TOUR REPORT – OLD YEAR TOUR-2017
30th December ’17 – 1st January ’18
Nineteen of us were eager to board the coach on Saturday 30th December headed to Saldanha, and the Blue Bay Lodge which was to be our home for two nights! Two short stops and we were there – we were shown into the Lapa upon arrival, for our first lunch on the property. It was a hot day but at least in the lapa there was a cool breeze blowing!
After consuming mussels and farm baked bread – cooked before us in huge potjies – (some of us even had an extra slice of the bread with the sauce in which the mussels had been cooked – yummy!!) – a few had burgers. We were all then shown to our rooms. Time to unpack and chill and enjoy being away. A few took a stroll on the beach in front of the hotel; some sat at the bar and had a cool drink (many commented on the ‘double gin’ special! – Should we really have decided on this??).
The Blue Bay Lodge has a 3 star rating and we believe the accommodation and service exceeds this.
Unfortunately (maybe fortunately) we do not all have the same opinions.
There were a few complaints that the rooms were too small, limited sea view, no air conditioning, no bar fridges to house their own refreshments, limited head room, uncomfortable beds etc.
By 6.00pm we were all back on the coach headed to Alegria restaurant in St Helena Bay which is about ½ hour away. Of course, in the Western Cape the sun at this time of the year is still quite high in the sky and we were looking forward to watching the sun set over the sea at the restaurant. However, we worked out that the sun actually set ‘behind-the-Restaurant’ – disappointment yet the almost full-moon on the water made up for this!
Our food orders went into the kitchen of a very busy restaurant. A few complaints that the food took over an hour to be served but, there was much conversation and laughter at the tables which made the time fly bye! Nearly half of the group enjoyed the seafood pasta which proved to be a good choice; whilst others enjoyed calamari or steaks. The Dom Pedro’s were also popular as a dessert and by 10.00pm we were on the coach headed back to Saldanha.
Next morning, with a late start for the last day of the year and a good breakfast – we all headed to Paternoster by 10.00am! Nearing the little coastal town, it was quite overcast, and it was decided to visit the Tietiesbaai Reserve just outside town! Only 4 of the group decided to stay in town and ‘shop’ or browse the little shops. The Tietiesbaai reserve has such a wonderful natural feel about it! What a treat to drive through this beautiful area and see how many people had made this place their home for the long weekend! (Camping and caravaning along the coastline – what a beautiful country we all live in for sure!)
We stopped at the SeeKombuis restaurant to show everyone this unique area on the beach where the main seating areas are set up in disused boats.
General consensus was, (and not a decision taken by the organisers, as felt by some who stayed in Paternoster!), that we should stay at SeeKombuis for lunch, which proved to be delicious – snoek pate, oysters, toasted sandwiches and something to drink and an hour later we were ready to leave and head back into Paternoster! Some then browsed the little shops; some bought an ice cream (in fact, by now temperatures must have been in the high 20’s); and by 2.30pm we all headed back to Saldanha.
We stopped for a group photo at an old windmill along the road – a good place to stop! A good laugh about being “Moer toe-Gepomp”! (Totally finished!) or believe what you will in the direct translation from Afrikaans to English.
Time to chill at Blue Bay Lodge when we arrived back in Saldanha at about 3.30pm. After all, we had a long night ahead of us all!
We all met in the bar for a pre-dinner drink before the Arabian Night dinner started. A 3 course dinner with starters being Pita breads with hummus and brinjal dip; Falafel with tzatziki and Bobotie spring rolls with mango chutney; Mains were West coast style braai snoek with garlic butter and apricot jam and sirloin steaks served with roasted potatoes wedges with garlic butter & rosemary; and braai seasonal vegetables skewers with balsamic and olive oil. Dessert was a plated Strawberry panacota with berry coulis.
Generally, the comments about the food were good but there were some “excellent”, “average” and some “not good at all”.
Then the party moved into the courtyard area where the Arabian theme was carried on! Many people were given cushions to sit on around low tables; our group had been given tables and chairs to sit at. Wonder why? But being comfortable, we all started to enjoy the evening and very soon everyone was on the floor dancing – wonderful way to see the New Year in!
At 11.00pm the belly dancer arrived – somewhat disappointed that she performed through two very short music slots and disappeared – we could have had more of her performance! However, after the count-down at midnight, the fire dancer proved to be excellent, together with the local fireworks around the bay (and many flares); good wishes flowed! After this we all ‘had to have’ our last few dances and the disco finished at 12.30pm……..after a glass of champagne everyone ‘called-it-a-night’ and headed to rooms for our first sleep of 2018!
Breakfast on 1st January was a very leisurely affair – with us waiting for staff to take our luggage to the coach – only to discover the reason that they had not yet done this, was the fact that ladies still had their keys in the breakfast room with them! This after being told the previous night to check out – and hand in your keys at reception! Nothing daunted, however, we still managed to check out of Blue Bay Lodge by 10h00 and headed down to Club Mykonos for our Catamaran cruise with Elite Charters.
What a bother this proved to be to get into the resort – ZERO communication between Elite Charters and Security about our group arriving and being ‘allowed’ to enter the resort and go down to the dock area! We had 20 minutes of frustration – oh my goodness ‘bureaucracy’!
Eventually we paid Elite Charters for the 10 people and we headed down to the catamaran! What a spoil trip this proved to be. It was fabulous to be on the water at the start of a New Year and we heard snippets from the crew how they had been on board the catamaran the previous night with a group of party revelers until 4.00am on New Years Day! To chat to them about the involvement of NSRI even on the lagoon waters was comforting too! A very delightful hour was spent on the waters of the Langebaan lagoon! Brian tried to stow away on the boat for their next trip which was a 3 hour braai cruise, heading for Kraalbaai in the West Coast National Park, via the lagoon.
We then headed to the Langebaan Country Club (where after being incorrectly directed by Google Maps and finding we were ‘mislead’, we arrived 30 minutes late – a distance which according to Google which would take us 10 minutes!! Lesson learnt – don’t always trust Google!!)
The Langebaan Country Club is in a beautiful position – overlooking the golf course with the lagoon in the background! Orders were taken and over an hour later our food arrived – which was a bit frustrating and, yet another lesson learnt – “Don’t give a group of 19 too many choices!” Had we all enjoyed a choice of only maybe 2 items, the chef in the kitchen would have been able to produce the meals far quicker! All told, however, everyone enjoyed their lunch! Delicious food, beautifully served!
Arrived in Bloubergstrand to yet another blistering South Easter, and very soon our guests were all in the correct combis heading for their homes.
And now we welcome the new year.
Full of things that have never been.
Rainer Maria Rilke