The art of the road trip is not merely about the car.
But we’d be fibbing if we denied that it mattered at all. The car can, in truth, make or break the journey, depending on your strength of mind. The most progressed traveller is of course unperturbed by any slight of comfort, unbreakable no matter the carriage… Mini, tuk tuk, LandRover. But it transforms the journey substantially when you have a car like the brand new BMW 640i Gran Coupé and 750i Sedan. With iPad-size TV screens on the back of the seats and a holograph projection of the speedometre on the driver’s window. Even the rain on our own road trip last Friday, which threatened to shake our travellers’ resolve, was forgivable in the seat of such a vehicle.
The art of the road trip is also not merely about the people.
While not the be-all and end-all, however, the company you choose is important. As Dan Eldon, the late photojournalist who was well-known for his journals documenting his travels through Africa, said: “Select your team with care.”
The team we selected for our adventure combined business and pleasure, our Director, AC, and familiar faces from the media – from Culinary Artist and Chef Magazine, Real Estate Magazine, iafrica Travel, and Premier and Slow Magazine. People like us. People with a taste for the finer things in life.
This is surely the main crux of The Road Trip – the search for those finer things, the little pleasures in life that call on each of your senses. The sights, sounds, tastes, smells… For us, it is this sensory journey of the Route du Bonheur, as we call it, that excites us. Route du Bonheur… the Road to Happiness. A road paved with good food and wine, inspiring art and conversation.
Some road trips are an amble of spontaneity, the destinations decided on a whim en route. In locales such as the Western Cape of South Africa, this is particularly rewarding; there are unique sights every which way. This Friday, ours was a little more planned. We set the nose of our BMW convoy toward the Winelands, starting with lunch at The Cellars-Hohenort in Constantia, moving on to Delaire Graff Estate between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, for a wine tasting, and ending at Ellerman House on the coast in Bantry Bay, Cape Town, for a guided art tour and dinner. Below is a glimpse into our sensory journey.
Above: Michael Deg of Delaire Graff
The Five Senses of the Road Trip
Ah, mon chéri! The touch of the BMW 640i Gran Coupé and 750i Sedan, the sweet cushion to our adventure…
The dining experience at both The Conservatory at The Cellars-Hohenort and at Ellerman House is very much a journey in itself. Beyond merely having a beginning and end, it veers right and then left, winds with the changes in flavour and surprises in the same way a road trip does. Discover more about the tastes of South Africa in our video interview about the Inspirational Chefs of Relais & Châteaux with Peter Tempelhoff, Executive Chef of The Collection by Liz McGrath, which includes The Cellars-Hohenort. Below is a glimpse into our lunch at The Conservatory, compliments of Chef Delia Harbottle.
Above, top to bottom: Linguine Nero, with seared and crispy calamari, tomato fondue, spring onion, squid ink sauce; butternut soup of the day and Pan Seared Potato and Parmesan Gnocchi with Broccoli, peas, deep fried halloumi, hon shimejii mushrooms, pea sauce; Grilled Springbok Rump; Pineapple tarte tatin with salted caramel sauce and chai ice-cream | Nougat ice-cream with crushed macaroons and strawberry jelly
The first swirl and whiff of wine is always what gets me. At our wine tasting at Delaire Graff, accomplished South African winemaker, Morné Vrey, who has been at the estate for nine years now, guided our noses through the reds and whites, and Delaire Graff’s very first Méthode Cap Classique – the Delaire Graff Sunrise Brut, in a wine experience paired with oysters from the kitchen of Chef Michael Deg.
Discover more about the wines of South Africa in our video interview with Relais & Châteaux Somellier at Ellerman House, Manuel Cabello.
The aromas of nature are just as powerful – aromas that the gardens of The Cellars-Hohenort provide in abundance.
The men behind Delaire Graff and Ellerman House, the owners, Lawrence Graff and Paul Harris respectively, are two of South Africa’s most established and envied art collectors. Works from their private art collections sit on the walls of their hotels. At Delaire Graff The Chinese Girl by Vladimir Tretchikoff welcomes you in the entrance, along with works by artists you’ll find in the halls and gallery of Ellerman House as well (like minds…). Names such as William Kentridge, Angus Taylor, Dylan Lewis, John Meyer and Lionel Smit.
Margaret Slabbert, Paul Harris’ favoured art curator, guided us through the works of Ellerman House, our road trip’s final destination, shedding light on the deeper meaning behind the art.
Below: An art tour with Margaret Slabbert at Ellerman House
Below: Delaire Graff
The chorus of the road… Barry White, the chosen soundtrack of our road trip (chosen by whom in our team, I’m not quite sure, but there he was, singing over the CD player…); the rain falling on the roof of our golf cart around Delaire Graff; the constant quack of the mother duck protecting her new hatchlings at The Cellars-Hohenort; the clink of wine glasses and the sound of our own voices making new friends at Ellerman House; and the comforting joy of silence when the trip is over. Such are the sounds of the art we call The Road Trip.