A Piece of My Heart may very well be the love story of Victoria, a South African born farm girl and Alkan, a Turkish businessman, but to me, the places and settings of the story are as much part of the romance as the relationship between these two seemingly mis-matched characters.
The story starts in Chiba, Japan…
In 2002 I spent 4 weeks doing sight seeing in Japan and in 2003 I packed my suitcase for an even longer adventure: teaching English as a foreign language. Where my first trip was like a no strings attached fling, perfect because I wasn’t there long enough to experience anything bad, my second stint felt a lot like marriage. The honeymoon was over just few weeks in and I soon found myself battling the icy Japanese winter and living an apartment smaller than my father’s garage. A life severely different to the one I was used to back home, in South Africa. But I’d be lying if I said that I did not fall in love with Japan, despite how hard it was to be there alone, not speaking the language and knowing no-one. I made friends. I loved my job and culture and I learned to read menus – that saved me!
A three day layover in Istanbul in 2002 turned into a 7 day holiday in one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been in. I loved how ancient it was. Call me crazy, but walking along those cobbled roads, visiting Blue Mosque and Aya Sofia, it’s almost like you can feel history. All the energy that’s been expended there, the then and the now, feels meshed into one. It’s an Old world with New people. During my visit I went to numerous kilim shops, tasted more flavours of Turkish Delight that I knew existed and drank apple tea at least six times a day.
Stellenbosch, South Africa
I spent five years studying at the University in Stellenbosch, but it was only after my return to SA after a year in Japan, that I really starting exploring the winelands. In 2010 I joined a wine club and soon I was not just drinking wine for leisure, but spending many happy hours developing my palate for wine, researching and learning. I’ve had countless tutored tastings since then and been fortunate enough to meet and interview various winemakers for my tourism blog. My keen interest in wine has developed into a kind of work-hobby which has been an amazing career journey too.
Tafelsig, the farm Victoria is from in A Piece of My Heart is a fictional place, but Chateau Beau Belle, as well as Boschkloof, which are mentioned by name, are very real. (And if you ever find yourself in the Stellenbosch wine region, I highly recommend that you visit these places for their extraordinary wines). I chose to mention these specific wineries for one reason only: I love their Shiraz, and that’s saying a lot because Shiraz is not my favourite wine varietal. At Beau Belle, my favourite wine is their Reserve Shiraz (and more recently I’ve taken a liking to their easy drinking chenin blanc called the Cooper), while at Boschkloof the Epilogue is one of those award winning reds which are always sold out. In which case, the Conclusion is another great choice from their premium range. I mention all of this very much by the way as no-one has paid me to mention these places, they are simply places I like and wines I have REALLY liked.
I hope that has given you some insights into the inspiration for the setting for A Piece of My Heart.