the lemon trees look fake. just saying.
i just returned from SOUTH AFRICA on wednesday, and holy moly what a fun trip. seriously, you need to go to south africa. it’s going to take me some time to compile posts about this past month-o’-vacation, but i’ll do my best. to start: babylonstoren.
the meditation garden under mulberry trees. i imagine it is quite nice during the summer.
while researching places to see in and around cape town, this place kept standing out. this farm/restaurant/winery/hotel/gardens seemed other-worldly and intrigued me from the beginning. as best as i could tell, it was a farm/set of gardens/winery first, from which the restaurant, which requires a reservation two months in advance, sources its delicious food. later, accommodations were made available, so guests could experience the farm for several days. only a 45 minute drive from cape town, i decided we had to visit. we extended our trip by one day, and secured a rental car for the drive there.
the grounds of babylonstoren in the middle of the cape town winelands
after our travel agency failed to secure a reservation for lunch (reservations at babel, the restaurant, are hard to come by, and are first reserved for guests staying the night), we tried ourselves, also to no avail. without a reservation, guests are welcome to eat in the greenhouse near the back of the gardens, which offers a series of sandwiches and salads also made from farm ingredients. we decided to take our chances with the greenhouse.
the greenhouse restaurant that does not require a reservation. pretty chic!
on the day of our visit, with the rental car delivered to our guest house, we died laughing as we foolishly entered the car from the wrong sides: my husband attempting to drive from the left side (passenger seat in south africa), and me attempting to navigate from the right side (driver’s seat in south africa). whoops.
epitome of free range chickens.
the drive to babylonstoren was easy, uneventful, and beautiful. wineries roll by with mountains and low clouds in the distance. upon arrival, we were given a delightful map (i have a thing for great maps), and made our way to the entrance through the vineyards. we were greeted by free-roaming chickens and a donkey, and two jolly women in aprons manning the store (at the store, you can purchase chutneys, meats, cheeses, books, beautiful linens, glasseware used at babylonstoren, etc.; it is worth a visit.).
cured meats for sale in the shop
accountant-by-day, i like to have a plan (i was told by a south african in the airport that that is a purely american habit, but surely not so), so we headed to the hotel reception to learn of any tips or suggestions before we wandered the grounds for the day. there we met lionel, the most friendly and delightful man on site, who has been with the farm since they opened. he happily led us around several of the gardens, pointing out “illusion stones” that appear to be actual stones in paths, but when presssed, deliver exciting surprises for children, like shooting water streams. i was excited, too.
feeling happy, and also like i am in the middle of a kinfolk article.
lionel also took us to the guest houses and showed us around – beautiful! note to self: next time, book a night onsite (trust me). click here for photos and prices, as i was too enamored by the decor to actually snap any photos. it is evident that the customer service at babylonstoren is impeccable, and lionel mentioned that guests can pick their own fruits and vegetables from the garden to prepare themselves in their kitchen, and children are awoken early in the morning to help the staff fetch eggs from the chicken coops. bicycles are on site to explore the grounds, and various hiking trails are available (one of which leads to a delightful-sounding lagoon, at which a canoe is ready for intrepid adventurers). *swoon*
this is where they house insects that help keep away harmful pests. my husband was intrigued, though he didn’t spot any current residents.
by this time, i was starting to feel like i was in a kinfolk article, and was wondering if this was all just a little too perfect. and then it got better. lionel offered to check availability at the restaurant, and they found room for us to dine for lunch. it was delicious. menus are written daily on the large white wall, and salad courses are separated into three color groups: yellow, green, and red. i ordered the yellow, and it was filled with carrots and pineapple skewers, butternut patties, tangerines, and a persimmon.
the yellow salad at baylonstoren – a work of art, yes?
the portions were extremely large, and extremely reasonably priced. i believe we paid approximately $50 (pre-tip, which was a snafu in and of itself when we accidently only tipped approximatey $0.70; much to our – and our waitress’ – horror; don’t worry, we rectified) for two salad starters, two mains (mine fish, my husband’s pork loin), three sides (which accompany the mains), a shared dessert, and two glasses of rosé.
menu du jour for the babel restaurant – i was so excited to eat there! it did not disappoint.
to work off our gluttony, we wandered the gardens for the next couple of hours, which were seriously dream-like. there are fountains full of fish, paths made of acorn shells, houses for bees to make honey, a meditation area under mulberry trees, a wandering path of tree stumps, chicken coops, etc., all the while people, turkeys, guinea fowl, and chickens wander freely. we kept asking ourselves “where are we??” and not being able to come up with an answer. after strolling and sitting and photographing to our little hearts’ content, we visited the shop (purchases of wine, candles, soap, and the babylonstoren book to accompany us home), and headed back to cape town. a truly memorable day.
bees live here!