Friday, October 3, 2008

Vineyards – September 27

Oh my goodness. Today we went to the South African wine lands. It was absolutely gorgeous: huge mountains cascading into vineyards; villas spotted across the landscape; and this was at the end of their winter – so it was ugly. I could totally justify selling my soul to Wall St. if it meant living here eventually.

The best part about our tour was that we got to bike ride! It wasn’t that long…but it was so necessary for my New Hampshire self to get far far away from cities and cars and civilization. It was my first time since Lencois that I haven’t been in direct view of something with an engine. And it was amazing.

Okay, now here comes the critical part…

When I signed up for the SAS sponsored trip, “Wine Tasting and Cycling in the Wine Lands”, here’s what I was imagining:
Summer foliage and weather. Trails that cut through the rows of grapes. Wearing a flowy skirt and scarf that billowed in the winds behind me (I think this is a scene out of some 1950’s movie?). Rest stations every 5km (where rest station = wine tasting spot). Grabbing grapes out of trees and eating them as a snack between wine tastings. Not being allergic to red wine.

Don’t get me wrong…it was an absolutely gorgeous and perfect day. It’s just that – unsurprisingly – my expectations were a bit off. I think the most accurate part about them was that I wore a skirt. Besides that – I’ve determined that I MUST come back when there are leaves on the trees. I felt cheated as I cycled into one vineyard with trees without leaves arching over the driveway. And I felt freezing as I cycled out of control down a rocky path into a small crick of freezing water (I’m not used to mountain bikes). And frustrated that they had the foresight to know that we should not be allowed to continue cycling after the wine tastings began.

I think the best part actually was being allergic to red wine. (A story in itself – hi family genes! Love you!) I strategically waited until my entire range of wine samples had been poured before telling each vineyard that I was allergic to red wine. This usually resulted in me having twice as much wine (because they would then pour an additional sampling of white wines) and twice as many friends (to whom I handed out my glasses of red wine).

My favorite part of the day was Guy Eli’s (aka “Heli” – and I’m “Sheli”) conversation with our dean of students:
Heli – So Jack, what if I wanted to bring back a bottle of wine to my parents? Like would it be possible to put it in a storage room on the ship for you to keep safe and for me to have when we got back to Miami? Or could I give it to you for safe keeping?
Jack – Well, Eli, let me tell you a few things about life. As a dean, I’m only allowed to bring on two bottles of wine from each port. Only two.
Heli – I’m guessing you want both of those bottles for yourself?
Jack – From South Africa, yes. But I’m not saying I’m not above bribery.

I guess this conversation wouldn’t be so hilarious if Jack hasn’t been completely serious and if Heli didn’t currently have a bottle of wine stashed away in the dean of students’ room.

The day ended with a dinner of mussels, sushi, and two bottles of white wine at a restaurant overlooking the bay. So I’d say, absolutely perfect day.

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