Tag Archives: south africa

The Cape Recife Lighthouse and Nature Reserve in Port Elizabeth (2017-07-08) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 28 FEB 2018

Built way back in 1851, the Cape Recife Lighthouse was originally established to warn passing ships of the dangerous Thunderbolt Reef (named for the HMS Thunderbolt, a British Royal Nave Sail and Paddle Frigate that wrecked at Cape Recife in 1847), a job the venerable (albeit upgraded) lighthouse still admirably performs to this very day.

In 1973, a surrounding 366 hectare large area was proclaimed as the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, thereby transforming Cape Recife into a protected sanctuary for the Summerstrand region’s coastal and marine ecosystems to thrive within.

These days, in addition to the walking routes, countless unspoiled beaches, picnic areas, and accessible to the public lighthouse, the Cape Recife Nature Reserve is also home to the Port Elizabeth branch of SANCCOB (otherwise known as SAMREC), which provides rehabilitation and care facilities for many of the regions coastal bird species.

Seeing how I rather enjoy visiting lighthouses and was after all now in the area (as part of our June 2017 Holiday Adventure), I dragged everyone over to the nature reserve (most who were visiting it for the very first time), where after securing our entry permits, we enjoyed a rather tranquil stroll around the area.

Well not the kids mind you. They were far too busy chasing up and down the sand dunes like energetic little bunnies of course!

Extra: On exiting the nature reserve our initial route to the Grass Roof Farm Stall for a spot of lunch and play was blocked by a rather angry veld fire. Apparently, thanks to the dry seasons Port Elizabeth is also experiencing, wild fires like this is now pretty much a daily occurrence now…

Related Link: Cape Recife Lighthouse | Cape Recife Nature Reserve | Port Elizabeth

Fish and Sushi at Harbour Rock in the New Harbour of Hermanus (2017-08-09) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 24 FEB 2018

As is almost always the case, we were in Hermanus to watch whales. We watched whales from the piazza, we watched whales from Fick’s Pool, we watched whales from the cliff path, we… well you get the picture.

Anyway, the point is that after all that whale watching/ambling about, a spot of lunch was required – and so we randomly picked out a new spot for us to try: Harbour Rock.

Designed and built in 1997, the stone, steel and timber Harbour Rock building sits perched atop a cliff overlooking Hermanus’ New Harbour, a premium restaurant known for its wine and more importantly, ever-evolving menu of seafood and grills.

A magnificent view over the harbour and across the bay, competent chefs, an authentic Chinese sushi team, and access to pretty fresh catches, it is no wonder that Harbour Rock is as popular as what it is.

While the girls weren’t particularly enthralled at having to eat at a seafood restaurant (and to be honest, seafood isn’t really my thing either), Chantelle on the other hand was ecstatic, immediately diving deep into a delicious sushi platter

I on the other hand opted for the less exotic fish and chips option, and in terms of drinks, we turned to a delectable bottle of Wolftrap Syrah for the table.

Following our lovely lunch, we next decided to take in some of the sea air with a leisurely stroll out along the harbour wall – a perfect way to stretch one’s legs and give the food a proper chance to settle in my opinion.

This, the girls were a little more pleased with.

In summary: Harbour Rock was a pleasant surprise and definitely worth keeping in mind if you are ever looking for a nice date night venue when in the Hermanus area.

(In other words, I’m rather glad that Chantelle came up with this particular suggestion!)

Bonus: If you would rather just have a drink, then Harbour Rock’s adjoining Gecko Bar is the perfect solution, enjoying the exact same stunning view that comes with the main restaurant experience.

Just follow the motorbikes to find it!

Related Link: Harbour Rock | New Harbour | Hermanus

Coffee at the Van Brakel Stoor Farm Stall near Caledon (2017-12-16) Farm Stalls | Photo Gallery 22 FEB 2018

On one of our spur of the moment weekend outings last year (I suggested to Chantelle that we head out to Stanford for a cheesy picnic at the Klein River Cheese farmstead), I randomly decided to stop for a coffee in the middle of nowhere, ending up at the delightfully dusty Van Brakel Stoor farm stall along the R316 – basically somewhere on the road between Caledon and Napier.

Established way back in 1921, the Van Brakel Stoor originally operated as the local grocery store and mechanical repair shop for the area, before being rebooted in 2004 as today’s old-time country store and coffee shop.

The goal is simple – serve up local, home-made food with warm platteland hospitality.

In addition to the coffee and food on offer in its little dining space, the Van Brakel Stoor farm stall also stocks all manner of local wines, home-made preserves and baked treats (as well as a few essentials for the locals), and as an added bonus, the shop’s interior comes lined with all sorts of interesting farm relics from days gone by.

(Oh, and apparently the Van Brakel Stoor is also used as an events venue. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but that is definitely what their website states!)

Given the farm stall’s location in the heart of the Overberg, the surrounding farm landscape is also something worth taking in. (Basically, photos were just begging to be taken!)

So yes, I rather enjoyed this slightly unplanned little coffee stop then.

P.S. The amount of food stuffs that can be pickled and preserved is mind-boggling. Also, it brought a huge smile to my face identifying all the old biscuit tins that I remember from my grandparents’ houses as a kid.

Related Link: Van Brakel Stoor | Caledon

Touchwork and Hypenica Year End Function at Monkey Valley Resort in Noordhoek (2017-12-07) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 20 FEB 2018

At the end of 2016 Hypenica and Touchwork capped a good year off with a fun staff function at the Outspan seafood restaurant in Kalk Bay – complete with a reggae band and Anne Hirsch’s improv troupe in tow. However, given that the venue was a little on the cramped side, 2017 saw our annual year-end staff function moved to Noordhoek’s rather pleasant Monkey Valley Resort.

If you are not familiar with Monkey Valley Resort (which has been a staple of the Noordhoek tourism scene for years), in essence it is this sprawling, surrounded by trees, wood-built beach nature resort that lies above Noordhoek Beach, offering accommodation, conference facilities and a pretty nice restaurant – not to mention its role as a rather popular Capetonian wedding venue!

In terms of our strangely Hawaiian themed staff function, the beer was flowing, the braai on the go, marimba was played, belly dancing was watched (?), and the pool utilized – in other words, a pretty good way to spend a perfect Summer’s day celebrating the year’s successes.

Monkey Valley Resort is a particularly relaxing space, and if you haven’t visited it before, you should probably consider a visit to Thorfynns Restaurant as an excuse to dip your toe into its tranquil vibe.

P.S. The walk down to the beach is a lot longer than what it looks from the deck.

Related Link: Monkey Valley Resort | Noordhoek | Cape Town

Cookies and Coffee at Ikigai Artisan Coffee Bar and Deli in Riversdale (2017-12-26) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 18 FEB 2018

I don’t normally pull over at Riversdale on any of my N2 jaunts (it’s usually too close to my destination), and on the odd occasion that I do stop, it’s usually to give Die Rooi Aalwyn/Bali Trading a spin so that the girls can have a little run around on their lush green lawn and enjoy their play area.

However, thanks entirely to the power of Instagram and clearly a very clever restaurateur, Chantelle and I now most definitely do have a reason to stop. Ikigai.

Named for the Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”, Ikigai is sandwiched in next to the Spur (to your left as you travel on the N2 towards the Garden Route), and is best described as an artisan coffee bar and deli, with a sense of style that leaves you confused as to whether or not you forgot to leave home and are actually still lounging about in Observatory, Cape Town.

Trendy decor and inspirational quotes aside, Ikigai is obviously known first and foremost for its good selection of coffee and other warm drinks. Then of course there are its light meals and snacks, the most important being their delectable selection of pies – which Chantelle and I simply couldn’t get enough of!

(That said the girls would of course argue that no, their massive selection of baked cookies are by far the best!)

In summary: The space is small and intimate, the service prompt and friendly, the food good, and thanks to Ikigai’s trendy decor, visually everything is a treat for the eye.

Definitely well worth a coffee run stop then!

P.S. Chantelle and I enjoyed Ikigai enough to prompt a return visit on our way back home!

Related Link: Ikigai Coffee Bar & Deli | Riversdale

Banoffee Waffles at the Belgian Waffle House in Strand (2017-12-15) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 14 FEB 2018

Just a friendly reminder, but if you are at the beach in Strand and are looking perhaps to either escape the wind or treat your kids to something nice, then it is worth knowing that the excellent Belgian waffles from The Belgian Waffle House are still going strong.

The waffles are light and fluffy, come in either a sweet or savoury form, and make for a fun little outing to a place that seems to always have people visiting in it. (Fun fact, the picture above is their attempt at a banoffee waffle. Simple yet deliciously sweet.)

Oh, and don’t forget to take a stroll along the beautiful new concrete promenade walkway – the planning and construction guys have done a great job with this one!

Bonus: Yes, my girls pretty much stopped listening to us reading the menu out to them once they heard the word ‘Smarties’.

Related Link: The Belgian Waffle House | Strand

Sand Dunes Sunset at Sardinia Bay in Port Elizabeth (2017-07-07) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 12 FEB 2018

Having now arrived in Port Elizabeth following our short stay in the Addo Elephant Park (all part  of last year’s June Holidays road trip), one of the very first experiences that Evan and Natasha guided us to was enjoying a spectacular sunset from atop the sand dunes of Sardinia Bay.

Lying between Schoenmakerskop and Seaview, and complete with public picnic facilities, Sardinia Bay is a popular beach strip that due to its miles of unspoiled coastline, has a reputation as being one of the best walking beaches in the area.

Thanks to its status of Marine Reserve, fishing is off limits in Sardinia Bay, though the waters are popular for both snorkeling and scuba diving. Incidentally, the beach also marks the starting point of the very popular eight kilometer long Sacramento hiking trail.

Anyway, the legendary sand dunes of Sardinia Bay are themselves quite the beast. Ever shifting, ever encroaching across the access roads, it takes quite the effort to make one’s way to the top – or at least it does when you are as big as what I am and struggle with a wonky knee!

(Not that this bothers the light as a feather kids of course, and besides, the views from the top really are worth making the effort! Also, the sunset from there really is magnificent.)

As darkness fell, we left the popular sunset watching spot behind (seriously, I was amazed at the number of people perched atop the sand dunes to watch the sun go down), making our way back into Port Elizabeth, where we stopped off at the wonderfully lit Boardwalk Casino and Entertainment World complex in order to catch their very entertaining music and lights water fountain show for the girls.

Needless to say, the little ones were well impressed.

Finally, we capped our first evening in Port Elizabeth off with a visit to the vibey Something Good Roadhouse, somehow miraculously securing a table big enough for the whole group, allowing us to take in the live music, tuck into some delicious food, and more importantly, get down to the business of catching up with old friends.

(Also, you’ll notice that none of these photos appear to have come from my phone camera. This would be because I forgot my phone back at the car, meaning that I have had to borrow these snaps from Evan. Hence the selfies.)

Sunset from the sand dunes of Sardinia Bay is a definite must if you ever find yourself in the area.

Related Link: Sardinia Bay Beach | Port Elizabeth | The Boardwalk

Concrete Curves of the Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl (2017-04-22) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 10 FEB 2018

It is impossible not to take notice of the strange, alien-like fingers jutting out from the side of a mountain as you drive towards Paarl, those concrete curves belonging of course to non other than the famous Afrikaans Taalmonument, or to us English-speaking folks, the Afrikaans Language Monument.

While I have mentioned the monument in these pages before, I hadn’t actually ever stopped to visit it as an adult, something that I finally got around to rectifying on a sunny Saturday morning back in April last year.

Seeing as it is a rather long drive from Gordon’s Bay to Paarl, the girls and I decided to first stop halfway in order to pick up on some snacks for the road – opting to drop in for a bit at the always super popular Stellenbosch Slow Market (held at the Oude Libertas amphitheatre).

As expected, it was bustling, but snacks on hand were aplenty.

Truthfully though, we didn’t hang around the busy market for all that long – I’m not overly fond of having to navigate two little girls through such a throng of people at the best of times!

Anyway, navigating our way to the Afrikaans Language Monument on the outskirts of Paarl didn’t prove to be a particularly tricky or perilous task, and after paying the small entrance fee, we drove into the grounds, found a shady parking space, and headed up the stairs towards the mouth of this very unusual structure.

Opened on 10 October 1975, Jan van Wijk’s monument commemorates the semi-centenary of Afrikaans being declared an official language of South Africa separate from Dutch, in the process also acknowledging the influence of a variety of languages such as Dutch, Malay, Malay-Portuguese, Arabic, French, German, English, and the indigenous Khoi and African languages, on the development of Afrikaans.

Symbolism is built into everything that stands before you, and knowing a little bit about the structure before you actually view it does come in quite handy in this particular case.

The monument itself is visually interesting, but of course doesn’t take particularly long to stroll through (perplexing the girls to no end), which is where the grounds and build location then neatly comes into play.

Apart from the interesting Visitor’s Centre (there is of course the actual Language Museum further down in town), and its restaurant with a view, the Volksmond, to enjoy, The Afrikaans Language Monument also features lovely patches of lawn to enjoy a picnic on, fantastic 360 degree views across the town of Paarl and its stunning surrounds, and a one or two perfect for ambling walkways that snake through its interesting garden.

The girls of course enjoyed clambering over everything and anything that blocked their path, but by far their favourite bit of our visit was of course the ice cream that they made me get them in order to beat the Paarl heat at the end of our walkabout.

Truthfully, I wasn’t really complaining. Ice cream was exactly what was needed for the day!

Also, plenty of photos were of course the order of the morning, much to the annoyance of my girls as per usual:

The Afrikaans Language Monument is an unexpectedly beautiful stop, well worth visiting even if you don’t speak the language at all.

(As for the rest of our afternoon out and about, that was spent visiting a goat tower, petting some alpacas, and eating scones and cream!)

Related Link: Afrikaans Language Monument | Paarl

Winter Wonderland Fun Rides in Gordon’s Bay (2017-07-23) Kid Activities | Photo Gallery 08 FEB 2018

The Gordon’s Bay Winter Wonderland Festival of Lights has been on the go for a couple of years now, with each year definitely getting bigger and better. Featuring a parade, dance, fun run, arts and crafts, loads of food stalls, music performances, kids entertainment, and of course a whole lot of fairy lights.

However the star of the show as far as what my girls are concerned is without a doubt the fun park, which is filled with all manner of fun rides (mostly things that spin really fast while lifting up and down) for both young and the not particularly so old crowd.

For the really little ones there are trains, bugs, clowns, puppies and octopuses, all of which Emily made very sure to have a go at.

Jessica on the other hand wanted things a little higher and a little faster, and I suspect in a year or two when she’s a bit bigger, she’ll be twisting my arm for the REALLY expensive rides!

(Sure, the tickets are only R10 a piece, but for the bigger, newer machines you are looking at five or six tickets, i.e. R50-R60, per ride! Emily on the other hand should still be a nice cheap date though…)

We don’t have access to fun rides very often here in Gordon’s Bay, so what was nice last year was the fun park hanging around for a fair bit after the Winter Wonderland festival had passed, giving the girls more than a few opportunities to get some kicks in! (Which is why if you look at the photos, you’ll see the girls wearing different clothes and in different light conditions.)

Right, so I imagine then that we’ll find ourselves back in the queue come July again! :)

Related Link: Winter Wonderland Festival | Gordon’s Bay