Saturday, 13 August 2016

Road Tripping Through The Western Cape | Travel

This Summer, I visited South Africa. For many foreigners, South Africa is a holiday destination; gorgeous beaches, warm days throughout the year and amazing tourist attractions such as Table Mountain in Cape Town, Cango Caves in Oudtshoorn and lets not forget the African clichés such as safaris (aka the Kruger National Park in Johannesburg). For me, however, South Africa is more than what is just in your holiday brochure. It is my home.

I was incredibly excited about going back. There was a lot to look forward to; cuisine, the language, seeing family, visiting new places and meeting up with old friends. Despite not living in South Africa for the past three years, I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to visit as often as I have. For the first of the four weeks that I was in South Africa, my family and I stayed with my aunt before we headed to Robertson, where my grandparents stay. Robertson is known for their wines and roses but it is also the town in which I grew up in. We always stay with my grandparents for a bit when we visit. Their house is spacious, colourful inside and even more aesthetically pleasing if you forget that it's because of Dutch colonization back in the late 1700s.

After my stay with my grandparents, the road trip continued to my father's side of the family. This year was a special one as my gran was turning 70 and it was the first time in three years that my dad was home. We celebrated my gran's 70th birthday at the Surval Olive Boutique Estate in Oudtshoorn, where my father is from. 

The 70th birthday was a good time to reconnect with family and old family friends. The venue was beautiful too; seemingly in the middle of nowhere surrounded by lots of mountains and stretches of land. After the stay in Oudtshoorn, we packed the car, loaded up on petrol and headed to the coast - we were on our way to Knysna.

Despite often being described as a sleepy little beach town, Knysna is exceptionally vibrant. Here I stayed in a large house with both sides of the family. The first night we had dinner at a local seafood restaurant (RIP to me attempting to be vegan) and the second day was spent exploring. My favourite place to explore was Thesen's Island, pictured above. It's a wonderful lookout point and this photo does it absolutely no justice. It's perfect for hiking trails, a great place for an afternoon picnic or just for taking photographs.
While staying in Knysna, I came across lots of pop-up exhibitions, craft markets and locations for tarot readings. In the evenings, the family spent time together playing games such as 30 Seconds or Dominoes next to the fire. 

The next pitstop was further down the coast to Paternoster. In Paternoster, we stayed in a beautiful little chalet. I liked the accommodation best here, I think. The houses were built in a sort of semi-circle around the beach, creating a barrier between the sea and the mountains. They (the houses) were all white with a purple undertone and cobalt frames for the windows. In Paternoster, I saw my mom's side of the family. It was a huge family reunion, ages varying from 2 to 55 years old. Days were spent on the beach, lazing in bed and visiting local markets while nights were spent eating dinner together, catching up over glasses of wine or simply watching the rugby on television.

My family and I headed to Langebaan next.  Langebaan is very sentimental to me. I used to visit it in the December heat every year with my mom's side of the family. It was even more special getting to celebrate my birthday here because I haven't celebrated my birthday in South Africa for the past five years. Aside from shopping, we went to the casino, drove to a Steakhouse in the middle of nowhere (once again, RIP to me being vegan) and visited the beach again. 
Everything swung full circle and the next thing I knew, I was headed back to where this whole journey started: my beloved Cape Town. I was only there for a weekend but my goodness, did I make every second count. On Friday evening, I got to visit the Blue Bird Garage in Muizenberg with two friends from high school, Gemma and Nina (Nina actually wrote for my blog once, read her post here). It's such a stunning place. There are lots of tables in a hall and the tables are surrounded by food stalls. Candles propped in wine glasses next to an empty liquor bottle filled with flowers make up the table decor while fairy lights created a soft glow in the room. Jazz music played in the background which greatly contributed to the atmosphere. Saturday morning I had breakfast with my friends Megan and Chelsea and that afternoon I visited Kalk Bay with other friends, Ellie and Terri. 

Kalk Bay is the sort of place you go for inspiration. It is filled with clothing stores, record stores, ice-cream shops, art galleries, restaurants, eclectic cafés and interesting people. While in Kalk Bay, I had lunch at an urban café called Lekker and browsed through Antique stores. The following day, Sunday, was the day I left but before I did, I got to see my best friend since the second grade, Kate. We went to one of my all-time favourite restaurants, Mugg & Bean. Shortly after meeting up with Kate, I headed to Hout Bay, a local fishing area also in Cape Town, pictured above. The harbour was so beautiful to visit again, despite it being a very rainy day. I managed to capture this photo though, so I suppose it wasn't that bad. After a few more days of staying with my grandparents, I found myself at the boarding gate, headed back to Holland. This time, the goodbye was bittersweet, but it was a good end to an amazing holiday.

~ Miah ~

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