Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 7: Cape Town

Ah Cape Town; the Mother City; the place with the big mountain.

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We received a warm welcome when checking into our room at Parker Cottage B&B. Drinks offered on arrival, and then a sit down chat with the hostess to discuss what we wanted from our time in this wonderful city. I mentioned Boulders Beach for the Penguins and Cape Point – neither of which she could offer packaged tours for, and suddenly the welcome became a lot less warm. We were bundled off to our room, half-finished beverages and all. And unfortunately, this about sums up our experience of Cape Town: beautiful scenery, sucky people.

For our first night I had asked for a recommendation for a seafood restaurant – preferably one that did good platters. In all our coastal travel we had yet to really sample seafood and I wanted something that could be a real treat. One of the other staffers at Parker Cottage booked us a table at The Deck House and Crab Shack on Kloof Street. We received yet another warm welcome, this one remaining warm throughout, if a bit pushy at times. I ordered a cocktail – a real treat as I rarely drink – and then the manager brought us complimentary champagne as he knew we were on our honeymoon. It seemed rude not to drink it (as disgusting as it was) but I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and soon became quite tipsy – for literally the first time in my life. This was quite amusing for both Hubby and I.

We had prawn popcorn to start – really delicious, followed by a platter of crayfish, calamari and ribs (half price surf and turf on Wednesdays for the win!) It was a really unique dining experience, donning a bib and all, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The waitress did put pressure on us to order more nibbles and wine, but we had already anticipated that so it wasn’t too annoying. I loved the novelty of being able to walk home at night, through city streets. Although there are certainly some streets you can walk safely at night in Joburg, they’re not areas we frequent, so this made me feel quite nostalgic for the London way of life.

Parker Cottage does a smashing breakfast so this set us up well for a busy day ahead. First we headed to Simon’s Town and Boulders Beach to see the penguins. A bit underwhelming, I had envisioned seeing dozens of them, but I know it can depend what time of day you go. We did see a few up close and some in the water, so overall a worthwhile trip.

Then began the epic adventure of Cape Point vs. Cape of Good Hope – with no one being quite sure which is which. We were after the one where the two Oceans meet (turns out that’s actually Cape Aghulas, but they try and keep it quiet). From a tourism standpoint, the signage and information available in The Cape of Good Hope National Park is appalling! You really are left to your own devices. In the end we opted for Cape Point as there is a tram that takes you most of the way up. We made it just in time as minutes after we had taken some shots of the view we were completely engulfed in a cloud.

We took the coastal route back to base which took us up Chapman’s Peak. Wow. The views and scenery are absolutely breathtaking. Although Hubby didn’t get to enjoy it as much as he had to keep his eyes on the very windy road, we could both agree that the short stretch of road beat the trip to Cape Point and was well-worth the small toll fee you pay to drive it.

Back in the city it was off to the Honest Chocolate Café to taste their famous Banana Bread Bunny Chow that I had been looking forward to since reading about it in an article on things to do in Cape Town for under R50 (It was a very short article). At R48 the hollowed out mini banana bread loaf filled with ice-cream and melted dark chocolate, is worth every penny.

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After that we walked the streets (in the non-prostitute sense) traversing different sections of Bree, Long and Kloof Streets. This turned into an interesting introduction to the Capetonian driver who seems significantly more angry and aggressive than even the Gilooly’s Interchange on a Friday afternoon Joburg driver. I don’t think I’ve ever been sworn at more times, had rude hand gestures waved at me or been on the receiving end of glares of such contempt as when crossing the road when the green man is clearly telling me to in Cape Town.

Overall Cape Town was thoroughly enjoyable. Our B&B was beautiful, very centrally located and served excellent breakfasts. The scenery is magnificent, beyond compare in some places. But the people… It’s not something you can really explain, it’s more of a feeling. A feeling that you really, really are not welcome. Especially if you are from Johannesburg.

Did we enjoy it? Yes.

Will we be back? No.

Distance Travelled: 206.3km

Defining Soundtrack: “Home Sweet Home” by Forever Ends Here. I love a bit of irony.

Items Purchased: Food. Couldn’t afford anything else.

Next Stop: Beaufort West

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Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 6: Franschhoek

Of all the routes, I enjoyed this one the most: Route 62.

Our hostesses at the glorious JBay had recommended a couple of stops along Route 62 and we took them up on their suggestions. The first one was Ronnie’s Sex Shop, situated about 20km outside Barrydale. The story goes that Ronnie bought a dilapidated building on Route 62 intending to turn it into a farm stall. As a joke his friends painted “Ronnie’s Sex Shop” on the side of it while “helping” him to restore the building. As most of the restoration effort involved them drinking and keeping him company, they eventually convinced him to turn it into a pub. And so today it operates as a watering hole still bearing the original paint job of “Ronnie’s Sex Shop”.

I’m not sure what we were expecting, but something with a bit of character at least. What we got was a place that looked like it used to be fun once upon a time. The staff looked loathe to be there and their signs advertising “ice cold drinks” were a flat out lie. Still, it made a good photo op and if it had looked half decent we may have stopped there longer and missed out on the gem that came next. See, everything works out for the best.

Diesel and Crème: what a spot! Located just as you’re leaving Barrydale, it’s easy to miss – we drove straight past even though we were looking for it. They have taken what used to be a petrol station and turned it into a real American style diner, still keeping all the original fixtures like the pumps and signage. The restaurant itself is also an ode to all things retro and vintage from the antique furniture to the random décor like old measuring equipment, and children’s toys that brought back epic memories. And the thing is, it’s all done in a very unique and authentic way – it doesn’t feel trendy or like it’s trying to be something, it just is. And the food… I ordered the lady in red milkshake which was basically a slice of red velvet cake liquidized with a scoop of ice-cream. Amazing does not begin to cover it; it was a true taste sensation. The chicken burger was the best of its kind. Not only would I recommend Diesel and Crème, I would recommend going out of your way to pay them a visit. You won’t regret it!

Anyway, what was this blog post about? Oh yes, Franschhoek. So, we arrived in Franschhoek. We were staying in a charming little cottage called Little Willow Brooke, with its own swimming pool that made my feet go numb – the rest of me didn’t make it in. After our stupendous lunch we didn’t need to visit one of the town’s famous establishments and instead made ham rolls for dinner. The next morning we had some time to explore the charming streets before heading to Cape Town. It reminded me quite a lot of Clarens with lots of little shops selling delightful odds and ends – the things I just go nuts for. If it’s got a funny quote on it or would look good on my kitchen counter, I want it. So I spent entirely too much money but left happy.

On the way out of town we stopped at the Franschhoek Motor Museum, which I soon discovered was Hubby’s version of the Theatre of Dreams. With cars being his number one passion (after me of course 😉 ) this really was the place to be. It is terrifically set out as far as museums go, located on a beautiful wine estate with various models from the early 1900s until today displayed in 4 different large barns. There were cars in there that are one of only seven ever produced. So even if you’re not bothered about cars (like me) seeing a piece of history like that is always mesmerizing.

The scenery in Franschhoek is nothing short of breathtaking. Wine estate after wine estate, rolling hills and river crossings. The route certainly offered some peace and tranquility before heading into the city.

Distance Travelled: 400.4km

Defining Soundtrack: Crown the Empire

Items Purchased: En route: Ronnie’s Sex Shop apron. In Franchhoek: teapot, mug, a bag, some gifts.

Next Stop: Cape Town, Western Cape

Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 5: Oudtshoorn

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We travelled through some truly beautiful scenery on this route, specifically in crossing over a few towering bridges that I really wish we could have stopped at on the Tsitsikamma Toll Route. Storms River in particular looked spectacular. I know the name and have some sketchy memories of people discussing it around me in the past. On a return trip I would definitely make a plan to spend some more time in this region.

To partner the impressive scenery we had some very underwhelming towns. I went on an epic holiday to the Knysna area with my mum in 2008 and together we discovered the grand anti-climax that is Plettenburg Bay. We only passed through it briefly today but I didn’t see anything that caused us to pull the car over. Sadly Knysna was much the same. We had a delicious lunch at 34 Degrees on the Waterfront and some wonderful gelato from a nearby stall, but the place was overwhelmingly swarming with foreign tourists; and the facilities seemed to pander to their needs at the expense of us lowly locals. However, we were just passing through and I concede that it may be a different experience entirely if we had the time to stop and properly take in the sights.

We did take a detour to Buffels Bay which I remember from my 2008 trip as being a breathtakingly undisturbed stretch of beach with beautiful rock formations. Fortunately it has remained untouched and it was good to take some last deep breaths of calming sea air before heading inland.

In a 100km stretch we went from beautiful beaches and breathtaking drops into tropical gorges, to mingling with the clouds in intense mountain passes, and finally to sparse, ostrich populated dirt with the occasional shrub here and there. At least five different countries’ calling cards covering one patch of our beautiful country.

At last we arrived at our bed for the night, Earthbound B&B, Oudtshoorn, with the most overly enthusiastic hostess I have ever encountered. Everything was described to us in excessive detail, including what was and wasn’t included in the breakfast. The accommodation was lovely though with a beautiful outdoor patio. So with no cooking facilities but not wanting to waste our patio, we opted for take-aways.

We woke up early and ate our inclusive breakfast and then attempted to visit the Cango Caves, but with the earliest time slot available being 12pm we had to move on. The place was packed with tour buses full of foreign visitors – excellent for tourism, not so good for us. However, it worked out for the best as it allowed us to make our way to stop 6 at a leisurely pace, taking in some real treats – but I will save that for the next post.

Distance Travelled: 396.3km

Defining Soundtrack: Hozier – who was switched off for being too depressing.

Items Purchased: A keyring adorned with purple ostrich feathers.

Next Stop: Franschhoek, Western Cape

Newlyweds on Tour – Leg 4: African Perfection, Jeffreys Bay

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Our accommodation in Jeffrey’s Bay, at the end of the Pepper Street cul-de-sac at the heart of the area known as Supertubes, is called African Perfection – a name that could not have been more fitting. If Umhlanga was amazeballs, African Perfection is super duper amazeballs. We were lucky enough to be staying in the penthouse suite, which no doubt added to the magic, but was definitely not solely responsible for it. The whole establishment is immaculate with superb attention to detail; lots of small touches that may seem insignificant but added together really do go the extra mile to making you feel like a valued guest.

Accommodation sorted, now to discuss location. In what I would generously describe as vast experience in staying in beachside hotels, I have never stayed anywhere quite this close to the beach. Our balcony was in fact practically overhanging the boardwalk. From the day bed (yes, they had a day bed) I could see nothing but ocean. The crashing waves were a solid soundtrack. It was truly magnificent.

The main reason we stayed in Jeffrey’s Bay was that I insisted on it. On previous trips to visit the in-laws in nearby PE we had always made a turn to JBay – to scour the clothing factory outlets for bargains. Once we made it onto the beach too. The water was so blue, so calm, so crystal clear, I knew I needed to be around this little gem of the ocean for more than just an afternoon. So when the idea of a honeymoon road trip came about, it’s fair to say I planned the east coast route around JBay.

And it did not disappointment.

The Sunday morning scouring session of the shops was fruitful and I got good deals on things I probably don’t need but they’re pretty and I’m on honeymoon so bleh! Plus, I promised to buy something at every stop we make, no matter how small, and I think two t-shirts, a hoodie, three pairs of shorts and one pair of tracksuit bottoms adequately ticks that box, don’t you? Lunchtime brought a new scouring challenge, as surprisingly, Jeffreys doesn’t have as many restaurants as you might think. We settled on McTasty’s Diner. It was colourful and fresh and the waitress was enthusiastic where others had been lackluster.

We got superb milkshakes (mine had actual real life candy floss on it) and burgers with delightfully misshapen patties that you know can only be home made. Our waitress was a complete ditz; she delivered our milkshakes to the wrong table – a couple who already had milkshakes sitting in front of them, we had to ask twice for our Coke Lights in A Can. With anyone else it may have been frustrating, but there was something genuine and endearing about it that everyone could just laugh at (good naturedly of course). Overall it was a wonderful afternoon out. We discovered that the restaurant has had a complete brand overhaul as recently as two weeks ago, I really hope it’s one of the ones that makes it!

We then spent some time on the main beach where the sand is soft and the waves are gentle and predictable, before heading back to base for the United vs Chelsea match. The less said about that the better. I’m just glad we went for a walk at half time, got preoccupied collecting shells and ended up returning with only two minutes left of the match!

Distance Travelled: 394.1km

Defining Soundtrack: A playlist of all my favourite “noughties” music from the 2000s, compiled in Chintsa, featuring Nine Days, LFO, Jimmy Eat World, New Radicals and Matchbox Twenty, among others.

Items Purchased: A few clothing items as mentioned above. Just a few…

Next Stop: Oudtshoorn