Haven’t got a lot of time this evening to write much. Good, because little happened. We had a drive through some very changing scenery, almost froze to death when the temperature got down to twelve degrees at one point, but we survived, but the weather was pathetic all day. If I’d have wanted this sort of weather I’d have stayed in England. But we ended up in a very interesting town called Grahamstown, now called Makhanda. Again, another place with a lot of history, and a very large University.
Unfortunately it was off and on raining cats and dogs, so we walked around at a bit of a pace, but saw enough. Early on in the day we could see the trouble on the horizon -
This is a quick view of worker’s housing on the edge of one of the towns -
Closer and closer -
Then we were in it, for close on an hour and a half -
But it began to clear as we lost height -
We arrived at our destination just about lunch time, had a bite to eat hoping the weather would break, but it didn’t. So we slipped around as best as possible seeing what we could see between showers. There are tons of historic buildings and it is a place we’d come back to when it was sunny. For now though, views as we walked around -
We’ll probably have an early start in the morning, we want to have a late breakfast in one town and then stay at another one also of interest and with time to mooch (walk aimlessly) around it.
I certainly would never want to disparage traditional African culture, but all of the old colonial buildings were among my favourite sights in South Africa, along with the spectacular natural scenery. There is something a bit magical about seeing British/Dutch buildings in a setting that does not quite fit and also something a bit sad about the idea of trying to reproduce all of the aspects of a home country that most of them had never seen.
The French architecture of North Africa (and quite a bit of West Africa) leaves the same impression -- lovely and inappropriate. Yet of course they would have never built mud huts with grass roofs, and I'm sure that the indigenous population would almost certainly have wanted similar buildings in which to live if they had had the resources. Or maybe I am completely wrong.
After a day of rain and cloud it was bitterly cold last night. Probably no more than about eight degrees and windy. We didn’t fancy going out for a meal and we had planned not to by nipping to a supermarket. I cooked a warming and thick cauliflower and potato soup and had it with some crusty bread and butter. It was superb. We woke early this morning to warm sun and clear skies. This is where we stayed, Mountain View Manor, and the view from it –
On the road again. One thing we have both remarked upon is the vast miles of virtually nothing as regards habitation, farming or anything. Just miles and miles of empty countryside –
About halfway into the journey we stopped in a town called Cradock and had a superb breakfast in a cafe set up in an old house -
More travelling –
We arrived at our destination, Graaf Reinet, around lunch time, checked in to the Profcon Resort and set about finding somewhere to eat and then having our usual wander round aimlessly taking photos of buildings -
A quick shot of the cafe we stopped at for lunch. I had a South African version of a ploughman’s lunch and it included chicken, parma ham and salami. Mrs M had a roasted beetroot salad and stole half of my meal as well. Typical behaviour -
The last thing we did was have a walk to what was called a cactus nursery -
Long day tomorrow so a meal out while it is fine as forecast tomorrow is rainy again where we are going, then an early night and an early start for a long journey.
bjd, very few people. No real idea why. It just is. Maybe the day, the time, the population, no idea. Mick, never heard of it until I came here. k2, the ones in the photos are more what you might call 'samples'. behind the gates were many in pots ready for selling and transporting. Though the owner of the place does seem to have gone over the top with planting them on any spare ground he could find.
I was worried to see the shot of the long straight asphalt road. There was a huge crack down the centre caused by the road spreading to the sides because it had no lateral support. Sorry to put my working hat on, thought I had abandoned that world over 20 years ago, old habits die hard.
Man is not lost, only temporarily uncertain of his position
Day 10 - The forecast came true and it was cloudy and wet all day. I’m not too averse to driving in that weather as it seems that if the sun is shining, it is always on my side. But it does mute the scenery quite a lot. On the road (Note the reflection in the mirror) –
Somehow we ended up near to Berlin. Can’t explain how –
We worked our way south, all the way to the coast and stopped off at the first opportunity for a glimpse. Never mind it was blowing a gale and about ten degrees Celsius, we braved getting out of the car for a quick look –
Nearby was a farmer’s market eco-cafe thing serving lots of types of salads and kale sandwiches, or something like that. It was stuffed full of women eating healthy food in groups and catching up I suppose on the adventures/gossip. I noticed that virtually all of them ordered something with most of the plate comprising of lettuce. They seemed to pick all the good bits out and leave at least half the aforementioned lettuce. I think we’d come across the weekly mother’s meet up –
The outside had a good view but still far too cold and blustery to be popular –
About 450km after setting off we reached a place called Cintsa/Chintsa, on the coast. It took some navigating to get there off the main road and it was quite a remote spot. No doubt though all the locals know exactly where it is –
We had a room in the Buccanneers Backpackers. Cold would be the word to sum it up. Plus rainy. But in between showers we had a bracing walk on the beach. The weather was like the east coast of England in the middle of summer. I was used to it. Good view from our room –
You had to walk through the dunes to get down to the sea –
Should I go for a swim? Was that the question? Nope, far from it. I used to do a bit of surfing down in Cornwall and as this is a big surfing area, I had a check out of the waves -
Tomorrow is out longest journey, around 520km, so after a meal of spaghetti bolognese in the backpacker’s restaurant, we turned in for the night.
Day 11 – It chucked it down all night and I was wondering a little about the state of the dirt track, about 5km long, to get back to the main road. Quite steep upwards as well. The car tackled it very well and at 7am we were on the road and away But, we both decided we needed another coffee. The only thing open at that time in a morning was KFC so we stopped. Even though there were other people inside, we were the only customers. Everyone else was just huddled inside keeping warm –
More road, more cloud and rain but a short ten minute break of sun –
Our end point, quite a few hours later, was Orbi Gorge and eventually the Orbi Gorge Hotel (no TV and noise after 9pm, no internet, no own food and drinks in the room, and as it turns out, no hot water either, though I gave the receptionist a rocket and the maintenance man replaced something in the boiler after about ten minutes) –
The gorge is in a small national park and we had time for a walk along the edge. Unfortunately it also meant crossing the suspension bridge. We’d have liked to had chance to walk further but time was against us as the gates shut at the strange time of 4pm –
Our hotel is fine enough, one of these trading on its name and fading fast, but our two visitors didn’t seem to mind –
The plan tomorrow is a shorter driving day and a longer walking day. We’ll see how that goes and what the weather will be like.
That area looks quite a bit like "God's Window" which I visited. I know a number of people who would not cross that suspension bridge.
I was in South Africa in December and every day was warm and sunny, so your pictures of the rain are very appealing as a contrast.
That cold, empty beach also appeals to me very much. When I was driving along the southern coast I made a point of going to Cape Agulhas, which the Lonely Planet guide said was not worth the drive and that there was nothing to see there. It made me wonder if they had ever travelled, because standing on the geographic southern tip of Africa was very important to me, and I didn't mind driving 50 or so kilometres off the main highway at all. I have been to the tip of a continent!
The weather has improved a lot now but having the rain and cloud did have its own appeal. We are obviously not near Cape Agulhas on this trip but Mrs M did want to go there had we ended up in Capetown. Maybe next time. I managed to get there a couple of times in the late 90's.
Wow, Mark! The last two set of pictures, going from the coast to the mountains, is dazzling and enough to convince anyone of the beauties of that country. Cold and wet for you, but a visual delight for those of us following your trip. I totally agree with your decision not to step foot on that bridge!
Day 12 - The sun has got his hat on. Hip hip hip hooray. The sun has got his hat and is coming out today. (Song lyrics from 1932, but whatever you do, don’t look at the second verse) We had quite a pleasant drive, mostly on main roads but cutting along the coast. Our destination, Eshowe, arrived conveniently at lunch time. All according to plan as we wanted to look at a few things there after having a lunch at the cafe attached to where we intended to go -
I hate waiting for my food when I’m hungry -
You may have noticed the large building behind me. This is Fort Nongqayi and its associated museums -
At the entrance is this monument. I have grave doubts as I write this that when I post it you’ll be able to zoom in on all the saying. In essence it gives a sentence or two distilling each religion, e.g. Non-injury is verily the only religion. Jainism. I’ll see what it’s like when I post it -
It is one of of number of forts built by the British at the time of the Zulu Wars.
Inside the buildings are a number of exhibits of all sorts -
The information boards, as with the monument, are unlikely to be seen clearly but they’ll anyway give you an idea of the information available –
Outside were also a number of exhibits, probably pulled in from elsewhere –
A couple of Zulu bowls, modern made in traditional style. A bit of trivia is that of you ever come across any, and they are black in colour, these are the only ones, the black ones, in which beer can be offered. Now you know –
At the car, we seemed to be infested with little green grasshoppers -
The sun was still playing ball and came out early. This was to be our last full day together. We headed from Eshowe towards the Drakensberg Mountains to stay in a place in the foothills. As usual, the road –
I spotted around 10.30am a garden centre that had a cafe serving breakfasts. It was a welcome stop. Though I still appear to be waiting for food –
Not far away from where my formative years took place was a small village called Spion Kop. I wondered for many years about the strange name and not until I had to pass it daily on a commute did I find out for sure why it was called so. Apparently one of the main players in the battle during the Boer War had connections to my area and the village was built after the war took place, thus giving it its name. I vowed many years ago to take a photo of a signpost to the real place -
More road pictures and make the most of them, because they’ll be the last ones –
After a 12km dirt track we arrived at out lodgings, called the Drakensberg Mountain Retreat. An ex-farm converted into a hotel/lodge where you pay for half board as it is quite remote. I must say the food was adequate and not exceptional, but the views were good –
Day 14 -
Not a long day and no photos as we just were returning along a fairly boring motorway into Johannesburg where I dropped Mrs M off at the airport and checked in to a nearby hotel. That was it for the day.