Wine, food and a wonderful weekend unwind
If only Test matches could melt into ODIs as easily as butter does on a hot stove. From a solid, steady, substantial base, similar to Test cricket, into an easy-flowing, fluid river of runs that the limited-overs game has come to represent with no mindset shift required.
Players often talk about the importance of adjusting to the different formats, be it in run-rate, bowling length or mental terms. In truth, they are not the only ones who need to change their outlook. Fans, journalists, scorers and ground staff all have to make the turnaround as well. They have to start thinking in immediate terms, minimise their contextual analysis and gear up for a smash and grab.
Luckily, there were a couple of days to do that in. In this case, a weekend in Cape Town.
While the city centre offers everything from hip haunts to bustling bars and swanky supper joints, what lies beyond is quite spectacular. The drive from Cape Town to Paarl, the venue of the first ODI weaves through the Cape Winelands and the country's food capital Franschhoek.
More than 20 wine farms dot the town, most of them are open on Saturdays for tasting and many have restaurants attached. For a few hours, it's an indulgent escape into the hoity-toity world of the upper-class. At dusk members of the MCC committee, who are in town for one of their two annual meetings, turned up at Boschendal. The estate is one of the oldest in the country and was founded by the French Huguenots. Remnants of the tradition remain with a scattering of Boules balls inviting visitors to try their hand at the French metal ball game.
While international, and particularly colonial, influences are what once enticed people to explore this area, it's heartening to see that home-grown hospitality is thriving. The centrepiece of Franschhoek's culinary delights is Reuben's, a restaurant conceptualised and run by a local chef who has hit the big time.
Reuben Riffel started off as a barman and waiter at Franschhoek Country House and was lured into the kitchen almost by accident, when the head chef needed some assistance. He soon fell in love with the pots and pans and has worked at restaurants around the country and in Cambridge, before returning home to open his own. Riffel is a popular public figure and even appears in a television advert for Robertson's spices and his success has brought great pride to the local Franschhoek community.
Other South African industries are also clearly cashing in Franschhoek. Wooden and beaded crafts are for sale on every corner, banana leaf paintings are a popular source of décor and even the minstrels have found a way to get mileage out of the tourists.
A firm fixture of New Year's Eve street parades and Tweede Nuwe Jaar (Second New Year) celebrations, these bands are considered to play the sounds of the city. Just after lunch, one came marching down the main road, kitted out in their usual colourful clothing, trombones calling out to people and money collectors on all sides, accepting donations that will go a long way to helping them compete in the annual competition, which culminates in February.
Sport can sometimes take you to places where you feel like a tourist in your own country and this was certainly one of those occasions. Having never travelled along this route before, I was as wide-eyed as anyone and left with a completely fresh mindset, one that I will no doubt need as the whirlwind ODI series begins.
Four of the five matches take cricket to parts of the country that are seldom visited, especially by international cricket. Three of them, Paarl, East London and Kimberley, I have never been to before. Let the journey begin.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent