Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A day in Hermanus

Off to the seaside again – a stay in Hermanus

We left Franschhoek late afternoon and headed over the magnificently heady Franschhoek pass to Hermanus via the very full Theewaterskloof Dam. We had been lent a lovely spacious and modern flat on the coast in Hermanus and were amazed to see that we were right on the rocks overlooking the bay and we could see many whales cavorting from the large glass windows. This was to be our home for the next two nights
The view of the southern tip of Africa in the distance on arrival early evening from the flat
We celebrated with a glass of Creation's terrific Sauvignon Semillon blend. Crisp, citrussy, with good minerality and delicious
Sunrise the next morning
The misty mountains
It is Arum time in the Cape Spring. They grow everywhere on the coast and are indigenous
Whales were everywhere in the bay. This one is flashing its tail
Pods of dolphins too
Lots of gulls
A very barnacled head on a Southern Right whale
We saw a mother and baby cruising and blowing in the bay every morning
Honestly, some people have absolutely no idea about how to promote themselves. We decided, on Tuesday, to go and see some of the wine farms in Stanford that we have never visited before. Almost there, we saw an impressive set of gates with a very small dilapidated sign saying wine tasting. But there was no name on the gate. It turns out it was Misty Cliffs who had their signage stolen a while ago. We were welcomed by Angela Kies in the tasting room, who gave us a tasting of their three wines, two Shirazes and one Pinotage, made by consultant winemaker Philip Costandius, who is now at Oldenburg in Banhoek. “No, they have not been busy” she said. With no signage outside, we are not surprised that everyone is driving right past. 

It got worse. We could not find a tasting room on the Robert Stanford farm despite driving all over the estate looking for one and any signage and nearly took a road over a very rickety wooden footbridge that would not have held our car. There is building going on, so perhaps they are closed for a while. We left and then proceeded to Stanford Hills next door. You turn off the main road onto a smaller road and drive at least a kilometre to the small winery. It was lunch time and we were spurred on by the thought of the memorable pork pie they serve, mentioned by Christian Eedes in the Platter guide. When we reached it, we discovered that they are only open Thursdays to Mondays. It was Tuesday. We really would have appreciated this information at the turning from the main road. So it was not a successful trip to taste Stanford wines.

Trying the wines in the tasting room at Misty Cliffs winery in Stanford
One day this might become a restaurant
Their labels
Angela Kies was very helpful, knowledgeable and did a very professional tasting for us
A huge conference of white-faced coots on the Prawn Flats
The tide beginning to go out on the flats on the Stanford estuary
Flamingos  in the distance on the edge of the estuary
Cormorants watching the water
And a tiny abandoned 6 week old (approx.) kitten living on the side of the slipway. We fed it some ham and sausage and it was ravenous. We did report it to Animal Welfare who said they would go and rescue it.
We headed back into Hermanus to find some lunch. Lynne had met the owner of Bientang’s Cave the previous day at Creation so we decided to give it a try. And we were very pleasantly surprised

A lovely close up of a whale from the deck at Bientang’s Cave
This is just next to the old harbour in town
Steep steps down (And up later!)
A view from above of the terrace
Not too daunting
We think these far tables must be the ones for the smokers! They should be
They ring a bell every time someone spots a whale in the bay
Specials of the day
John’s portion of Hake and Chips. Rather a small portion for the cost but very fresh and good
Lynne opted for the Bouillabaisse  and it was delicious and very good value at R95. Two huge prawns on top, and in the soup mussels, calamari, smaller prawns and fish in a light tomato fish/seafood broth
They charge R50 a bottle for Bring your Own Wine and this is one of our current favourites,  a Chardonnay made by David Finlayson at Edgebaston
More cormorants

The Bar at Bientang’s Cave

A last look at Walker Bay before the long road home 

© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014
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