By Marike, South African Homestay’s Host Tutor
Last night, the girls announced that they had no school today, due to certain examinations being written that did not apply to them. Promised them a trip to the village of Franschoek, so that they could go an discover this quaint little mountain village. It is here that French Protestants settled during the 1680’s, fleeing their native country due to religious persecution.
When the morning arrived, we had to face that fact that the weather gods had other plans – thick, grey clouds blanketed the mountains, making it unwise for us to visit the village today. In addition to the clouds, soft but cold rain was falling and I could see that neither girl felt that a hike in the vineyards surrounding us was a good idea.
Plan B then – off to Morgenster Estate Wine & Olive Estate in Somerset West, 35 minutes from Cape Town. It is a thriving olive and wine farm dating back to 1711, producing internationally acclaimed Bordeaux-style wines and extra virgin olive oil of astounding quality.
The Morning Star from which the farm gets its name is depicted within a scallop shell on the front gable of Morgenster’s beautiful manor house, the private home of owner Giulio Bertrand. It is the Estate’s signature and features on the labels of its fine wines and olive products. We spent some time chatting about how symbolism plays such a big role in heraldry and that you could often see South Africa’s European roots by looking at heraldic images.
The elegant tasting room,which is set against the Schaapenberg and overlooks a reed lined dam and the Helderberg, can enjoy a wine tasting experience unique in South Africa. Since both girls are under age, we were keen to try the estate’s olive oil tasting with all of its intriguing complexity. We got the opportunity to taste five olive oils, balsamic vinegar, olive pastes and olives and were tempted to buy all our gifts for family at home here!
Girls the world over can not only study and discover – sometimes they just need to spend time at the closest shopping mall! We followed our visit to the Estate with just this – free time in the largest shopping mall in the area. Somerset Mall offers 70 000m² of shopping fun. With 200 shops, restaurants of every type and cinemas, it offers a wide variety of food, fashion, beauty and specialist stores. Our favourite discovery was a restaurant specialising in monster milkshakes and waffles – which we just had to try out. No wonder that we had to use the idiom “Having eyes that are bigger than your stomach” before too long!