Escaping Table Mountain

Last Friday afternoon at 3: First Capetonians arriving within the boundaries of the Cape Agulhas Municipality for their weekend getaway in places like Napier, Bredasdorp, Arniston, Struisbaai and Cape Agulhas. Every Friday about 10000 to 15000 cars with registration plates of the Mother City (including suburbs) escape Table Mountain for enjoyment in the Overberg; the majority to Hermanus/Gansbaai, followed by the mentioned places and Greyton.

Private Gallery is getting shape

Towards the end of next month, a year after we moved in, we will open our Private Gallery in Napier, South Africa. At this very moment a new insulated ceiling is installed in the new studio of Yvonne and this weekend we hang storage shelves and place furniture and equipment. After that we start transforming the present studio into a ‘State-of-the-Art’ Gallery where I can present some of my Landscape/Street/etc., Haiku and Photo-Graphic pictures. On displays are Yvonne’s Retro/Steampunk and Down to Earth pieces; all own design and handmade.

We focus ourselves primary on those tourists (passing along to or from the Southernmost Tip of the African Continent) who have an eye for originally South African made gifts that are exclusive and suitcase sized landscape photo’s (on high quality paper) next to high end market art collectors for special customized jewellery orders and fine art photography.

Although no decision is made yet what exactly we will exhibit this photo-gallery will provide you with an idea:

Trendy Places in Cape Town 3 (Helon Melon)

Many tourists to Cape Town visit the Waterfront. Alas … next to the Waterfront is the Watershed; a new building (with a yellow top gable). It’s one of those few places in the Mother City where one can buy truly South African made souvenirs. And unique these are!!! Unfortunately the Watershed is severely under-marketed by the tourism authorities and travel organisations. Pity, pity….

Helon Melon is one of those outlets in the Watershed. The owner and name-giver deals directly with the designers and crafts people who supply this shop. The prices are very reasonable.  Helon Melon also has some of her own staff engaged in creating unique pieces; from jewellery to clothing and everything in between.

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The lazy tourist destination

Ideal destination for travellers/tourists who want to watch whales and enjoy fynbos but don’t like to be too active: in the court yard of the Ice Parlour Don Gelato in Stanford there is this mural ……. (also for lazy bird watchers). The ice cream (locally sourced natural ingredients) is delicious! And so are the Italian coffees and delicacies 😉

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Deja Vu: The Caledon Botanical Garden

While tourists are, en masse, directed to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town by the tourism industry; real garden lovers from abroad (who did their own home work) prefer to go to a garden one-and-a-half hour East of the ‘Mothercity’. No tourist banter like coffee shops, restaurants and Made-in-China-shops but a real more natural enjoyment with stunning views and only plants that originate (endemic) from this region (Overberg). The garden is situated in the oldest (official) nature reserve of South Africa.

Going through my archive I re-discovered this wonderful garden.

Labyrinth key ring

… One of the few ‘left overs’ of our previous adventure (Soekershof, with maze, cactus labyrinth and succulent garden). In the workshop we had several local artists/craftspeople (one of them with an international reputation) who sold their (hand made) products to visitors who could appreciate true South African made arts and crafts. And it’s so fulfilling to know that all of them were able to uplift themselves from poverty and gathering an above average income from their own home and/or workshop.

The new owners transformed the workshops in a (money generating) trendy restaurant and accommodation. In South African tourism there is nowadays hardly any place for a truly mutual beneficial initiative between proprietors and artists/craftspeople. Most of the crafts for sale along the roads and on markets are from abroad … For the tourists there are also state and private funded ’empowerment’ initiatives where local people hone themselves in craft making… Some of these survive, most unfortunately not.

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Off the beaten track in Franschhoek

Today we made a day trip to Franschhoek; a mere 140 km drive (2x). Instead visiting wine cellars and all the other things most tourists do we decided to go a bit off the beaten track with the exception of a lunch at Reuben. Reuben (named after ‘Le Chef’) is best described as an upper middle class etablissement. But what surprised us was that the prices were very reasonable; well … the pork belly plus veggies, caramelized ginger and ‘pommes purée’ (=mashed potato) was not only delicious but also significant cheaper (despite more quantity) than at a restaurant in our village… Honestly; this was quite a refreshing surprise. Sorry Stanfordians, I had to mention this.

Virtually all tourists visiting Franschhoek stay in the main road but it’s really worthwhile to make a detour around the village which was, a bit more than 300 yrs ago, the place where the Dutch Governor Simon van der Stelt designated as the area where French Hugenots who were known with vinoculture could start growing grapes and produce wine.

Visitors prefer to park in the main road and today it was, as usual, full and some kept on driving up and down the road until a parking spot came available. We turned to the right and could park just around the corner. Walking along the parallell roads of the main street provides a different picture of the village (second picture) with gravel roads including potholes and all the other things of a typical village in the Western Cape. But property is still extreme expensive despite the fact that seemingly for whatever reason more houses/estates/etc. are on the market than a few years ago.

Anyway if you google for Franschhoek you’ll find plenty of information for the ordinary tourist but if you want to discover the real Franschhoek just turn right or left in the main street.

The bottom picture is made from a touristic hotspot on the magnificent Franschhoek Pass between Villiersdorp and Franschhoek.

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No petrol station

Baardskeerdersbos is a small hamlet somewhere in nowhere in the Overberg region in the Western Cape, South Africa. The nearest petrol station is about 30 kilometers away. Donkey transport for people and goods recommended. It’s green over there!

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