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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Honeymoon in South Africa Travel Journal

Welcome to the travel journal of my honeymoon in South Africa.

On this trip we visited Cape Town, then flew to Port Elizabeth for a safari in the Eastern Cape. We then hired a car and drove along the garden route visiting Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Mossel Bay and Hermanus. Finally we spend a relaxing 3 days in the wine region of Franschhoek.


Monkey in a tree, South Africa

Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and the Elephants
Mossel Bay and African Oceans Guesthouse Review
Hermanus -Day 1
Hermanus - Day 2
Franschhoek and Review of the Garden House

Hope you enjoy my South Africa travel journal, hotel reviews and photos and have a great trip to South Africa if you are going there yourself :-) I highly recommend it for a holiday or a honeymoon.


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Friday, January 4, 2008

Franschhoek & a Review of the Garden House (Nov 11th)

Today didn't start so well - one of my lovely nails fell off - I caught it in the bathroom door. Argh! :-(

We had a nice breakfast of fruit salad followed by poached eggs on toast with venison sausage and then started our journey to Franschhoek, a short drive away.

We took the coastal route past Betty's Bay and saw lots of fabulous scenery along the way. Here is a photo of one of the views:


Lovely view along the coast, Western Cape
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We stopped in a place called Somerset West, just outside Cape Town to visit a shopping mall and had a look around the shops and a coffee, then continued our drive to Franschhoek, stopping in Stellenbosch along the way.

Stellenbosch was a pleasant university town surrounded with lots of greenery, hills and vinyards. We had a bit of a drive around town, got lost and then found a vineyard with a nice garden area and stopped for a spot of lunch and a glass of vino.

The scenery here is beautiful - lots of rolling slopes covered in vines and lots of hills, trees and flowers.

We arrived in Franschhoek in the early afternoon and checked into our guesthouse - The Garden House



The Garden House, Franschhoek



The garden house is very central - just a few minutes walk from the village. We began our stay in style with a glass of vino on the verandah with Annette and her two dogs Noodle and Benjy.

The Garden House & Franschhoek turned out to be one of the highlights of our stay in South Africa.

Here is a short review of the garden house...

The accomodation is a lovely cottage in the garden, with a very tastefully decorated large bedroom, a bathroom to die for with a huge tub and walk in shower, plus a his 'n' hers sink. Here is a photo of the bedroom:



Our room at The Garden House, Franschhoek
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and the fabulous bathroom...



Bathroom at The Garden House, Franschhoek
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The room also has a seating area, a fridge with complimentary drinks and lots of books and info on the area.

The owners Annette and Barry are originally from England and are lovely friendly people. They are both full of knowledge of the local area and really helped us to have a fantastic stay there.

We shared a glass of vino or two with them on the verandah over the course of our stay.

The garden is also very pretty with lots of flowers, a nice decent sized swimming pool and great views of the hills.


Garden and pool at The Garden House, Franschhoek
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Breakfast here was also a very pleasant change from the bacon and eggs. We had fresh fruit, yoghurt and granola, warm croissants, cheeses and smoked trout - very tasty!

This afternoon we didn't do much. Had a wander round Franschhoek village, which is very nice with lots of shops, restuarants, vineyards and fantastic scenery.

Dinner this evening was at Le Bon Vivant and was lovely. I had a prawn starter followed by springbok, which was very nicely presented. Stuart had a springbok starter followed by beef and I finished off my meal with a dessert called the "Ultimate Chocoholic", which consisted of chocolate souffle, white chocolate ice cream and a couple of other chocolate delights.

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hermanus Day 2 (Nov10th)

Today was a lovely relaxing day. After nearly two weeks of eating fat boy's breakfasts I managed to control myself and just ate some fruit and toast. We took a walk along the cliff path into the centre of Hermanus and spotted a few whales along the way. The weather had turned back to sunny and warm and we just spent the morning wandering along different bits of the cliff path and round Hermanus itself.


View of the area surrounding Hermanus
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We also saw the town's "whale crier" who walks around Hermanus blowing his horn in a specific way depending on where he has spotted whales. Hermanus is the only place in the world that employs a full time whale crier.


Whale Crier of Hermanus
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Hermanus is one of the world's top 12 land based whale spotting places in the world and it is easy to see why. We spotted a whale showing its tail, swimming or jumping out of the water hundreds of times during our stay.


Whale Breaching, Hermanus
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We went to a lovely restaurant called Lemon Butta for our lunch and managed to get a seat next to a huge window overlooking the sea. The lunch was very tasty and very good value, working out at less than £20 between us for around twenty pieces of sushi (tuna, prawn and crab), a large salad and two glasses of sparkling wine each. Typically the best whale spotting moment of the day happened when I went to visit the bathroom and Stuart saw a whale "cartwheeling across the bay"!

We spent the rest of the afternoon just wandering around Hermanus, looking at a few shops, walking along the cliff path and just enjoying the sunshine and the whale spotting. We even spotted a few Dassies, which are like big guinea pigs:


Dassies on the cliff path in Hermanus
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In the evening we decided to just have some food on our patio as we were feeling a little sick of eating out all the time, believe it or not! We ate some smoked trout, salad, crackers and cheese washed down with a bottle of Cap Classique. Hopefully this will give us more room to enjoy all the restaurants that we booked in Franschhoek.



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Overall I have really enjoyed Hermanus - it is a great place to stop for a relaxing and interesting couple of days.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hermanus - Day 1 (Nov 9th)

Today was our longest drive - Mossel Bay to Hermanus. We drove the 300km to Hermanus via Swellendam where we stopped for lunch. Went to a nice restaurant owned by a gay couple - one who told me "I love your nails". I didn't bother telling him that they weren't real. We chatted for a while and I told him we were on our honeymoon. He went away and came back a few minutes later to tell us that he had also recently got married, but he couldn't tell me earlier as his parents were sitting nearby and they were very homophobic! I was quite surprised they hadn't already guessed. Anyway, we had a lovely lunch and then got back on our way to Hermanus.

Just as we were about to arrive in Hermanus the weather turned very horrible - cold and rainy with dark clouds. We checked into Pat's Place, our guesthouse for the next two nights and were pleased to find that it was pretty central - near to the cliff path and just a 10-15 minute walk from the centre of Hermanus.

Here's a picture of our room - the honeymoon suite:



and our little private patio with a jacuzzi bath. Very nice, but a shame the Shell station was just over that wall!


Our Patio at Pat's Place
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We were really happy with Pat's Place overall - good value for money, nice owner, comfortable rooms and a nice garden with a pool.

Since it was pissing it down we went to a place called the Wine Village just outside Hermanus and spent a long while browsing all the different wines, tasting a few and generally wasting time until it stopped raining. We bought a bottle of Cap Classique and a Sauvignon Blanc for the weekend and then drove back into the centre of Hermanus for a quick wander around.

We were very surprised that we didn't have to look at the sea for very long before seeing a whale. Hermanus is one of the top land based whale watching spots in the world, but we didn't expect to see the whales so quickly. We spent a while looking at them and hoped for some better weather tomorrow for a day of whale spotting.


Whale's Tail in Hermanus
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In the evening we had a nice Italian meal in the center of Hermanus and then it was back to the guesthouse for another early night.

You can read reviews of Pat's Place here.

You can also read more about Hermanus here.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mossel Bay & African Oceans Guesthouse (Nov 8th)

Today we are staying in a beautiful room in a guest house called Africa Oceans. Apart from the safari, this is the most expensive night of our stay in South Africa, but it is definitely worth it.

The guesthouse isn't really in Mossel Bay itself, but it has a lovely setting and our room, the honeymoon suite has a big balcony with a great view over the beach and the ocean, a big plush bedroom, a kitchenette and a good sized bathroom, not to mention the fluffy bathrobes.


Honeymoon suite at African Oceans
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Here's the view from the balcony:


View from balcony at African Oceans
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We drove into Mossel Bay itself for lunch. It doesn't appear to be the most picturesque or exciting place, but there are plenty restuarants.

We spent the remainder of our afternoon after lunch just lazing by the pool and drinking some chilled vino on the balcony - bliss.


Swimming Pool at African Oceans
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There was a free minibus pickup service in the evening which you could use to go to any one of five different restaurants. We had a lovely seafood dinner in a resturant called the Kingfisher which was very nice.

Not a very eventful day, but relaxing and enjoyable and I would highly recommend the African Oceans guesthouse if you are looking for somewhere luxurious to relax. You can read more reviews of African Oceans here.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and the Elephants (Nov 7th)

Today we woke up early again with the light streaming through the light curtains in our room. We are staying at a place called Cunningham's Island Guest House which is on Leisure Island, a small island of about 4km in circumference reachable by a causeway from the mainland. The guest house is nice enough, but we were a little disappointed because we had booked a specific room after viewing it on the website and when we arrived we ended up in a different room, which we were told was still a deluxe room. The room was very pleasant but nothing like the room we had thought we were getting and if we had known this when we booked we probably wouldn't have come here. Here is a photo of our room, which was up some stairs and had a little balcony:



Our room at Cunningham Island Guesthouse
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And here is a photo of the rather horrible bathroom:


Nasty bathroom at Cunningham Island Guesthouse, Knysna


The woman who owned the place seemed a bit sour faced and nowhere near as friendly as the other places we have stayed at so far. I wouldn't go back there if I was staying in Knysna again.

After our breakfast of bacon and scrambled eggs we decided to take a quick look around the island, but took a wrong turning and ended up walking almost the whole circumference. It turned out to be a very pleasant walk - the sun was shining and it was a very sleepy, relaxed place with a pretty little beach.



Our room at Cunningham Island Guesthouse
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After our walk we took a trip to the Knysna Elephant park which is a park for orphaned elephants. After a quick film about the elephants we saw a gorgeous baby elephant who had been born in the park:



Baby Elephant
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We then met a few other elephants, took some photos and fed them. It was a bizarre experience feeding them - you just hold out the food and they pick it up with their trunks, or you can put it directly in their mouths, which was a bit too scary for my liking. Here is a photo of me feeding the elephants:


Feeding the Elephants
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And a couple of other photos of the gorgeous elephants - I must have taken at least 100 photos of them!



Knysna Elephants
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Knysna Elephants
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After the elephant park we took a quick visit to Plettenberg Bay for lunch - some grilled fish and salad in a bar beside the beach and took a walk along the beach.



Beach at Plettenberg Bay
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After lunch we drove to the centre of Knysna, which is about 30km from Plettenberg Bay and has a nice waterfront area. This area is almost like a mini version of the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, with shops, restaurants and a marina.

We had a wander around, looked in a few shops and booked a restuarant for dinner. After so manybusy days it was nice to get the chance to sit next to the pool at the guesthouse and read for a while then relax in the room before going out for dinner.


Knysa
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Overall we had a good day and I would recommend Knysna as a base for touring the nearby areas of the garden route.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Drive to Knysna (Nov 6th)

Today was a beautiful day, sunny with blue skies and not much wind - quite a contrast from yesterday. We had breakfast in the guesthouse then took a walk along the beach and took about a hundred photos of the huge waves, not quite managing to catch the dramaticness of them (is that a word?) on camera.


Cape St Francis
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Cape St Francis
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After our walk we started the drive to Knysna. The drive along this part of the Garden Route was very scenic, with lots of mountains, forests and coastline. We took a detour to the Tsitsikamma national park and down to Storm's River Mouth for a walk. There are quite a few walking trails in the park, both short and long and great views of the sea and the river mouth. There is also a restaurant and a shop here so it's a good place for a lunch break and it costs R40 per person to get into the park.



Beach at Storm's River Mouth
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We walked along one of the shorter trails and again took many photos of the waves, then it was back to the car to continue our journey.


Crashing Waves at Storm's River Mouth
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Our next stop was in Monkeyland and Birds of Eden. Monkeyland was full of monkeys that had previously been in captivity and/or living in poor conditions and were being rehabilitated into a better environment. It's a little forest with walkways that allow the visitors to have a look at the monkeys. You can see a few photos of them below:


Monkey Chilling Out in the Trees
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Monkey
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We had a short tour around Monkeyland and also visited Birds of Eden which is a great place to see lots of unusual birds flying around. This was pretty enjoyable apart from the bird that landed on Stuart's shoulder and started nibbling his ear - ouch!


Parrot
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Monkey
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