Thursday, July 10, 2008

Great Road Trip Part 2

Wednesday 2 July 2008 Plettenberg Bay (See view from deck)
We woke feeling much better today, but the house reeked of woodsmoke from Les’ firemaking efforts. Today we bought coal! We drove to Knysna which is a posh coastal resort just 14 miles or so along the N2 Garden Route. Along the way we encountered some strange contrasts; on one side of the road, a new executive housing development with houses costing from £400,000 was under construction whilst on the other side was an informal settlement of ramshackle shacks. (See pic)How galling for these people to look out of their homes each morning and see what the (mainly) white rich people can afford to live in, whilst they are still waiting for the promised housing. Now some families were allocated housing, during the apartheid years, but this was often arbitrarily allocated, with some families being sent far from their homes to live in what was termed “Kaffirland” (a now illegal derogatory term, which I hope I am excused for using as it is an historically correct term as far as I am aware) or the tribal homelands whilst fathers stayed behind in cities to earn money to support the family. The informal settlements apparently only came about after the end of apartheid when people were free to move wherever they wanted and some chose to go “back home” but of course there were no houses there for them. It is a sorry reflection on the new era that people are still living in these shacks. They are all over South Africa, in every province; the race divide is still there, for whatever reason politicians or anyone else might like to give.
Just stopped writing to go out onto the deck to watch a huge school of dolphins, at least 20-30, swim and leap right past our window! It is 5.30p.m., just getting dark so the picture quality wasn’t great, but just to see them was fantastic!

Thursday 3 July 2008. Plettenberg Bay
Some days, you just can’t win!
The day started with some basic chores; dishwasher and laundry both needed doing. Firstly, Les put a dark sock in with the white washing. Bad start. Then we went shopping and as I was finished first, I decided, since we are after all on holiday and meant to be relaxing, to wait for him at a pavement coffee shop in the sun. When he arrived, he declined a coffee and as soon as I had taken my first few sips, said, “I’ll get the bill, then.” When reminded about this being the relaxing part of the road trip, i.e. no rush to get anywhere, he said, “Well we have a lot to get through today!” !!! So I swallowed down the cappuccino and we headed off to find a Khoisan cultural village listed in my guide book. We drove hither and thon. Nothing. (It’s not the first time “The Rough Guide to South Africa has let us down…it’s a VERY rough guide!!) He said, “We are just driving about.” Not now bothered about the village, I said, “That’s right, we are on holiday, we can just go down that road or along this one. It doesn’t matter. Do you want me to drive?” After a curt refusal, I said, “I’m quite enjoying this, the scenery is lovely” We were in the Tsitsikamma Mountain National Park. He said, “Well, I’m not. I can’t look at the scenery, I’m driving.” !!! Then we stopped for lunch. I suggested we get a sandwich and a cake and have half of each; we often do that when savoury and sweet are both fancied, but the appetite is not able for a whole portion of each. He agreed, so I ordered the sandwich and he went off to look at the cakes. When it all arrived, I remarked on how difficult it would be to cut the sandwich as it was a Portuguese prego steak roll, which includes a fried egg. ( I know, you’re thinking, yesterday she was vomiting seven kinds of diced veg and today she’s eating a steak and egg roll? But wait, it gets worse!). He said, “I don’t really want a bit of that anyway. I’d like to eat all of this apple cake” I was so annoyed, I wolfed the whole lot, egg and all, without pausing, resulting in chronic indigestion and when belatedly offered a bit of apple cake (which looked a bit dry anyway) I declined… and then proceeded to eat the chips which I had already decided I didn’t need and didn’t even want in the first place. But we is still pals, especially when he removed the Biggest Spider in the World (official) from the hallway leading to the bathroom. This thing was a genetic mutant on steroids. It was at least five or six inches across, head the size of, say an olive, body the size of, oh, a small tomato and it was an orangey-brown colour.

Friday 4 July Plett and Knysna
We decided to try again for the Khoisan village. We found the general area and spoke to the lady in the tourist office. The place no longer exists! Instead, we visited the site of the world’s highest bungee jump from the Bloukrans Bridge. (See pic)We just looked, mind you! Then we went back to Knysna to catch a bit of their famous annual oyster festival (I know, I know, not a good lunch choice after three days driving from loo to loo! We didn’t eat any!). We spent a pleasant afternoon pottering around the shops and harbour and home for our last night in Plett.

Saturday 5 July Plett to Agulhas
Off and away by 9.30. We drove more or less without stopping to Cape Agulhas; 7 hours! Once we had left the main highway and headed out over the peninsula, there was nothing on the road. The scenery was like the Yorkshire Moors, except we saw baboons and mongoose (mongeese? mongooses?) by the roadside. The point where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet (see pic)is the most southerly point on the African continent, next stop Antarctica. As a result it is common to see penguins and whales around the coast here. We didn’t strike lucky regarding the penguins, but a huge whale was “fluking” (It means putting it’s tail up out of the water, it is not a typo) just off shore which was pretty spectacular. The guest house was very comfortable and there was a nice wee pub cum restaurant about 100 metres away. Although we are used to most of the population speaking Afrikaans, it was a bit of a shock to meet people who couldn’t take our booking or explain the menu in English!

Sunday 6 July. Agulhas to Cape Town
We set off to drive to the mother city, Cape Town but as we were in no hurry, we took the scenic route right round the coast past some really stunning scenery and a field full of blue cranes; the bird kind, not for construction! A long stretch had the blue ocean on one side and bushes of beautiful pink king protea flowers on the other. The weather deteriorated as we approached Cape Town and it was a misty drizzle by the time we reached the hotel. The table most certainly had its table cloth on! The hotel where we are based for five nights is big and quite modern. The room, bath, bed, breakfast, etc are all excellent. On the first night, we went down for the included dinner. When we asked for the wine list, we were politely told, “Sorry, Sir, we don’t serve alcohol here, this is a halaal restaurant.” Well, Les was off out of the chair like a whippet on Race Day! But all was not lost; they had another restaurant elsewhere! Whew!

Monday 7 July Cape Town; the Wine Routes
Superb breakfast and off in pouring rain to “do” the wine routes around Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. I did the tasting at La Motte which was exceptional. Les was driving! We spent the evening at the V&AWaterfront, which is 5 minutes from the hotel with the complimentary shuttle bus. It is a redeveloped dock area which is now home to several hundred up-market shops and a wonderful choice of restaurants.

No comments: