Yesterday’s problem with our original accommodation being over booked and our ‘railroading’ to Battenburgs Guest House needed to be resolved this morning but we decided to leave it until we were asked for payment to see what might happen.
We met a couple at breakfast from near Port Elizabeth who were going to Cape Town to fly and meet up with their family in Croatia. Their family have lived in Auckland for 20 years and the couple had visited NZ for the Rugby World Cup. They had retired to very small seaside place where they were 2 of 3 permanent residents and the closest town for shopping was 10km away. They said they enjoyed the isolation and freedom after living all their working lives in Johannesburg.
A worker at the B&B had washed and cleaned our car removing all the reddish dust we picked up by travelling on the unsealed roads yesterday. We located him before we left and gave him an appreciation for his work.
Meanwhile despite mentioning that we should only be paying the rate for Battenburgs which was lower than the Bergview, the hostess said that the arrangement was that the Bergview charge would apply.
We didn’t want to get into an argument and so decided for the small amount involved we would let it past but we decided also to take it up with booking.com and tell them of the incident as they would not have got their commission out of either transaction as we had cancelled the Bergview to avoid the ‘no show fee’ and didn’t actually reserve anything at the Battenburgs booking.com page.
There will be more to do about this later !
We took a park at the top end of town and visited the Dutch Reformed Church built in 1911.It is a very impressive building even if it is plain in design. There had been a church on the site well before the current building and the graves surrounding the church dated back to the early 1800’s.Inside there was room for over 1400 people on two levels and it would be interesting to know today whether they would fill the place completely.
We took a stroll down a short part of the very long main street and on our way back to our car noticed on a side street there seemed to be a large number
of people gathering. As we drove away we also noticed several policemen waiting on the main street and we guessed we had done the right thing in case the crowd had been gathering for some sort of protest march.
It is a relatively short drive of a bit over 2 hours direct on the N2 so we decided to take another look at the coast by going down the R324 to Witsand which should add another couple of hours or so to today’s run and let us see a bit more of the countryside.
Turning off the N2 a few kilometres out of Swellenham.To we went straight onto a dirt road again although unlike yesterday this one wasn’t red in colour but unfortunately was going to muck up our nice clean chassis.
The farmland now that we had travelled further east and the plain between the mountains and the coast was a lot more productive although there was still a shortage of farm animals close to the road or anywhere really in our vision over the rolling countryside.
At one point we stopped near the bough of a hill to photograph and video the surrounding scene
only to have our peace destroyed by an engine noise coming from behind us that we thought might have been a train but turned out to be a farmers ute being driven at a pace far in excess of what one should really have been doing on the unsealed roadway. We watched it disappear in a cloud of dust before continuing on in our own sedate way.’
The village at Witsand was like the others we have passed through on the coast with just a small number of locals living there permanently and many other homes which appeared to be just for holidaymakers and uninhabited as it wasn’t school holidays.
The wind had died down from yesterday and the air temperature reflected that with the car temp gauge showing 19C at midday making it much more pleasant to be outside of the car taking in the scenery.
The Breede River empties out into the ocean at Witsand and it was the most substantial river we have come across since starting on the drive from Cape Town.
As we discovered yesterday the road that returned us to the main highway was sealed making progress much faster. The
scenery was pretty much the same as the run down to Witsand mostly huge paddocks and few animals.
So we rejoined the N2 and carried on east towards Mossel Bay.
We must say that we are very impressed with the N2 and if this is what the other main highways are like in South Africa then they have done much better than NZ has.OK there is probably easier terrain to build the road on but they have also ensured a wide shoulder and passing lanes on every small rise in the road that we have come to for ease of passing slower traffic. Even the driving lane appears wider then what we seem to have at home. This section we are travelling on runs across a wide plain and therefore the straights are long similar to driving from Ashburton to Christchurch back home.
There were really only 2 towns to pass through in the 117km between Heidelberg and Riversdale and neither appeared to offer anything of interest to stop in and take a walk around so we continued on our way.
A large refinery came into view with a telltale tall tower with a naked flame
burning off the excesses of the products they were refining. This signalled that Mossel Bay wasn’t far off and sure enough the first we observed of the city roughly the same size as our home town was a vast shanty town right on the outskirts and next to the busy highway. People were walking alongside the 80kph road including children going home from school. They may have been the lucky ones as they wore smart uniforms and perhaps had an opportunity to get their schooling outside of the shanty town.
Again Gretchen didn’t have to use the GPS to locate our accommodation on the main street into the downtown area.
We received a typical South African greeting which is a bit gushing but we will get used to it we dare say.
The Lavendula Manor is something else ! Commanding a great position with panoramic views of Mossel Bay the B&B must have cost a fair amount to establish with a large dining area for breakfasts and comfortable settee and chairs in a lounge overlooking the bay and a further lounge at the back of this very large room with an open fire and 60” TV on
the wall all available for patrons if they don’t want to watch the smaller TV in the room.
Our room is large but what is almost as big is the bathroom with an enormous bath set in a corner, giant shower that you could 4 or 5 people into with a large square shower head which will be interesting to experience in the morning. Plus we have his and hers washbasin’s as well.
After resting up and enjoying the view from the floor to ceiling window in the lounge it was time for dinner.
We had the option of driving or walking down a long hill to the harbour where the Gannet Café was located.
Even though it was now dark and the words of our daughters were ringing in our ears (don’t go out at night walking!)we did.
A taste of more South African wine and seafood meals and a busy restaurant enabling a bit of interesting people watching made for an enjoyable meal. All we had to do was face the walk back up the long hill to complete another great day exploring more of this fascinating countryside !
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