19 May Friendcation Part 1: Franschhoek
A few years ago I was paging through a magazine and I spotted myself in a spread on Instagram profiles that give people “lifestyle envy”… Please note that I am not sharing this to gas myself up, because in reality at that exact moment I was sitting under fluorescent lights (read… bad lighting) at a cubicle, consulting on a pitch, not wearing mascara. I really felt like said article was talking about some other human being and that the person they were referencing was wearing mascara in all her pictures. She was spending all her time travelling, drinking champagne and posing for photographs. She definitely must’ve been getting paid to travel and have lots of money.
Fast-forward to May 2021…
It’s all still a lie, innit? I mean I have been posting a lot of hashtag “throwbacks” but also, I genuinely have not seen terminal A in over a year, because this pandemic has made it really unattractive for me to do one of the few things that bring me actual true pleasure and joy. And before you say something to yourself like “but Thithi other people have been travelling during the pandemic pre vaccines” I am declaring that I am personally not one of those people who voluntarily, can or wants to have a swab put up her nose or shoved down her throat.
So, what does a girl who loves to travel because it offers her an escape and reprieve, to do after she finally accepts (after a whole year) that passport control is this concept from another lifetime and jet lag is a condition she will never have again? (Okay, I’m kidding… )
She makes a list of things and places she has always wanted to experience in this here truly beautiful country of ours, South Africa, books a flight and accommodation and has the most amazing friendcation staycation ever.Day 1
We caught the red eye from a rainy and cold Johannesburg, clad in grey sweats, and arrived in Franschhoek, after an hour-long drive from the airport, to what I can only describe as delicious weather. Being the over ambitious explorers and experience taker-inners that we are we had booked ourselves on the 12 o’clock wine tram, which meant we had to quickly check into our really amazing room at The Village Manor, change into our cute “let’s drink wine all day” outfits and power walk to the tram station located a 10-minute walk away from The Village Manor.
Some of the things I discovered about the wine tram experience:
- The wine tram is actually a combination of a tram ride and a bus ride!
- If your line has let’s say 8 stops when you book it… Even if you start for example at 10am on the yellow line the maximum number of stops you can fit in before closing time is 6. If you start at 12:00, maximum stops you will manage to fit in are 4.
- The estate stops are at 60 minutes intervals, you can stay longer at estates of your choice to do a walk about or eat lunch…
- The pick-ups run on time… I didn’t believe Tumi Mohale when she flagged this with us, but they really run-on time
- The actual prices for the tastings are very affordable. I don’t know what I thought I was going to spend, but in my mind, it was not for example R100 at Grand Provence for a tasting of 4 wines.
- Eat… I almost let the team down early on because I hadn’t had breakfast.
- It starts of classy… with you being fancy and ends off pretty messy. But it’s wonderfully fun.
So, you can imagine that after the wine tram, things might have gotten a little less memorable. From my friend and travel partner Amahle’s InstaStories, I can confirm that we went on the hunt for ribs, had a tequila shot at dinner and had more wine.
I will take a moment here to talk a bit about Where we stayed:The Village Manor at Roubaix House (a reminder of a time in Franschhoek’s history when it was referred to as Roubaix village linked to its history of Huguenots settlement in the area) was built in 1855 by the school master and it served as a boarding house and tannery at some point. It is located on a quiet street, a walk away from the Main Road and the wine tram station (which we loved). I only drove once during our 3-night stay and that was to have lunch at Chef’s Warehouse at Maison and drive to Boschendal. Otherwise we pretty much walked everywhere.
The room we stayed in was big (much bigger than I expected) and beautiful. The staff on site were super helpful, and Emily, who I assume is the manager, was responsive and literally a delight to deal with. They currently don’t serve breakfast due to Covid-19, but as I said, everything is a walk away and one can really sort that aspect out for themselves.Back to day 2… An adult contemporary day that started off with an incredible tapas lunch, wine and bubbles at The Chefs Warehouse at Maison. Everything we put in our mouths was delicious. We then headed over to the Village Manor for a little afternoon rest before heading out to Boschendal’s Drive In cinema event. On that particular day they were screening a Star Is Born (the Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper version) and it was truly the perfect way to end off the day… eating popcorn and burgers from the food stalls whilst watching the movie.Day 3
We had initially booked a 2-night stay in Franschhoek, but the weather was so warm and lovely, that we decided whilst having bubbles at Le Lude on day 1, to spend an extra night in Franschhoek. The weather was just so glorious it didn’t make sense to not stay another day.
Our final day was spent taking a relaxed walk to Reubens for lunch, drinking bubbles and having another shot of tequila. We wrapped up our final day in Franschhoek sitting at the pool area at The Village Manor reading and drinking wine and joking about how we are going to start a stokvel to buy property in Franschhoek.