St. Helena Bay – South Africa

My first trip to the West Coast started in Stellenbosch, a beautiful old university town where I now live with my girlfriend, Jess, and our 3 dogs: Laika, Marty & Coco. Oh, and a very independant  17 year old ginger cat.

Every morning I wake up to the most stunning sunrises, the smell of strong coffee brewing in the mochapot, old oak trees, hungry dogs, and colourful flowers everywhere. No, really. Everywhere. (My girfriend is a florist, and obsessed with anything green that grows.)

Armed with a couple of smartphones, snacks, water and a packet of cigarrettes, we embarked on my first roadtrip in South Africa in an old 4×4. No map, no gps, no music .The radio was broken and had an old tape stuck in there…  A tape! That’s how old this car is!

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Relying on our general sense of direction, my girlfriend’s memory and a couple of roadsigns scattered along the way, we were on our way. It was sunny and hot.  We had the all the windows down (best aircon you can get) and entertained ourselves with our professional singing skills.Ha!

Miles and miles of endless farm fields later, we made our first stop and stretched our legs in the little town of Darling. My Jess grew up in this cute town, filled with old victorian style cottages and little gardens everywhere. Darling is known for it’s flowers and is part of the West Coast flower region, which has more than 1200 species of flowering plants.

We stopped at an iconic little building which used to be the old train station and has now been transformed into Evita Se Perron (Evita’s Platform, a clever little play on Afrikaans words). It’s one of those amazing little places that can only be found in small, random towns. A cabaret theatre & restaurant, and a sort of art gallery/experience/mini museum, all in one place. Evita Bezuidenhout, the most famous Auntie in South Africa, known for her comedic conversations on South African politics, and is well loved by many politicians and locals alike.

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The perron kind of has these sections that you wander through, starting with a mini craft shop, with doors leading out onto a cool “stoep” (Afrikaans for veranda or porch) with couches, tables and quirky ornaments. From here you can access Boerrassic Park, another clever play on words, and take a stroll through sculptures of political figures from South Africa’s interesting history. These aren’t your boring, standard political sculptures, but pieces of art pointing out the various scandals of these politicians in a humoristic way. From here we walked into a mini theatre with old videos playing on a projector, and photo’s of Tannie Evita (Auntie Evita) with icons such as Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and many many many more. Among these photos, there was a wall of portraits that local children painted of Tannie Evita, and what do you know, Jess’s painting is right up there, top row center! These were portraits that she & her art classmates painted  20 years ago when they were 10! That for me was a remarkable experience.

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From here we continued towards our final destination, St. Helena Bay, about another hour of driving and singing.

Nicknamed by locals as ‘Agterbaai’ (directly translated to Back Bay or Behind bay), this industrial, yet charming town is located on the shore of the bay from which it derives it’s local name. It’s near Vredenburg, a bigger (but less impressive) town on the West Coast, as well as a short drive away from beautiful Paternoster, known for it’s fresh and local seafood.

After dropping our bags at The Lazy Daisies, and gaping at the views for an hour or two, we

decided to be a little adventurous and take a drive to Paternoster, following a   dusty and unpaved rural roads. The drive felt  like being on a rollercoaster, but with better views.

Typical of Jess’s luck, we  managed to get to the entrance of the town, just as the 20 year old vehicle broke down after taking a beating on the merciless dirt road.

Fortunately, the West Coast people are some of the most friendly and accommodating people you could hope for, and we managed to find a mechanic who happily helped us get back on the road  to st. Helena Bay in no time.

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We stayed in a beautiful self catering apartment, The Lazy Daisies, a hidden little gem perched on top of a hill on the peninsula

. Every morning we were treated to a breathtaking sunrise across the Atlantic Ocean.  Endless peace and tranquility surrounded us, and we had incomparable night views of the stars in the Milky Way, and we were lucky enough to spot a few shooting stars! With a bit of luck & patience, you might even see a UFO or two, if you’re into that kind of thing 😉

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One of the best things of our stay was the rain shower with a full ocean view! Our room was spacious with a massive king size bed and glass sliding doors all along the front deck with the most amazing views. There’s a convenient little grill on the deck, which we used for a “braai” (Afrikaans for BBQ, but The Braai deserves an entire post of it’s own)

perfect fire

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This amazing little place was rather affordable, and if I remember correctly we paid R745 per night for the apartment.

Contact The Lazy Diasies for proper rates & availability, and we highly reccommend that you check this stunning little place out!

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