Sunday, January 7, 2018
The ship was late docking this morning due to high seas, so we ended up boarding about two hours late. At least we had reading materials and electronics to occupy our time waiting at the cruise port.
This is our fourth cruise on Crystal, the second one on the ship “Symphony.” It’s been remodeled since the last time we were on it, so we had to take a little walk around to get re-oriented.
We enjoyed a show by a dancing and singing group from Langa Township this evening. I think it’s connected to the artists’ colony that we visited yesterday. The performance was very lively, a nice way to start our cruise.
Monday, January 8, 2018
We visited the town of Stellenbosch, meaning Stel’s Bush. It is the second oldest city in South Africa after Cape Town. The town was founded by Simon van der Stel, the governor of the Cape Colony in 1679. Huegenot refugees settled here in 1690 and planted the first grape vines. The land was fertile, and the climate was ideal for growing grapes Wine is big business here, as we could see from the many vineyards we passed along the way. There are many fruit orchards as well.
The streets are lined with English Oak trees. Van der Stel brought them in to provide wood for the wine barrels. Unfortunately, they grow too quickly in this climate, and the wood proved to be too porous. Barrels must be imported from other countries.
No shore excursion is complete without a shopping opportunity. The town of Stellenbosch has quite a few art galleries as well as stores dealing in trinkets that are meant to appeal to tourists. The local university has courses in viniculture and viticulture, working with the local farmers and vintners.
After dropping a few dollars in town, we went to the Neethlingshof Wine Estate, one of the oldest wineries in Stellenbosch. We sampled five different wines: Chenin Blanc, the Six Flowers (a white blend,) Malbec, The Caracal (red blend,) and a Pinotage. The pinotage grape is a cross between a Pinot Noir and and a Cinsault grape. The Cinsault is called Hermitage in South Africa. The grounds are beautiful, with flowers and views of the surrounding mountains.
On our way back to the ship, we saw some sable antelopes in a field. That was exciting as we were told they are quite rare, in fact they are an endangered species.
We enjoyed an Elton John tribute tonight. The seas are quite choppy tonight, so the dancers have to become skilled at judging the rocking of the ship in order to land without falling. At one time, I though I saw the piano moving, but then figured I must be hallucinating. However, a few minutes later, the piano player asked the crew to help him secure the piano so he wouldn’t fall off the stage!
Those high waves rocked us right to sleep tonight.