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South African Cape Escape

Dook A bird's eye view of the lush Tradouw Valley.

Photo: Dook

DESTINATION Barrydale, South Africa GO FROM Cape Town TRAVEL TIME 2 1/2 hours by car GETTING THERE Take Route 62, the fabled road through the Klein Karoo valley, east from Cape Town. The Mediterranean climate and rolling vineyards will remind you of southern Spain STAY 1 or 2 nights

DAY ONE Make your home base at Denis McLintock and Leon Riley's Tradouw Guesthouse (46 van Riebeeck St.; 27-28/572-1434; home.intekom.com/tradouwguesthouse; doubles from $65). This former 19th-century general store with a vine-covered courtyard opened in 1997, luring the first weekenders from Cape Town. Start at a slow pace over coffee and a piece of toast with house-made fruit preserves at the Jam Tarts (Rte. 62, Barrydale; 27-28/572-1173; breakfast for two $15), a café and gallery. Continue the art tour by checking out local contemporary work at the Mud Gallery (Rte. 62, Barrydale; 27-28/572-1950). For dinner, drop into Bistro Blues (15 Laing St.; 27-28/572-1232; dinner for two $30); natives swear by the small joint's juicy steak and other comfort food. Don't let the evening end without heading out to Ronnies Sex Shop (Km. 26, Rte. 62; 27-28/572-1153; www.ronniessexshop.co.za). After farmer Ronnie Price's friends prankishly inserted the word sex into his former farm stand's signage, so many motorists stopped by that Price converted the spot into a down-home pub. It may well be the weirdest bar in the Western Cape.

DAY TWO Book a room at the historic Barrydale Hotel (30 van Riebeeck St.; 27-28/572-1226; www.thebarrydale.co.za; doubles from $37). The property, which dates back to the 1880's, received a kitschy makeover (complete with fox-fur lounge chairs and oil paintings of drag queens) in 2000 by new owners Riaan Bosch and Philip Uys. To sample the region's best Cabernets and Merlots, drive seven miles west to Tradouw Valley's vineyards—family-owned Joubert-Tradauw Private Cellars (Vleiplaas; 27-28/572-1619; www.joubert-tradauw.co.za). Then have your designated driver take the winding Tradouw Pass through the majestic Langeberg Mountains; in 10 miles you'll bump right into the Indian Ocean. Top off a day of decadence with a sophisticated local lamb curry at Clarke of the Karoo (Main Rd., Barrydale; 27-28/572-1017; dinner for two $35).

SIDE TRIP Prefer a luxe safari setting?Spend a night at the new Sanbona Wildlife Reserve (Rte. 62; 27-28/572-1365; www.sanbona.com; doubles from $420) on the outskirts of town. It has the only free-roaming pride of white lions in the world.

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