Friday, 4 January 2013

Long and winding road......trip again

Off to Cape Town and beyond.... by road, we love long rambling road trips, going somewhere slowly, and this was just one of those.....
This trip was to Cape Town and back covering five provinces (Gauteng - Free State - Northern Cape - Western Cape - Eastern Cape) and 3812km 

Day one

Well to start with slow was the operative word..... on the first day saw us doing 549km in just over 7 hours; reason being bumper to bumper traffic, road works, nut job morons speeding and over taking into on coming traffic and causing chaos.

South Africans will know what I mean - we have lemming syndrome here - people have to rush to the sea at the fastest possible pace with no regard for anyone else.
A rather hellish accident gave testament to this bad driving attitude in the form of an accident just a while before we got to it; a car had been involved in a head on with a truck, tearing the car in half, killing 5 people.
By the end of our trip on the 31st of January a total of 1207 people were killed in traffic related accidents and the holiday season only really finishes on Sunday 6th January, with the lemmings doing the frantic trip back to Gauteng.

Back to Day one of the journey; added to the traffic, the rain was coming down and lo and behold who should raise their ugly heads but our government morons members in their blue light brigades (high speed convoys of high end vehicles with blue lights on the roof), pushing and shoving and overtaking into oncoming traffic at abnormally excessive speeds to get to Bloemfontein for the ANC meeting.

And then a long came a random road block by our oft moronic police force, who were all camped out on the side of the road DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING , just in time to block up the N1 highway even more during the main rush for the Cape coast.

Bumper to Bumper Traffic on the N1

But then it was into a small Free State town called Springfontien and a stunning B&B called Springfontien House time to relax, eat great food a calming bottle of wine and sleep, for tomorrow we do battle with the traffic once more.
Room at Springfontien House

Cottage at Springfontien House

Day two 

Back in the traffic and onwards passing through the Northern Cape to a town called Prince Albert in the Western Cape, at this point I will digress and tell you at this point we are driving through the Great Karoo where you can see 10 years into your future when you stare down the road
Off the Highway on to a long straight road
And into the town of Prince Albert where we stayed just out of town (by this I mean about a 10 minute stroll) at a guest house call Karoo View Cottages, what an amazing place overlooking the town of Prince Albert - a gem in its own right, dinner was has a the exquisite Gallery restaurant
Prince Albert
Gallery Restaurant and Art Gallery
Our cottage on the right 
View of Prince Albert in the morning from our cottage

Inside view of our cottage

The town of Prince Albert is 250 years old and the residents are super proud of their town, keeping it extraordinarily clean and neat - a bit of an change for South Africa where most of the cities make a very passable imitation of a refuse dump.
The below photo show the "Lei Water that runs down the sides of the houses with small "gates or locks along the way allowing residents to divert water into a small dam on the property to be used for irrigation of gardens or small crops they may grow - they have an allocated amount each month calculated by the length of time they can open the gate for.

Lei Water

Moving out the next day after a leisurely walk around town we headed out onto the Swartberg Pass..... I have one thing to say.... OMG!!!! it is impressive on a number of scales, So a quick set of stats:

  • The pass climbs 1000 metres in 12 kilometres and is one of the steepest passes in South Africa
  • It was built by Master pass engineer Thomas Baines and his team of convict labourers it took five years to build in the late 1800s. 
  • Today it is a National Monument and largely unchanged.
 The geology on the pass is incredible with examples of the folding and shaping of the rock during the formation of the mountains, Here are a random set of photos to give you an idea of what we experienced, although they will never do justice to the impressive magnitude and scale of the pass and the mountains it climbs - please also note that this entire pass is a gravel road.

Start of the Swartberg Pass

This part of the journey was the was the final run to Cape Town and should have taken us about 4 hours, now for those who know us that would be like the equivalent of us hoping on a bullet train..... 9 hours later we eventually pulled into our accommodation in Fish Hoek, Cape Town - a bit tired, a bit hungry, a bit ratty around the edges - who ever said travel was a walk in the park.

And into Fish Hoek.......

View of the sea from our accommodation
So.... the above photo, a view from our accommodation was taken on the day before "The end of the world", I took it so in the event I survived the cataclysm I would have a record of what it looked like, well it looked just the same on the day after and the day after that, and the .... so as they say in the classics...."Life's a Beach...."

Fish Hoek Beach
Fish Hoek Beach
Fish Hoek in the background 
Kalk Bay harbour
We would walk from Fish Hoek along the beach to the next town to do shopping and partake in a restaurant or two that we are rather partial to, really heavy labour at a distance of 4 km but someone has to be brave and do it, this we only did when the really heavy work of sweating on the beach and swimming in the sea got a bit tiring.

View of the harbour from the Cape to Cuba restaurant
"Artsy Fartsy" photo of seagulls
Moon rise at 8:16pm on December the 27th 2012
Christmas Eve was celebrated with my cousins from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Belgium and Christmas day was celebrated with my Sister and family who also live in Somerset West in the Western Cape, yes we are rather spread around.

And so it was back to the beach .........

Day something or other......

Al good things must come to an end, not that the next part of the holiday was by any means bad, it was just the next long drive back to Johannesburg; we did do a bit of a change to the trip in the route that was originally planned was changed to take us back to Prince Albert (just via a different route) as we had enjoyed it so much.
So as I said back to Prince Albert for the night, then ever onward to a town called Graaff Reinett where Pam's sister and her husband run a B&B

 Day after the something or other day......

Back on the road again to Springfontien for another night and then onwards to Johannesburg.......

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