Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 3: Chintsa

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Things we have discovered thus far: 1. The N2 sucks. It has speed bumps, robots, roundabouts and it goes through every small town imaginable with their speed bumps, robots and roundabouts. 2. Every town in South Africa, no matter how small or how oddly named, has a Standard Bank branch, a Spar and at least two KFCs. 3. While we do own lovely backpacks we are definitely NOT backpackers. 4. Chintsa is breathtakingly beautiful and I hope no one ever finds out about it!

Thursday was a rather treacherous day of travel. We got an early start but the trucks and weather were not working in our favour and we soon fell behind schedule. Hubby was also not feeling too well (a Wimpy milkshake didn’t help so you know it must have been serious). But even still, while stuck in our third “stop-and-go” of the day, while Transing the Kei, we both agreed that it still beat a day at work! Parts of the route were also absolutely amazing – at several points we were driving up mountain passes mingling with the clouds. And I can’t tell you how cool it is to know that now when people talk about places like Port Shepstone, Qumba and Mthatha, I can actually say I’ve been there, even if I was only passing through.

It was dark by the time we arrived at Buccaneers, which left me completely disorientated but excited to wake up the next morning and discover the view. (We arrived late on our first trip to Clarens last year and were very pleasantly surprised to find out in the morning that our B&B was completely surrounded by towering mountains and fragrant rose gardens). We were shown to a well-appointed room named Walter (after Sisulu I suspect, as our neighbours were Albertina). Opening the sliding doors to let in some cool night air, we were welcomed by the sound of crashing waves in the distance. I had high hopes for the morning’s view.

I don’t think anything could have prepared me for just how spectacular the view would be though. Buccaneers sits high on the hills between the ocean and the lagoon and our veranda gave us an incredible view of the lot. The previous day’s persistent rain had brought out the flying ants and the sun caught their wings as they fluttered about trying to survive longer than two minutes and do whatever it is flying ants are born to do (any takers, I really do actually want to know). The high vantage point means it is inevitably quite a trek to the beach, but it is well worth it. The untouched beauty of this wild coast beach makes Wilderness look like Durban in December. The sand is soft, the water is clear, the waves are predictable (and not violent as Hubby has tagged KZN’s seas). We walked a good distance before the wind picked up and covered my sunscreen slick skin head to toe in sand. Still, totally worth it!

For lunch we chose The Barefoot Café, mostly because it sounded cool. And cool it was; with its quirky decor it was every bit as laid back as you’d expect a spot in this region to be. We had delicious burgers, I even indulged in a refreshing cocktail that involved cherry something, and we ordered take-away pizzas to serve as dinner – a very enjoyable afternoon out. Back at HQ it was time for an afternoon nap – that rare luxury that truly makes you feel like you’re on holiday!

I would highly recommend Buccaneers – it caters to all ends of the budget spectrum, is well-maintained and easy to navigate. We stayed in an en-suite sea-view cabin, but the dorms seem to be extremely popular with foreign tourists, which bodes well. The people are friendly but not intrusive, there is a fridge to keep your Coke Light in a Can cold… what more could you want really?

Chintsa is somewhere I would very much love to come back to, if only it wasn’t so completely in the middle of nowhere. But then again, I guess that’s the whole reason it’s so special.

Distance Travelled: 565.3km

Defining Soundtrack: Semi-Charmed Life – Third Eye Blind; there’s nothing like a good sing along!

Next stop: JBay

Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 2: Umzumbe

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Eight months ago, during the planning stages of this trip, sleeping in a glass tree house in a tropical forest on the edge of the sea seemed like a magical adventure. Now that I’m sitting in said tree house, I’m struggling to remember what the initial appeal had been. Also, the bathroom is downstairs. And it’s raining. This is the price we must pay for our indulgence on a five star start to the honeymoon. The Mantis and Moon definitely has character, but I would rank clean bed sheets and separation from the elements above character every day of the week!

I guess backpackers resorts are notoriously social experiences and Hubby and I are notoriously selectively sociable – another flaw in my planning. They want you to drink in the bar and make friends all night, not sit in your glass tree house typing blog posts. At least it’s only one night. The room doesn’t even have a door.

We arrived shortly after 1pm. I fell asleep en route again. This needs to stop or Hubby will have divorce papers drawn up before the ink on the marriage certificate is dry. I feel strongly about this. A road trip is a team effort. He may be doing all the driving and while I don’t expect us to talk non-stop, I do think it’s only fair I stay awake while he’s awake. Any thoughts on this? Seriously, I would welcome any logic that will make me feel less guilty.

After being shown around by one of the cast members of a surfer movie we decided to head straight for Oribi Gorge. Although, when you’re using Sat Nav, these things are never straight forward. After turning into a sugar plantation that was definitely a sugar plantation and definitely not Oribi Gorge we made some adjustments and finally ended up where we had intended to be. And boy am I glad we made the effort. Talk about breathtaking scenery. It’s like being on the edge of the world looking down into a great, green abyss. The entire lack of safety rails of any description was both amusing and unnerving. One look-out point had a bare tree branch lying across the ground like a “do not cross this point” indicator. Other viewing points simply had a sign reading “Beware of the edge”.

We got some amazing photos, Hubby got to test out the four-wheel-drive capabilities of Swifty and we visited Shelley Beach to find a Woolworths. Back at base camp we discovered that some beds are more uncomfortable than sleeping on the floor but that being in beautiful surroundings with crashing waves as your background music can more than make up for it.

Distance Travelled: 266.7km

Defining Soundtrack: To Close to Touch – who I thought were a Japanese band but are actually American. As Granny would say, there you are now.

Next Stop: Chintsa, Eastern Cape

Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 1: The Oyster Box Hotel, Umhlanga

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One word: amazeballs. Two words: holy shit. Eleven words: I wish we could afford to stay here all the time. Starting our honeymoon in an environment of such opulence as The Oyster Box Hotel, Umhlanga was a splendid idea, if I say so myself. Everything is just so pretty. And clean. And it smells nice. Everyone says hello. Everything is complementary (as in, inclusive). There is a turn down service with different treats on different nights, and nothing is ever too much trouble. (Believe me, I overheard other guests complaining about things that should definitely have been too much trouble).

After a smooth journey – although I think I may have failed at the first hurdle of marriage as I fell asleep and left Hubby to drive on his own for a good hour and a half – we sailed into reception, were shown to our room (#13, next to the Presidential Suite) and had just enough time to change into something girly (me, not Hubby) to head back down for afternoon tea. Oh the extravagance! Every kind of sweet and savoury delight you could imagine, on offer buffet style. We slowly ate ourselves into a sugar coma.

The weather was a bit bleak but rain or no rain, we were walking on the beach dammit! However, in the end there was no rain and no walking on the beach as we sauntered into town instead. Bought some necessities – like Steers cheesy chips – and headed back to the hotel room for the United vs Liverpool match. A wonderful idea; I fell asleep 15 minutes in.

The Oyster Box breakfast buffet – worthy of a blog post all of its own – is something to behold. Imagine it and they have it. For breakfast. Champagne and oysters seemed a popular choice (when at the Oyster Box and all…) but we went a good old fashioned three rounds of continental to start, then full English, finished off with waffles and pastries. As one does – when they are on holiday and breakfast is included.

Then it was off to the spa. Holy crap. All other spa experiences pale in significance. The rooms were shinier, the robes were softer, the slippers actually fit and they gave me a choice of body butters. The masseuse knew exactly where to really work my muscles and where to go easy, without me even needing to tell her. The hour flew by. I would have spent all day there if I could afford it, but I can’t and so we headed back to the room to do some chilling. By this time the sun was out and so I optimistically went outside to read. I swiftly came back in for a hoodie. Then I came back in to escape the wind. Still, beats a day at the office.

By now it was time for lunch (also inclusive in our package) and suddenly the assault on the breakfast buffet didn’t seem like such a good idea after all. But the burgers were superb and would not be denied. We waddled down to the promenade afterwards with ambitions of working off some of what we’d eaten. The wind had picked up and was blowing us about all over the place. We managed a ten kilometre walk but didn’t make it onto the beach as the tide was out and the waves were rough. Day two and still no sand in my toes – my parents would be so disappointed.

To end off our Oyster Box experience we meandered down to their 24-seater cinema to watch Deadpool, with complimentary (inclusive) popcorn and sweeties. I fell asleep about an hour in, but fortunately we had seen it before so I didn’t lose too many points.

As an aside though, I need to do something about this falling asleep thing. I can only blame sea air for the first half of the trip!

Another night’s sleep in a million thread count sheets on a bed bigger than the floor space of our entire bedroom at home, followed by another buffet breakfast, and I left Umhlanga with only one thought: I never want to see food again. Of any kind. Ever.

Distance Travelled: 579.5km

Defining Soundtrack: Music from Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby

Next Stop: Umzumbe, KZN