George and Oudtshoorm
After leaving Knysna we drove to George to see a fellow potter friend we met in Japan a few years ago. Used Google maps to get there so we took an unexpected route through a township. Basically the first thing you notice is that everyone is walking and the absolute poverty. The demarcation between the township and the city of George is also clearly easy to see. People are driving and houses have yards and it's very clean. After having a smoothie with her at her cafe/pottery seconds shop, we toured her pottery factory where all the porcelain china is made by hand. It wasn't in full operation because we arrived on the weekend, but there were still a few artisans working. Usually there are over a hundred and she treats them like family. Her pottery is called Wonky Ware.
We spent just one night in Oudtstoorm checking out an Ostrich Farm. We had seen wild ostriches in Okavanga Delta but at a great distance. Did you know that one egg is the equivalent of 36 chicken eggs? The natives have long used the empty egg shells as canteens. The skin from an ostrich is cured like leather and is used to make beautiful purses and belts. They are very, very expensive so I do not own one. There was also the problem of buying things and not having room in our suitcases to bring them home. We did have an ostrich steak that night at Bufflesdrift Game Lodge just outside of town. We sat on an open air deck, overlooking a pond with hippos bathing. We had to try their Malva Pudding which was served with warm custard. I prefer it with vanilla ice cream. The next morning we drove Swelledam.
Driving in South Africa is easy, once you get comfortable with driving on the wrong side of the road. The roads are just two lanes, but well paved. Again we got lost , but we consulted a real map and found our way back to the right highway without going on the shorter dirt track the Google map wanted us to take. We were inland this time and drove through a few small passes. The land went from semi arid deserts, then small farms and pastures and finally through lush green hills with waterfalls. All in just a few hours time. There were plenty of rest stops but no bathrooms...so we stopped in a small town, bought coffee, and ice cream and then used their facilities.
Our next two nights were at Langeberg Lodge in Swellendam. Our hosts were a really nice German couple, the husband a former cruise ship chef. Needless to say the breakfasts were spectacular and he even went so far as cooking Christopher's special request... a pancake. Pancakes are not typical South African food. We had a delightful little cottage decorated with hand painted murals, inside and out. The cottage was surrounded by gardens of native plants, so many of which we have here in San Diego. Oh, I forgot to mention there were sculptures nestled in the gardens, a swimming pool, and a large aviary with viewing benches. While there we walked the first night to a local restaurant and ate in their garden patio...all the patrons were also guests at the lodge...8 of us in total. Excellent food, with the typical very modest price.
Swellendam is in a wine region, but not as close to Cape Town so it is not very crowded yet. We got lost a few times and circled back to the lodge where our hosts let me take a photo of the map they had painted on their dining room wall showing the roads and locations of several wineries. The first place we stopped at was just a counter in a old stone warehouse. Bought one bottle of Chenin Blanc which is a staple SA wine choice. It cost $4. Really. The second winery was under construction and would not be out of place in Napa. It was very modern and rustic at the same time with beautiful rose gardens, herb gardens with metal arches covering walkways surrounded by low fountains. Their wine list was more extensive and we left with 3 bottles and a 4th bottle of non alcohol wine for Christopher...I should add he took a year off alcohol (his choice) and still took me wine tasting. The third and last winery had an added perk. You could buy a bottle, fill a picnic basket and cruise the river for an hour which we did. We had to wait an hour, so I tasted some more wine. We met a couple from Johannesburg, the wife drank and the husband didn't so it was a perfect fit. I was wishing I had a girlfriend to share the wine. There was no tasting fee, and unlimited tastes so I sampled way more than I should and had a grand time. We all cruised together and Christopher drove me home. GOOD TIMES!
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