Valencia, Spain

We’ll soon be off on our next trip to Spain. So keep an eye on the blog for any updates ..

 

 

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Safari Sunday

We drove to Port Elizabeth to return our hire car, then got a transfer to the Amakhala Game Reserve. We had a great taxi driver called Mana. He was originally from Zimbabwe and he chatted to Mark about tourism and english football. He was such a happy guy and made our journey so entertaining. At Amakhala, we were greeted by Monique who showed us to our safari tent. It was along a very long wooden ramp, a good 10 minute walk from the main lodge house.

After a light lunch in the lodge, we went on an afternoon game drive. We saw giraffes eating leaves from the trees, a cheetah with her four cubs sitting majestically in the long grass and then an elephant rolling around in an empty water hole. Fantastic.

We had dinner with a young swiss couple, Daniel & Sandra. They talked about their travels, cheese and chocolate! Sandra loved the Shiraz, but I managed not to get drunk.

Day 10 Mooselbaii & Knysna

After another delightful breakfast at de Opstal Lodge, we packed up and headed off, forgetting our credit card when checking out and having to return after driving for 10mins. Luckily our travel agent called us on Mark’s new sim, so we avoided a tricky situation.

 

We went to Mooselbaii, enjoyed the fabulous , virtually empty beach. We had a beer at the Point and ran into hoards of bikers. It must have been some kind of convention. The drive to Knyzna was really nice with beautiful valleys, mountains and rivers. We parked up and walked around the marina and found a nice restaurant with first floor tables overlooking the boats and boardwalk. I had a warm grilled chicken, bacon and avo salad, Mark had fish. They also served cocktails, so I had a pina colada in the sunshine.

Next stop, Hogs Hollow.. just wow 😀

I can’t upload pictures at the moment, so I’ll try posting something on facebook. The african bush just spilled over into the distance. Lush green trees and rolling hills, with the mountains as a reddish backdrop. Simply stunning.

We were greeted by staff who offered us complimentary drinks and offered to sit on comfy sofas on the Bomo Deck. They brought over our checking in papers so we could complete them at our leisure whilst drinking our tea and being blown away by the location.

Next, we were shown to our suite. I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. It was like something you see in magazines, yet there we were, our home for the next few days.

After a swim in the cool pool, we showered and went for canapes and pre-dinner drinks on the Bomo Deck. Then we went in to dinner, sitting at a big, communal table. We chatted to other guests and had a very nice meal of black bean and vegetable soup, pork loin then a berry cheesecake with homemade ice cream. We made friends with a german couple (just back from safari) and a couple from Cambridge who had only arrived in SA a few hours before. Also, there was a guy called Phil. His wife was feeling poorly, so he came to dinner on his own. Everyone was friendly and chatty. However, we only managed to stay up til eleven as everyone was feeling tired. Photos to follow..

 

Day 9 Ostriches in Oudtshoorn

Last night, we went into town with two other couples from de Opstal Country Lodge. The Black Swan was recommended so we were prepared for a feast. I started with creamy mussels followed by rump steak. It was incredible. Mark had belly of pork to start, then curried chicken. Everyone at our table loved their food and we had a really nice evening chatting and laughing.

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Today we went to breakfast in the grounds of de Opstal Country Lodge. The staff were very attentive, toasting our bread and refilling our coffee. There was an old wooden cart parked in the dining room and chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Hopefully, I’ll be able to post photos once we get to somewhere with a stronger internet connection.

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Next we headed off on a tour of the ostrich farm. Dressed in PPE, we went into a cooler room and handled eggs (1.5kg), then to incubation rooms where the eggs begin to hatch. We saw one still curled up in half a shell. It still needed to be dried off before it could come out, so he went back in to the shelves upon shelves of warm eggs.

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The chicks in the next room were lively and cute. I had a little cuddle with one before heading out to a small holding to see ‘mum and dad’ with all their 2month chicks (about 40) running around a huge enclosure. As they grow, their cuteness disappears, but they are such fascinating creatures and life in Oudtshoorn seems to suit them.

We’re now back at de Opstal and deciding on how we’ll spend the rest of the day 😃

We decided to go to the Canga Caves. Here we were treated to beautiful underground caves, amazing formations and acoustics. Very inpressive. There was also the option to do adventure caving and extreme, but we wanted to do some more stuff later, so took the standard tour.

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Next, we drove through the Swartsberg Pass. Unmade roads, clinging to the mountain sides. It was intense, scary and exhilarating. Mark drove so I just clung onto my seat and held my breath for an hour! It was roughly 30km of bumpy, noisy track.  We found Prins Albert which was an historic town with watermills, windmill and showroom dance hall. We had coffee then took the 168 km journey back around the mountain using a very nice, flat, smooth road.

Goats and the Garden Route

Day 8. We left the Protea Hotel in Franschhoek after breakfast and drove the whole Garden Route in 4.5 hours, non-stop. There were a lot of mountains and not much else. We did see a shanty town, a field of goats, some ostriches roaming around and the occasional car and motorbike. Luckily, it was cloudy so we kept cool and alert. Some of those bends around the mountains were quite hair-raising. But we made it and found the De Ostal Country Lodge with ease.

The grounds here are so pretty, with beautiful flowers, pomegranate and lime trees. The gardens have windy stone footpaths, with a sparkling pool nestled under trees and so many lush plants and birds. An oasis.

 

 

 

Day 5 Garden Mall and Market

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Morning swim in the pool

 

I bought a 16G memory card from the Garden Shopping Mall. It was not as impressive as the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The blog is now much easier to work on my phone.

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Mark in the market

We then went to the Oranjezicht City Farm Market at Granger Bay. It was a very pretty place in big marques and wood chip scattered on the floor. It mainly catered for vegetarians, gluten free and the health conscious. Very trendy with lots of choice for street food and produce. We had lamb wraps and berry smoothies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beach Buddies

Day 5

After our amazing time on top of Table Mountain, we headed for the beach. Here we befriended a couple of guys with their dogs. Maurice was originally from Spain and Paul was from Zimbabwe. They had been in Cape Town for 7 years, but were planning on setting up a hotel business in Spain. They had 2 gorgeous doggies. Then along came their friends and it became a beach party! They were all so friendly and gave us good advice. I love the fact they meet on the beach at the end of the day. It’s a great way to wind down.

Later, we went out for Korean food. It was delicious and the service in The Seoul Restaurant was fantastic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Table Mountain

To say it is hot now is a slight understatement. It’s scorching.

We came here in Autumn to avoid the really hot weather, but surprisingly it has gone from forceful winds to sweltering heat. Apparently, that is quite normal here!

So, we queue to buy tickets for the cable car that takes you up the last part of the mountain. It’s either that or a two hour climb to the top. It’s R255 each for a return. Talking to others, the climb up is very hard going, but the climb down is even harder. I’m glad we decided to take the cable car. We were planning on going up by foot, but the heat today would have made it unbearable for me. It’s 1085m above sea level.

The cableway has been operating since 1929. It has a rotating floor and travels at 10meters per second.

The top was stunning. Mark loved the lizards and the small mammals (Dassie). He scared me a few times by balancing on rocks near the edge, stumbling once or twice ‘for fun’.

We met Brian, an ex-sports coach from Stratford. Funnily enough, he had previously taught at St Gregory’s in TWells. Small world. Brian had bought a flat in Cape Town 12 years ago for £15k. Great buy. He’d been travelling for the last 8 months and SA was his last stop.  He decided to travel as his kids had left home, oh and so did his wife!

Peninsula Part III

We went on to visit the Botanical Garden where the wind had dropped and temperatures soared to 32°C.

I can’t upload any photos at the moment, so I’ll get myself a new mobile chip and work from that. Got it.. now here’s some images.

We also spent the evening in the pool and watched a very beautiful African sunset.  We’re both feeling incredibly lucky to be here.

Day 3 Peninsula Tour Part II

So, we’ve been to the southern most point and been blown away in the strong winds. Now for some lunch..

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We got talking to some other Brits from Canterbury, then walked around town and bought myself a little african bag for my travels R60, about £4.

Heading to Boulders Beach in search of African Penguins..

 

It was amazing. Hundreds of tiny penguins on a sandy beach. We took lots of pictures, but nothing could capture the natural beauty of seeing them in their natural environment. From just two breeding pairs in 1982, the colony has grown to over two thousand. However, the African penguin, previously known as the Jackass Penguin due to their donkey-like braying call,  is listed as an endangered species.

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