Friday, 23 March 2007

South African Holiday Part 2. Saldanha - CT

Part 1 - Sydney - Saldanha
Part 3 - Cape Town
Part 4 - Pretoria - Kruger
Part 5 - Kruger Park
Part 6 - Kruger - Sydney

We landed in Cape Town on Sat 3rd March in pouring rain. We had a complete nightmare getting our hire car, and I will not be using Europcar out of CT airport again. It took us over an hour to reach the head of the queue at their office, and once we’d done the paperwork the car I’d booked was not even there and we had to stand around for another half hour! Very very unimpressed. Then we drove from the airport to my Dad’s house in Saldanha, in the still pouring rain. What with the delayed flight and the incredible wait for the car, we set off a lot later than intended. We turned up at 5 having told him 3, so he was very relieved to see us! We had a lovely evening with my Dad and my step-mom Estelle with cold meat and salads and plenty of wine until late! I tried to have an early night but Rob was having none of it since I’d kept him up the night before!

The following morning we all went for a walk on Saldanha Bay beach around mid-morning. Saldanha Bay is the largest natural anchorage in South Africa, so as you can imagine the beach goes on for some way. It is lovely white sand, quite firm underfoot, and good for walking. While we were out the clouds blew away, and it turned into a clear sunny day with a light cool breeze.

For lunch that Sunday I had arranged for us to go to The Strandloper in Langebaan which is a brilliant beach fish restaurant. It is designed to be supremely rustic, with just about everything recycled or found in the sea. You sit on rough wooden benches under awnings of fishing nets, and eat off paper plates using mussel shells as implements. There are no walls or gates, and you can wander off for a paddle in the sea at any time. Eight fish and shellfish courses are cooked centrally over a large fire, and then you line up to help yourself to as much as you like, including fresh hot bread and butter. The final course is crayfish, so you have to leave a little room! They let you bring your own drinks, and so it works out really cheap in the end.

Dad’s friends Ron and Doris joined us, and in the late afternoon I had some family pop by too: my cousin Nikki and her brand new husband Dennis, my cousin Louise, and my aunt Marieta and uncle Les. It was wonderful of them to make the effort to join us.

As the sun got low in the sky we headed home, via a scenic trip to the fishing harbour and also to a lookout over Saldanha, where Milord saw his first dassie. Then a quiet night in with a few beers where no one needed dinner.

On Monday I was awake at stupid-o-clock, and lay quietly in the dark listening to Milord's gentle snores until I heard movement. Luckily my Dad isn’t much of a sleeper and is usually up before dawn so I joined him for a coffee as the sun rose. By 9 we were on our way to Cape Town, with Dad catching a lift with us to his ship at Cape Town docks. We stopped on the way to take some postcard shots of Table Mountain, and had an early lunch with views of the mountain. After depositing Dad at the ship we navigated our way to Fresnaye and checked into a self-catering 2-bedroom flat with its own garden and pool.

I’d had great plans of us getting in some sightseeing that afternoon, but we were shattered so we found the nearest supermarket and stocked up on the essentials, and then sat in the garden with a beer or two. Richard and Shona kindly came to pick us up and we went for an early Thai dinner in town. Richard had an essay to finish that night so they couldn’t stick around, but we really appreciated them making time for us. We finished our day in the huge free standing bath with a cold bottle of wine ;-).

Part 3 - Cape Town

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