Ah, the quintessential “road trip”…
For me, road trips whilst growing up were not fun. We lived in Johannesburg and road tripped to family just outside of East London EVERY SINGLE school holiday. That’s roughly a 10 hour trip of being squashed between two siblings (with a dad who refused to stop unless it is a matter of life or death). It was painful.
It’s taken me about 20 years to come around to the idea that a road trip can be fun. Here’s what you need to ensure:
- You pick the right road trip partner/partners. The emphasis needs to be on RELAXED. If they’re of that nature, they’re in. If they’re nice to look at, that also helps a lot. I chose this guy (jackpot!):
- Choose the right car. It needs to be light on fuel and air conditioning is the most important feature by far! (Ours was a 1.4 Polo Comfortline – just perfect).
- Choose a scenic route. The main routes that we chose were the Garden Route and the R62 (Route 62)
- Don’t fit too much road time into one day. We never drove more than 5 hours in a day and spent time in the areas that we stopped over in.
- Take it slow and easy. SA road accident statistics are crazy and so are some of the mad drivers out there. Be chilled. It’s an adventure!
Here’s an account of the most wonderful adventure that changed my mind about road trips for good. I’ve laid out our route stop-by-stop, shown you some highlights and left some meaningful contacts here for you if you’re keen on doing the same sort of thing.
The first stop had to be Knysna, or rather, just outside Knysna along the “Rheenendal Ramble“.
I found an interesting looking place online called Peace of Eden, which offers tented accommodation in the forest. Tents, you ask?
It’s not camping, you don’t have to bring your own tent, but you sleep in an already set up tented “room” in the middle of the forest. Yes, that will do!
The balcony view was not bad at all…
The idea of shared outside showers and loos might put some people off, but it was not an issue at all and the sounds of the forest as you go to sleep is worth more than any en-suite, that’s for sure!
Comfort Level: Rustic
Just up the road from Peace of Eden is a glorious hidden gem. An unassuming sign for “pub food” took us past Portland Manor and we discovered the most beautiful old English-style manor house, with an 1800’s stone pub. We had just been transported back into another time in gloomy Britain and found ourselves ordering gin and tonics, asking if we could “use the croquet set please, old chap”. The property also boasts a dam for boating, skiing and cruising. Definitely worth a stay next time. Lucky find!
Vibe: English Country Manor
Our short visit to Jeffrey’s Bay gave us some insight into the beloved seaside surf haven. High season showed us the full extent of it’s offering and it’s a conglomerate of party, beach, surf, eat, chill and shop (even though the Billabong Factory no longer produces out of Jeffrey’s Bay, the factory shop and neighbouring factory shops do hold fantastic deals).
A more unique experience was a brief stay at Marina Martinique. This marina estate of waterways, bridges and luxury homes is a stone’s throw away from the festive season madness in J’Bay town.
Hire a house and stay for a few days – a morning, midday and evening dip in the marina is not overrated!
Vibe: Living on a freaking marina! Bring us a G&T please, darling.
Comfort: Luxury (dependent on the house/apartment you rent)
CINTSA, WILD COAST
On your way to the Wild Coast Jikeleza Route into Cintsa, stop off at the Friesland Milk Bar in East London for their legendary milkshakes. The Friesland Milk Bar has been there for as long as anyone can remember and churns out delicious milkshakes in these cute-as-a-baby-cow’s-nose milk bottles <3
You know you’re at the Wild Coast when… you’re dodging cows on the way to the beach. There is just something about this coast that can’t be found anywhere else in the country. It’s a coastline less travelled (and in going further up into the Transkei, it’s literally because it’s too difficult to travel on these roads) but well worth a visit.
This picture was taken on the way to Cefani river mouth, a more secluded beach with a beautiful river mouth for swimming, paddling, dunking the kids etc. (You can find it shortly after you turn of Schafli Road, as if you’re going into Cintsa East.)
The beaches along this coastline are just gorgeous, but you have to get there early in the morning before the wind picks up! This is Cintsa East Main beach, with gentle waves and plenty of rock pools to explore.
A must when you visit this side of the world is a horse ride on the beach with Cintsa Horses. They do basic beach rides for beginners or riders who know what they’re doing. It’s a few hours of beautiful scenery through the trees, dunes, rock pools and beach. What’s special about this operation is that it funds the New Hampshire Equine Rehabilitation Centre, who takes on and looks after horses in desperate need of care and homes. Horses working for their friends – it’s fantastic!
Cintsa has recently jumped onto the “Craft Beer Bandwagon” and opened up the first microbrewery in the area – Emerald Vale Brewery. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but I did enjoy a glass or two. Be sure to book ahead in peak season – it gets completely booked up.
You’ll find this coastline perfect for fishing from the rocks and this particular bay below is one of the best surf spots in the area, just before you get to Cintsa along the Jikeleza route (Queensbury Point).
Tea in the Trees is a good spot for a relaxing breakfast and yes, that is an actual teapot in the tree. Cute.
Once a year, towards the end of December, the Chintsa Runners host a trail run through some of the neighbouring farms in Chintsa. This one was organised as 5km and 13 km routes, starting and ending at Tea in The Trees, with scenery to die for (side note: I did feel like dying, myself). All proceeds go to the Chintsa Runners from the local township to fund their races etc. A worthy cause, I reckon.
This was definitely one of my highlights. We decided to take the R62 from Jeffrey’s Bay back to Cape Town, for a change of scenery and an escape from the mad rush on the N2. What a fabulous idea. There are some really interesting places along this route and I’m sorry that we didn’t spend more time exploring it.
The Belfry Kitchen, Twee Riviere
This hidden gem is REALLY hidden. There are no signs from the main road – word of mouth is mainly what brings customers to The Belfry Kitchen in Twee Riviere. It’s a cafe and bakery in the town’s old post office, which still operates as a post office today (over the deli counter). They accept bartering as a form of payment and relies solely on its own vegetable gardens, poultry run, orchards, livestock, purpose-run dairy operations and so forth, to produce the ingredients for its menu items and groceries range. It’s peculiarity is intriguing – you must stop past there and at least have their R29 cheese platter (that is not a typo – everything is more than half the price of general retail prices).
In a 1984 Reader’s Digest on the bookshelf:
It hit well over 43’C en route through Oudtshoorn. There is no escaping that heat, except in the aircon of your car.
Ronnie’s Sex Shop
Just outside of Barrydale, you’ll pass Ronnie’s Sex Shop. Rumour has it that Ronnie painted the name “Ronnie’s Shop” on this cottage next to the R62, planning to open a farm stall. His friends played a prank on him and added “Sex”. It was a laugh and ended up turning the building into a tourist stop and bar.
This fool parked in front of the legendary sign – what kind of monster is this?!
Barrydale is gorgeous. From the East Coast side of the R62, you enter in through the Tradouw valley, which is quite the scene. On the other end, you exit into the semi-arid Klein Karoo. It’s incredibly interesting!
In between, you find quirky places like Diesel & Creme. You can spend hours there just looking through all the novelties and decor, before even ordering your coffee and food. It feels like another world – perhaps it is?
Karoo Saloon sits on the Klein Karoo side of Barrydale and is a stop-over setup, saloon-style. The heat of the day catches up and settles quietly into the vast sunset here.
Vibe: Beer, darts and sitting
Comfort: Basic of basics. Bring mozzie spray!
Why end the trip already? Head a little bit further, past Citrusdal to Clanwilliam Dam, if you’re into water sports and have access to a boat. It’s necessary.
Vibe: Sun and Ski
Comfort: Ranges, depending on what kind of house you rent. Be sure to check for working aircon!
Go, baby, go go! I’m bringing road trips back into fashion. Amen.
So I’m back into running (slow jogging) again! It’s been a long journey of years of back issues, but I’m just going ahead and doing it (slowly and carefully) because life is too short to miss out on doing the things that you love.
So that means… it’s time to ditch the old, falling apart takkies and invest in a decent pair of running shoes.
Run on Bree street is a new specialist running shoe store and they painstakingly took the time to measure my feet, assess my running style and brought out the whole store room of options for me to try and try and try again. As a non-runner, I thought I’d be a bit intimidated going to a specialist store like that, but it was relaxed and the staff were so helpful. I walked out with literally the perfect pair of running shoes for my feet, I’m sure!
I can’t wait to try these babies out, thanks to these guys for doing such a professional and patient job with me, I really appreciate it!
Just because holiday season is over and your bank accounts are somewhat smaller, doesn’t mean that you have to wind down on the fun factor.
If you haven’t already heard about The Entertainer App, you can thank me in the comments below. It’s a mobile app that you buy for the year that provides thousands of “Buy one get one free” offers. There are no catches, no hassles and you can find an offer or few wherever you are. What is even more exciting for me is that they have added offers for hotels throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia & Indian Ocean as well as North America!
SHUT UP, ENTERTAINER.
The Cape Town 2016 app includes over 1,540 offers for the best restaurants, bars, informal dining, attractions, leisure activities, spas, salons etc. Want to learn to kite surf? Buy one lesson, get one free. Wine tasting? Buy one get one free. B&B in Paternoster? Buy one night, get one free. Apps are available for Johannesburg & Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.
It’s a no-brainer.
Here’s the clincher: Use my promo code popcorncandi and receive 10% off your purchase price of the 2016 app. (The full price is R495). Simply download the app from your app store and use the promo code.
*Discount is valid for purchases until 30 April 2016.
Don’t get the wrong idea here, I don’t “bant” (is that even a word?). I don’t believe in the banting diet nor am I a Noakes groupie. I do, however, love the idea of crackers that don’t contribute too much to the waistline (it’s struggling enough to compete with the starving tourists on Clifton beach as it is) and increase my seed intake.
250 ml sesame seeds
250 ml linseed/ flax seed
250 ml sunflower seeds
150 ml pumpkin seeds
2 to 4 tbsp Psyllium husk
500 ml water
5 ml salt
Combine all the ingredients, starting with seeds, salt, water, and 2 tbsp of psyllium husk. Mix well. The consistency you’re looking for is a paste. If it is still too soggy then add another tbsp of psyllium husk, but don’t overdo it. Leave it to rest for about 15 minutes or so. Set the oven to 160*C.
When the past is ready, spread it on your baking sheet. The important thing is to get it as even as possible and there should be ABSOLUTELY NO HOLES. Pop in the oven for approximately 60 minutes, or until lightly browned (not singed, burned, or blackened). It depends on your oven, so please do keep an eye on it. Oh, and don’t try to put more than one batch in the oven unless your oven can actually do that.
I left it to cool for a minute or two and then lightly cut lines into the sheet of cracker so that it breaks off easily once completely cooled down.
Here’s my stash…
All ready for an after-work beach picnic later. Rad.
Driving through the strange, seemingly lifeless, landscape of the West Coast National Park, you don’t expect to be greeted by “Little Croatia” at every turn where you find a paradise beach. It’s unreal.
Just under R50 gets you in and it’s free if you have a Wild Card. You don’t need to spend a small fortune getting to the Mediterranean for the summer, just head up the West Coast and play on the beaches of South African paradise.
Some images from my recent West Coast road trip adventure. Paternoster’s ‘Santorini in Africa’ style town stole a piece of my heart.
It’s amazing how a spontaneous weekend getaway can rejuvenate the soul, especially when you end up in a paradise you did not expect. And then another one, and then another one. The expanse of beauty and uniqueness found on the West Coast of South Africa is enough to impress anyone – well travelled or not.
This past weekend was a West Coast road trip experience. We based ourselves for this adventure in Hopefield, an unassuming small town inland on the West Coast. It’s conveniently located about 30 minutes from Langebaan, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai etc. and is windlessly welcoming. Driving through the town, you think there is nothing going on there, but stay a while and see what magic pops out…
This is The Merry Widow Country Retreat , our B&B in Hopefield. As I write “B&B” I feel like I’m lying to you. Yes, we had a (fantastic) bed and we had (fantastic) breakfast, but we were taken in as more than guests. We left feeling like we were leaving friends and family behind. Ulrich and the Hopefield community are really something special and it was an honour to have been a part of it. It’s not a stuffy old town with grumpy old men, it’s an up and coming destination for those looking to “Slow Up” – slow down the pace and up-size the living.
Sitting on the deck at sunset, or around the braai at night, or around the coffee bar in the morning – it all just feels right.
On Saturday mornings, The Merry Widow is host to the community market “The Mill Country Fair“, which serves breakfasts and coffees and sells produce/goods from the locals only. It’s fantastic.
“Just because we live in a small town, doesn’t mean we don’t like good food and nice things.”
Just next door to The Merry Widow is Simply Bee, the pretty little home of natural beeswax products. Their stuff is divine and if you can’t carry it all out with you, you can order online for R55 delivery charge to your door. Love.
Hopefield, you have my attention. Thank you for providing us with such a wonderful home for the weekend and we’re watching you!
More posts to come of the rest of our West Coast Weekend Adventure…
It seems like I’ve recently been on a reading spree of “abused and degraded women” books. I’m not sure where this came from, but I sit here with mixed feelings on the hardships that a lot of women have to endure. I am grateful for my freedom: the ability to make my own choices, follow through on my own dreams, have love and support in my life and the opportunity to let my mind wander into the future and know that it is an adventure of endless possibilities. At the same time, my heart aches for those who do not have this, particularly women and children, and I feel a pang of guilt for enjoying all of my life blessings while others are not even aware that it is even a possibility to live the way that I do.
All of these feelings… Damn you, library, damn you!
Here are my short book reviews on the books I’ve read lately that are along these lines.
The first book on my ‘grateful guilt’ spree is Trafficked, by Sophie Hayes.
This is a true story about a young woman, living a normal life in England, who was trafficked into the sex trade by her “best friend”. She shares her heart-breaking story of abuse, degradation, sex slavery and complete fear as she takes us to Italy, France, near-death and eventually back home to a life she had thought was impossible to have again.
I was enthralled and enraged and captivated. What struck me as how this story doesn’t fit the “usual mould” of human tracking cases that we hear about. Sophie was not from a poor family on the outskirts of an Eastern European town. She did not have a lack of education nor was she raised in an orphanage or abusive household. She was just a ‘normal’ woman, who trusted a friend, and found herself being trafficked. It’s horrifying.
Sophie Hayes has since set up The Sophie Hayes Foundation which aims to bring hope to survivors of human trafficking and slavery.
The second book in my spree is Escape. Carolyn Jessop. Another true story of abuse and degradation, but this time from within a polygamous community of religious FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) cult.
Carolyn was born into the FLDS and a polygamist family. She did not realise the abuse and oppression that it harboured until it became too much. Her eyes were opened to the possibility of freedom and she did whatever she could to get her and her 8 children out of the cult which abused them. What struck me with this book was that it touched on a concept that I’ve explored in my own thinking – “Does one know that he/she is oppressed, if he/she has never seen oppression?”. The answer is yes. When someone is not allowed to be happy and prevented from protecting her children, she knows oppression.
Carolyn Jessop is as strong as they come. And not only because she gave birth to 8 children from a husband she’d never loved (naturally birthed and without being allowed to scream), but also because she found a way to escape and provide a future for herself and them all, from nothing.
I’m horrified, and inspired by these stories. I’m also incredibly, gratefully guilty about my life and my freedom.
Onto some light fiction for the next batch, I reckon…
I recently got a bee in my bonnet (so to speak) and needed to shake it off (so to speak), so I signed my man and I up for Beginner’s Salsa Dancing lessons with Just Dancing Salsa Cape Town.
To give you an idea of what you will not look like, here’s the guys that teach you, performing at the Cape Town Salsa Festival last year:
You will, however, learn some of the basic steps used in salsa dancing and get a feel for the dance in the 8 weeks of learning. You’ll meet some other two-left-footed humans and some left-and-right-footed humans and dance with them all. It’s really not difficult and it’s pitched at a pace that is comfortable and easy to follow, even if you’ve never danced before in your life. (You also don’t need a partner to do the course with, everyone dances with everyone and it’s really chilled).
You’ll be learning moves more along these lines:
It was a lot of fun, and even though the man grumbled his way into the studio sometimes when he would rather be dipping into the sea after work, he laughed and smiled the whole way through, actually 🙂