The vineyards around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschoek were established by French Huguenots and Dutch settlers early in the 18th century. This is a very interesting region but South Africa's very poor public transport system makes it difficult to visit.
I visited the Bergkelder Winery here and would have liked to visit others but getting around in South Africa is a problem, there are few busses and they don't go everywhere. I came here by train but I had to resort to hitch hiking to leave because of the inadequate bus service.
Hitch hiking was slow, it took me 6 rides and 8 hours to do the 250 kms to Riversdale where I got a lift all the way to Humansdorp on a truck laden with wines destined to be made into brandy. I took a shot of this plant when my driver, Andre Halgreen, pointed out to me that it was Sasol's synthetic petroleum refinery. It was worth a photo as being the only one in the world of its kind. It was built during embargo times to produce gasoline and fuels from coal by the Fischer-Tropf process used by the Nazis during WW II.
It was close to midnight when we got to Humansdorp but Andre's family was there, waiting to wish him a happy birthday. That was so nice that I asked them to take a picture. Andre is the one without a shirt. I slept in the truck cab bunk that night.
The next morning, there were no busses going east from Humansdorp before late afternoon so I hitched a ride to Port Elisabeth with a fishing boat captain. This is the City Hall.
I got here early and had time enough to roam about the city, to visit Signal Hill where this shot was taken and to buy an overnight bus ticket to Bloemfontein.
This is Maseru's Catholic Cathedral.
From Bloemfontein, I took a so-called "black taxi" to Maseru, the capital of the enclaved, mini country of Lesotho. I learned that the white bus system is inadequate because most whites have cars but that there are busses for black people which the local whites never take. Also, that many private cars, called "black taxis", run on fixed routes leaving when they are full.
While looking around for a place to sleep, I met David Mitchell from Vancouver and Dutch Peter de Wisse who had an old car. We tried several places and finally ended up in the Youth Hostel 5 kms from town.
We considered driving through Sani pass over the Drakensburg Escarpment to Himeville in Natal but decided against it when advised that Peter's car would never make it. Peter decided to go west to Bloemfontein so he dropped David and I at Ladybrand for we were going east. Hitch hiking was not easy we only did 160 kms before having to stop in Bethlehem where we found nothing cheaper than a 50 US$ room to share.
Bethlehem's Royal Hotel was expensive but that's where we met Emil Van Zweel and his wife. They had bought two used cars in the interior and were driving south to sell them in Durban where they would fetch a better price.
I drove with Emil in one car as far as Pietermaritzburg and David went all the way to Durban in the other car.
I got along fine with the Van Zweels and would have continued with them but I wanted to visit Rick Franz whom I had met in Harare with Dave Bradshaw. So, I said good bye and called Rick whose wife Judy and daughter Debbie operated a bed and breakfast here.
Pietermaritzburg was another nice clean and very white town just like Capetown, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and all the other towns I had seen so far.
After almost two weeks, I had seen very few blacks and started to wonder where 75 percent of the population was hiding!
I enjoyed my stay here. Rick, a converted pilot operating an agricultural spraying business had answers to many of my questions and his family was warm and friendly with me. I'll say "Hi" to them, just in case they see this page, some day.