TOUR REPORT – OLD YEAR 2018
30 December 2018- 02 January 2019
On the 30th December Fourteen of us headed from the Airport holding bay en route to Robertson to celebrate the end-of-2018. In fact, thirteen ladies who were very capably looked after by Brian! Our route took us along the R300 and joined the N1 heading through the Du Toitskloof Tunnel. Always a spectacular road through the tunnel with those imposing mountains on the one side of the road. A short stop just outside Worcester to pick up a coffee and once again, we were on-the-road.
Second stop found us at the beautiful Van Loveren Wine Estate just outside Robertson. A table had been booked for lunch at Christina’s, but as we were a bit early for lunch, a few groups were formed, and wine tasting was enjoyed. A few walking around the beautiful gardens. The Van Loveren farm has been in the family since 1937. Hennie Retief (Senior’s) father bought this land which previously formed part of a large farm known as Goudmyn (Gold Mine) – so named due to the large sum of money paid for the farm. This farm was divided into 9 farms and Hennie started farming on Goudmyn F. Hennie married Jean van Zyl – she did not like the name GOUDMYN F as she believed the ‘F’ stood for “Fools and Failures” Many years later Christina Van Loveren married one of the Van Zyl’s and she persuaded Hennie van Zyl to rename the farm and it was called Van Loveren.
I guess this connection to Christina is why their restaurant is named CHRISTINAS and it is a 5* venue in the beautiful garden. Traveltime has chosen this restaurant many times and never been disappointed. The service is par excellence; food delicious; and the entire area is cooled down in summer with a superb mist spray!
The temperature back at the coach was 38 degrees and we resumed our journey into Robertson, to our two accommodation establishments – GUBAS DE HOEK & PETAL’S PLACE, both in Reitz Street. Everyone was shortly roomed and after unpacking enjoyed the swimming pools at both guest houses.
Dinner at 19h00 was at BOURBON SOCIAL – a restaurant where Traveltime also regularly has enjoyed very good meals. Unfortunately, the restaurant was not full, but food delays made for an uncomfortable wait and dissatisfaction among those at the table! Dissatisfaction was levered at management that night, but only the next day it was discovered that the manager had resigned (this explains why our comments seemed to be ignored!) SO sad in today’s times when all restaurants should be on-their-toes with service to patrons!
The last day of 2018 dawned and we had an appointment at the OWLS REST & LAVENDER FARM in the Klaasvoogds area just outside Robertson. We met Trish and Hedley who in the short space of two years, have turned this farm around and is very worthy of a guided tour! Hedley has a wealth of knowledge on his tour, and it is most enjoyable.
After this we headed down to VILJOENSDRIFT on the Breede River for our lunchtime barge cruise of 50 minutes. Our group were divided into teams of two (Find-a-buddy) and each team went into the deli to choose their lunch which was packed for us and available when our cruise was over. Lovely fresh farm deli food – and it was interesting to see what each team had chosen!
Temperature post-lunch was in the low 40’s, and everyone headed to either their beds for a short zzz or to the pool, again.
At 18h30 we all met again at GUBAS DE HOEK (Meet, Eat and Sleep) and sat in the shade, enjoying a welcoming drink (Fresh pineapple / bubbly and a tot of vodka). It was just our group and another family of four celebrating Old Year together. We enjoyed dinner of Salmon Trout Fillet pan-fried with black pepper and Raspberry vinaigrette. This was followed by Main course of Beef Fillet with Dijon red-wine sauce, green beans, and a tomato and potato gratin. Delicious, and we were all pleased when Balbina announced the Robertson Brass Band had arrived and we were then entertained for about 45 minutes. This band formed in 2003 has mostly young teenager boys and was very enjoyable. So much so, that it didn’t take too long and a few of our ladies were up-and-dancing to their beat!
They sang Happy Birthday to Carol Williams and the two Carols joined the band on the stage whilst they serenaded her! Memorable!
We then enjoyed a Chocolate mousse with Amarula and fresh mangoes. Collen, one of the guest house personnel then entertained us – what a beautiful voice he has! Very enjoyable listening to him render amongst others Amazing Grace; happy Birthday (again to Carol) and a few other well-known South African songs! This brought us to about 22h00 and sadly the evening seemed to come-to-a-close.
Our format on previous Old Year tours has always been to stay up until the clock strikes midnight! Sadly, as we started a tad too early our evening faded! By 22h30 many of our group decided to settle in for the night, (mind you the extreme heat did make everyone tired!). Only two of our ladies – Ingrid and Marie sat up until midnight and the next morning I envied them for this!
On New Years Day we enjoyed a later breakfast at 09h15 and it was decided to take a drive through to Montagu where we did a drive-around town to their Ibis Bird sanctuary (what is the plural of IBIS had some weird connotations) ; their lovely pedestrian bridge; then we headed to another favourite of ours – MONTAGU COUNTRY HOTEL where they SO willingly accommodated our group after a VERY LATE evening the night before, and served us all lovely drinks under the trees!
We had pre-arranged a braai for the group with Wendi and Gary at PETAL’S PLACE – we arrived there at 15h30 and very shortly after this their pool began to overflow with HOT ladies! What fun we all had in the pool – playing ‘tag’ ‘Marco Polo’ and other games! (Reminiscent of our youth). A delicious South African braai with Chicken kebabs (done beautifully); Lamb Chops (cooked with crisp fat!!); and Boerewors with Braai Sarmies and salad. A delicious caramel tart with ice cream followed – a superb way to start the New Year – thanks to our hosts!
The Second of January dawned, and we were all packed for the journey home – first stop was Affie Plaas outside Robertson where some ‘gathering’ was done! Next stop was ZANDVLIET outside Ashton, where the group enjoyed the art gallery and a gin tasting (either a BLUE GIN or a PINK GIN!). This is a superb product and the tasting was a lovely, relaxing way to spend ¾ of an hour!
We then travelled the road from Ashton to Swellendam and a stop was made at the LA MONT DELI (also part of Van Loveren) where delicious cheeses were purchased.
An early lunch was enjoyed at LA BELLE ALLIANCE in Swellendam where by the time we arrived it was raining! They quickly re-set us tables inside and we all enjoyed our LAST-MEAL together!
The tour was a great success due to your planning, organization, attention to detail and the loving care you show to all. The relaxed atmosphere you create right from the beginning makes everyone feel at ease and immediately gel with each other.