We’ve added another night to our stay in Hermanus. We just don’t really want to leave, and our days here were spent with too much driving around and not enough putting ourselves in the picture as we looked out our car windows. Also, with two big “touring” days, we skipped school and the girls need to catch up a bit. All that, and we’re in love with the rental house.
In South Africa, we have met more people than in any other country, mostly because everyone is so warm and open and we’ve had several friends of friends and other contacts. It has been nice to get the insiders perspective, we’ve spent hours now talking about different regions and favorite places. Besides the usual searching of forums on Trip Advisor and Thorntree, I’ve founds insight on one of my favorite blogs, Sunee Sees the World, when she’s posted about traveling in her home country, and on SA Venues. Although the last one is not really about opinion, it’s been invaluable to us. Still, there is nothing like sitting down over lunch and listening to people talk about exploring their own soil, especially when this home is so loved.
Of course, everyone has differing ideas, depending on what they like, and different tolerances. What people think of as built up or touristy depends on perspective. We found Clifton and Camps Bay beautiful, but too developed for our tastes, even though some people told us how wonderful it is. Rows of seven story apartment buildings lining the street across from the beach make the place soulless, having sold out that which made the place unique to become what we would call a she-she destination where people go to be seen. Still, nothing we’ve seen here is gaudy-glam like resort coastlines of Mexico. Cancun and even Playa del Carmen bear no resemblance to the quaint villages they once were.
Many people told us that Hermanus had become too built up, and although it is on the bigger end of what we’d call a charming little town, it still feels very residential, summer cottage. It also has the most amazing trail that winds for miles along the oceanfront bluffs. I suppose the waning crowds help our impression, we’ve seen what the holiday hordes do to the small towns in Hout Bay and Kalk Bay, backing up cars into major traffic jams.
Our tours of the last couple of days took us down to Cape Agulhas and the tiny town on the southernmost tip of Africa with the same name. We also wound through the little side roads of Betty’s Bay and Pringle Bay to the north. The relaxed feel of these tiny towns is a nice contrast to the bustle of the bigger tourist centers. The challenge is how to find, before arriving, the perfect balance of quaint, yet with services. Relaxed, but offering a decent restaurant or two, a grocery store, and maybe some recreational options like surfing lessons.
The other day we sat and had lunch of fish and chips and looked at maps of the garden route with a contact of mine named Meg. She is the South African coordinator for “SIGHT,” a branch of an organization I belong to that is set up specifically to help traveling members. She’s not been to the garden route in a number of years (I loved her quote) because she does not love the view of golf courses and polo fields. It is, however, popular for a reason, and a “must see” for South Africa.
We’ve planned out our Klein Karoo week, with a farm stay and a visit to the ostrich farming capital of the world: history and agriculture. Now in our planning, we’re seeking balance on the southern coast, and contemplating bungee jumping and zip lines. A beach bar, but no traffic jams, please.