Time out. Recharging #shotleft to Citrusdal

April and May were a whirlwind of inspiration, stimulation and non stop excitement in the travel and blogging world where I live.

A fast paced Eastern Cape #shotleft, the first #TravelMassive in Cape Town, the first #WTMAfrica, the first #Swellenblog, #Indaba2014, my first #Instawalk.

Meeting all the travel and blogging ninjas that I revere, face to face.

My head exploded happily, but like an overtired kid,  I needed to recharge before it ended badly.

A chance conversation in my local coffee shop, where I was buying coffee by the bucket in an attempt to appear lucid, led me to Olifantsrus at the foot of the Piekenierskloof.

Trees, mountains and greenery to stare at mindlessly for 2 days, with a bit of shopping thrown in for sanity’s sake, just what I needed.

Image

It took us 3.5 hours to drive the 180km from Cape Town to just before Citrusdal, as a stop in Piketberg to trawl the 2nd  clothing hand shops, and  a very early 5pm supper at the countryish Spur there was deemed compulsory.

How else can you get 2 shirts, a scarf and a steak with veg for under R200?

Eventually arriving at Olifantsrus in the dark, the comfy bed, a kettle and good supply of coffee, the bed kidnapped me for 9 hours of blissful coma like sleep.

A breakfast feast and an introduction to all who matter at Olifantsrus. Martine and Elizma, the owners, Boeta and Sussie, the giant Great Dane / Boerbull crosses, and Mathilde, the kitten who knows she is a Tiger.

Betty da Silva, local resident and manager, told us to go to the NGK Bazaar in town that morning. We did, and after buying plants, too many pancakes and surprisingly good coffee, we got takeaway homemade meatballs and other treats. Supper sorted with ease.

A visit to a few stores on the main road in Citrusdal, meeting the locals and farm hands as we queued for decades in the “payday madness” and back to assess our loot for the day. (4 more scarves, black tights, chocolate, honey and 3 bags of adorable baby things for my granddaughter, in case you were wondering)

IMG_0730

 

 

 

The afternoon was spent lazing, drinking coffee, staring at trees and ultimately climbing a tree, and just letting the my mind wander aimlessly, as my body was too lazy to join it. That was the extent of my exercise for the day. We saw a flash of the resident cardinal woodpecker that lives in one of the trees, a thrilling blur as I fumbled for my glasses and camera.

Lovely touches that made Olifantsrus a place I will return to were:

FREE WiFi    |  SERVICED ROOMS    |  HUGE BREAKFASTS    |   PIZZA OVEN & BRAAI FACILITIES

Other extras worth a mention are the full length mirrors in the rooms, nice one ladies, the liquor licence for the tired and thirsty, and endless rooibos and coffee supplies.

 

Image

After another huge breakfast served outside,  owners  Martine and Elizma took us to see their other baby, Natures View campsite, a few km down the road.

It is hard to believe that 3 years ago this was wild.

Image

 

A rock pool for the 40 – 45 C heat in summer, large green campsites with lights and electricity, clean ablution areas, and loads of activities including quad biking, paint ball and rafting in the river.

Nature’s View is also used as a team building venue and a childrens outdoor classroom. Kids can learn by doing fun activities like counting ants or fish, learning to swim, using maps to plan hikes or being educated in the Underwater classroom and finding out about Marine life and conservation. I wish I was a kid still, sounds like my kinda school.

Image                                              IMG_0800

Imagine owning a part of a river!    This section of the Olifants belongs to them, I’m so jealous. A small beach that had braai spots, shade, and tubes for adventures and exploration for the energetic types.

 

 

IMG_0837

 

  A bush pub for evenings of ensuring a mother of all hangovers, or just getting to know your fellow campers, your choice.

IMG_0833

 

 

    This is a great spot for families, outdoor lovers and hikers, add it to your “places to go in summer” list.

A slow Sunday afternoon drive back to Cape Town, with a stop 6km from Olifantsrus to see the “old town” Modderfontein.
Great mountains views, vivid flowers , mighty trees, an old cemetery and timeless buildings creatively restored

IMG_0892

 

The cellar based ladies loos delighted me with the large aardvark gracing the entrance, certainly different.

The lunch being served smelled and looked divine. Unfortunately we were already stuffed to the gills with breakfast, but some other time, oh yes!

 

IMG_0875

 

  Off again over the pretty, curly Piekenierskloof Pass and you simply can not drive past the De Tol Padstal.

A resident cat tethered to a 20m piece of rope comes for some love, outdoor tables in the sun entice you to have at least a cup of coffee, cake, or in our case, the largest,

most delicious homemade hamburger and chips at a ridiculously low price.

IMG_0898

The inside is an Aladdins Cave of food, preserves and delectables to be explored and added to your basket at a leisurely pace.

 

 

IMG_0905

 

 Our baskets are full, are tummies are bursting, our faces are smiling.

Restored and rejuvenated by just 48 hours away from the rush of normal life.
The perfect #shotleft from #CapeTown.

TIPS.
Do take time to chat to the owners of Olifantsrus. Martine and Elizma are both passionate about the area.
Rooted in the community,these two amazing young women do so much, and have stories to educate and entertain you with.

The highs and lows of employing local folks, the area newsletter they produce, the programs they have created to expose children to nature and outdoor life.
The NGO HUG, Help us Grow, they started that does community outreach work, and the uBuntu Creche and Old Age Home they are involved in.
Martine is the one with a degree in Nature Conservation, but their affinity with the outdoors is evident in both of these inspiring energy bunnies.

For information on activities and sites in the area, visit www.citrusdal.info 

Huge thanks to Martine and Elizma for inviting me to their little piece of paradise.

Bastille Day, Mzansi style

R E D                  W H I T E                    B L U E

IMG_1118

Franschhoek leaves nothing undecorated today, buildings and trees are swagged with bunting, locals and vistors sport berets and French themed outfits.

IMG_1146IMG_1148

 

 

 

 

 

 

The  sun is shining, the food and wine are world class and the party is on!

The Village Market outside the local church has everything from fresh produce, hot food, plants, crafts and novelty gifts, while the Bastille Market in the town hall tempts passers by with pancakes, and other sweet treats.

 

 

A lively parade through the high street by the Brass Band of Solms Delta kicks of the festivities. The noise and the smiles are infectious.
IMG_1103IMG_1127

IMG_1109

Barrel Rolling competitions, fine food and wine tasting, boules and all things French are celebrated in the huge marquees next to the monument.

IMG_1142

For those who are not foodies or wine lovers, the local pubs offer great varieties of beer, live music and pub grub. Shops, art galleries, African markets and curio shops are plentiful for those preferring retail therapy.

IMG_1132

 

IMG_1116

 

IMG_1152

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bastille Day is a celebration to mark the end of feudalism,the proclamation of The Rights of Man and the Citizen, and Freedom and National Unity in France.

Franschhoek in the Western Cape province of South Africa has a rich French Heritage going back 300 years. It is the wine capitol of the country and boasts world class cuisine to compliment it’s award winning wines.

IMG_1147

The Huguenot Monument is a testament to the  277 Huguenots who fled from France in the late 1600’s to settle and start afresh in Franschhoek .The museum next to the monument tells the stories of these families.

IMG_1150

 

Bastille Day in Franschhoek,

where South Africa and France collide in a perfect celebration of

F r e e d o m