Eisbein and German Cuisine at Im Eimer in Somerset West (2017-06-13) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 23 AUG 2017

There is a very unusual pub/restaurant lurking on the outskirts of Somerset West, close to the border of Sir Lowry’s Pass Village. It’s a German pub (which in itself is not unusual given the high levels of German ancestry throughout Somerset West) called Im Eimer, and what I find strange about the whole setup is despite its rather unwelcoming, rundown exterior (and rust filled interior), the restaurant is MASSIVELY popular  with the locals.

The name “Im Eimer” translates directly into “in the bucket” a saying which refers to items that are ‘kaput’, i.e. have reached the end of their useful life and have been tossed aside.

With that in mind, the restaurant is itself home to many old, broken odds and ends, or as some people put it, antiques. Also, there is the literal bucket hanging on the wall, a 100 year old rusted relic that was used to dig a well on Auas Sued in South West Africa near Bethanien in 1894.

You get the idea then. Im Eimer is a name that suits the look and feel of this place rather well then.

The thing is, the restaurant is known for its excellent German menu, with many people praising its authentic German cuisine (and of course, beer), with the Eisbein in particular always getting a rousing mention.

Of course, with all that praise for their tasty pork knuckle,  it was therefore essential for Chantelle and myself to give it a go – which is then exactly what we did come one lunch time back in June of this year.

Pro tip: It is definitely a good idea to phone ahead if you are going to be ordering the Eisbein – preparing one as you might imagine does take a fair while!

We of course didn’t, giving us a good hour or so to first sit, drink and take in the unique… setting/decorations.

The good news is that, served with sauerkraut, mustard, and mash, the Eisbein is indeed well, WELL worth the wait.

So yeah, that was a surprise. Definitely one of those classic ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ cases!

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Bonus: Im Eimer makes a quick little feature towards the end of Cape Town Tourism’s “Love Cape Town Neighbourhoods Series: Somerset West” YouTube video (around the 04:00 mark):

So, worth a visit, even if it is just for the Eisbein!

Related Link: Im Eimer | Somerset West

Lunch at The Orchard Farm Stall in Grabouw (2017-03-11) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 13 AUG 2017

The plan had originally been for me to have lunch with the girls over at the Elgin Grabouw Country Club in Grabouw. However, that plan was abruptly put paid to on discovery of one lone “beware of snakes” signboard at the country club, meaning that a new plan was now hastily required – which is exactly then how we ended up for lunch at the nearby The Orchard Farm Stall instead.

I’ve actually stopped here numerous times in the past, thanks to The Orchard usually being a lot less busy than the popular Peregrine Farm Stall down the road.

(Honestly, it is just as worthwhile a stop as its more famous competitor farm stall!)

What’s particularly nice about The Orchard is its huge patch of lawn stretched out in front of the restaurant area, meaning plenty of run around space for the kids, thereby ensuring a reasonably good chance of being able to sit quietly and enjoy an ice cold beer.

(Incidentally, the Hermanus produced Old Harbour Beer is a pretty good craft beer, just in case you aren’t sure on what to have when there).

The farm stall itself, billed as the The Orchard Elgin Country Market, is superbly well stocked, with plenty of interesting produce and home industry items to cast your eye on, with the ambiance on whole being pretty friendly and pretty laid back.

Also, because The Orchard usually makes an effort in terms of providing some things for the kids to do (in this case a jumping castle and quadbike train rides), the girls were pretty satisfied with my hastily revised plan on the day.

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All in all, a great space to stretch the legs if you are on the road with little kids.

Related Link: The Orchard Farm Stall

Lunch at Antonio’s Pizza Place in Gordon’s Bay (2017-03-16) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 12 AUG 2017

Back in March this year, Jessica and I embarked upon a nice long weekend away to Pinnacle Point, Mossel Bay. In fear of the rain spiders that lurk there over this time of year, Chantelle opted not to join us, and so, the day before we were to leave, we decided to have a special lunch for some Chantelle and Jessie time, i.e. sans the mommy attention hoarding Emily!

Having heard people talk favourably about the place in the past, we decided to give Antonio’s Pizza Place a shot for the first time.

Tucked in between the Krystal Beach Hotel and the more famous Bertie’s Moorings restaurant on the boardwalk section of the Harbour Island development (also home to a particularly good Ocean Basket offering), Antonio’s Pizza Place is known for serving up particularly cheesy pizza – which turns out is absolutely true about them.

In all honesty, I’m not a major fan of such a lot of cheese on my pizza, but given the view that comes along with it, it is hard to say that a visit to the vibey Antonio’s doesn’t make for a nice outing.

As it turned out, that particular Thursday ended up being quite a busy day for myself and the girls – After picking up Emily from school it was time for some play at the always pleasant Pollock Park in Gordon’s Bay, followed by a nice sunset stroll along Strand beach.

(Complete with hilarious no walking construction sign in the middle of the sea).

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Anyway, back to Antonio’s. In summary, expect loads of melted cheese with a pretty pleasant view.

Related Link: Antonio’s Pizza Place | Gordon’s Bay

Sand and Waves at Oyster Bay Reserve Beach in Mossel Bay (2017-03-18) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 09 AUG 2017

On the outskirts of Mossel Bay, tucked between the residential townships of Dana Bay, Kwa Nonquaba, Pinnacle Point and Heiderand, is the Oyster Bay Reserve, a 330 hectare botanical nature reserve.

Established with the intention to conserve, preserve and educate through a variety of community projects, the Oyster Bay Reserve is also home to a number of hiking trails, the most famous of those running through it being of course the St Blaize Hiking Trail, the 13.5  kilometer long trail that stretches from the St Blaize Lighthouse (Mossel Bay) all the way through to Dana Bay.

The Pinnacle Point Estate (my dad has a fractional ownership in one of the gorgeous houses there) has direct access to the tiny, tucked away Oyster Bay Beach (complete with a 24 hour guard station), a sliver of friendly sand in between the otherwise rugged (and often misty) coastline.

Accessible via golf cart (as is pretty much everything else in Pinnacle Point), this quiet, unspoiled little bit of sand is the perfect escape if you have little kids, and want to avoid the often more busy beaches that come along with a drive through to Mossel Bay.

Jessica and I joined my mom and dad for a long weekend away at their place in Pinnacle Point back in March this year, and of course, play time in the sand with Grandpa and Daddy was very much in demand from my little girl.

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(And yes, as always, Jessica remains terrified of the actual sea – meaning that when it came to building a moat around our sandcastle, fetching buckets of water was very much left in dad’s and my domain!)

A tiny, hidden little gem then.

Related Link: Oyster Bay Reserve | Pinnacle Point | Mossel Bay

A Visit to Hartenbos via the Diaz Express from Santos Beach, Mossel Bay (2017-01-02) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 06 AUG 2017

At the start of this year, while away for a bit of a break in Gouritz, I took a drive out to Mossel Bay in order to treat the girls with a ride aboard the cute, tourist friendly Diaz Express.

In a nutshell, the Diaz Express is a fun rail experience that takes a resurrected Type 40 Mark II Wickham Inspection Trolley and then sends it along for a run on the existing Garden Route Transnet rail network, between the seaside resorts of Great Brak River and Mossel Bay.

During peak holiday season, the Diaz Express runs the shorter hop from Mossel Bay to Hartenbos, and this then was the one that the girls and I caught a ride on.

The day that we headed out was unfortunately a bit of an overcast, drizzly affair, though that said, the slightly gloomy weather was nowhere near strong enough to dampen the excitement of the girls when they first laid eyes on the cute little blue ‘train’ sitting next to its station deck outside the venerable Santos Express train lodge above Santos Beach.

The short ride was a blast (the girls LOVED it), and once deposited at the Hartenbos train station, the girls and I then strolled down to the main entertainment hub of this iconic Afrikaaner seaside holiday escape, where we mingled with the crowd, taking in the sights and sounds of a LOT of people who, despite the weather, were clearly enjoying their December break!

Unfortunately for us, the weather was just a little too gloomy to allow for some play time down on the beach, so instead we found ourselves wandering around a bit more, snacking on treats here and there, and of course, watching everyone else, seeming impervious to the weather, having a holiday ball.

(Seriously, there was parasailing of all things on the go!)

Finally, we stumbled across a funfair ride that the girls simply wouldn’t let me pass (I tried), and most importantly, one that I would let both of them ride. In other words, the highlight of the day’s outing then.

Watching the clock, we made our way back to the Hartenbos platform, just in time to catch our ride back aboard the Diaz Express. (This time around, the journey was slightly wetter but a little more noisy – thanks to our friendly conductor having a great time entertaining all the kids by pressing the hooter every time someone’s nose got touched!)

All in all, a fun outing that I’ll definitely be doing again with the girls (and probably grandparents) I imagine.

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Bonus: While grabbing some links for this post, I came across this nice little video detailing the longer and much nicer Mossel Bay to Great Brak excursion, courtesy of local South African travel writer “Travelbug” Rose Bilbrough.

Looks fantastic!

Related Link: Diaz Express | Hartenbos | Mossel Bay

Things to See in South Africa: Sandboarding on the Atlantis Sand Dunes Travel Attractions 05 AUG 2017

It takes about 30 minutes to reach the Atlantis sand dunes, driving north west out of Cape Town’s city center. The ever-shifting, up to 35 meters high, sand dunes are an important conservation area, protecting the Atlantis Aquifer which supplies water for the Atlantis area.

Sandboarding has become quite a popular adventure sport in Cape Town and given Atlantis’ vast field of dunes and proximity to the city, quite a few Cape Town based adventure operators now operate out on these dunes (with strict regulations to ensure that all who use the dunes keep conservation well in mind of course!).

The soft sands found in the Western Cape allow sandboarders to reach considerable speed and to perform a variety of tricks, making this an adrenaline sport suitable for both beginners and thrill-seeking enthusiasts alike.

(The dunes are also home to other adventure sports like quadbiking and 4×4 handling).

To get a better feel of what to expect, the guys over at Travelvids (a Cape Town based travel video training and production outfit) put together this video of the experience:

Home to interesting plant species and birds like the Black Harrier, these Cape Town dunes are certainly a great example of how adventure tourism and conservation can coincide.

Related Link: Sandboarding | Atlantis | Travelvids.tv

Things to See in South Africa: Vergenoegd’s Duck Squad in Stellenbosch Travel Attractions 04 AUG 2017

The Stellenbosch wine estate of Vergenoegd went from being completely unheard of to one of Cape Town’s “must visit” attractions in literally the space of a year and a half, and while a lot of this is of course down to some really good marketing, the lion’s share of kudos has to go to the farm’s unusual, eco-friendly pest control scheme – their duck squad.

Cared for by duck handler Denzel Metthys, around a 1,000 trained Indian Runner ducks are used to control snails and other pests in Vergenoegd’s vineyards.

These ducks, who put on daily parades in front of the manor house, are essentially the wine estate’s superstars, and as such are treated rather well.

As for the wine estate itself, well the team over at Vergenoegd produce some rather nice wines, have a great restaurant operating out of the old manor house, host a couple of events, and nowadays, is home to a popular weekend farmers market.

A team over at Great Big Story put together this great little feature on this feathered story:

Well worth putting on your “things to see” in the Western Cape list.

Related Link: Vergenoegd Wine Estate | YouTube

Winding Down the Year in Gouritz (2016-12-30) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 03 AUG 2017

Last year the girls and I escaped with Chantelle’s folks to Gouritz (better known by its more common Afrikaans name, Gouritsmond) for a couple of days, ending off 2016 and ringing in 2017 with a proper little December Holidays getaway.

Gouritz is a small coastal holiday town situated at the Gourits River mouth, about 30 km away from Mossel Bay and on the same stretch of coastline as nearby Vleesbaai, Boggoms Bay, and a particular favourite of mine, Pinnacle Point.

Thanks to its access to both the Indian Ocean and Gourits River, Gouritz is a mecca for fishing, boating, and other water sports, and given its relatively remote setting, is a popular area for nature lovers to gather.

Also, come the December holidays, it gets packed to the rafters with people escaping to the coast!

After an enjoyable drive up with loads of short stops in between, the girls and I eventually reached the tiny town and joined up with Oupa and Ouma at our house for the next couple of days, the peculiarly named Drie Plekke Lekker.

(Sadly, Drie Plekke Lekker is rather… lacking on the maintenance front, meaning that despite the nice space, for now it is difficult to wholeheartedly recommend until someone steps in and fixes it up a little).

Over the next couple of days we enjoyed milktart pancakes, walks around the town, drives along the coast, swims in the river, lunch in the middle of nowhere, a trip on a train to Hartenbos, and a massive New Year’s Eve lamb spit braai in the caravan park with Bernard and the rest of Monty and Cheryl’s friends!

Jessica flew her kite, the girls played non-stop with their Oupa, and pretty much every morning kicked off with multiple games of Snakes and Ladders. (Oh, and as a bonus surprise, Chantelle managed to slip away from the guest house in order to drive up and join us for a day or two!)

So. Pretty impossible to say that we didn’t have a good time then.

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A great little off the beaten path holiday spot.

Related Link: Gouritz | Gouritsmond

Fire Damage, Plankies, and Lunch at 365 Bistro & Simply Coffee in Pringle Bay (2017-02-25) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 02 AUG 2017

Earlier this year, the area surrounding Pringle Bay (a small coastal town along the Hangklip Coast, between Betty’s Bay and Rooi Els) was ravaged by a massive veld fire.

Although fires are commonplace here in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve area, this one was particularly bad thanks to immensely strong winds that fanned the flames all the way to the doorstep of Pringle Bay, taking out a couple of the boundary houses in the process, and burning literally on the doorstep of Chantelle’s aunt and uncle’s home.

(Apparently, it was only through a freak change of wind direction at the very last second that the town of Pringle Bay actually emerged relatively unscathed from this inferno.)

A couple of days after this disaster, Chantelle and I decided to take a scenic drive out along the picturesque Clarence Drive, and along the way decided to drop in on Pringle Bay to survey the damage.

The devastation was eye-opening. Many of the surrounding hill faces were now completely reduced to sand and stone, with only the blackened remains of bushes poking out here and there, the result being an eerie, almost alien landscape left to drive through.

Amazingly, despite the scale and proximity of the fire, it appeared that less than a handful of homes were actually razed, quite astonishing considering that some of the open plots sitting right in between the houses were burnt!

Making our way back to the center of the town, we decided to do a little exploring and head out towards Hangklip, seeing as it was a road that neither of us had actually ever driven before.

We ended up following the bad gravel road all the way to the (rather dilapidated, though some would say charming) Hangklip Hotel, turning around at its famous Plankies pub next door – all whilst under the watchful eye of a local baboon who was busy tucking into the leftovers of what had very obviously been quite the party the previous evening.

Back in Pringle Bay proper, we strolled around some of the lovely little establishments that seem to be popping up all over the town these days, before settling in at Simply Coffee, the coffee shop section of the super popular Bistro 365 & Simply Coffee restaurant hub.

And I’m rather pleased that we did. The food – and beer – was particularly excellent!

(Apparently the coffee shop runs during the day, before closing for the evening when the upstairs Bistro tweaks the menu and takes over).

Surprisingly enough, I didn’t nearly take as many photos on the day as what I normally would do – so all the more reason to visit again I guess…

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Not bad for an impromptu afternoon’s exploring then.

P.S. Clarence Drive alone is ALWAYS worth the drive!

Related Link: Bistro 365 & Simply Coffee | Pringle Bay | Hangklip Hotel