My friend and I stayed over at a backpackers in Stellenbosch, not really worth promoting, but at least it was conveniently located. I woke up to rain falling down onto the courtyard below, trickling through the bougainvilleas, pattering on the little pond. As I sat on the window sill with a cup of my Clanwilliam Rooibos (see day 4) I tried to forget about the upsetting dream I had throughout the night. I kept dreaming I wake up to go check on my car, and each time I arrive at it was broken into, with either my belongings stolen, or my belongings left untouched, but the car all beat up. Since the backpackers had no parking, I had left it in the adjacent mall's parking lot overnight(1).
To set my mind at ease, I went to check up on my car. I'm not used to having bad dreams and this really upset me. Needless to say, I arrived back at my car, right where I left it, in mint condition. By that time my friend had already left for class, so I set out for my day of exploration.
Umbrella open, I made my way along the old oak trees that characterise Stellenbosch in search of some of the town's main features, art galleries. Gallery upon gallery around every nook and cranny. Almost as many galleries as there were European tourists. I especially enjoyed the flowing figures, sculpted by Vincent Da Silva and the Portchie Gallery that looks like an acid trip. All the while I kept thinking it's time to set up a decent art portfolio. I stopped for coffee at a snug coffee shop/bakery, Schoon de Companje, nestling myself underneath the wooden staircase to set up a Skype call. Thank you technology for connecting friends around the globe!
Extremely psyched-up I got into my car to go explore another gem of the area, Franschhoek. With Grouplove taking me trough the vineyards I still had an underlying fear that I might still be dreaming and that I'm about to wake up again to go check on my car. Ah classic car contemplation time. Ruminating on whether in fact right now is the present, a dream or perhaps just a distant memory I'm reliving while I'm in actually in reality old, ridden with dementia somewhere in a retirement home thinking about the past. One can never be sure of these things. Maybe I'm just a simulation in my own, or someone else's dream, like Vanilla Sky, or perhaps I'm a robot, WestWorld - style. Too many levels of consciousness to comprehend.
The splendour of the surroundings snatched me back to (what I've accepted as) reality. The drive between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek is a famous wine route. Farm after farm, among the hills and valleys filled with grapes and lined by oak trees.
Franschhoek is basically a street of galleries inside a giant vineyard. I can't even begin to list all the amazing things I saw, it's just one happy blur. I took shelter from a brief break in the clouds with a glass of champagne-coloured Rosé, the name of which I can't recall, at a place on the main street. Upon my arrival back at my car, I realised I must have dropped my favourite ring when I got out earlier. What a pity. I can only hope that whomever found it will treasure it since it held a special place in my heart. It was a gift from long ago. One must move on I guess.
I made my way south with the R45 through the Franschhoek Pass. Meandering through the fynbos-enfolded mountains, finally accepting that my road trip is coming to an end since I only have one stop left before settling in Cape Town. Still not quite sure where I was going to stay once I get there, I wondered how I even got here. The past few years has been quite the adventure. From diving with sea turtles, walking on the brim of an active volcano, cycling on the moon, golden temples, the gardens of Giverny, redwood giants, underground rivers, flooded forests, snow-capped mountains, living on a cannabis farm to being Meryl Streep at the Bridges of Madison County... I'm pretty pleased with how it all turned out. I stopped to take a few photos and finish the last block of Lindt I had with me. After trying nearly all of them, the chilly one remains without a doubt, the best.
As I came down from the mountains I made my way through Vyeboom, filled with fruit trees and roses, Arcade Fire, Crown of Love in the background with the sun rays breaking through the heavy clouds. I stopped at Peregrine farm stall to come back down to earth and ground myself. It was the mother of all farm stalls. Fighting my way through the foreigners I bought some spices and relishes and treats for whatever lies ahead.
Listening to The Lumineers I came down through Somerset Wes, sunlight illuminating the see in front of me nearly blinding me. It was sharply contrasted by the black of the recently burned surroundings, creating quite a dramatic scene. I parked my car next to the beach at Strand. My final stop before Cape Town. With buildings glowing in the late afternoon sun and fluttering kites colouring the sky, I went for a walk on the beach. This is the area where my great-grandparents on my mother's side retired, but that was before my time.
I spent the night at my friend's parents' home. Unfortunately, he is currently studying in Norway, but I had a great time visiting his parents nonetheless.
(1) If you ever feel uncomfortable leaving your can on the street overnight, especially if you have past experiences of returning to a car with a broken window and stolen belongings, consider parking at a mall. If you want to save money park between 20:00 and 06:00 for a cheap overnight fee, otherwise just leave it there for longer and pay the 7+ hour standard fee. Totally worth it.