At last the main reason for our trip to South Africa was upon us, the wedding day had arrived.
However, the service wasn’t until 4PM so we had the best part of a day to ourselves and were determined to make the most of it.
We awoke to a bright and sunny morning, the mountains all around were positively glowing.
Given the conditions, and the fact that Franschhoek is such a small place, we left the car behind and walked to our first stop of the day: The Huguenot Museum & Memorial.
Most of the information boards in the museum are written in French or Afrikaans, with a few English ones scattered about. Which means that I can’t bore you with too much Huguenot history, although I can tell you that 2,700 French religious rebels (known as Huguenots) eventually left Europe in dribs and drabs in the late 17th Century ending up in the Cape area of South Africa, looking for a new life away from the Roman Catholic Church. Pretty much the only thing they brought with them were their skills in winemaking – and so the South African wine trade began.
Finding out any of this information was not only hindered by the lack of English, but also the vast hoards of coach tours who bundled into the small museum every minute or so.
Across the road from the museum is the Annexe, which is another museum, though rather than focusing on the Huguenots it tells the story of Franschhoek itself. Or so we were told, to me it looked like a collection of dusty wine bottles and some creepy looking stuffed animals.
The memorial, a tall three-arch structure designed to commemorate the Huguenots and their arrival in South Africa, was put up just before the Second World War, and is far more interesting (to me) than either Museum.
Our next stop of the day was the Franschhoek Motor Museum.
To get into the museum you first have to phone up, giving plenty of details about yourself (including your passport number) so that upon arrival you can be checked before being allowed in.
The reason for all the security is obvious once you get into the museum itself – the cars here are worth millions (in Sterling that is, SA Rand it would be 10s of millions).
The Museum is set within the grounds of Antonij Rupert’s estate, which encapsulates the most luxurious vineyard we have yet seen. The cars are all his.
They have examples of vehicles (street cars, motorbikes, and racing cars) spanning the whole of the 20th century, with makes and models from all over the world: England, America, Italy, Germany, and a couple of rare South African cars.
Whilst not as big as somewhere like the Haynes Motor Museum, the diversity of vehicles (all well kept and polished to perfection) is very impressive, and the setting within the vineyard and the mountain backdrop is stunning.
After this it was time for a spot of lunch, and some shopping back on the Main Street in Franschhoek.
Having promised ourselves that we had sampled more than enough South African wine yesterday, we vowed not to touch a drop today (other than to toast the bride and groom later, that is). This promise was instantly forgotten when we strolled into one shop where they were handing out free glasses of fizz to everyone that walked in through the door.
In all the excitement, we almost forgot the time – and the whole reason we were in South Africa – we dashed back to the hotel and put our glad rags on.
We were walking out of the hotel just as the minibus arrived to pick us up. Perfect timing (just).
This brought us to the second half of our day: The Wedding.
Having met quite a few wedding guests yesterday, this allowed us to make enough small talk in that period between guests arriving and the bride turning up.
The venue was superb, an outside ceremony (thankfully the weather was still warm and the sun was shining) set amongst the mountains and rows of vines.
The groom looked appropriately nervous, the bride beautiful, and the service went off without a hitch.
Everyone had a good time.
As the sun went down, the wind picked up and it got quite chilly – we overcame this at first with blankets, then with dancing (downing the miniature bottles of spirits left for each guest at their table probably helped too!).
Before we knew it, it was time catch the minibus back to our hotel.