Tag Archives: honeymoon

Honeymoon Adventures (PART 2 – Outdshoorn)

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Honeymoon Adventures (PART 2 – Outdshoorn)

I know – this follow up post has been a long time coming, but thankfully with the year winding to a close, I have somewhat more time on my hands 🙂

After leaving the not-as-nice-as-expected Knysna, the only other place I was adamant to venture to was ‘Ostrich’ country. Having been met by the disappointment that Knysna was no longer genuine ‘oyster’ country – I knew that Oudtshoorn would not disappoint.

Oudtshoorn (pronounced Oats-hu-wern), a little town nestled cozily just before the Swartberg Mountain Ranges and boasting more than just ostriches as its claim to fame – as it is also home to the ‘Cango Caves’. I had no expectations of the town itself, but was really just looking forward to the ostriches and caves. We had no accommodation bookings, because my husband who huddles in a corner at the mention of ‘planning’, said that I should book – and I told him that we should just wing it… which we did. On the GPS we located the nearest guesthouse upon entering the town, stopped – enquired about the rates (which were really good) and then booked in. Having arrived quite early in the morning – we unpacked the car and then set forth.

I had no pre-conceived notions about the place – but this little town sure blew me away. It was entirely reminiscent of what a little South African Town had been like back in the early 80’s (since that’s as far back as I can remember), prior to all the political nonsense and other stuff which so unnecessarily plagues this country’s past. It was simply beautiful! It was clean and the historical buildings had been looked after and maintained in pristine condition. The air was filled with a radiant warmth and welcoming feeling – which made me not want to leave the following day!

Our first stop was the Cango Ostrich Farm, where we enlisted ourselves on the guided tour and having missed the two large tourist busses which had stopped just prior to our arrival – our tour happened to be ‘exclusively’ ours! Just the two of us 🙂 It was truly special.

(Left) Hugging an ostrich never felt so good 🙂 (2nd) Judging by the look on his face, I don't think he enjoyed it nearly as much as I did (3rd) Apparently they can carry quite a substantial weight. NOTE: No ostrich was harmed during the taking of this picture (Right) Let them see the corn.... and it's a whole different kind of crazy!

After a brief intro on how the ostrich ended up here and the lucrative history of the ostrich feather (and that at one point in time was worth more than gold of the same weight!!), we were afforded the opportunity of being able to ‘hug’, feed and ‘sit’ on the ostriches. These rather docile and doe eyed looking sweetie-pies come right out of the dino era, or so we were warned and that when angered can kill a grown man with one fierce forward kick of its two toed foot. Also good to know that they’re right up there with cheetahs as far as land speed and that the best way to avoid getting severely injured by an ostrich is not to run, but to lie completely flat?!?! –  only because this will set you out of its peripheral vision. Another handy tip to note, is that the most valuable asset to the ostrich is it’s eyes!! Those big beautiful eyes, with to-die-for-lashes! They are so protective over their eyes, that they will shy away from any possible threat, so in the event that you wish to move unharmed through a herd of ostriches perhaps, be sure to carry and flank yourself with ‘thorny branches’.

These charming creatures were definitely my highlight! They are truly delightful creatures with such unique personalities…

Such cute harmless looking creatures, who can pack one mighty kick!

They are also very much like swallows in the sense that they “partner” for life – however, in the event of one passing away, strangely the female moves on to find another mate, but in the instance of the female passing…the male will never take another partner!

Ostrich eggs are quite clearly a feat all on their own, as they are able to hold and sustain quite a substantial weight!!

As the day settled into early afternoon, with the lazy July sun wanting to settle, we still had much adventure time ahead of us, I eagerly wanted to get along to the next ‘notch’ on our itinerary… we needed to see how far the Cango Caves were out of town and how long the total trip through the caverns would take us, so that we could establish if we still had enough time to get it done. Even if we had found the time constraints choking the afternoon into evening and hadn’t been able to go cave crawling – the spectacular view and drive more than soothed my restless self. The scenery in the outlying areas are simply stunning and we were blessed by the spectacular sight of the Swartberg Mountains, blanketed in snow! All I wanted to do then, was get to the mountains…

The Swartberg Mountain ranges covered in beautiful snow!!

The above stunning backdrop is what you will experience first hand from the deck of the Cango Caves ‘waiting area’ – we sipped on hot chocolate and took in the scenery, while deciding whether to take the ‘Standard’ or ‘Adventure’ tour… I decided that since neither of us had done the Caves before and considering we were on an ‘adventure’, we weren’t going to miss any bit of it…

The map of the 'inside' of the cave - the green line represents the 'standard' tour, where the red line represents the 'adventure' tour. It may not look like much difference, but that little additional bit of "adventure" which extends past the green bit... is not for the faint of heart

Once again missing the large groups from the same two tour busses as at the ostrich farm, we once again were privileged enough to have been given an ‘exclusive’ tour. So hubs and myself got a super personal tour, which was quite awesome to say the least.

Unfortunately the camera didn't quite do the inside of the caves much justice, because they are far more breathtaking in person!

I wasn’t striking a pose in the above picture, I was ‘limbering up’. It wasn’t my intention to have sore muscles on honeymoon…I was thankful that in the build up to the wedding I had lost some weight and with all the additional cardio – I was in top form, because after the ‘gentle’ stroll through the first part of the cave (which is really quite a sight to behold), the endurance and contortion of my human body were certainly tested.

(1) Ok, I will admit - here I was just posing 🙂 (2) ... and deeper we go - and they call this the 'Tunnel of Love'... (3) My rear end while trying to traverse the 'Devils Chimney' the first time (4) My second attempt at the 'Devils Chimney', this time after hubs made it through first đŸ˜„ (5) Through the 'Post box' (6) All hot and flustered after my triumphant walk/climb/run/contortion act!!

After the amazing trek through the caves and the wonderfully peaceful trip back to the guesthouse via the stunningly scenic route with the Swartberg Mountains looming in the background – I needed a shower and clean set of clothes. I’m also think I can safely say that I am possibly the only person who has done the ‘Adventure’ tour in a dress and ‘knitted Beret’. If anything, it just added to the challenge!

For supper we decided to search out a ‘local’ spot and after enquiring with the owners of the guesthouse, decided on a small restaurant offering the finest local cuisine, situated smack in the centre of town on the main street. I will not mention names, but to say that the air outside was crisp and cool – we were welcomed by a crackling log fire and cozy atmosphere. My biggest problem at most restaurants is that I usually play it safe… but figured that because this was Oudtshoorn, I should do something out of the ordinary. After perusing the menu for a period long enough to drink a glass of wine and a mug of hot chocolate, I finally decided on the ‘Crocodile Burger’. I usually settle for a far safer option, like a chicken schnitzel, but for some reason it spoke to me. The evening was blissfully sublime and upon returning to the guesthouse quite a time later, the room nice and warm, the wine having made me somewhat drowsy and the bed so-very-inviting, we called it a night… until just after 2am…

I woke with symptoms associated directly with either food poisoning or death and between violent vomiting and… I won’t share the rest – I decided that there’s probably a reason I decide to select the safer option on restaurant menus. Because when I bit into and ate that croc, I didn’t suspect he would bite back. It cut our honeymoon a day short – but even with the entire experience having ended on such an awful note, I would go back and eat at that same restaurant and possibly retire to Oudtshoorn.

Honeymoon Adventures! (PART 1 – Knysna)

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Honeymoon Adventures! (PART 1 – Knysna)

If you say that word to yourself, “Honeymoon”, it makes not sense.  When you look up the etymology of it, the meaning is also somewhat obscure. However, the general consensus is that…

Originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner ‘full’ than it begins to ‘wane’ – now usually the holiday spent together by a newly-married couple, prior to settling down at home

After our glorious wedding day, the following morning [Sunday, 24th July] was spent waking up far too early, followed by a quick breakfast, a trip to the house to unpack and subsequently repack for the honeymoon and then to go to the venue to clear out the last of our things from the night before. Aside from being tired and our minds still in a haze from how quickly it all ‘went down’, we finally found ourselves ready to embark on our honeymoon – the first two days of which I had booked as a surprise [with the help of my awesome mother, who managed to pull a few strings…] and for the rest… well, we simply decided to take each day as it came and ‘wing it’!

(Left) Me with my little pumpkin a little bit before our 'departure' (Middle) In the car on Monday, 25th July on our way to Knysna (Right) The oddly placed 'speed' camera on the pedestrian walkway which I later discovered was put in place to keep an eye on 'jumpers'

As would be the case, the weather on the day of the wedding had been most spectacularly beautiful… followed by a weather warning for potential cyclones and/or a possible hurricane, with a definite chance of heavy rains, fog and grey skies. Thankfully our first ‘Port of call’ was my mothers guesthouse in Port Elizabeth, which under normal circumstances takes approximately +- 3 hours, and that’s traveling the speed limit. This time however, it took us a staggering 5+ hours. Upon arrival we were greeted with miniature dams of water and a torrential downpour.

It was already 18H30 at that stage, and once we’d eaten our supper, unpacked, showered and warmed up, that brought us to about 20H30 at which point we turned in for the night, because you just have no idea how tired you are after a wedding! Wow. I slept dead and for a solid 12/13 hours. After a lazy rise and slow breakfast, we decided to make tracks. Opting for the more scenic garden route – which took us on a lovely, lush little excursion with many roadside stops, ‘padstalletjies’ (basically meaning roadside stalls/stands) and various ‘touristy’ places – we made it to Knysna at about 15H30.

The Garden Route

A Map of the Garden Route

After arriving at Lightleys Holiday Houseboats, we checked in and were subsequently shown the 10 minute instructional DVD on what NOT to do and where NOT to go in a houseboat, followed by a daunting run of things that could possibly go wrong, tide times to avoid and possible stranding on sand banks in the river, so after we were made to believe that this was to be a terribly scary and difficult adventure… I assured my husband that “he’d be just fine…” With temporary skipper license in hand, we offloaded our luggage and explored the small vessel. After which we went grocery shopping [only to establish the prices on everything to be even worse than in East London], followed by the hunt for the ‘cheapest yet fluffiest’ towels, as the ‘self-catering’ boat only came with 5 Litres of drinkable water and two additional blankets.  Our first evening was spent making ‘breakfast in pita’s’, followed by some reading, coffee, a trip to the ablutions and a fight for space on the ‘not-so-spacious’ double bed.

The following morning after breakfast we embarked on our first ‘boat ride’, towards Belvedere. We were forewarned not to stray off course by an inch, as recent storms had left sand banks in odd places and the whole route hadn’t been entirely ‘secured’ as yet. We insisted that one of the deckhands accompany us on our maiden voyage as I think we both had visions of being out in the water until the tide rose to free us from a sandbank or from us unwittingly ‘sailing’ into an oyster bed!

(Left) Me in My PJ's on our first night, catching up on some reading (2nd) Me standing out on deck on the first morning, drinking some coffee! (3rd) The view of the houseboats from the guests parking lot (Right) Hubby and the deckhand going out on our 'maiden voyage'

Once we returned from our little outing onto the Knysna Lagoon, ruffled by the fresh air and inspired for some adventure… I suggested that we would go in search of a castle. The Noetzi castle specifically. I remember spending a weekend in Knysna during my youth and venturing to the very same ‘castle’ with my mother and father – but all I recall from that trip was much rain, many stairs and a sickly baby brother. Upon arrival at the obscure destination, I had no recollection of what it was supposed to be like or where exactly we were supposed to go – there were however no stairs but a ridiculous decline of a road leading to the beachside… So we first scaled this pathway, only to discover that the ‘newer’ castle had been converted into a guesthouse, and the ‘older’ castle had been abandoned! This prospect excited me muchly!!! So I decided we would pay an ‘uninvited’ visit to the old abandoned place and get some strange pictures… see below!

Pictures taken inside the abandoned 'castle'

It was awesome, between feeling like a ‘criminal’ and getting some really ‘artistic photos’ – we were famished and headed back into town and in search of oysters. Knysna at one time had been renowned for their oysters, but more specifically for harvesting their own fresh oysters from the lagoon, only to find out that they no longer produce oysters locally but bring them in from Port Elizabeth. Disappointing.

There was exactly one interesting shop in the centre of town and an interesting ‘all day’ African wares market, with various crafts brought down from countries such as Kenya, Mozambique and Zimbabwe – but when you’ve seen one African mask, you’ve seen them all. The only other point of interest was the wharf. There were some genuinely ‘different’ little shops, interesting sculptures which promoted local industry and trade and far too many restaurants. We had seen this really quaint pub on our drive down to the wharf and after enquiring as to ‘Where the locals hang out?’, it was confirmed as the same place – our late lunch/early supper was divine, the atmosphere relaxed and prices within reason.Which leaves nothing much else about Knysna to visit, aside from ridiculously priced groceries and a surreal sense of quiet and isolation. The ‘locals’ don’t seem to want the tourists around and have thwarted attempts made by industrious businessmen in their attempt to promote the town. On the garden route however, en-route to Knysna, there is much to see – but I suggest that unless ‘dead quiet’ and paying through your nose is what you’re looking for, give Knysna a miss. The houseboating was fun though, but it was too cold (mmm, good weather for a newly married couple to snuggle in 🙂 )  I think for the houseboating to be a true experience, it needs to be a team effort – like a group of friends in the summer, where lazy warm afternoons are spent sunbathing and evenings spent with a barbeque on deck accompanied by sundowners… this would be more appropriate and scene-setting.

By wednesday morning we’d seen enough of the wet, expensive little place, with the all-too-confined sleeping quarters… and so the second part of our honeymoon trip beckoned…

to be continued

Marriage…A lot like having children

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When you’re a young girl, your world is abuzz with fantasies of being a princess, living in a castle and marrying the knight or prince and living happily ever after. You also spend a great deal playing with dolls. The only difference being, that when you have real children – you can’t simply put them away when you’re done ‘playing’ (since that’s deemed as abuse in most countries), besides you can still hear them scream from behind closed cupboard doors. The reality of changing diapers, colic, cleaning up vomit, infinite loads of laundry and sleepless nights are not something you get told about until you’re actually pregnant and start feeling excited about the notion of bringing a part of yourself into the world and the stories are confirmed once the little ‘spawn of self’ arrives and you turn from an excited mother-to-be, into some grey-in-colour, bewildered, crazy person, with a strand of patience the length of a matchstick.

I have since realised that marriage is somewhat shrouded in much the same way. You have these preconceived notions about how wonderous it will be to get married and that it should be ‘perfect’ – even though logic and common sense dictates that you already know, there’s ‘NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT’. But you strive for it nonetheless.  You think of it as a day of a beautiful bride who is simply glowing, a groom who sheds a tear at the sight, the happy guests, the stunning venue with the most quaint and unique table arrangements – that really capture the essence and eccentricity of the bride and groom and then after the most wonderous day, they float off on a dreamy honeymoon…

Bulldust.

The bride is simply glowing because she took an all too strong combination of the ‘calming medication’ her mother gave her, accompanied by the champagne the bride has had as an extension of her arm since 10am that morning when she realised the cake that was delivered wasn’t what she’d asked for and the flowers were the wrong darn colour.  The groom sheds a tear out of sheer jubilation at the fact that the crazy ‘bridezilla’ is finally walking down the aisle, and the terror and extremist demands should hopefully end within the next 6 hours or so and maybe he can actually ‘get some’, because the crazy woman has been about as loving as Hitler and as attentive as a child with ADHD with a generous dose of ‘ZERO’ rationale. The guests are all happy because it’s not everyday they get treated to a FREE 3 course meal and wine. The table arrangements should look unique and capture some essence, albeit an insight into the dissection of a womans derranged brain. The honeymoon probably won’t be dreamy either – as I for instance with all the stress and worry of everything I have already tried to plan, some things successfully and other not so much… my darling dearest said,

“…since I probably won’t find the right place or you’ll find something to complain about, why don’t I just give you my credit card and you organise it…”. 

To which I replied,

 “…NO, because through all of this, I think it’s only fair that you actually do something…”.

Strangely only about 3 or 4 months before the wedding, just as in my pregnancy – did all the horror stories from past brides begin to surface and seep through the cracks of my perfect vision. It was also at that stage where I noticed things were not quite as they should be. For instance the flowers I had planned on apparently would not be in season, much to the denial of the florist whom I had consulted. The dressmaker forgot to actually cut the pattern or make the dress for my first actual fitting (which is on monday) and certain delegated tasks, I’ve established have not been executed as other individuals don’t seem to have the same sense of urgency – I was also reprimanded by said individual for being crazy and acting stupid and that they can’t wait for the wedding to be over and done with.

In my defense… I have an idea for the table arrangements that apparently only I can see, a dress that I designed in photoshop by ‘cutting and pasting’ roughly bits from 4 or 5 other dresses, a bridesmaid who is MIA and boss who won’t sign my leave form due to the fact that I don’t have a replacement for all of a week. I was stressed last week, but once my stomach ulcer started to flare up and my head was met by a neverending migraine… I decided dying over it may not be an option – and that firstly, the universe has a mysterious way of sorting itself out and secondly, sometimes the harder you try to get things to go the way you want them to, the more they’ll tend to bug out. So, take a deep breath – approach a wedding like you would children. Know that no matter how much you expect them to behave and act like you know they should… they won’t – but as long as you came prepared for everything from chocolate milk spills to dirty diapers, it may not be as you’d imagined – but at least it’ll be funny.

So please as friends and family alike. As wrong as it is to scare someone into not having children or getting married, I do think it only fair that they be forwarned – that it WILL BE stressful, tiring and test all human levels of endurance, patience and the boundaries of love, as I’ve learnt with my child – it was all worth it in the end. As I’m sure what I’m feeling now will dissipate and my wedding day will be just as I’ve always imagined 🙂