October 29, 2016

Hermanus, South Africa


Day 1:

Up and out the next morning, we drove to Hermanus via Swellendam, the third oldest town in RAS and home to a lot of Cape Dutch architecture.

We arrived in Hermanus in the late  afternoon and checked in to our digs for the next two nights at The Marine Hotel.  It’s worth nothing that The Marine has no street address, which made for some fun in the car. Around the time we thought we must have passed it, there it was. We stopped off for burgers at the waterfront Fusion Cafe and entered into an irreversible food coma and waddled about along the seaside’s Fernkloof Cliff Path before having dinner in the hotel and crashing.

Hermanus is famous for whale watching and is considered one of the best places in the world to see whales from the coast. Whales spotted: 0

Day 2: (our first full day)

The next day, we powered up on the mighty breakfast at The Marine and headed off to wander further along the Cliff Path discovering a scale model of the Solar System and lunching at a little spot called Dutchies before retracing our path back to the hotel. The hotel has an infinity pool which is in the ocean, which I’m sure is worth a visit, but it was way too cold out for that sort of thing.

After returning to the hotel, we had a bit of wine and had dinner at Burgundy.

Whales spotted: 0

We heard that very few whale had been seen all season, which is a bit worrying.

Day 3:

We started off our final morning with another mighty Marine breakfast, which like on prior days, included some amazing stewed fruits. They tasted like Christmas. I asked how they were made, and a few minutes later, a woman from the kitchen came out to give me the lowdown. If memory serves (as I am writing this 5 months after the fact), the recipe was roughly 2kg fruit, 1 kg sugar, and cinnamon sticks. I should have written in down, as I really appreciated it. We walked around a bit and went for obligatory pictures with a whale before saying goodbye to Hermanus.

Live Whales spotted: 0

We’ll just have to come back and try again!

October 26, 2016

Wilderness, South Africa


Our next stop was in Wilderness, where we stayed 3 nights.

Day 1: (just an evening)

We arrived around dinnertime at our next stop, The Mes Amis Guest House. We were feeling pretty tired, so instead of going out for dinner, we picked up a few things at the Spar in Wilderness and had a little picnic with our lovely oceanfront view.

During our picnic began the theme of many a photo on our trip: Adrian Doesn’t Like Nice Things. We had a relatively early night in preparation for the next day’s busy agenda.

Day 2:

After breakfast, we headed out for the day’s exciting stuff:

Our first stop was the Safari Ostrich Farm in Outshoorn because I really, really, really wanted to see the ostriches.

As a part of your ticket, you get an overview of ostrich farming and a tour of the farm that includes feeding of the ostriches and a chance to sit on or ride an ostrich.

Naturally, my equestrian streak leads me to want to ride other animals, so I was quite enthusiastic to ride an ostrich. Unfortunately, I was slightly over the weight limit, which lead to many self effacing jokes that should skip dessert/ eat only dust/ spontaneously do aerobics so I wouldn’t be too tubby to ride the ostrich. The good thing is that they actually had a scale and enforced the weight limit (60kg), to protect the animals. As I was within the limit for sitting on the ostrich, I gave that a go. It’s strange to sit on a bird and to feel the strength of the feathers beneath you. The necks is soft. Weird and wonderful, really.

After that we continued on our day of wild animals in Outshoorn with a visit to the Cango Wildlife Ranch and Conservation Centre, which is a short drive from the Ostrich Park. It’s worth noting that there are ostriches all over Outshoorn.

At the Cango Wildlife Ranch, we had an excellent tour. Our guide gave our group a great visit with facts and anecdotes in both English and German, which she had studied in school.

CWR raises money to protect animals, cheetahs in particular, and we decided to use our animal encounter ticket to pet some cheetahs.

We each got to visit with the cheetahs. I went first, then Adrian joined (when these pictures were taken of us together), and then Adrian had some solo cheetah time, whether he liked it or not! These guys are around 9 months old, of memory serves. Their fur is much more coarse than i expected, but the purring is so big!

Next up, we headed to the Cango Caves, which are come spectacular limestone caves first discovered in 1780. We opted for the standard tour, having arrived an hour before closing, and we were glad that we did. The more advanced tours involve climbing through tight spaces. Our guide told us a story about someone insisting on fitting through a tight gap and getting stuck, trapping the entire group down a leg of the caves, and it requiring 13 hours or so to get this person unstuck. Not fun.

After which we had a nice drive back to Wilderness, and had dinner at a local spot called The Girls, run by two local women. The food was superb, including these desserts.

Day 3:

As we’d accomplished all of the touristy stuff on the agenda, we opted for a less eventful final day in Wilderness.

We had a nice walk on the beach. (Adrian didn’t like it – too nice!) We stopped off for a lunch of fish goujons and a greek salad at the Salinas Cafe, and then had another walk along the beach back home. (n.b. seemingly everywhere we ate in South Africa had a Greek Salad on the menu, and it was always excellent. The feta was so much better than anywhere else I’ve had it. I was ambivalent about Greek Salad until this trip.)

The lady who runs Mes Amis highly recommended a local restaurant called Serendipity, which was a surprise find, as we hadn’t expected to find such fancy food in Wilderness. Run by a charming couple, she’s the chef and he’s the sommelier and hunter, the food was innovative and really, off the charts. The meal started with a cocktail outside with a lovely view and was followed by a tasting menu.

After which, we happily called it a night. Hermanus, tomorrow!

October 24, 2016

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa


We flew from London to Joburg and Joburg to Port Elizabeth, before picking up our rental car and heading to Plett.

A useful mistake of mine: I accidentally booked business class flights for our leg to Port Elizabeth. They were no more expensive than the tickets from CPH-JNB later in the trip, and I bought them on Expedia. I didn’t realise this until I picked up our tickets in JNB. Anyway, what this meant was that we could use the lounge and shower before hopping on another flights and having a drive ahead of us.

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Petting the domestic A320.

It seems all rental cars on the Garden Route are either white or  gold, and ours was no exception.

Driving along the route is on a 2 lane road, and people pull up on to the shoulder to let passing drivers past. The passing driver will generally flash their hazards after they pass to communicate a Thank You. It’s nice.

We arrived in Plett in the evening around dinnertime, despite a rather exciting road closure that lead us off  our preferred path. Google saved us in the end!

We checked in around dinnertime at The Robberg Beach Lodge, a recommendation from Nina and Darren.

The view is lovely, and we could see dolphins and a whale from the inside window as we enjoyed a welcoming glass of wine in the front room of the lodge.

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Then, we found a charming room awaited us before a nice dinner at The Lodge. After many hours travelling, it was good to just settle in.

The next day, we went on a long walk on the beach into the town of Plettenberg Bag. Plett is famous for its beautiful beach, and it did not disappoint.

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It was lovely.

We had nicely deep fried lunch at the The Deck at The Lookout where both opted for a combo platter of goujons and calamari in the sunshine.

and after a walk back along the beach, we packed up and headed for Wilderness.

October 21, 2016

South Africa 2016: The Game Plan


All good trips require a spreadsheet, so here we go:

Date Day Travel Sleeps
22-Oct Sa Depart 2005 LHR VS0601 Plane
23-Oct Su Arrive JNB 0755
JNB B- PLZ 1225-1400 SAA417
Drive to Plettenberg Bay – Hertz
The Robberg Beach Lodge
Address: 89 Beachyhead Dr, Plettenberg Bay, 6600
Phone:+27 44 533 0369
24-Oct M Drive to Wilderness Mes Amis Guest House
Address: Buxton Cl, Wilderness, 6560
Phone: +27 44 877 1928
25-Oct T
26-Oct W
27-Oct R Drive to Hermanus (3.5h) The Marine Hotel
Address: Hermanus, South Africa
Phone:+27 28 313 1000
28-Oct F
29-Oct Sa Drive to Cape Town The Cellars
Address: 93 Brommersvlei Rd, Constantia Heights, Cape Town, 7806
Phone: +27 21 794 2137
30-Oct Su
31-Oct M
01-Nov T CPT-JNB  0850- 1045 SAA316
JNB-HDS 1215-1320 SAA1227
Ngala Tented Camp
Address: andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve, Timbavati, 1380
Phone:+27 11 809 4300
02-Nov W
03-Nov R
04-Nov F HDS-JNB 1200-1300 SAA1226
Depart JNB 2130 VS0602
Plane
05-Nov Sa Land LHR 630a
October 18, 2016

Another Swing at Resuscitation


In July 2015, I posted a brief note on how I missed keeping this blog, particularly about my trips, as they’ve proven a helpful reference to share and a nice way to revisit my holidays.

16 months later, I’m finally back to it, having drafted some notes on recently holidays. It’s a bit like a muscle, I suppose. It feels hard to do when you’re out of practice. For example, I’m not the sort of person who takes pictures of everything, but when you want to document it later, it’s really handy to do so.

Anyway, onward and upward, time to get back into practice. I’ve backdated this and entries around the trips in 2016 because I think it’s easier to see things reported when they happened, even if I didn’t write it up at the time.

July 12, 2015

So, that took awhile…


I haven’t posted on here since 2011. Time flies, and a lot has happened since then, so much so that just about everything is a bit different. 

In that time, I’ve frequently regretted not writing about my trips, as rereading my accounts has let me both reexperience those adventures and allowed me to easily share places I’ve really enjoyed with friends. 

So, after a two week visit to the States, it’s time for me to stop over 3.5 years of procrastination and write a story. (It’s bedtime, so I’m giving myself the week to actually deliver.)

September 27, 2011

Explanation for the Lull


I haven’t posted much lately, reasons include:

  • Busy with new job
  • Haven’t been making much stuff (I *do* have a cake to post, though) or going places since I started the job
  • Did I mention busy with new job?
  • Maffetone Training
The latter deserves a bit of explanation -“Maffetone Training” is a style of endurance training championed by a guy named Phil Maffetone (shocking, right?). Anyway, it’s all about working at your maximum aerobic threshold and no greater, so this equates to a lot of very slow jogging for me right now.
When I decided to try this training method out, I searched around the internet, and I couldn’t find a normal person’s day to day account of doing this, so I started my own.
If you want to read about my glacial workouts and a dietary test involving a lack of carbohydrates, mail me and ask for a link. I don’t blame you if you decide not to, though!
August 31, 2011

Salisbury, England


After nearly four years of my whining about wanting to see Stonehenge, we finally made this happen.

Funnily, what made this trip really happen wasn’t my nagging but my desire to visit a tack shop in Wilton, which is right next to Salisbury. The things one does for the right boots…

Anyway, I was really looking forward to this trip, and I set off to roughly plan what we would do.

Darren takes great pride in planning our trips to the nth detail and said it was my responsibility to do similarly. I delivered with a spreadsheet and a google map (Shocker), that we largely adhered to. (note: this was the first spreadsheet to include specific timings.)

So following our arrival we hopped on the Stonehenge Tour bus outside of the station and enjoyed a historical tour of Salisbury en route to Stonehenge. Stonehenge is first visible from the A303. I saw it a few years ago en route to Cornwall, and it was such a surprise to see it there. if you want to see it a bit closer, you have to buy tickets and enter the site. Seeing Stonehenge doesn’t require a lot of time. We walked around the site in its entirety in about 40 minutes. There’s a free audio guide as well, but we decided to skip that because we hoped to take the earlier bus back into Salisbury.

The Pheasant Inn

We took the tour bus to Blue Boar Inn, a listed building right near the city’s Guildhall and Central Marketplace in search of lunch at The Pheasant Inn, a pub located in an old 16th century inn.

After an undocumented lunch of Steak & Ale pie and Bangers & Mash, we headed off in search of the perfect riding boots.

Equishop came highly recommended by a riding instructor I know,and given that I was having a miserable time finding boots, it seemed worth the trek. Unfortunately, my experience wasn’t as good as his was. The overall customer service and selection available within the shop was quite good, but the fitter who helped me seemed very content to sell me a pair of Ariat boots that had way too much free space in the calf. My acquaintance’s experience was completely different. he joked that they made him try on every pair in the store and checked the fit like he was five years old, which was exactly what I was looking for. Would I go there again, yes, but something I’ve learned on this boot hunt is that you need to find the right fitter and I didn’t do that in this case. (I’ve since found boots and am a happy girl.)

Cathedral Exterior

So, leaving the shop a bit deflated and empty handed, we headed back into Salisbury to the Cathedral.

Salisbury Cathedral, built in the 13th century is famous for its 123m spire, the tallest in England. One can visit the base of the spire via 332 steps on organized tours, but we arrived too late for the last one on a summer Saturday (1530). It’s also famous for being the home to one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta and houses the world’s oldest, still functioning clock, built in 1382.

I’ve included some interior pictures of the Cathedral, but photos in the Chapter House, where the Magna Carta is housed, were not permitted.

 

After seeing the Cathedral, we had a bit of a wander around the City Center, followed by a pint at The Chough. A chough is a type of bird – I learn something new every day.

Then, unfortunately, it was time to head back to the rail station!

July 30, 2011

NYC Cycle Routes: City to Piermont via 9W or HHD


Another route I often enjoyed in my NYC days was from home to Piermont. One can go via 9W or Henry Hudson Drive (HHD), and I’ve mapped both for you with the HHD bit in purple.  
In the city, I tended to use Riverside Drive, rather than the greenways to get to the GWB because it was faster and I don’t always have enough fear for my own good. (I took the Manhattan Bridge with the cars once on my bike. I can assure you this was not wise.) Taking Riverside Drive is totally OK, though. I wouldn’t suggest anything intense on here.

Anyway, as before: look at the underlying googlemap, as I’ve left notes on the markers to help.

Any suggestions/ amendments, let me know!

 

July 18, 2011

NYC Cycle Routes: My Brooklyn Route


This is a pretty fun route that I’ve shared with a number of people, and I’ve finally gotten around to mapping it. I plan to map out a few more in the coming weeks, as else, I might start forgetting them. (I left New York in December 2007)

I think this is a ride best done in the early morning, as then you avoid, the heat (if summer), traffic, and hoardes of tourists on the Brooklyn Bridge who don’t understand that they belong on the side of the bridge that doesn’t have a picture of a person with wheels on it. Also, the Ocean Parkway bit has quite a few synagogues, so you may want to avoid timing your rides for temple time, as the service roads have a lot more cars then.

Do look at the underlying googlemap, as I’ve left notes on the markers to help.

Any suggestions/ additions are welcome, just let me know!