This November tour was planned to expose the West Coast and more importantly it’s people!
The group were individually collected from their homes and met in Sunningdale from where we set out on our trip up the R27.
Our first stop was !Kwa Ttu – Cultural Village & Education Center, where we were initially directed to a small lecture room where a guide briefed us about the San people, their language and habits. We then moved to an open vehicle which initially didn’t want to start! After opening the engine cover and “jiggling” the accelerator link he was able to get it started and we headed up the hill, with much merriment from all, about the heat and having to walk back if he was unable to get the vehicle started again. We were given a very good talk about recognizing paw prints which was followed by a talk in the kraal where San people rituals were described. After an hour we re-boarded the vehicle, which fortunately did start and we were taken to the restaurant for refreshments and lunch.
By 14h30 we were all aboard our coach and heading for Paternoster. On arrival we set out to introduce everyone to their respective accommodation for the following 3 nights. First stop was to take 7 guests to “As It Is In Heaven” – 3 ladies to “Le Chaim”; and 6 of us stayed at “Oppie Draai A and B”. All houses were well equipped – some with excellent sea views and some with a partial sea view.
Amanda Jones (who Carol had met in Nieuwoudtville in August this year) prepared a gourmet feast for us for dinner at “As it is in Heaven”. The table had been beautifully decorated by some of Amanda’s friends from Paternoster with delicate pale pink Statice and gorgeous white candles.
Whilst we all settled in for drinks, Amanda and her helper prepared the evening meal which comprised Green Pea and Mint Soup served cold ; Whole fillet which had been flame grilled to perfection on the braai and served with a creamy mushroom and pepper sauce; Parsley mashed potatoes; roasted vegetables and a green salad; Dessert was a pavlova with delicious fresh fruit.
Everyone was very relaxed in this beautiful home and our evening was more special by the restful music which Brian had selected for us in advance.
We had arranged to have all additional meals “out” so on Wednesday morning at 9h00 our group was ready to have breakfast at the delightful Mondvol Road Stall on the Trekkoskraal road. Unfortunately, the 10km along the gravel road was uncomfortable due to the many corrugations along the way (a real bone shaker).
This was quickly forgotten once Alex and Charmaine served up a delicious breakfast – Some had fresh fruit yoghurt and toast and the cherry-on-the-top seemed to be their breakfast mug – which comprised which was egg/bacon/mushroom and tomato in an enamel mug, all baked in the oven! “A unique experience for sure” said Ivan.
Unfortunately we had to return along the corrugated road, direction Lamberts Bay for lunch at a renowned eatery on the beach. The road to Muisbosskerm seemed awfully long – it only ended up being just over 140km which should have been done in just over an hour and a half. It ended up taking us nearly 2 and a half hours to reach the restaurant – sand roads ; a windy twisty road and we were all so ready to relax beside the sea and enjoy the multi-courses which keep appearing. This is slow-eating at its best. Brian kept us all informed about which food course was being served.
By 3.30 pm everyone was back in the coach and since no-one was keen to view the gannets on bird island, we ended up back in Paternoster by 5.45 pm after a brief shopping experience in Lamberts Bay.
Back “home” again there was time for a brief rest and then Carol headed to Le Chaim where with the help of a few ladies and Woolworths, set up a cheese and biscuit table which we all tucked into. By 9.00 everyone was very ready to crawl into their beds and enjoy a good night’s rest.
Breakfast on Thursday was at Café Graze in Vredenburg. Unfortunately their service did not match Mondvol but the ladies ‘discovered’ the shops nearby and many Christmas presents were bought. Fortunately the breakfast was worth the wait.
On our way to our next stop, Veldrif, Theresa discovered an unknown bracelet on her arm and realized with horror that it was one she had tried on and had forgotten to replace on the rack before leaving the shop. Shoplifting?! Theresa insisted that we return to Vredenburg on our way back to Paternoster so that she could return the bracelet.
In Veldrif, Khoisan Salt took us on a guided tour of their salt works. We all had to don protective hair nets before entering the factory and this was greeted with much laughter and embarrassment. Brian and Ivan felt some of their methods were antiquated, and this proved to be the case when leaving their shop as they have only one lady who has to hand-write a slip for each purchase, pack the goods and collect the money! It took ‘forever’.
We then dropped into Quench Jewellers in St Helena Bay where Ryno Spenses’ tills rang merrily………Dion Opperman who produces all sorts of home goodies from recycled newspaper @ Tougomkrant also very warmly welcomed the ladies. It is genuine people like Ryno and Dion which create the unique atmosphere of the West Coast!
Lunch was delightful at Alegria Restaurant in St Helena Bay. Everyone chose a starter portion of either mussels in a creamy sauce ; Patagonica’s (calamari imported from the Falklands) ; Sardinahs Assadas and Chourico with Milho Frito (which is fried maize meal) – all meals served with delicious Portuguese bread and equally delicious salads. We were all back in Paternoster early enough to have an afternoon ‘zzzzz’ which was most welcome!
Dinner tonight was at Reubens based in Abalone House. After a pre-dinner drink in their lounge we were all ready to enjoy our starter (Double baked cheese soufflé or prawn salad), mains (braised lamb shoulder or a beef fillet) seemed to be popular choices! We ended up leaving Reubens well after 10h30 – another good evening of fun and laughter!
We had tried to arrange a tour of the local crayfish factory but unfortunately the owner had not received his annual fishing permit by the time the season opened on 20th November , so had no stock. However, many of us ordered the locally farmed Kabeljou which was great to take home!
Lunch was at the Oep ve Koep Restaurant where Kobus introduced his menu and then served us a very different lunch. Starters were white fish pickle served with summer ice plant, citrus and fennel. Main course was Kabeljou with garden herbs, mussels and gooseberries, heaven bone and dune spinach and dessert was Fynboswyn Sabajonie – delightful wine based ice cream with apple ganache. All round everyone said a great way to end our tour in Paternoster and meeting all its unique personalities.
Ever heard the Proverb?
“Good company makes short miles”
We traveled over 700 km in 4 days but each kilometer was delightful and memorable.