Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 5 - Stellenbosch

Today was a sweltering 35 degrees C! I wanted to laze around Richard's place but decided to get out and explore Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa and is renowed for its wine and university.

I strolled around town with the intention of observing the quaint Cape Dutch architecture that is supposedly ubiquitous in Stellenbosch. However, Cape Dutch architecture wasn't as prevelent as I believed it to be and the buildings that exhibited this style were rather bland and stoic (e.g., black & white). I was also disappointed at the lack of trees (and shade) as I felt that I was being braaied (South African word for barbeque).

Since today is a Sunday, most museums and stores were closed. In fact, South African store hours are similar to those in Europe. Most places close by 6pm on weekdays and early (or not open at all) on the weekends. This extends to supermarkets, wineries, museums and even the tourist offices! I guess the people who work at these establishments want a life too!

While wandering around town, the first place I arrived was De Braak, or the town green. This square had a few Dutch-style churches on its periphery. Another notable landmark was the Village Museum, which has several Cape Dutch structures. I also wandered around the University of Stellenbosch, which had some colorful Cape Dutch buildings, such as the Theology Building. My highlight was strolling down Victoria St., as it has oak trees lining the sidewalks, thus providing ample shade. The last place of my tour was the Jan Marais Nature Reserve, which has some stunning mountain views.

I was lucky that the German-brand Spar supermarket closes at 7pm on Sunday, because I got in around 6-ish. I bought two chicken and mushroom pies (which, similar in Australia and New Zealand, were imported from the British) for dinner (or supper as they say in SA).

Overall, comparing Savannah, Georgia (another quaint town) to Stellenbosch, I would actually favor the former town for its variety of historic architecture and for more trees.

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