2019 SPRING FLOWER TOUR REPORT
2nd – 6th September 2019
The 2nd September dawned with a lovely clear sky and 13 excited passengers were ready to explore the West Coast and enjoy the splendour of Spring. Meeting point was the new Blaauwberg Beach Hotel and we had 5 of our passengers staying in the hotel. Shuttles brought the rest of the travellers and we headed off at just after 09h00.
First stop today was the West Coast National Park and what beauty awaited us. The Postberg section never fails to show its beauty at this time of the year. However, we always have a coffee/tea break at Tsaarbank is one of the highlights of the trip – who can argue that enjoying a cup of coffee and a rusk in these awesome surroundings is fabulous!
Within Postberg there was much to see and many photographs to take! The flowers are at their best after recent good rains in the Western Cape. We drove up to the look out point looking over Langebaan and Saldanha and then eventually made our way down to Plankiesbaai where our picnic baskets were unloaded, and everyone found a place on a rock to enjoy the enormous picnic supplied by the Blaauwberg Beach Hotel! So much food that we battled to finish all – oh well, rather this than to be under supplied!
Late afternoon and we checked into our various accommodation establishments – Darling Lodge Guest House; Maison de L’Amour; Disa Cottage and Just Darling. There was nowhere big enough in Darling to house the 14 people on tour! (Petrus and Carol then scoured town to find people worthy of the left-overs of our picnic lunch and we were satisfied that many people had joy from this!)
Early evening saw us heading down to Just Darling where Lynette and Willem had prepared a dinner par excellence! The garden also had so many beautiful features – a huge bowl of Arums welcomed us; a fire pit burning in the evening provided a bit of warmth and atmosphere; and we were all offered a welcome drink of a sweet wine (to ward off the chill); and settled down to enjoy starters which were a Greek Salad on a stick; and ciabatta with Darling mushrooms. Very soon Lynette announced that we could go to table and she had turned her guest house into a gourmet experience serving us all (with the help of Willem at his unique flat braai) – Deboned leg of Lamb with Lemon/Rosemary sauce; Rump steak sliced with Chimmichirri Sauce; Roast chicken thighs and sautéed vegetables – a meal ‘fit-for-a-king’ indeed. Dessert was a Baked Phyllo custard tart with Orange syrup and cheese and biscuits followed!
A fabulous evening and at the end of the evening it was like saying good-bye to ‘Old Friends’ – such fabulous hospitality.
Tuesday morning and today the day was earmarked to spend time in Darling. We were most fortunate to have the services of Helene Preston well known in wildflower circles who took us walk-about in a flower reserve on the hill pointing out exotic flowers which she gave us the botanical names. Many of the Darling flowers were named by Helene’s mom and a friend many years ago! After this we headed down to Evita se Perron and ‘just-had-to get’ to Darling Sweet to purchase their toffees and soft caramels!
Lunch was fabulous – a platter lunch in the wine cellar at Ormonde Wine Cellar! Their platters are the best available in the Western Cape – amongst others seasonally they are offering Waterblommetjie tarts with delicious local cheese; charcuterie; pecan tarts and fruit. What a spoil!
After lunch we headed to the flower reserve on the Duckitt Orchid property – the arums are fabulous, and many photographs were taken. We then drove out to Darling Cellars for more photographs of Arums and Canola – such a fabulous combination!
Dinner tonight was at the Old Forge Bar which sadly was extremely slow! The restaurant was not full, yet we waited nearly an hour for our meal which at the end of a long day is tiring to say the least! Food was delicious when it arrived but a bit annoying!
On Wednesday after breakfast we headed away from Darling to the Blue Bay Lodge in Saldanha. Before checking in we went in search of Pink Flowers near Aurora! Quite a mission as we ended up on a gravel road for what seemed like ages and found NO pink flowers. Thankfully Carol remembered that Evert and Marais previously of Die Rooi Granaat of Yzerfontein had moved to Aurora! What a find – we battled to find them with streets not being well marked at all. However, after a phone call Marais walked up to the main road and waved at us with such a welcoming greeting and invited us into their NEW Rooi Granaat – (which incidentally was not officially open on a Wednesday) – however, they quickly made coffee and tea and a delightful Windsor tea cake with Chantilly cream. What a treat AND they told us where to find the Pink Flowers just outside Aurora ON A TAR ROAD!
Lunch today was at Charlies Brewhouse and delicious Caesar Salads; Fish and chips; West Coast Mussels were served in record time! After this we headed down to Bokkom Laan where those who ventured out of the coach had the privilege of meeting Dante of Survivor (The TV Programme) fame! Coffee was enjoyed at his Columbine and Co coffee shop.
We then checked into the Blue Bay Lodge and enjoyed their view over a pre-drink dinner. Dinner was in-house tonight which was great as our beds were close after the meal.
Thursday dawned and it was Ingrid’s birthday – nothing wrong with eating a piece of wicked chocolate cake for breakfast! (You don’t do it every day, Ingrid) After this we headed to Hopefield initially dropping 4 of our party at the West Coast Fossil Park for the 11h00 tour. The rest of us had fun in the flower fields outside Hopefield taking photographs; spent time at Simply bee on a guided tour and eventually made our way to Hello for lunch! What a fabulous lunch Ilze and her staff served us – could compete with any of the top Cape Town restaurants in terms of presentation and far better service than what we endure in the city! A short gathering of crystals and other items in Langebaan and after this we headed back to Blue Bay lodge.
At 18h00 we were driving back into Langebaan to enjoy dinner at Kokomo on the beach. Delicious food served quickly had everyone satisfied – and when Steve said, “Hey it’s our last night – we need to have a jol”! showed me that indeed he had enjoyed the tour!
Friday morning and it was decided to leave the Lodge at 08h30 to make the most of the day ahead. Paternoster was our venue today – they have road works but luckily en-route into the town we hit the stop-and-goes at the right time. We headed for a drive through town and then went down to the Crayfish Wharf where believe-it-or-not there were a few whales in town. Fascinating to watch the kayaks and the whales – a great experience.
Then some went for a walk; some enjoyed coffee; some went shopping and eventually we all joined up at the Voorstrandt restaurant where we had fabulous position overlooking the sea to enjoy our last meal together.
As the tour drew to a close a final evaluation was that Traveltime had managed to show them what we set out to do – the fabulous flowers in Spring coupled with meeting many locals of the West Coast which at the end of the day makes a tour so special. Thank you for joining us on this tour!