One week early because of all the holidays in April and numbers were dramatically down. Perhaps it was the fact that the third Thursday of the month did not suit all, or perhaps even that many people decided to take advantage of the holidays and plan extra-long breaks away!
We booked a 15-seater coach which was full – a tiny vehicle, but such a happy day. I had comments that a few on the coach felt like we were off on a mini-break – this size vehicle reminding them of traveling around the country. Amazingly the small group seemed to have more time to interact with each other than when there are so many people on the coach – not that we didn’t miss all the regulars!
We took the Muizenberg beach road which just near Khayelitsha abruptly came to an end – “Detour ahead” – then as is becoming typical in South Africa, no further signs. Our coach driver wisely followed the group of cars ahead of us – “Were they all doing the same?” – we ended up with confusing signs and not knowing how we needed to get back to the N2 to proceed to Stellenbosch! Thank you to Google maps and very soon we found that we were, in fact, on the right road – this delayed us by about 20 minutes, but must say there were a few anxious moments on the coach!
Our first stop was somewhere that was an absolute joy to visit. Glenelly in the Idas Valley just near the famous Stellenbosch Hydro. This very new estate boasts such a commanding place so very close to the majestic mountains. The staff are so very welcoming. One has several options to do when visiting this world class wine estate.
On the lower ground level, they have a glass museum. The owner of Glenelly (a spritely 93-year-old) has had a lifelong passion for collecting rare and contemporary glass. She has the largest privately owned collection in South Africa, ranging from 1st and 2nd century to modern classics, including pieces by Salvador Dali and Lino Taghapietra. They have such an enthusiastic young lady, Tessa, who walked us around the collection. What an amazing glasscollection! Fabulous to see (and have it explained), was the collection of Woodstock glass with its distinctive pattern from South Africa as well as several pieces by David Reade, of our country!
You also have the option to sit and enjoy a cappuccino outside on their deck with the beautiful views coupled with very comfortable furniture. “Ah this place is SO relaxing” “Look at the views” was heard.
One can also do wine tasting on the 1st floor where extremely competent staff take you through their wines. They do an un-oaked chardonnay / an Estate Reserve chardonnay / plus Merlot, Syrah / and a very special wine called Lady May, after the owner.
Glenelly is definitely somewhere to be re-visited – especially for a special occasion in your life! A wine estate Par Excellence.
Next, we headed to Mont Marie along Blauwklippen Road where we found another gem in the Stellenbosch area. Wonderful arriving at a restaurant where the staff have been ‘briefed’ about your arrival and know your exact wants and needs! It immediately puts the group leader at ease and allows her to enjoy the lunch along with the group. The staff were extremely efficient – drinks orders were processed with speed / lovely boards with warm bread and dips were served – a fabulous addition which takes the edge off, whilst you wait for your meal. When our main meal arrived – fish and chips served with tartar sauce and a salad, everyone devoured the meal enthusiastically. Very tasty and large portions had everyone satisfied, and the conversation flowed.
Next on our menu was a baked cheesecake served with fresh fruit and an almond sweet sauce coupled with some ice cream and cream – very decadent but oh my goodness, delicious.
Mont Marie is an excellent place to visit in the Stellenbosch area – views to die for – with a lovely cooling dam in front of the deck, where we enjoyed our lunch. Another yardstick I always go for, is the fact that despite being very busy, the service was excellent and worthy of a visit to again and again!
Life was meant for good friends and great adventures