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So so high

I’m a morning person, but there are limits. We got up at 4am today to go hot air ballooning. Andrew, being worried that we WOULDN’T get up at 4am, set an alarm and a backup alarm even though the woman who runs Wineland Ballooning promised to give us a wakeup call to let us know if the weather (read: wind) would allow a flight. She was good to her word. Phone call at 4am.

We drove to Paarl in the darkness, listening to the In Our Time on Marriage. We met at the Hotel Grande Roche, and drove from their to the launch site. We got to help put the balloon together. Or: Andrew helped and I took photos.

I’m going to lay an irrational prejudice out on the table right now: I have a strong belief that ALL hot air balloons should be a combination of blue, red and yellow. Green can sneak in sometimes, but not too often. Our balloon was grey and pink and yellow. Aesthetics aside, we had an amazing flight. We saw the sun rise (twice), we got high enough to see over one line of mountains all the way to Cape Town, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, and the wind changed on a few occasions so we got to see different things immediately below us. Our intrepid guide told us we got to about 3,200 feet above the ground. Which was pretty cool. I didn’t at all feel afraid of heights, the the basket thing was smaller than I had expected. Once we get the pics from the good camera loaded onto a computer, I’ll add some shots from the balloon.

After ballooning we went back to the Grande Roche for breakfast and bubbly. Standard breakfast, though I had scrambled eggs and Andrew had an omelet with ham and cheese. Then we went to Fairview, a winery WITH GOATS. We (obviously) did the joint wine and cheese tasting, which was great.

From there we headed back to La Petite Ferme, where we had lunch again. Again, it was great. Andrew had the brie salad and then venison medallions. I had pork belly followed by the bobotie. We had a bottle of their own bubbly, which was unlabled and fantastic.

We mostly dozed after lunch, but Andrew went for a run before we headed to Le Quartier Francais for dinner. We didn’t get our act together in time to eat at their flagship The Tasting Room (next time), so we headed to the Common Room instead. It’s small plates. That’s a food delivery mechanism we generally avoid, but we very much liked it tonight. For drinks I had a homemade ginger beer (delicious and fermenty) and Andrew had a giant strawberry daiquiri, and then we each got a beer. For food, we shared the following:

  • parmesan french toast with spanish cured ham & preserved limes
  • fish pops with chakalaka ketchup
  • satay spiced squid with peanuts and coriander (GREAT!)
  • pan fried prawn croquettes with rough tartare sauce
  • fried parmesan gnocchi with spiced aubergine and spinach (so good we ordered a second plate)
  • springbok meatballs with apple mustard
  • saucisson sec with pickled vegetables
It was pretty great. now we’re back home reading on the patio, and being sad about leaving Franschhoek tomorrow.

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