Coast to City with the Cape Collection

Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection
Coast to City with the Cape Collection

I have been dying to take a road trip and just get out of town recently. When the offer came up to do one I just had to jump at it!

Taking a trip from city to coast was the theme and my first stop, Hermanus. 
A small town about two hours outside of Cape Town famous for the magnificent Southern Right whales that visit every year. 
The town is quaint and is an absolute must-visit for tourists and locals alike. 

Adorned with sculptures by local artists and look out points at every turn; I couldn't help but keep a look out for a whale (even though I know they only arrive in winter around June/July)

If you find yourself in Hermanus and are looking for luxury accommodation, then One Marine Drive is for you. Part of the Cape Collection, this property boasts several rooms all with arty design elements.

Their immaculate attention to detail is what makes the establishment stand out. The rooms are spacious and come standard with an iPad to browse the internet or listen to music. 
As if that wasn't enough, you are also supplied with a cell phone containing local numbers and emergency numbers in case the need arises.

The staff are wonderfully helpful and assisted with whatever query or need I had. 

They advised on some great walks that I could go on, which places to dine at and always had an anecdote or two to share about their (not-so-little) town. 
The pool is nothing short of inviting and a must visit for a sunny relaxing moment with an ice cold drink in hand. As I enjoyed some R&R time I could feel the stress melting off me! 

I took a long walk along the shoreline with a friend of mine and we did a spot of whale scouting (again they are currently in Antarctica but a girl can dream) 

I stumbled upon a local spot called Dutchies which is great for a light meal and good glass of wine. They are located right near the beach; where you only need to take a short walk through the local forest and pop out right on the B-Spot (that’s the equivalent of the G-spot for a sun worshipper). 
Watching sunset offered me the opportunity for some mindful breathing and introspection...Something I rarely get time for. 

On the itinerary for dinner was Origins. I highly recommend them if you are looking for an elevated five-star dining experience that will leave you more than satisfied.

Make sure you have the pear tart - You can thank me later! 

With a happy heart and my appetite satiated, retreating to my accommodation was a welcome treat.
With a fully stocked tea station, peppermint tea was on the agenda to accompany my current read before a night of sweet sleep. 

After a night at the coast, it was time to return to the city lights. Blackheath Lodge was my destination and in almost every respect, not at all what I expected. 
Upon arrival, I was met with gracious hospitality and a glass of wine. I found my way to the gorgeous swimming pool and enjoyed a quiet break taking in the sound of the flowing water. Blackheath lodge is an oasis. Quiet and peaceful yet close to everything you could need! Tucked away in the city of Cape Town this beautiful house is an old victorian design that has been transformed. With gorgeous wooden floors and high ceilings, the rooms are comfortable and elegant with the same attention to detail as One Marine drive. The Cape Collection has truly thought of everything to offer their guests comfort. 

Book private tours of Cape Town from the comfort of the guest house where the staff is more than willing to talk you through any questions you may have about local attractions. 

I always feel proudly South African when I can hear a foreign couple at the next table talking about how spectacular their stay has been and how the attractions have blown them away. I wasn't surprised when I overheard a British couple at dinner saying that their accommodation was a treat and a true haven of peace and quiet in the city. 
That night, I decided not to venture out of my oasis in search of dinner but rather stay in and try the on-site fare. On the menu was their famous Bobotie (a traditional Cape Malay dish made of curried mince) and for dessert, Malva pudding (a traditional baked dessert of Cape Dutch origins). 
A true taste of local cuisine. 

After a perfect nights sleep and a fresh enlivening breakfast, the time came to say goodbye. 

All in all an incredible two-day road trip experiencing what is on offer with the Cape Collection. 

I’m definitely a fan.

 

The Hickory Shack

The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack
The Hickory Shack


When last did you take a road trip? 
With spring in the air and blossoms showing their pretty faces in the country side, I recently took a shot left to Elgin. Just an hour outside of Cape Town, on the N2 over Sir Lowry's pass, the countryside changes rapidly and before long, you find yourself amidst mountaneous hills dotted with pine trees, waterfalls, rocky outcrops and lakes.
It is an exceptionally beautiful part of the country that plays host to a plethora of outdoor activities.

Did I mention the area is also rife with glorious apple orchids and vineyards?
I could not help but get lost on the farm roads and between the little dexter cows (you are going to have to google them) and the ducks waddling down the road, I was swept off my feet by Elgin. 
I had been threatening to take a trip to explore the area for the longest time, but it was only until I found a suitable gastronomic reason to put my procrastination to bed did I eventually "bust a (proverbial) move"
Whoever said food is not a grand motivator has obviously never been to The Hickory Shack.
Owned by Jay Haupt this spot is all about slow cooking Texas style. Their wildly talented pit master, Eugene nurses the pit flames like a new age alchemist to ensure the perfect, tender, juicy meat. From brisket and ribs to chicken wings and cowboy beans, I guarantee that your taste buds will never be the same.
It is a carnal, sensory and simplified space with emphasis on the quality of the meat, both in taste and ethics.

The atmosphere is as relaxed as your favourite pair of jeans with country blues playing in the background while the fire place crackles in in agreement. This is a place where you will get drawn into the slow lane and end up staying for a while.
The decor is beautiful with wood at every turn. I couldn't help but think it pays homage to the beautiful forest surroundings. 
The tables are generous in seating and definitely built for extended family style feasting. More is more at the Hickory Shack and I loved it. 
Now lets get down to business and talk food. It was absolutely phenominal. 
The meat is prepared with a Texas dry rub. No sauces or artificial flavours are added to their product. 

Locally sourced meat is smoked in a huge smoker for several hours prior to serving. The duration dependant on the cut and type of meat; namely chicken, brisket, ribs and pork with the brisket demanding the most attention at 30 hours.
The meat mains are accompanied with sides that are true to texas flavours. The cowboy beans are a labour of love and take 3 days to make. They contain brisket cut offs and their smokey flavour coupled with another side of buttermilk mash is what I would call a match made in heaven. 
They have a sweetcorn salad on offer and (my favourite) coleslaw which is prepared with vinegar, cut through the richness of the meat with such sweet perfection - I wondered how I would ever eat anything else again. 

Every side is a well thought out addition with a clear intention to compliment the meat perfectly. 
The average spend is around R250 per person including a beer or two.
I had to try the pomegranate cider which I highly recommend (and to be honest if I wasn't driving I would have had another five or ten)
So if you are wondering what to do this weekend - why not take a road trip and experience slow cooking at its finest! 
Just remember more is more so you will need an empty stomach and very big eyes.

-Melissa

*This blog post is sponsored by The Hickory Shack all opinions are my own. 
 

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/the-hickory-shack

The Orange River - Namibia

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Over New Years (yes this blog post is late) a group of friends and I decided that we were going to paddle down the Orange River over a 4 day period with a company called Bushwhacked.

The Orange River for those of you that have my geographical skills is the border between South Africa and Namibia. They call it the Richtersveld and it is possibly one of the harshest environments one can experience or witness.  It is a seven and a half hour drive up to the border of Namibia and of course we decided to drive up in December. As we drove north the temperature on my car went up. Driving into Bushwhacked it was a whopping 55 Degrees Celsius

This adventure was going to be one of heat and tough paddling.

 We spent the first night at base camp, a beautifully set up space for you to practice your camping skills for the first night. Everyone settled in and of course the heavy debate of what to take and what to leave behind ensued.

We were given two dry bags and a cooler box per boat. You have to paddle your boat, so you don’t want to make it a very heavy one. The dilemma? You also don’t want to be out there in the riverbed without your basic comforts.  

Lesson number one: Travel light and nimble as an elf.

After many a debate we settled on leaving our tent behind. thereby cutting our clothing in half and making sure we had plenty of snacks and drinks for the river.

After breakfast we headed out on what was sure to be the adventure of a lifetime. The only problem is that after the first 100m I realised I might have possibly bitten off more than I can chew.  But I realised in that moment that there wasn’t much I could do about it.

Lesson number two: Finish what you start.

Very soon after leaving the base camp the beauty of your environment hits you. I could not believe the colour of the rocks and the mountains surrounding us. Some were bright orange and others deep red all the while with green trees on the boarder of the river and blue skies. The vivid colour palette was something I will never forget.

We paddled until lunch and then found a spot on the side of the river where our guide and his assistance setup lunch. The food is basic but simply delicious with a carefully thought out menu I could not fault. I had to question whether in survival mode if I would be fussy?

Between every moment you find yourself in the water. It was the only relief from the relentless heat that pounded down on us. Sunblock was sure to be our best friend and a precious commodity over the next few days. 

Lesson number three: wear sunscreen. Yes, like the song. He was right.

Paddling further after lunch and facing a strong head wind I again questioned if this break was for me. With my arms burning and my sense of humor fading I learnt my fourth lesson on the Orange River. Stop sulking, there is nothing you can do about it so change your attitude and be positive. A special shout out to my girlfriend for surviving me and to all the couples that broke up and got back together that afternoon!

 Our first night of camping without a tent left me with mixed emotions. The stars are unlike anything you have ever seen before but so are the insects. Now I wouldn’t call myself a city girl who lacks adventure but I will say this. I don’t want bugs on me. At all. With mixed emotions we set up camp and started counting shooting stars. The first night was possibly the best as the moon decided to put on a show and rose over the mountains. Drifting in and out of sleep, I remember thinking every time I opened my eyes that I was in the most beautiful place I had ever slept in my life.

The sun rises early so you do too. Packing up the camp after our river shower and making sure we hit the water early was our daily mission. 

Lesson number five: The early bird catches the worm

Paddling down the river I couldn’t believe the harsh environment that the animals of the Orange River live in.  The sun beats down with no mercy and the only way to protect yourself is to cover up with wet sarongs. It made me appreciate evolution and the animals ability to survive in their surrounding. We saw a troupe of baboons that clearly looked as if they thrived. I however was twitching that I might not have enough sunblock! 

Lesson number six: Be grateful for what you have, someone else has it harsher.

Our second day of paddling was fantastic. The water moved faster so the paddling was easier. We also did what is called a nappy run. This is when you tie your life jacket around your bum like a nappy and go legs first down the river. I simply loved it. If you surrender to the river you feel as if you are flowing with the water. Even when the rapid pulls you under it brings you back up. It was exhilarating.

Lesson number seven: Sometimes you just got to let go and surrender.

By late afternoon on the second day we had setup camp. Again no tent. I was fine with this given the first night was beautiful. Mother Nature however had a different idea and decided to test us with a freak electrical storm. Within the space of 5 minutes we went from blue skies to rain and lightning with gale force winds. I was still standing in my bikini! The temperature dropped so suddenly that I started shaking. I thought to myself, this is it. This is how I die, in a leopard print bikini in the Orange River. Twenty minutes later there were blue skies. It was wild. The rest of the evening was spent on edge waiting for a curve ball from our environment. It never arrived. 

Lesson number eight: Life is what happens when you are making other plans.

Our third day was again magical. Floating/paddling down the river with ice cold drinks and a group of friends that can laugh at any situation I realised how grateful I was for the people in my life. Being able to laugh no matter what is critical to your survival. If we didn’t laugh there were definitely moments we would cry. But in these moments I realised my next Orange River lesson. Laughter is the best medicine.

With the sun setting on our third day on the Orange River I went for a walk with my girlfriend. We stood in the middle of the Orange River and looked around us. It is massive and magnificent. Best of all? It is actually right in our back yard. I cannot believe so many people are trekking over seas when they haven’t even seen this part of the country. I felt like I was part of something bigger than myself.  To walk on the riverbed and see how majestic the mountains are, and to know that I was seeing something few people could see because few people would voluntarily sleep with out a tent, paddle their butt off and do their business in the bush. I felt like I had accomplished something; that I had an adventure not many will have in their lifetime and that it all came from hard work.

Lesson number ten: Be brave and capture the spirit of adventure within you.

We watched the sunset and boy, did it put on a show. The colours were something else. With great company, laughter, good food and a comfortable seat I felt content. 

We set up camp on the edge of the riverbed and lay watching fireflies to the sound of frogs croaking. It was like a scene from a movie until it started raining. So about that no tent thing… Pack one. A small durable waterproof tent. It is worth the slog. I must admit it was an all-time low in my life lying in the dark on a riverbed in the rain.

Lesson number eleven: Make the best of a bad situation.

On our last day we paddled to brunch and shortly afterward set out to do shamrock. I rapid which is classed as a stage three difficulty and was going to test us, all the team work and communication we had built up over the last three days on the river. We had to paddle extra and carry our boats 500 meters across rocks if we wanted to do it. We did. We decided that we had come this far and nothing was going to stop us now. What a blast it was and if you ever find yourself there remember lesson number eleven. Nothing in life comes without a little bit of hard work!

Once we left the river I had this instant sense of nostalgia for the last few days. Was that it? It went so fast! I felt like I was a fully-fledged river rat and I didn’t want that to change!

The busses pick you up and take you across the border, which is quick and painless. You return to the campsite sun beaten, tired and ready for a shower. I promise you it is the best shower you will ever have!

We spent New Years Eve in the campsite with spit braai’s (a South African BBQ with a whole sheep) and cold beer, which was a perfect way to watch the sun go down on the final day of a very rough year. It got me thinking. 2015 was a hard year as I have mentioned but it was also a great year. I grew from strength to strength. This was the year that launched the blog and ended it with the adventure of a lifetime. Which bought me to my final Orange River lesson.

Lesson number twelve: No one said it would be easy. They only said it would be worth it.

Thank you to Jonathan Tucker, my love, my friends and of course The Orange River for a trip and lessons I will never forget!

 

 

Source: www.thetrufflejournal.com/the-orange-river-namibia