Shed Loads

Our trip along the coast has been hectic and, as mentioned previously, getting online isn’t always as easy as it might be, particularly as you end up having to buy MBs from different suppliers depending on where you are. But here I am, courtesy of Cloud Connect this time.

Darling daughter is with us as part of her ‘research’ for 33 South Backpackers — finding out other good places to stay, making connections and generally finding the lay of the land. At least that’s her excuse.

The first day saw us taking the scenic route eastwards, missing out the N2 as it passes through the mountains and taking the coastal road instead, eventually landing in Hermanus.

This is a pretty town with a long whaling tradition and I might write more later, but for now I’ll focus on our ultimate destination for that day,  the Adventure Lodge Backpackers in Swellendam.

I’ve sometimes used the euphemism of “sleeping in the shed” when in trouble with Mrs P, but hadn’t experienced it literally until last night. We weren’t expecting five star luxury when we signed up for our week of backpacking, but the Adventure Lodge was rather more basic than anticipated.

In fact we were sleeping in a shed. That’s it above and the rest of the place didn’t have much to recommend it. Which was a shame because the setting was okay, set at the base of the mountains.

Swellendam itself has a trekking history and there was a monument to the town’s forebears to that effect. Unfortunately I couldn’t read the Afrikaans inscription to elaborate.

It had a very grand church though, even if it does look a bit like some ghostly castle in my photo. The original Dutch Reformed Church was founded in 1798, but the present building opened in 1911.

Its style is described as eclectic with it s Baroque gables, Gothic windows and eastern cupola, while its steeple is a replica of a famous one in Belgium, although I’m not sure which.

We left the hostel early, deciding that we’d forego its pleasures and breakfast in Riversdale mid-journey to Mossel Bay.

There was nothing in the guide books about the town and our choice of eatery came as an unexpected bonus. The Ou Tronk Coffee Shop is set in the towns former jail (tronk) that closed in 1979. It was bought by the present owner’s father and she opened it as a coffee shop and craft market a few years ago.

We ate a pleasant meal in an open courtyard and then explored the rest of the building. The cells now showcase local crafts, artworks and antiques.

Hanging in one of the rooms was this rather grim reminder of the past — a set of slave chains used by the Dutch settlers.

We then headed for Mossel Bay where I spent an hour or two in the Diaz Museum. I looked high and low, but couldn’t find any of Cameron’s memorabilia, just a replica of an old boat that some bloke called  Bartolomeu sailed to South Africa in 1487.

It was only an hour to our resting place for the night, the Wild Farm in Wilderness. The drive to the top of the mountain was a little hairy, but this place is a fantastic improvement on our first backpacker experience — a spacious log cabin, clean facilities and a warm welcome.

Sadly, the promised glorious sunset didn’t materialise, or if it did we couldn’t see it through the mist and the drizzle. We’ll try again at sunrise.

Tomorrow we hope to see the Great Karoo before our next stop at Storms River and the Treetop Canopy tour, fingers-crossed about the weather.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

2 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 9th February 2011

    You’re having a real adventure. The hut in Swellendam sounds quite delightful. Better than a corporate Travelodge or Holiday Inn. Something to remember. Seen any wildlife yet?

    Reply
  • Mr Parrot 9th February 2011

    We have seen some, mostly birds, the largest being the ostriches we passed in the fields on the way here. There should be bigger “game” at Addo, our ultimate destination.

    Reply

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