Monday, January 18, 2010

Holiday on Garden Route

Graeme and I spent 6 days staying in 3 places on the Garden Route. It was a relaxing time and may i say a pampered time. First stop was The Waves, a small original old house at Victoria Bay. As Bed and Breakfasts go i was very impressed. Beautiful and simple bed room looking out on to a veranda from which you could see the sea. Lovely white cotton bedding and as clean as a pin. The owners who have run it as a BnB for 16 years were pleasant folk, and breakfasts were a point of pride for them. Delicious fruits laid out on to our plates in all their colourful natural glory. This combined with the blue of the sky and the back drop of the crashing waves created a definite photo opportunity!. The rest of the breakfast was delicious, the full monty for Graeme and corn pancakes with crisp bacon and maple syrup for me. Filter coffee not bad either. Definitely a place to stop on your way along the coast.

On the first evening, using Roussouw as a trusty eating out guide we went through to Sedgefield to a place called Trattoria Da Vinci. This little italian eatery is owned by what seems to be an older couple (elderly hippies) who labour long and hard over a hot pizza oven. Most of the patrons including ourselves ate outside (a small mall so the tables are outside shops which are closed after 5) as it was a very warm evening. The inside of the restaurant looked dark and dingy, with an old bubbly looking carpet. But the food was delicious (although we waited for 1 1/4 hours before we received it). I had a aubergine Parmigiana baked in the wood fired oven and a simple pizza (garlic and oil), Graeme had a very good looking pizza (thin and topped with authenic italian ingredients).

The next 2 nights were spent at Phantom Forest Lodge near Knysna. It is a leave -no-footprints- eco friendly sort of place. We parked our car at the gate house and were ferried up into the forest by small green buses. Our Cottage was a delightful wooden one on stilts. The view was amazing, high up above the trees (literally a Tree House) looking out over the lagoon (in the distance). Peaceful is the way we felt while we stayed at Phantom. Gorgeous rooms with a spectacular bath surrounded by glass with the above view. I indulged in two candlelit baths,pre dinner. We were visited by rather prococious Vervet monkeys (and babies) on one occasion. The same monkeys were in the business of snatching toast etc the next day at breakfast. The dinner on the first night was good and bad. The red pepper and lentil soup was tasty. My carpaccio of Venison was inedible, and my pavlova was delicious, topped with gooseberries. Graeme's Fillet of Venison was tasty but tough. We were delighted when we went to pay for the dinner, that the had removed it from the bill. I hadn't even caused a scene. We were most impressed.
The second night at Phantom we ate at Zacharys (one of the few restaurants which Roussouw gives a 3 Star). This is at Pezula Lodge and a very fancy affair it was too. The food was delicious (not sure if i would have given it 3 stars though). We really enjoyed the atmosphere (very pampered) and left to return for our last night in our tree house full and happy.

The last 2 nights were spent at Hunters Country House. This is near Plettenberg Bay. It is a family owned very English thatched affair. Our little suite was a little dark and in contrast to the first two needing a good overhall, although the bedding was white and crisp cotton of the best quality. They did say they were upgrading each place, what a pity we drew the drab straw!. But the main house is lovely, old english in feel, and the staff very pleasant and professional. The food was amazing on both evenings. I won't bore you with the plate by plate crit, but the Strawberry consome, coconut sorbet and caramelized strawberry was a wonderful combination of flavours.

We visited the Birds of Eden and Monkey Land, both well worth a visit. We saw Ring Tailed Lemurs, Small Cotton tops (tiny monkeys with white fluffy hair on their heads), Rough Lemurs (with slothful ways and thick black and white fur), Vervets in numbers, Capucchins (some with number 1 hair cuts on their heads and some with a Elvis impersonation hair do's). The secretary birds, flamingos, cockateels, Mackaws, parrots etc., were a fantastic display of nature's colour pallette (?) .

Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, and George are devoid to the most part of any good restaurants, except for Ile de Pain (which we couldn't get into ) in Knysna and it's tiny sister Mon petit du Pain (which we went to twice had wonderful coffee, sandwhiches and pastries).

Lovely holiday but back to normality again.

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