The Art of The Road Trip

The Cellars-Hohenort

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.”

dan-about-hero

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.

The Cellars-Hohenort

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.

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Above: Michael Deg of Delaire Graff

The Five Senses of the Road Trip

1. Touch

Ah, mon chéri! The touch of the BMW 640i Gran Coupé and 750i Sedan, the sweet cushion to our adventure…

BMW


2. Taste

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.

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The Cellars-Hohenort

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The Cellars-Hohenort 1

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

3. Smell

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.

Ellerman House

Delaire Graff

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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 Gardeners Cottage

Cellars-Hohenort

The Cellars-Hohenort 1

Hound


4. Sights

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

Ellerman House

Artwork

John Meyer

Art at Ellerman

Below: Delaire Graff

Delaire Graff Estate

Delaire Graff Indochine Restaurant

Delaire Graff Indochine


5. Sounds

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.

Quackers


Take a look at our other Routes Du Bonheur for more inspiration for your tour of happiness through South Africa and further into the African continent.

Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things

Floris Smith and Team


“Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”
– The Shawshank Redemption

The Art of Giving.

Some believe it to be a matter of nature. Others, nurture; something that we can learn with age. Or not learn. Either way, one gentleman with a keen grip on the art is South African, Floris Smith. A man with several titles to his name – dancer, choreographer, Executive Chef and Deputy GM at Bushmans Kloof, and, although he’d probably turn the term down, humble philanthropist.

In the remote wilderness of the Cederberg, a land of cedar trees, winding rivers, Bushman rock art and more stars than the human eye can take in at one glance, lies Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve and Wellness Retreat. Nearby is the small village of Wupperthal. A village that rarely makes the news but has, through the magic of life’s inexplicable anomalies, found its way to Hollywood.

Floris Smith

Floris in his role as Executive Chef at Bushmans Kloof

Perhaps it isn’t so inexplicable, but simply extraordinary. The incredible feat of one man, and his background in classical dance, and his stars, Die Bushmans Kloof Nuwe Graskoue Trappers, and their unique Riel dance.

Against the odds and with no formal training, these traditional dancers from Wupperthal won the South African Championships of Performing Arts for the second consecutive year. This entitles them to represent South Africa at the prestigious World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood in July 2015. The team is made up of 16 talented youngsters, age 13 to 19. Bushmans Kloof is their main sponsor.

Die NuweGraskoue Trappers

Floris is the creative force behind the group – their trainer and choreographer. He’s a busy man, difficult to track down, his colleagues in the city say. Living in the remote Cederberg makes contact difficult, a quality that is purposely sought out by visitors to the region. Mention his dancers in an email, however, and we had him by the veldskoens. Discover more in our interview below.


Meet Bushmans Kloof’s Floris Smith and find out more about Hollywood’s next stars in our Q&A:

Floris Smith


Tell us a bit more about the background of the Riel dance troupe and how it came about.

The members come from the rural community of Wupperthal and other small towns in the area, and include two teenagers who live on site at Bushmans Kloof where their parents are employed. Most of their parents are farm workers or are unemployed. Their equally talented Riel band, who will be accompanying them to America are from Clanwilliam, Graafwater and Wupperthal.

How do the dancers feel about their success and the opportunity to go to America?

Only one of the dancers out of the group of 16 has ever had the opportunity to travel internationally. There is great excitement, a first on a plane, a first to travel internationally. There is great pride in the community. No one would ever have thought that kids from the rural Wupperthal would represent South Africa at the World Championships. It has inspired others to follow. They have become idols in the community.

Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers at Bushmans Kloof

What lessons do you try to instill in the younger dancers before competitions?

That through hard work and dedication one would get to the top. Also that one should never forget your roots. Their roots are now taking them to the World Championships, after all.

What drives you in life and as the creative force behind the group?

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because one has contributed to a worthy cause. What better way through my passion for dance…

What is so unique about the group and their dance style?

The Riel is something they grew up with. It is part of their culture and part of their heritage. Their frantic footwork is not easy to copy as well as the original style of music. In all my years in theatre, this is most probably the most difficult form of dance I have came across. Their dedication and drive to be the best and to be successful sets them apart from other groups.

Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers 2 (photographer Werner le Roux)

What is the Riel Dance?

Born out of traditional Khoi and San ceremonial dances around the fire, the Riel Dance has been practiced by descendants of these indigenous cultures for many years. It is the oldest dance form in South Africa. Riel dancers are dressed typically in traditional farm workers outfits, the girls in dresses with aprons and old frontier bonnets, and the boys in waistcoats and hats with feathers, finished with the famous, hand-made red veldskoene from Wupperthal. The dance is a creative cultural expression, and includes courtship rituals, mimicking typical animal antics with lots of bravado, showmanship and foot stomping.

Is this something guests can experience at Bushmans Kloof?

Guests are more than welcome to join us in rehearsals while staying with us. We inform guests when this is happening and perform at the lodge from time to time.

Die Nuwe Graskoue Trappers 3 (photographer Zona Mourton)

How do you think the group will fair in Hollywood?

I have unwavering faith in the ability of this group of dancers and am proud to take them to the world stage to compete among the best of the best. Our sights are firmly set on bringing back the Gold from the world championships. Winning the Grand Champion Award for Best Group Performance two years in a row shows that they are a force to be reckoned with. We’ve been hard at work sourcing funding to get our young dancers there and back. The support from small and large businesses and the local community has been phenomenal. 

What can we do to help?

Apart from Bushmans Kloof and its owners, the Tollman Family, other major sponsors include Rooibos Limited, WESGRO and Reagola IT Management. We have enough to sponsor 12 members but still need to raise funds for five dancers to the tune of R65,000 a dancer. We are appealing to others to assist with funding, to enable the team to take part in the championships.

To donate you can go through YouCaring.com or visit Die NuweGraskoue Trappers Facebook page and click, ‘Give’.