Tag Archives: south africa

The Whale Museum in Hermanus (2018-08-25) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 12 JUN 2019

The Whale Museum, or more accurately, the Whale House Museum can be located within the historic Fisherman’s Village section (right next to De Wet’s Huis Photographic Museum) of the Old Harbour Museum complex in Hermanus.

By the early 1990’s, whales had become the primary tourist attraction for this popular coastal town, and as such it was suggested that Hermanus establish a whale museum with the mission of informing and educating both local and international visitors alike. Built up over 3 distinct phases, the main hall (which was completed in 1998) is the museum’s centerpiece, now dominated by the suspended skeleton of a young female Southern Right whale that had washed ashore at nearby Onrus River in 2003.

With a strong focus on digital displays with audio/visual interactions, the Whale House Museum is a treasure trove of cetacean information and although not a large space by any means, it provides a good learning experience for any youngsters stepping through its doors.

There is a also a very interesting mini-sub lounging on its floor (a favourite with the girls) and naturally, there were plenty of photos taken on the day:

So a perfect little distraction to slot in on a day filled with actual whale watching then.

Related Link: Whale House Museum | Hermanus

Breakfast Snacking at the Schoon Manufactory in Stellenbosch (2018-09-15) Photo Gallery | Restaurants 09 JUN 2019

Fritz and Chanelle Schoon’s beloved bakery has certainly moved around a bit. Having started out as Oude Bank Bakkerij in Stellenbosch, then reformed as Schoon de Companje, then moved to Somerset West with the opening of Schoon Bright Street Café, and now back in Stellenbosch with the Schoon Manufactory Café, the team must be doing something right because their devoted fans seem to follow them everywhere!

The new Schoon Manufactory in Stellenbosch is actually quite interesting to visit. The manufactory (derived from ‘manual factory’) acts as the centralized hub for Schoon, giving them one large space to produce all their bread, pastries and café food in, while also allowing them to run an experimental kitchen and small onsite café from. The end result is a very much factory like space that is open to the public and allows interested fans the opportunity to observe the ongoing artisan baking taking place, whilst all the while tasting and spreading the word of Schoon’s decadent bakes.

The girls and I started one of our big day out adventures with a breakfast run at the manufactory, and I have to say that their pastries are just a thing of absolute delight. Unfortunately for you though, this stop involved a full on effort of marshaling of two very excited (at the prospect of all that custard, chocolate and other sweet treats) little girls, so I didn’t exactly take any pictures of what was put down in front of us!

Never mind though, all the more reason to pay them another visit then.

Absolutely decadent.

Related Link: Schoon Manufactory | Stellenbosch

Art Deco and Apple Juice at the Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw (2018-07-22) Markets | Photo Gallery 09 JUN 2019

The Elgin Railway Market is an incredible addition to the Elgin Valley tourism scene. Launched in 2018, the market resides in an old apple packing warehouse (built in the 1940’s by Italian prisoners of war and right on the Grabouw train station itself) which has been refurbished and styled with the most elegant of wood, steel and wrought iron in a decidedly artisan Art Deco/Art Noveau theme. (Hint: It’s gorgeous.)

The end result is a visually captivating space which, thanks to its two level stacking with an open center, always feels open. The mouthwatering food stalls and clever craft vendors all operate from within dedicated booth spaces and the abundance of long tables and benches means that there is almost always seating available for you to sit down with your family and enjoy some of the decadent treats on offer.

(In fact, one of the things that this market does that sets it apart from other market experiences is that the food vendors all supply you with your food on an actual ceramic plate, complete with knife and fork or whatever other eating utensil may be required. A small touch that very much heightens the experience in my opinion.)

There is a small play area with a climbing wall outside, and of course lots of live music on offer, but it is the excitement that comes with the Ceres Rail Company’s vintage steam train that pulls into the station every now and then that most often steals the show for the kids and adults alike.

Honestly, it’s a treat.

Well, well worth a weekend trip out to Grabouw then.

Related Link: Elgin Railway Market | Grabouw

Fun and Games at the Winter Wonderland Festival in Gordon’s Bay (2018-07-08) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 08 JUN 2019

Next week Friday (the 14th of June 2019) the ninth edition of Gordon’s Bay’s very own Winter Wonderland Festival kicks off with its annual evening parade – and this time we even have one of our daughters dancing in it!

Started back in 2010 by the newly launched Gordon’s Bay Business Forum as a way of attracting visitors during the quiet winter months, the festival has gone from strength to strength, morphing from an intimate collection of food trucks on the site of the old Van Riebeek Hotel and lots of fairy lights running through the milkwood trees, to the slickly run, well marketed, sprawling array of tents and fun rides that you find on the carnival weekends today.

Every year the “Carnival Park”, now situated in Hendon Park right on Gordon’s Bay’s beautiful main beach is a blast, with loads of food trucks and food stalls, virtually non-stop live music, beer, arts and crafts, family activities and just plenty of fun. That said, the highlight of the festivities as far as the kids are concerned is always the fun park set up and operated by Funland Amusements SA – their collection of fun rides is always a massive hit for the event!

This year (as it has been for the last couple of years – basically a safeguard against the whole thing being rained out entirely), the festival is spread over two carnival weekends, 14-16 and 21-23 June. And yes, obviously we are going to have just as much fun as what we did last year!

Seriously, the girls can’t wait.

Related Links: Winter Wonderland Festival | Gordon’s Bay

The Birds and the Trees of Harry Giddy Park in Mossel Bay (2018-06-29) Family Attractions | Photo Gallery 05 JUN 2019

Right as you start your entry into Mossel Bay’s old CBD, at the very top of Marsh Street on the right is a lush green haven called Harry Giddey Park (or Harry Giddy, the Internet can’t quite make up its mind), a public park with trees, running water, a bandstand, a playground, an aviary and even a couple of farmyard animals scattered about.

First laid out as Victoria Park in 1887 (complete with ornate metal gates erected in 1903 in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee), the park was later renamed as Harry Giddey Park in honour of the man who spent much of his time and money revitalizing the grounds during the early 1940’s.

The end result of all this work is a wonderfully laid out park that has a little bit of something for everyone. It has a good collection of interesting trees and plants, interesting pathways, a few bits and pieces with historical significance dotted around, the triple play of birds, animals and a small playground area as entertainment options for the kids, and then of course a lot of lawn to be enjoyed by families in search for some family down time in what is a lush green tranquil space.

(It also just happens to be the home for the Mossel Bay bowls club too).

Honestly, I’m a little surprised that it took the girls and me so long to get out and explore this little block of green on the Mossel Bay map.

And then, seeing as this was our last day in the Garden Route, in true Mossel Bay fashion the girls and I ended off our June Mossel Bay holiday by watching a whale frolic out at The Point. Perfection.

Related Link: Harry Giddey Park | Mossel Bay

Caravel and Post Office Tree at Bartolomeu Dias Museum in Mossel Bay (2018-06-26) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 01 JUN 2019

As one of the larger Western Cape museums in existence today, Mossel Bay’s Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex is a treasure trove of local cultural, Portuguese maritime, and natural history. In addition to the outside displays of the famous Post Office Tree, the Ethno-Botanical Garden, the Fountain, the Munrohoek Cottages, and the Malay Graves, the complex is also home to three distinct museums, The Granary, The Shell Museum (the largest shell museum in Africa), and the primary focal point of the complex as a whole, the Maritime Museum.

Although its history stretches back to that of about 1963, the museum complex in its current form was only really established in 1989, a direct outcome of the incredibly successful and well attended 1988 Dias Festival which celebrated the 500 year anniversary of the 1488 arrival of the first European explorer to set foot on South African soil, the highlight of the festival being the big spectacle landing of a seaworthy, life-size replica of Bartolomeu Dias’ famous caravel.

Now after dawdling through the grounds, touching everything in the garden, reading up on the historic mountain passes in The Granary, marveling at the beautiful mollusk homes in The Shell Museum, hiding under the Post Office Tree, and rolling down the sloped lawns (the kids, not me), we next traipsed over to the secret big reveal of our museum visit – the nondescript stone building marked as The Maritime Museum.

And yes, just like the surprise we ourselves as kids experienced when walking into the museum for the very first time, my girls got just as big a thrill when they entered down the stairs and walked into this:

And yes, of course we explored it.

What can I say, a visit to the museum is always a good way to spend some of that holiday free time!

Related Link: Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex | Visit Mossel Bay | Mossel Bay

Fish and Shells at The Shell Museum in Mossel Bay (2018-06-26) Historic Attractions | Photo Gallery 15 MAY 2019

The Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex in Mossel Bay consists of a number of different elements all clustered in one location. There are the outside attractions of the famous Post Office Tree, the Munro Cottages, the Ethno-Botanical Garden & Braille Trail, the Fountain and the Malay Graves, and then the main buildings namely the Granary, the Maritime Museum, and finally the Shell Museum.

The Shell Museum is an interesting little animal in that it is part aquarium, part shell museum, and part African mask museum. Housed in a building that was erected all the way back in 1902, this small museum is a wondrously colourful look into some interesting examples of aquatic life (complete with touch tank – an absolute delight for the little ones), and hosts a very nicely displayed collection of sea shells and masks – all well presented with copious amounts of interesting, informative (and quite often artistic) displays.

The museum itself is not a particularly big space (it does have two levels though), but as with any museum installation, the value that you get out of visiting is directly proportional to how long you stay and more importantly how much you read.

And if you are as curious a person as what I am, then those two usually end up being a lot longer than any of my kids like!

So nothing shellfish of me wanting to go there after all.

(Plus, it was rather nice to be able to share this museum visit experience with my folks for a change. I think the kids rather enjoyed having Granny and Grandpa tag along!)

Related Link: Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex | Visit Mossel Bay | Mossel Bay

Tea in the Park and a stroll along Sea Point Promenade in Cape Town (2018-05-01) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 01 MAY 2019

It is an absolute Cape Town institution to head out for a walk along the Sea Point Promenade. Stretching all the way from the Waterfront at Mouille Point all the way down to Sea Point, the promenade is perfect for a family outing on foot – it is free, there is loads of space, it is an healthy activity, there is a playground or two dotted along the route, and of course the views are absolutely phenomenal.

Despite all of the above, we don’t actually go for too many walks along the promenade, primarily because we don’t live particularly close to it. So on the odd occasion that we do head down that way, it’s like a little mini travel adventure.

On this particular outing in May of last year, we hopped on the route at Three Anchor Bay, strolled along past the Blue Train and the Putt Putt, turned at the Green Point Lighthouse and then ambled over for a light refreshment at Tea in the Park situated in the fabulous Green Point Urban Park.

The girls made sure to give all the playgrounds a go, we had fun with the crashing waves spilling over the promenade, and finally ended it all off by watching the kayaks set out from the protected cove of Three Anchor Bay. An absolutely perfect afternoon out!

Always nice to play tourist in the Mother City.

Related Links: Sea Point Promenade | Green Point Park | Cape Town

Hiking up the Hill at the Tygerberg Nature Reserve in Bellville (2018-04-29) Photo Gallery | Travel Attractions 30 APR 2019

Bellville’s 300 hectare large nature reserve in the form of Tygerberg Nature Reserve offers a great opportunity for locals to stretch their legs in nature without really having to go anywhere. And while it may not be a mountain, Tygerberg Hill still rises high enough to give you a great view of Cape Town, the mountain and its suburbs.

Home to around 500 different plant species, a large number of birds and a couple of small animals to be spotted, Tygerberg Hill also serves as a popular environmental education hub for local school excursions.

There are quite a couple of short trails that criss-cross all over the reserve, meaning that in theory you can put together just about any walk to suit your needs. The hill also has a trail accessible by wheelchairs, as well as a couple of simple picnic spots dotted around.

Last year Ryan, Chantelle and I went for a nice and sweaty stroll around the hill, and these are the pictures that I ended up with. (Always a good excuse for micro stopping when the going gets tough!)

Always a lovely outing.

Related Link: Tygerberg Nature Reserve | Tygerberg Hills | Bellville