Given the previous couple of hot, dry years that Cape Town has plodded and panicked its way through, snow on its relatively low lying mountains has been somewhat… scarce. That all changed with last year’s winter season as we were treated to some spectacular snow hitting the mountain tops of all the Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Helderberg ranges, reaching as far down as even Cape Town’s famed Table Mountain itself!
Recalling the days of Chantelle’s winter baked goods deliveries to Sacred Ground in Franschhoek, we decided to head out for an afternoon drive to that side of the world, ostensibly to chase the snow capped peaks, but given the reality of the now long-running Covid pandemic, it was just as much a reason to get out of the house to stave off cabin fever for a little while longer.
We headed up over Sir Lowry’s Pass, swung a left past Grabouw, and then slid along the gorgeously green Viljoen’s Pass until we reached what now at last is a very full Theewaterskloof Dam, which it has to be said is looking a damn sight better than what it did just a year or two ago at the height of Cape Town’s drought crisis.
Pointing our nose up through the Franschhoek Pass, we moved in between the snow capped tops and were then flabbergasted as we hit the heavy mountain pass traffic caused by the long queue of cars all patiently waiting to take their turn at a walk in the snow at the now uber popular Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve.
Eventually though, we dropped down the other side of the Franschhoek Pass into Franschhoek itself, and given the various pandemic induced bans on alcohol, travel, etc, this normally bustling tourist attracting town was quiet and far more leisurely to stroll through than what we were normally used to. We found a parking, ambled down main street, browsed the various shop windows and reasonably empty restaurant fronts, until eventually coming to a stop in front of our almost always when in Franschhoek with the girls haunt, Huguenot Fine Chocolates.
Known as the makers of fine Belgian chocolates, Chantelle, the girls and I eagerly selected a bevy of different flavours and forms, and then proceeded to find a quiet bench in the little park across the road that usually hosts the Franschhoek Market in non Coronavirus lockdown times. Beautiful old buildings, snowy peaks all around us, and delicious chocolates begging to be savoured, this was thus a pretty enjoyable way of escaping the now very familiar four walls of our little home back in Gordon’s Bay – even if for just a couple of hours!
And then we missioned on home via Pniel, stopping of course for a spot of scones, tea and jam at Hillcrest Berry Orchards outside Stellenbosch – because it seemed the right thing to do.