Sleep-in Review: Le Franschhoek Hotel, Cape Winelands

May 7, 2007

For our last day of holidays in Cape Town, we decided to head off to one of my favourite wineland areas – Franschhoek. I never get tired of revisiting this picturesque valley and there’s always something new to see.

This time, our first point of call was a new-ish hotel (it’s about a year old) that has opened in the area. At the Hugenout Monument junction, swing a right and drive for 3 km. You’ll reach the glorious Le Franschhoek Hotel, a three cities hotel property, which must certainly be their flagship.

Apparently there was already an old hotel on the site but this has been completely refurbished and modernised into 5 star decadence. Of course, it’s always the natural scenery that makes this hotel worth taking out a loan to stay at (I never actually found out the rates but I reckon they are probably in the R2000 per room range). The mountains, the lush greenery, the picturesque forest walk, made me feel as if I was miles away from bustling city life.

Pool at Le FranschhoekThere are different kinds of rooms – some are housed in the main hotel, which others are suites scattered throughout the property. There is a large welcoming pool and a terrace that oozes elegant colonialism. It’s the perfect place to savour a G&T while watching the sunset.

There are two main restaurants – the Rainforest one which is housed in an open-air (with some cover) greenhouse complete with a mist that sweeps over the dining areas to cool things down. It’s buffet style here with an area where you can choose your own ingredients for Asian stirfry and it gets whipped up before your eyes.

Everything looked mouthwatering but we weren’t after a huge meal and in addition, the only tables that were available were in the direct sun and boy, was it hot. The restaurant is heavily dependent on the weather so it closes during winter.

Fruit PlatterThere is a more formal restaurant which I hope to try one day. But we opted for a light lunch on the terrace where mom, Tamara and I enjoyed a variety of delicious salads. We knew the greens were fresh as they were slightly gritty from sand (fresh from the earth?) Thank goodness the ubiquitous earthworm didn’t find its way onto our plates.

After checking out the spa and going for a stroll through the beauty, we headed back to Franschhoek. And so began out quest to find Tamara a gigantic Ndebele beaded doll. We went into every shop along the busy main street. The shops hold some treasures and mom bought Tam and I some gorgeous colourful placemats with images of Cape Town and its rainbow people.

I stopped into the new yummy ice-cream shop and also couldn’t leave without a praline from my favourite Belgium choccy shoppe (a real foody heaven this is).

Tam finally found a magnificent doll and I bought a mini-version. Pleased with our purchases and full-up with yummy farmland food, we headed back to Cape Town.

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Edible Review: Mount Nelson High Tea

April 1, 2007

I had a bit of a gourmet dilemma back in Cape Town: do I try new restaurants or go for old-time favourites. The classics won out and my first choice of eatery was Sinn Restaurant at Wembley Square.

This restaurant got a great review from me in September (read my blog entry about Sinn) so it wasn’t surprising that I wanted to go back.

Van, Karen and me at SinnI met Vanessa, Karen and Patrick there and we had an awesome dinner. The ostrich was even better than I remembered (the best substitute for ostrich in Aussie is kangaroo – yes, those cute, cuddly jumping creatures that are actually regarded as pests down under). The potato rosti was also yummy and company was fantastic.

The next day, after brunch with Ruth and Peter at Newport Deli (they make the most delicious mango smoothie but took forever to bring me my water), mom, Tam and I headed to the elegant Mount Nelson for high tea.

The Mount Nelson is the original high tea venue with a generous helping of colonial decadence. It’s all very plush with English floral furnishing, luxurious carpeting and the tinkle of piano in the background.

The high tea here is quite different to the one at Sofitel Wentworth in that the food is served buffet style rather than at your table.

The hightea at Mount NelsonTea is served at your table (yay, I could get rooibos) and the you help yourself to the very generous array of sweet and savoury goodies. We started off with some delicate sarmies, then went onto a cheese scone and mini spinach and cheese tartlets.

Then I tried a piece of carrot cake, a mini- lemon meringue and a bite of a chocolatey tart. The fruit salad was fizzy (ie off) but the waitress was soo apologetic about the whole thing that we even felt bad about pointing out the fermented fruit.

Mom, Tam and Me at Mount NelsonWe sat and chatted and sipped tea and thoroughly soaked up the ambience. We walked out very full and happy. What a larny treat.


Back in Cape Town: Beating Jet Lag

April 1, 2007

After being in Sydney for just over 5 months, it was time to make a trip to Cape Town to say “Hi” to the family.

Tamara (my sister) was flying with me so we were taxi-ed to the airport by her hubby Richard who lit up our faces with the yummy goody bags he packed specially for us – filled with an assortment of Lindt biscuits, choccies and dried fruit.

We were flying Singapore Airlines and let me tell you, checking in online 48 hours before the flight is the only way to go. We missed out the loooong queue and skipped up to the internet check-in counter to give in our luggage.

Unfortunately Tam and I could only get seats on the other ends of the aircraft – she was 30-something and I was in row 60. To make it worse, this humungous man sits next to me, practically sprawls all over me and within 2 minutes of us taking off, has flung his head back and started to snore. This was the makings of a nightmarish flight.

Thank goodness Tam came to the rescue and convinced the girl next to her that she should move to the back of the plane as she could get an aisle seat. So I escaped what would have potentially been a horrific experience and came to sit next to my sister. What a pleasure.

And so began our movie marathon….I watched Notes of a Scandal (good but slightly disturbing), some Aussie movie (I can’t remember what it was called), The Office and Kath and Kim (a typical Aussie sitcome about typical Aussie middle-class – hilarious – I need to get hold of the rest of the series).

We were served a snack and then dinner (cous cous and vege curry – pretty good) and then we landed in Singapore airport.

We had a 4 hour stop over so Tam and I decided to check into the Rainforest Lounge (in terminal one) and had a wonderful shower and used the internet – all for $8. What a pleasure! We then walked through the airport – which is really more of a city than anything else and I got some Haagen Dasz (there was no Ben and Jerry’s) ice-cream.

We then boarded the plane again for the long-haul 12 hour flight to CT. The air stewards were active throughout the night – as opposed to British Airways where they serve dinner and disappear until brekkie. Here, these friendly hostesses were passing out drinks and snacks at all hours. I managed to get a little bit of sleep but it’s never that comfy.

We arrived in Cape Town just after 7am and mom came to collect us. We were pretty exhausted but decided that in order to beat our jet lag we wouldn’t sleep until that night. We knew if we took a nap, that would be it for our sleeping pattern. So we tried to keep busy with a trip to Constantia Village and lunch at Newport Deli.

Mom had friends for dinner so we helped to set up and almost succumbed to sleep in front of the soapies. But we resisted and after dinner, we excused ourselves and passed out.

What a great sleep that was and since then, our bodies have adjusted pretty well and we are well intp SA time. Definitely the way to beat jet lag!!!