these two ladies on the street and struck up a conversation with them. Told them about my chocolate stick and shared it with them. Then I had to go back into the bakery and buy another one to give to my sister when I returned to the bus.

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With these Dutch surroundings you forget you are in South Africa and then all of a sudden, just across the street, you see a lady carrying her groceries African style.

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We drove out of town to one of the many area wineries, stopping at Neethlingshof Estates. We arrived in a pouring rain and quickly hustled into the tasting and storage area of the facility. The history of the estate was shared with us as well as information on grape culture and the making of wine.

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Since it was the height of the production and processing season they could not allow two busloads of people into that part of the facility. We did go into the area where the barrels of wine are aged for various lengths of time in oak barrels before being bottled and sold. Some wine remains in the barrels for a short time and others for almost a year. They re-use their barrels four to seven times for the less expensive wines, but use barrels only once for their best grade.

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We were escorted into the tasting room and those imbibing were given samples of five different wines to see, smell, and taste.

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The view from the tasting room was fantastic out over the vineyards with the mountains in the background! The weather had cleared by the time we re-boarded the bus for our trip back to Cape Town.

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Many of our fellow travelers purchased multiple bottles of wine to take back to the ship for later enjoyment. Our guide said that this winery is discussing with some major wine distributors about marketing their wines in the United States in the near future.

That evening we said goodbye to Cape Town and Table Mountain, hoping we shall return some time soon.

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3 Responses to “Stellenbosch ~ Old Homes and Chocolate Sticks”

  1. Hi Karen ~ Thanks for visiting our World Sail Away Blog. Barb (my sister) is a history buff, so she enjoys visiting all things historical. Glad the information helped you
    for your project. Happy travels online and on the oceans!
    Mary Jane

  2. I am not sure where you’re getting your info, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  3. Wonderful photographs and descriptions. Wish that we had time when we visited Africa in 1998 to stay and really see Cape Town. Thanks for making a virtual visit possible.

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