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December 26, 2011

Road tripping: The Garden Route

Storm's River  is a magical place. The background of dark trees, craggy rocks, course sand, and the wild sea make me feel sort of crazy and content simultaneously. We arrived just before sunset, and settled into our little forest cabin. Dammit; I like forest cabins. Then off to the beach for a look around. I reached happily back into memories of my childhood holidays there. Everything seemed to have shrunk, now that my lens was no longer that of a twelve year old's. 

Dinner at the restaurant surpassed all expectations (previous encounters had been tough, bland and poorly served). I had blackened sole,  the flesh melting tenderly in the mouth before giving way to a shock of well- selected spices.

The next day we explored the hang- bridge path, and braved a very steep incline on the viewpoint path, to be rewarded with our own bench, and this view:

We climbed into the car with sweaty, sandy bodies and made our way to rainy Knysna, then on to Buffel’s Bay: An old family haunt that takes up the biggest part of December in my memories. It’s a beauty. Surrounded entirely by nature reserves, the beach is great, the sea is tolerably warm and safe, and vibe is relaxed. Everyone is happy to be there.Family braais and chatter, building puzzles and playing scrabble when it rains. Shopping in Knysna, hiking in the leafy forest with it’s fresh- dew smell and fleeting loeries.

At the Knysna Heads
One of many exceptionally tall trees in the Knysna forest

The remarkable Octopus Stinkhorn that we found on the forest floor. It's pretty but it reeks of putrid flesh. 
We had lunch at Ile de Pain . I had the chicken salad, a rather mono peanut- drenched affair; I wish I'd ordered the beautiful duck confit, the mushroom tart or the bread tasting platter. I did make a very good call, however, in ordering some Opera Tart to take home with us. Markus Färbinger’s serious chocolate slice, with it’s multitude layers and tantalising textures is the best sweet thing ever to hit my palate:  It is perfect.

Our exit from the Garden Route was grand: We drove on gravel roads from George to Oudshoorn via Montagu pass, stopping over at a unique winery in an unlikely place: Herold Wines  is perched high in the Outeniqua mountains, where it still smells like fynbos. We stopped for a lovely tasting, I especially fancy their 2009 Sauvignon blanc and the pinot noir- Crisp and refreshing with decent mineral tones. It feels like you’ve touched the mountain soil, the rolling clouds, and the trickling gold brown river with the tip of your tongue.

Photo's by Andrew Pullen, (the best co- pilot) and I.    

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