It was our annual family weekend away last week where we pick a spot to recover after two birthdays and an anniversary within 6 days. Our youngest turned 7 on the 4th of November while our oldest turned 10 on the 7th and we celebrated our 13th anniversary on the 10th so there was definitely a need for celebration.
Tazz Discovers the West Coast
We booked a self catering chalet at Blue Bay Lodge for the weekend of 7-9 November earlier this year through Booking.com and were impressed to find that this site gives you the option of adjusting your booking date to your liking, should something come up in your life where you are no longer able to check in when you originally planned. As time drew nearer to our much awaited holiday, we had a look at the Blue Bay website to check what we needed to pack as many self catering places offer different things under the “self catering” heading. The site suggested we pack our own towels, braai grid, personal items and DSTV box and smart card as they provided all cutlery, crockery, bedding, TV, iron, ironing board and basic cleaning supplies.
With great excitement we packed the bicycles the children received as their birthday present, found a sitter for our pet rat and grabbed a birthday cake for the birthday boy to celebrate with once we arrived. We desperately need to find a way to travel more lightly as space was very limited in our Ford Figo. Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
Since we live in Tableview it was easy for us to get onto the R27 and the directions for the first 100kms was a breeze. You can’t go wrong when all you have to do is follow the road! My local knowledge of geography is embarrassing so I won’t even mention how little I know of the small towns on the West Coast. My knowledge of the East Coast is a little better simply because I spent a lot of my childhood driving up and down from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. It wasn’t long before the turn off to Saldanha was in sight and there were sighs of relief as it wouldn’t be too much longer before our holiday could officially begin.
With the Saldanha Steelworks beckoning on the horizon we followed the GPS directions faithfully and it wasn’t long before we saw the sign showing us the way to Blue Bay Lodge. While we checked in the friendly receptionist let us know that every Friday is Burger Night at the Lodge and she quickly phoned the kitchen to check on which special was available that night. We had already decided to braai on our first night but when we discovered we could get cheese and mushroom burgers for R65 we changed our plans so that the oldest could celebrate his 10th birthday in style.
As anyone with children will know, when it comes to dining, the food is secondary for the kids because playing is far more important. We were glad we chose to dine on the deck overlooking the sea that night as the kids could splash in the waves about 50m away while the grownups could have a fairly romantic meal together without having to step in as mediators between the kids every few minutes.
The next morning we poured over the brochures we picked up at the reception desk when we checked in and plotted our road trip for the day. Once everyone had dressed and the kids had burned off some energy riding their bikes with their dad, we set off for Paternoster (which was the furthest point we wanted to explore) with the idea of working our way back to Saldanha on the most scenic route we could find. After asking some locals about what to explore next, we were directed to Cape Columbine (which has a lighthouse – but it is only open Monday-Friday) and then on to see if we could find Tietiesbaai.
Towards the end of our drive through the Cape Columbine Nature reserve we were surprised to find that a number of people had set up their tents and caravans right on the rocks. We drove along to circular gravel route to see if we could find anything else but the road came to an end and we continued our journey back out of Paternoster and onto Jacobsbaai. We noticed an ad in one of the pamphlets for a shop called Wille Magrietjie in Weskusplek so we set out to find it. And what a find it was! There were so many pretty and unusual items that I struggled to not buy all the things.
At this point the family was ravenously hungry and while the plan was to find a harbor in Saldanha that sold fish and chips, we couldn’t wait any longer and settled for the restaurant next to the shop. It turned out to be a great idea because the food was really good and the prices were very reasonable. The kids shared a full size pizza (+-R70) while the adults dined on hake and calamari (for a very reasonable R68). Portions were generous so even after the kids had eaten their fill, they still had 2 slices leftover (which they finished with breakfast the next morning) and the adults were too full for dessert. We ordered a slice of carrot cake to take home with us and found they packed a ridiculously sized piece for just R18 (a similar slice of cake in Cape Town is around R40/slice).
The weather changed on our way back to the Lodge but the kids insisted we find a place to have ice cream so that is exactly what we did. We found a café around the corner from the Lodge for the soft serve cones the kids wanted and right across the road there was a roadside fruit and veg seller who had the few extras we needed for the braai we planned for supper that night.
The minute we got home the kids begged to be allowed to go to the beach and since they had been cooped up in the car for so long we agreed. Anton started the braai while I pulled up a chair next to the living room window of our chalet that overlooked the beach where the kids were playing and read a book in comfort while keeping an eye on where they were and who they were talking to.
We reluctantly packed up our belongings the next morning as we needed to check out by 10am but after we packed the car and returned the keys we found that the Lodge was hosting a market. This gave us a great reason to hang around for a while longer and pick up a few local delicacies for the trip home.
Eventually we persuaded the kids it was time to head home as they had school the next day but we compromised and chose the long way home to maximize exploring time in the West Coast. We detoured into Langebaan to walk through the main street leading to the beach where there were treasure troves around every corner. After that we let the GPS get us lost and found ourselves at the back gate of the West Coast National Park. We took this as an opportunity to explore some more so we paid the entry fee and decided that this detour was meant to happen.
What a lovely holiday! We arrived home feeling rested but inspired after everything we had seen and experienced. We are already planning our next road trip and can’t wait to see what we discover next.