5 Free Definitely have-to-do’s in Hermanus

Walk the Cliff Path

Walk the cliff path from Grotto Beach to the new harbour (or vice versa). Pack a day pack and stop to have something to eat along the way. The walk can take anything from four to six hours, depending on your pace, how many times you stop, etc. Don’t be in a hurry. Take a swim along the way and stop to smell the fynbos. Reward yourself with a liquid refreshment at Dutchies Restaurant at the end at Grotto beach. This is a nice family activity. There are very few steps along the way, so it is possible to do with a child in a stroller if there are a pair of hands on deck to help carry it up and down. Find out more about the cliff path here: https://www.fernkloof.org.za/index.php/fernkloof-nature-reserve/hermanus-cliff-path.

Walking in Fernkloof

There are three dams in Fernkloof. The first is easy enough to reach for healthy persons. There are steps with uphills and downhills involved, but nothing serious. It is an activity that can be done with young children. Small children must be always accompanied by a parent. This route is not stroller friendly, so keep that in mind. To reach the second and third dams is much more difficult and is definitely not suitable for children younger than 12. You also need to know the route to these two dams, because the footpath is not always visible everywhere. Rather go in groups than alone for your safety.

Fernkloof also offers hiking and cycling trails which start from the entrance at the foot of the mountain. Find out more here: https://www.fernkloof.org.za/.

Walking on Grotto Beach

The beach from Grotto Beach stretches for kilo’s along Walker Bay and one can walk all the way to De Kelders (about 20km) and even further. With a day pack on the back, good shoes and food and water, this is a great walk if you want to have a hike along the ocean. If you do not want to go that far, do shorter walks (like an hour out and an hour back). Take a dip in the sea when it gets too hot. It is also safer to go in a group.

Cycling on the beach is another alternative if you want a bit more adventure and have your own fat bike. (Bikes are for hire, but this is a free activities article.)

Watch the Sunset on the Mountain Top

Sunsets are just fabulous from the viewing points on the mountain. When driving out of town towards Cape Town, turn right on the Rotary Way (https://www.hermanus.co.za/rotary-way) and follow the road to the viewing point. Have a nice non-alcoholic sundowner up there while watching the sun vanish behind the water horizon. (Again, go in a small group or as family. Keep car doors shut and no valuables openly visible in your vehicle.)

Picnicking on the Beach

With the long never-ending summer days, a picnic on the beach is a wonderful end to a magnificent day in the sun. Take along a picnic basket, an umbrella if needed, a picnic blanket and welcome the evening while watching the sun set with the people you love.

!Remember!

  • Wear sunblock
  • Be alert towards you and your family’s safety. If possible, do these activities in groups or as a whole family.
  • Respect all animals on your adventures and do not feed them.
  • Put emergency numbers in your cell phone contact list. Click here to find the list of numbers: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/.
  • Please leave only your shoe or wheel prints behind. For everything else, use the bins provided.

For more safety tips, click here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/12/16/your-guide-to-a-safe-hermanus-holiday/

For more to do in and around Hermanus, read here: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

Enjoy your stay!

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

Your Guide to a Safe Hermanus Holiday

Your Guide to a Safe Holiday in Hermanus

Hermanus is looking forward to welcoming holidaymakers back to our town for a well-deserved rest after a weird, challenging and probably life-changing year. Just a request: Please, please, please make sure not to bring an unwanted guest (I’m of course referring about a certain little virus) with you to our town, so that we can limit and eventually stop the spreading of this horrible Covid-19 thing.

Covid-19 Related Information

Make sure not to decrease your personal alertness with regards to the virus while on holiday. Keep us in Hermanus, yourself and your family safe by following the basic protocols. Remember the following:

  • Do not to leave your place of accommodation without a mask.
  • Have extra masks in your car, handbag, beach bag and jacket pockets for use when out and about.
  • Wash your masks every evening and let them dry well – in the sun if possible.
  • Be kind to fellow holidaymakers by practicing safe social distances on beaches, in the streets, in shops and in public areas.
  • Stay inside, away from people when you are sick or feel unwell.
  • In case you get sick and are symptomatic, call a local medical practice and they will advise you accordingly.

Tips for an Injury-free Holiday

As an experienced holiday-goer you know the basics. Here are just a few reminders when preparing for a relaxing and accident and injury-free holiday:

  • The sun in our area is a bit on the mean side, so always use sunblock when going to the beach, going for a hike or even when just going for a stroll on the cliff path or in town. Get after sun soothing cream for those irresponsible moments. Use an umbrella/gazebo when spending extended times on the beach.
  • Always wear a hat when outside in the sun.
  • Beware of the strong currents when swimming/surfing/body boarding at especially Voëlklip, Kammabaai and Mossel River. Diligently follow instructions from lifeguards on duty.
  • Be careful when leaving the cliff path to walk on the rocky areas near the sea, as waves can splash high and aggressively and surprise holiday-goers.
  • Be respectful of wildlife on the cliff path. Stay out of the fynbos and do not feed any animals.
  • Always carry water when going for a stroll, exercise or a hike.
  • Bring along a basic first aid with tablets for headache and fever, band aids, antihistamine tablets etc. Also make sure to bring along enough prescription medicine on holiday and have an up-to-date copy of your prescription with you or on the system at the pharmacy in case of an emergency.
  • If you reside on the east side of town, beware of the baboons. Never feed them and keep windows closed when they are in the vicinity. Don’t leave food unattended outside and keep garbage bins firmly closed. Contact the Baboon Hotline (072 028 0008) when experiencing problems.
  • Children:
    • Take extra precautions to teach your little one’s sun-safety.
    • Always watch small children near the water and on the rocks. Don’t let children walk on the rocks (or anywhere else) unattended.
    • Don’t lose sight of children on the beach.
    • Don’t let small children walk alone or let them out of your sight in shops.
  • Cell phones.
    • Keep you cell phone charged when out and about, in case you must make an emergency call.
    • Don’t use your phone while driving.
    • Don’t text while walking on pavements and crossing streets in our town.
    • Don’t take selfies at dangerous places.
    • Don’t turn your back on the water when filming on the rocks when the sea is rough and even when it’s not. Freak waves can occur even when the water is calm.
    • Try using your cell phone less while on holiday and rather enjoy every moment of your rest with your loved ones. Cleanse your soul. Give your mind a rest. Live in the moment.

Tips for Staying out of Crime’s Way

Unfortunately, criminals never go on holiday and Hermanus isn’t exempt from opportunists. Don’t drop your guard. Be alert as if you are still at home. Stay safe, alert, and streetwise by keeping the following in mind:

  • If possible, always move around in groups. Don’t walk alone in Fernkloof, on the cliff path or go alone to the Rotary Way viewpoint on the mountain. Although these places are generally safe most of the time, criminals might be on the lookout for unassuming holiday-goers.
  • When walking on the cliff path, consider carrying a whistle so that you can draw attention to yourself should you land in trouble. The Hermanus Public Protection (HPP) services are on duty daily and will hear when you make a noise. (Say “hi” to these friendly people dressed in brownish uniforms when passing them. They are performing a great service in helping to keep Hermanus safe.)
  • Make sure your young children are always accompanied by at least one adult.
  • When observing poachers, do not confront or interact with them. Rather call law enforcement. If you report them, mention where you saw them. There are place names everywhere alongside the cliff path (https://www.fernkloof.org.za/index.php/fernkloof-nature-reserve/hermanus-cliff-path).
  • Do not confront any criminals yourself. Call law enforcement.
  • If you are unfortunate to become a victim of a crime – even petty, please report it and make a case to the police. No action can be taken if this isn’t done, which means that culprits go free to commit crime again.
  • Don’t run or walk alone after dark.
  • When driving around and leaving your vehicle in a parking lot, do not leave valuables lying around inside the car. Lock them in the trunk, carry it with you or leave it in a safe place at your holiday residence.
  • When having a braai or just sitting on the stoep at night, keep doors locked and make sure purses, wallets, watches, phones, laptops and other valuables aren’t lying around openly. Thieves are on the lookout for opportunities when holidaymakers are relaxed and at their most vulnerable. Keep security lights on at night when kuiering outside.
  • Don’t leave garage doors open for long – even if you are at home or working in the garden.
  • If you are staying in a bed-and-breakfast or hotel, familiarise yourself with their security guidelines and follow it.
  • If renting a self-catering flat or house, make sure that you are informed about the neighbourhood and security system watch and know how the alarm works.
  • Switch on outside lights at night as dark premises encourage criminals to enter without being seen by law enforcement and neighbourhood watch vehicles.
  • Have telephone numbers for emergency services in Hermanus readily on your mobile phones in order to call for help should an emergency arise.
  • Use local official businesses for excursions, tourist attractions and events. Don’t fall for opportunists trying to scam you.
  • Hermanus does not tolerate begging in streets as this only encourages drug usage and other issues. There are various organisations where people can go for help. Be on the lookout for chancers harassing holiday goers.
  • Don’t keep your cell phone/money/wallet in your back pocket.
  • Do not put your handbag on the floor/ground when sitting in a restaurant. Rather keep the handle around your leg or keep it on the seat close to you.
  • Cell phones.
    • Keep you cell phone charged when out and about for in case you must make an emergency call.
    • When in public (walking/restaurants) keep cell phones out of sight. Try not to walk with a cell phone/tablet in your hand in case as it can easily being grabbed by thieves.
    • Don’t keep your child busy with a phone/tablet in public as they make soft targets for criminals.

Bottom line: Don’t become lax in exercising safety and security just because you are on holiday.

Emergency numbers

(Please Note: Do not confuse the 028 Hermanus’ area code with a cell number. The NSRI uses the 082- cell number though.)

We hope you enjoy your time in Hermanus and make such wonderful memories that you want to come back again and again.

A friendly PS: Please make sure to only leave your footprints behind.

Read here for more about Hermanus and things to do: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

5 Reasons why you Absolutely should Visit Hermanus

  1. It is nestled in the heart of the Overberg region

The Overberg region includes Hermanus, Gansbaai, Kleinmond, Betty’s Bay, Stanford, Greyton and many more picturesque towns which can be visited during short day trips while on holiday in Hermanus. Visit SA Places at https://www.places.co.za/html/towns_in_the_overberg.html to read more about these beauties waiting for you to visit.

2              Hemel-en-Aarde Valley Wines

Hermanus has got its own wine route in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley (translation: Heaven and Earth Valley). Click here to plan your wineries visits – https://www.decanter.com/wine-travel/south-africa/hemel-en-aarde-wineries-to-visit-378182/ or make use of the wine hopper from Market Square in Hermanus. Learn more here: https://www.hermanuswinehoppers.co.za/. This is a fun and safe way to visit farms without having to drive. It is ideal for families and small groups.

3              The Fynbos

Fynbos is the generic name for a great variety of fine-leafed plants, with more than 9 000 of the 30 000 species being indigenous and unique only to the Western Cape region of South Africa. Fynbos doesn’t grow naturally anywhere else in the world. Learn more about fynbos here: http://www.percytours.com/fynbos-plants-cape-floral-kingdom.html#.X75UaGgzbDc. A long or short hike in Fernkloof and on the cliff path in Hermanus showcases thousands of species. The Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay (https://www.sanbi.org/gardens/harold-porter/) is just a stone’s throw away and offers a great morning or afternoon outing for the whole family.  

4              Everything the Village has to Offer

Hermanus has some of the best restaurants in South Africa (and we locals believe in the world). The promenade is lined with restaurants with magnificent ocean views, but there are jewels to be found in the heart of the village, offering fantastic food. Walk around to find them or look them up on the Internet. In the December holiday period, booking is essential.

Hiking on the cliff path, in the mountain in Fernkloof, cycling, kayaking and canoeing on good weather days are just a few outdoors things to do. Hermanus Sportsclub (http://www.hermanussport.co.za/) offers tennis and squash and has a restaurant too.

Hermanus has 20 art galleries and a display of outdoor art at Gearing’s Point as part of FynArts Hermanus (https://www.hermanusfynarts.co.za/).

5              The Beaches

Grotto Beach is Hermanus’ Blue Flag pride with loads of space to swim, surf, sit in the sun or having long walks. The estuary mouth is currently open, which offers canoeing, kitesurfing and swimming opportunities.

Voëlklip, Kammabaai (ideal for families with small children) and Langbaai are more intimate beaches and ideal to enjoy a sunset picnic.

Neighbouring beaches include Onrus, Sandbaai and Hawston.

And there you have it – just a few reasons why Hermanus is such an irresistible place to keep coming back to. Again and again. And again. And again. And…

Read here for more about Hermanus and things to do: https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

PHOTOS: Fielies de Kock

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Hermanus’ Celebrities of the Sea

Hermanus is one of the twelve best whale watching destinations in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund (although we believe it is the Whale Capital of the World). This makes the village a favourite holiday destination for both local and overseas visitors. As the whale migration season is coming to an end, tourism in Hermanus is just starting to pick up again during the current level of lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic and with the borders slowly opening, tourists from abroad will hopefully soon start streaming to our shores again.

Walker Bay is famous for being the breeding grounds for the Southern Right Whales, travelling all the way from their feeding grounds around Antarctica. According to marine environmentalist, Noel Ashton, the South African coastline provides an ideal playground for over half of the world’s species of whales and dolphins due to the two oceanic system supporting so many different life forms.

Although it was believed that the whales feed in the Northern hemisphere waters and only come here for birthing and (a process called feast and famine), in recent years Humpback whales had been seen feeding off Cape Columbine, near Paternoster in early summer, where food is in abundance. Read about and look at amazing aerial pictures of the 2019 migration of humpbacks at https://www.sapeople.com/2019/11/30/unbelievable-sighting-of-hundreds-of-whales-off-south-african-coast-photos-by-jean-tresfon/.

Species of Whales Visiting Walker Bay

Other than the Southern Right Whale, Humpbacks and Bryde’s Whales are also found visiting Walker Bay. The bay has a few residential whales which are seen infrequently right through the year.

Hermanus’ Whale Season

The best time to come to Hermanus to see whales is between June and November, with September being the ideal time. The annual Whale Festival is normally held on the last weekend of September. Other related festivals around the time is the Kalfiefees (translation: calve’s feast) in Onrus and the Flower Show (normally the weekend before the Whale Festival).

How to Watch our Celebs

Hermanus has whale watching boats which take visitors to experience the whales up close and personal. For visitors on a tighter budget or for those preferring not going on boats, the good news is that they are visible from the promenade, with Gearing’s Point, the Old Harbour (in the CBD-area) and Siever’s Punt, popular places to watch from. Hermanus’ own whale crier could be found on busy days, blowing on his kelp horn when a whale is observed.

What to pack when visiting Hermanus to do Whale Watching

Although springs shows its warmth in the rest of South Africa, Hermanus can see some of the coldest days during September and October, with rainy and windy days sandwiched in between beautiful wind-still days. So, if you plan to visit, please remember to:

  • Make sure to pack some warm clothes for cold weather and layer when getting clothed in the morning.
  • With the cool sea breeze almost a constant, carry a jacket and beanie when going out.
  • Bringing good binoculars will ensure a great viewing experience.
  • Although cell phone cameras are incredibly good these days, bring your DSLR or a good smaller camera. If going on a boat, you will be able to take close by photos of whales, but from the shore you will need a camera with a good zoom ability.
  • Good walking shoes is a must for going ‘whale hunting’ from spot to spot to get good pictures.

Interesting Whale Facts

  • The Southern Right is one of three species classified as ‘baleen’ whale. They are black with brownish bonnets, with parasite crustaceans attaching themselves to the whale’s body.
  • Whales normally give birth to only one calf, although they may carry up to seven foetuses.
  • The gestation period is about 12 months.
  • Calves are born between June and September in the bay, making a visit to Hermanus and surroundings during this time quite rewarding.
  • Mother and calf stay close together in Walker Bay until the calves are strong enough to make the journey back to the North.
  • Calves are nursed for about six months.
  • They usually return to the same place to give birth, although there are exceptions.
  • Instead of teeth, they have hornlike plates consisting of bone.
  • It is believed that whales have a three-year cycle of pregnancy, providing them with enough time between calving to feed and recuperate sufficiently.
  • According to the University of Pretoria Mammal Research Institute’s Whale Unit, there were between 70 000 and 80 000 whales in the 1700’s. From then on, their numbers declined so much that they were put under international protection. It is estimated that there are around 12 000 Southern Rights now, of a third of which roam through South African waters annually.

Reading through books about Hermanus, many a story is penned about people’s experiences with whales – mostly death-defying recordings of men in fishing boats, big and small. Hermanus’ most famous dame though didn’t endanger anyone’s life as far as I have read, but she chose her favourite spot in Walker Bay and kept coming back here. Wendy, as she was called by locals, loved a spot near a cove close to town nearby Hermanus Pieters’ fountain. The cottage standing there on the rocks by itself was thus fittingly called Wendy’s Cottage. It is still standing, being awarded heritage status. Wendy stopped coming there in the early 1940’s and another whale came to inhabit her spot. Of course, she was named after her popular predecessor. Maybe she was even Wendy’s offspring…

Other Residents to Lookout for when the Whales are Shy During your Whale Watching Holiday

If you miss the superstars during ‘whale season’ or if you are here at the right time but they seem to be shy and don’t show themselves, keep an eye out for other stars on our marine stage.

  • Dolphins are frequently passing through the bay swimming and diving, with their shimmering bodies and bold moves making it look as if they are flying in and out of the water. They are sometimes accompanying penguins.
  • Close to Hermanus are two sanctuaries for African penguins – at Kleinbaai, (near Gansbaai towards L’Agullas), and the other at Betty’s Bay (to the other side towards Cape Town). A visit to these sanctuaries is a great family activity and a wonderful daytrip to also explore other sights in those areas.
  • In the absence of the whales, the cute dassies (rock hyrax) entertain locals and tourists with their laziness on the one hand, and their swiftness and craftiness when it comes to acquiring food throughout the year.
  • Cape Fur Seal colonies are also to be found in Walker Bay and on a walk of the cliff paths they can be seen hunting and playing in the water near to the rocks. The New Harbour, Gearing’s Point and Kwaaiwater are places to be on the lookout for these wonderful creatures.
  • Sharks are protected in the area and shark cage diving is an option for the ‘dare-devil’ visitor. Kleinbaai, near Gansbaai, is the basis of cage diving in the area.
  • Birdlife is of course aplenty in the Overberg area. Use your whale watching binoculars to spot the many species found along the coast and keep the camera ready to capture spectacular pictures of seagulls and other birds in flight.

To find more things to do in Hermanus, read my previous blog entry at https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/09/hermanus_is_awaiting_you/

Sources to check out for much more interesting facts and lots more information about whales:

Book: Hermanus Whales, Wines, Fynbos, Art – by Beth Hunt (and photographs by Johann and Kobus Kruger)

Book: Whale Capital Chronicles 1, S. J. Du Toit

Read about Hermanus’ history on Robin Lee’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002247851042

Other links:

http:www.old-harbour-museum.co.za

http://www.whaletrail.co.za/southern-right-whale.html

https://xplorio.com/xplorio-headquarters/en/blog/41717/the-southern-right-whales-journey-to-walker-bay/

© 2020 Fielies De Kock

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

Read full articles at http://www.fieliesdekock.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hermanus-Unlimited-118490463355941

Instagram: @HERMANUS_UNLIMITED

Email: hermanusunlimited@gmail.com

Partnering with House Watchers Hermanus

Hermanus is Awaiting your Visit

Hermanus is a picturesque village in the Western Cape, South Africa, nestled between the fynbos-dressed Overberg Mountains and the cold Atlantic Ocean. Although Hermanus is a smallish town, it has a big town feeling with a wonderful vibe and lots of events taking place.

As everywhere else, the restrictions during the Covid-19 lockdown had also left its dirty prints on the town and business owners are doing what they can to up the area’s economy and provide employment for residents and travel opportunities for tourists again.

Although the annual Flower Festival (second last weekend in September) and the Whale Festival (last weekend in September) was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, other activities are slowly starting to happen again. The monthly First Fridays Art Walk (September to April) commenced in September and although it was a bit of a subdued affair – probably due to the fact that no wine and snacks were served – it was a necessary step in normalising village life in Hermanus again.

Hermanus is a convenient one and a half hour-drive from Cape Town which provides an easy daytrip opportunity for someone on a limited time budget. Be warned though – a day in the village will not even cover the basics, while a visit of four days or so will give one at least an idea of what the town has to offer.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when planning your visit to our beautiful little village:

  • Book in advance to ensure your stay at one of the many guest houses or hotels.
  • Make sure to include a Saturday in your trip planning to visit one or more of the markets in the area. Also keep the art walk on the first Friday of every month in mind (only between September and April).
  • Start your visit in Hermanus with a trip up the Rotary Way to the top of the mountain to enjoy the view of the whole of Walker Bay.
  • The town offers quite a few walking options. There are various routes into the mountain from the Fernkloof Nature Reserve as well as a cliff path walk along Hermanus’ 7.5km coastline from the new harbour to Grotto Beach (or the other way around). One of the local taxi services can be used for transport to the beginning and from the end point. You can also walk shorter distances on the cliff path from anywhere you stay in town.
  • For nature lovers there are plenty to see. The area is part of the Cape Floral Kingdom with plenty unique fynbos species to be observed.
  • Weekly Parkruns can be attended on Saturday mornings at the venue on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road (after lockdown).
  • Other physical activities to explore in the area are surfing, mountain biking, fat biking on the beaches, scuba diving, kite surfing, sandboarding, sea fishing  etc.
  • During the months of August through to early November travellers flock to Hermanus to see Southern Right Whales frolicking in the bay with their new-born calves. They can be watched from the shore or from one of the whale watching boats if weather permits. You can read more about this in my next blog entry at https://fieliesdekock.com/2020/10/16/hermanus-whale-watching/
  • On wind-quiet, sunny days, kayaking is a wonderful way to get exercise as well as do some on-water sightseeing between the two harbours.
  • The town has no shortage of beaches with the main beach, Grotto, being the largest. On windy days, the estuary is a favourite playground for kite surfers. Alongside the cliff path lies Voëlklip (famous for surfing), Langbaai, which is small and intimate; and Kammabaai – a favourite for parents with small children and also suitable for surfing. Mosselrivier and Kwaaiwater beaches are also well-liked, with Kwaaiwater’s beach being a popular picnic area to lazy away summer evenings when the sun only sets after eight o’clock.
  • Hermanus’ restaurants are world-class and the road alongside the marine is lined with many options offering delicious food and the most beautiful views.
  • For art lovers there are 20 art galleries to visit around town as well as outdoor sculptures to adore as part of the annual FynArts Festival (in June).
  • The Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is Hermanus’ contribution to South Africa’s wine industry and offer fourteen wineries to visit for wine tasting and other activities. Tours are available from the Market Square to ensure that tourists do not drive under the influence.
  • Hermanus is a favourite extreme sports destination, featuring a leg of the Cape Epic. Other activities include hang gliding, zip lining etc. (on the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley road).
  • Other places to visit are the old and new harbours, the many sites alongside the cliff path from where one can appreciate the view from a wooden bench on the rocks, Hoy’s koppie in the middle of the town and the surrounding suburbs of Onrus, Sandbaai and Vermont. Stanford (and De Kelders are also close by which provides more entertainment opportunities such as river cruising, fishing and much more.
  • Hermanus is a photographer’s paradise, so bring your camera and tripod or test your cell phone’s picture taking abilities. You will not be disappointed!

Unfortunately, not even beautiful Hermanus is excluded from crime, so always be alert, especially when walking. Preferably, always walk in pairs at least.

(To avoid unbalance advertising regarding businesses, I don’t include links to activities businesses in this article. I plan to showcase individual activities in the future, so watch this space. For now, you can just search (for instance, ‘kayaking in Hermanus’ or ‘restaurants in Hermanus’) to find what you want.

So – don’t even bother wondering about where to go to for your next break away. Come and see why we are raving about our beautiful village. Hermanus is awaiting your visit.

© 2020  Fielies De Kock ž HERMANUS UNLIMITED ž

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hermanus-Unlimited-118490463355941

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Home of HERMANUS UNLIMITED Travel Blog

HERMANUS UNLIMITED is a travel writing blog showcasing Hermanus and surrounding areas through photos and articles. Ads for businesses may be added at a later stage.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Hermanus-Unlimited-118490463355941

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Email: hermanusunlimited@gmail.com

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In Favour of the Roads Well Travelled

 

one-mans-house

Travel articles and blogs about ‘the road less travelled’ are in abundance. People, I included, love reading about strange, foreign, exotic and off the beaten track paths – places where only the most daring dares to go and where the rest of us probably will never set foot. I reckon that’s why we love it so much – reading about far-off places and dreaming impossible dreams, knowing that we will probably never make it there and instead, we admire those adventurers who do.

Few writers today still bother to write about the roads well-travelled other as in travelling advertisements, because what self-respecting, do-things-differently, adventure seeking person these days would find the London Tower or the Eiffel or the Wailing Wall exotic enough to read about and dream about to visit. Travel articles nowadays must be all about exploring the unknown, the almost never-visited before, to be attractive enough to publish.

Travelling had become fairly easy in the past three decades. We live in a global enclave, which makes almost every place on earth accessible within a day or at most – two. So why bother with the ‘mundane’ travel destinations if you can be the first Western person to be seen in some remote jungle village of some South American tribe, living without any modern conveniences? Or sail to the most southern uninhabited island on earth or go to a quiet corner of the Antarctic to witness the consequences of global warming first-hand? It’s just more exciting! It’s exhilarating! It sells travel magazines. It generates more traffic to blogs and online mags.

But as someone who had only travelled a little bit and will probably always be limited to visiting only a few of the many, many, many places I dream about, I believe that there are still words left to be written about the roads well-travelled. Because if your opportunities and resources for travelling are limited, one tends to want to see first-hand those most ‘common’ sites you always see in movies and on TV.

Naturally your walk in the Bog Nature Trial in the Soomaa National Park in Estonia would make grand dinner conversation. Of course you would first have to  orientate your guests on a map to where Estonia is! Or imagine telling you bird watching friends about you seeing one of the last Great Indian Bustard nests in India? And obviously, you can’t go wrong with showing off your photos taken from Uhuru and Kibo peaks on Mount Kilimanjaro, because even if it had become a bit of fashionable trip to do these days, you can still get away with it under the ‘adventurous’ label. You will after all be only one of about 22 500 people in the world who did it this year in comparison to the millions who have travelled to London to see old Buckingham Palace! Yawn…

But for the person who will only travel once or a handful of times in his or her lifetime due to reasons such as limited resources or health restrictions that keep them from hunting great adventures such as walking the swamps of the Amazon, intruding on the habitat of petrifying Anacondas – visiting the Taj Mahal in India or the pyramids of Giza in Egypt or the Garden Tomb in Israel, will still be more than awesome! It will also be the fulfilment of a lifelong dream, just as the Amazon-thing is to the extreme adventurer.

For us, the travellers with limitations, the mere site of the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked, is absolutely breath taking! And to have a photo that you have taken yourself of the Eiffel on your own camera’s memory card, is a dream come true! Because you may have climbed a hill on precisely the right day of the year to harvest one of the world’s rarest truffle in the French countryside, but imagine your friends’ faces when you arrive back home and they ask you about the Eiffel and your answer is “No, I haven’t seen the Eiffel, but I did harvest the world’s most exotic truffle!” Except, if you are a foodie and all your friends are foodies too, it will sound outrageous!

Us normal people of limited resources are satisfied to see the Eiffel and Wailing Wall or the Tower Bridge or the Big Ben or the Colosseum or maybe even the beautiful blue roofs of Mykonos and Santorini (instead of a less visited Greek islands with rarer stones to see). We are quite okay with it if we can only visit one of those magnificent places we see in movies and on TV programs in our lifetime. And when we watch a movie or TV again and we recognise one of those places and know that we had been there and that our feet walked where so many others have walked before – the fortunate and the unfortunate, the famous and the not-famous, the conqueror and the loser, the adventurer and the… us – we will feel thankful and privileged. Just because we were given the opportunity to see it with our own eyes.

There is still much to be said about the roads well-travelled, and very few of us will be able to travel all those roads, so if you get the opportunity – take it! And think of it this way: Even if you will never have the ability to visit any of these well-known or less-known places, you might live in a place on someone’s bucket list.

Explore your own surroundings. Visit that ‘boring’ battle field again that you had to visit on a school field trip. Go to that monument, read up on the beginnings of your town or city, because chances are that you are living near a place that someone else dreams about visiting. Go today. Pay it a visit. Take a picture (or a selfie if you can’t convince anyone to go with you on your ‘adventure’) and put it on social media. And know that your feet have walked where other feet had fought or made history or had new beginnings. Because even though we sometimes don’t realise it: One man’s home  can be just another man’s dream destination.

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Our family at one of those ‘boring’ well-travelled places – The beautiful island of Mykonos in Greece.

 

© 2016  – I, Fielies (also Riëtte) De Kock is trying hard to be an awesomest wife and greatest lover, finest mom and to write something all at the same time. I share my current living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s two cats and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to function normally.

High Above the Clouds / Hoog bo die wolke

English version

This will be recorded as one of my most beautiful memories ever. We are on an Egypt Air flight from Amsterdam to Cairo.

Deon and I always listen to Paul Wilbur’s ‘Shema’ together on shared earphones when they play the Islamic prayers on the small screen – something that is done before every flight. Normally I switch my phone off after this, because I want to keep it charged should I need to make a call after we have landed. But today I keep listening. The time between sitting on the tarmac and take off can be a bit boring sometimes.

It is a majestic feeling when a plane jets into the air with the forceful sounds of Verdi’s ‘Nabucco’ in your ears. Outside the lush green landscape of Amsterdam is left on the ground as the plane swoops through the thick clouds to glide above them. This is one of the most beautiful pictures my eyes ever had the privilege of seeing! The cotton wool-like clouds are bundled onto each other with no earth to see down below. The music is still playing while I hear my spirit whisper in my heart: “Thanks for beautiful things, Father!” and “Thanks for all the undeserved treats. Thanks for all the places we see that I’ve never thought I would see and thanks for seeing some more than once!”

And then I heard the Halleluja choir with ‘Ode to Joy’ and Susan Boyle sings ‘Then sings my soul’, while mine sings with. I ‘halleluYAH’ on with Leonard Cohen and Delaney en Bonnie’s ‘Never Ending Song of Live’ follows passionately. Then André Rieu’s orchestra played “Auld Lang Syne’ and I long to be with my family and I wonder what they are all doing on this spring Sunday afternoon in South Africa. While I’m still wondering Neil Diamond makes a ‘Beautiful Noise’ and on the note of ‘Hava Nagila’ I have to close the plane window a bit, because the son reflects quite sharply from the Alps down below.

My finger chooses Josh Grobin’s ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire’ almost automatically, because one always tends to feel closer to heaven so high up in the air.

In the aisle seat Michael sat cramped-in and reads his new book and in the middle, next to me Deon rests on his forehead against the front seat, trying to sleep. I trust on his cell phone today should we need to make calls on the other side. For now my phone’s battery will help Josh fly high above the clouds over Europe.

Afrikaans

Hierdie sal in my onthou opgeteken word as een van die mooiste memoeries ooit! Ons is op ‘n Egypt Air-vlug oppad terug van Amsterdam na Kaïro.

Ek en Deon luister altyd na die ‘Shema’ van Paul Wilbur oor gedeelde oorfone as hulle die Islamitese gebede op die klein skerm wys – iets wat voor elke vlug gedoen word. Normaalweg skakel ek my foon hierna af, omdat ek nie die battery wil pap maak nie vir ingeval ek dit nodig sou kry nadat ons geland het. Maar vandag hou ek aan luister. Die tyd tussen in die vliegtuig sit op die aanloopbaan en opstyg kan nogal vervelig wees.

Dis ‘n majestieuse gevoel as ‘n straler opstyg met Verdi se ‘Nabucco’ se klanke in jou ore. Buite het ons die lowergroen landskap van Amsterdam op die grond gelos en die vliegtuig het die dik wolke ingeswiep – na waar ons bokant hulle sweef. Dit is een van die mooiste, mooiste prentjies wat my oë ooit die voorreg gehad het om te sien! Die wolke is soos watte-berge op mekaar gestapel, met niks aarde onder ons te sien nie. Die musiek hou aan speel, terwyl ek my gees in my hart hoor fluister: “Dankie vir mooi dinge, Vader!” en “Dankie vir al die onverdiende voorregte. Dankie dat ons plekke kan sien wat ek nooit gedink het moontlik is nie en party wéér kan sien.”

En toe hoor ek die Halleluja-koor en ‘Ode to Joy’ en Susan Boyle sing ‘Then sings my soul’, terwyl myne saam sing. En ek ‘halleluYAH’ verder saam met Leonard Cohen. En Delaney en Bonnie se ‘Never Ending Song of Live kom tussen-in en toe ek weer hoor, speel André Rieu se orkes “Auld Lang Syne’ en ek verlang na my familie en wonder wat doen hulle op dié lente Sondagmiddag in Suid-Afrika. Terwyl ek nog wonder, maak Neil Diamond ‘n ‘Beautiful Noise’ en op die nota van ‘Hava Nagila’ moet ek eers die vliegtuigvenstertjie ‘n bietjie toetrek, want die sonnetjie skyn nogal skerp so hoop bo in die lug waar dit van die Alpe af reflekteer. My vinger kies so half outomaties Josh Grobin se ‘Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desire’, want ‘n mens voel mos maar altyd ‘n bietjie nader aan die hemel so hoog bo in die lug.

In die gangsitplek sit Michael ingeprop en lees sy nuwe boek en langs my in die middel, sit-lê Deon op sy voorkop teen die sitplek voor hom en probeer slaap. Ek vertrou maar vandag op sy selfoon, sou daar ‘n ‘vir ingeval’ anderkant die landing wees. Vir nou help my foon se battery eers vir Josh om hoog te vlieg bo die wolke bokant Europa.

© 2016 – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I share my current living space in Cairo, Egypt, with my husband, young adult son, the building’s ginger cat, her friend and two kittens (so far) – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters to function normally .

Egypt Chronicles – Cruising the Nile

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The route – from Luxor to Aswan

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The Nile Adventurer

In April we went on a Nile Cruise. The cruise entails flying to Luxor from where the actual sailing starts. Before cruising though, all the well-known tourist attractions in and around Luxor is being visited. All these are temples, except for the Luxor Museum harbouring artefacts from temples. Not really my cup of tea. On the first day we had quite a full program.

Day 1

After we arrived in Luxor we started with a visit to the Luxor Museum, which paved the way for the rest of the sites, because it was filled with statues and artefacts from temples and archaeological finds. There were even two mummies in the museum. There were a few similar pieces which are also featured in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. One such a piece is the face of a pharaoh who had done away with all the Egyptian gods and declared that there was only one God – the Creator and the only One that should be worshipped. Other similar pieces are horse carts and statues of historical figures.

Our guide on this Nile Cruise tour was an Egyptologist who is very passionate about his job. He is also very patriotic, has strong political views that he is not afraid of voicing and according to him everything and all were invented in Egypt. I realised soon that we would be treated to quite a lot of information we would not always appreciate. 🙂

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As a Bible believer I had a tough time staying focused on what we were being told, because the stories about the pharaohs and the gods and the religions were a bit much and one always tend to weigh others’ truths against your own Truth. Anyway, this is an account then of our Nile cruise for any of you who are interested in coming to visit Egypt and wanting to go on a cruise. If you find personal travel pieces boring and just want to know if it worth the while, here is the short answer: Yes, come and visit Egypt and go on a Nile cruise.

We booked into our cabins on the boat after the museum visit and had time to settle in a bit. Our group occupied two ‘ships’. The bigger bulk stayed on the larger of the two boats, The Mövenpick Sun Boat, and we booked into the smaller one, called The Nile Adventurer. The latter is a quaint little boat with nice interior, a pleasant atmosphere and friendly and efficient staff. The food is excellent and way too much on a way-too-regular basis.

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Just before sunset on Monday, we left by bus to visit the first temple. There we saw the sun set over Luxor which was a beautiful spectacle. From there we went to see a sound and light show at the Karnak Temple, where we were met by the governor of Luxor. Here listened to an overly dramatic audio narration – which sounded as if was made in the 1930’s – of the history of the gods, starting with someone calling himself the ‘god of the first day’. My attention wondered a bit, but I practiced taking photos in the dark with my newish camera, while another ancient proud himself that he married four of his own daughters and bragged about the amount of children he had with them. Later we moved to a different location nearby in an amphitheatre-like pavilion and were treated to another half to three quarters of an hour’s sound and light narration.

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Day 2

On the second, hot morning of the cruise we visited the Valley of the Kings, the Habu Temple, where in 1997 seventy plus tourists were killed by terrorists, the Hatshepsut Temple and the Collossi of Memnon. All the hieroglyphs and tombs etc. were starting to look the same to me by this time. One must admire the tenacity with which the ancient Egyptians recorded their doings, especially because they did it in stone. Some of the artifacts here are really well preserved. And, now I can say that I have seen the actual mummified body of Tutankamen, the boy king. Mmm.

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After the very hot morning, we were welcomed back on the boat with nice warm cloths to clean our sweaty faces and fresh lemon and mint drinks to refresh us. We had a late lunch and we finally started sailing to Esna.

Cruising was my favourite part of the week. We sailed all along the Nile, passing farmed lands and very small villages. Time had stood still alongside the Nile. They are still attending to their crops the way they did a few thousand years ago. On the one hand, I thought, man, these people have so much to learn and they could benefit so much by new farming methods, machinery and expertise help. And on the other hand, I envied them for the absolute quietness, simplicity and peace in which they live.

Maybe this was how life should be. Living from the land, from the hand to the mouth, just sustaining yourself and those living with you. It is mind blowing to find that in a country which had become modernised up to a point, you can still find this way of living. And what blows my mind even further is that the land alongside the Nile still belongs to these people, living their modest lives. It is not yet monopolised by big food corporations or holiday consortiums. Weird. And wonderful. If we are here for the next three years, we will go on the cruise again and again, because this passing by of peaceful Nile existence, and not the glamourous temple visits, was what I enjoyed most.

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Day 3

We sailed to Edfu in the early morning and got off the boat to visit the Edfu Temple. This was probably the most fun visit of the cruise, because instead of getting into an air-conditioned bus, we got on horse carts and were driven through the busy town’s streets to the site. At least now we can say that we have been in a horse cart traffic jam too. I never thought I would be able to add that to my life’s CV. It was very hot here again, and we moved from shade to shade and had our first and only ice cream afterwards. We didn’t enjoy the harassment of the stall owners that much of course, but it’s compulsory of any Egyptian experience.

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We were back on the boat for lunch again and cruised to Kom Ombo, a lively town with colourful shops lining the docking space. Here we visited the Kom Ombo temple at night with its small museum housing quite a collection of stuffed crocodiles.

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After the visit to the temple it was galabeyya (Egyptian dress-like attire) party night on both boats. It was a lot of fun with a Bulgarian lady friend with camel riding trousers on dancing the night away and a South Korean friend perfecting the Gangham Style. We macarena-ed with our American friends and the boat staff joined in and showed us a few Nubian dance tricks. Michael looked like an oil baron and Deon and I looked cool in our ‘dresses’ too, I think.

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Day 4

Ah, Aswan. We cruised to Aswan and had a full day full of pleasant surprises in this surprise of a town. I know, I’m surprised myself that I use the word so many times. 🙂

We visited the Philae Temple, to where you have to go by bus first and then by boat. The temple is situated in a beautiful area filled with water and rocks and plants, unlike any other terrain we have seen so far in Egypt. It almost feels as being in another country. It was still hot, so we did some shade hopping again.

We went back to town by bus and then caught falloukas – these have engines – to the botanical garden on an island in the Nile. The garden was planted by Lord Kitchener, when he was in Egypt. At least he did some good in other areas of the world, because he wasn’t a popular man in South Africa back then. (If you don’t know why, go and do some research about the Anglo-Boer War between the British and South Africa.) Plants and trees from all over the world were imported to be planted there. The gardens are being looked after and is a peaceful haven in the desert. On the other side of the garden is a huge sand dune or a small mountain full of sand – a beautiful piece of earth.

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Our next stop was a Nubian village. The Nubians are an ethnic group who originated in modern-day Sudan. They are a little darker of skin than the rest of the Egyptians, are very friendly and like to paint their houses in colours – mostly shades of blue, which is absolutely beautiful. We visited a home where we met the family’s pet crocodile kept in their sink and drank some good mint tea. Real nice green mint tea, like the Moroccans make it.

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We rested a bit on the boat after which we had an appointment for high tea at the old Sofitel Cataract Hotel, where the likes of Winston Churchill, Agatha Christie, Jimmy Carter, Princess Diana, Tsar Nicholas II and Queen Noor hung out regularly. It is said that Ms Christie wrote part/s of her novel ‘Death on the Nile’ there. So, for me this was a real treat. The wind started blowing fiercely, which provided a nice breeze in the early evening and we had our ‘tea’ on the lawn in front of the hotel. The view is spectacular with the Nile ‘forking’ here underneath it and the one leg flowing pass the one side of the hotel. At a little table outside on the terrace I could swore that I saw Ernest Hemmingway’s son creating a best seller. (I even have a photo to ‘prove’ it!) The rooms are beautiful and old Englishy and just sooo romantic. I could almost see Agatha sitting in her room behind her desk, putting words into Hercule Poirot’s mouth on her old type writer. I took way to many photos of the hotel’s interior. I’m ashamed to say that I will treasure this visit more than the sight of the mummified body of Tutankamen. But, hey, I must be forgiven, because I’m a writer…

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Back at the boat we were welcomed by a band and dancers and being entertained on the dock for about half an hour before heading for dinner and a bottle of wine on the deck – the most Deon and I had ever paid for a pretty ordinary bottle in our entire lives…

Day 5

We were nearing the end of our cruise. We left the boat after breakfast and gone to the Aswan Dam by bus. We got out and ‘inspected’ the dam wall in the still strong blowing wind. From there we went to Abu Simbel – probably Egypt’s most written about temple. Most people drive there from Aswan, which can take up to four hours (just to get there and then you still have to drive back) and can be rather uncomfortable in the heat. Fortunately, we flew and what a sight it was, flying over Lake Nasser for the whole way! It is such a big body of water and it is beautiful to see the water veins flowing into each other from high above. When we landed the water still stretched to the horizon in the direction of the Sudanese border.

The visit to Abu Simbel was pleasant, because even though the sun was warm, there the breeze blew the heat away. After the visit we went back to the airport and flew home to Cairo where we were greeted by very uncharacteristic icy weather in the middle of April!

It was a most enjoyable trip, which for us comes up annually while we are staying here. I can’t wait to go again. Hopefully, we will be spared and the security situation will stay good and we can repeat it next year.

Travel Tip: Abercrombie & Kent is a wonderfully, professional and competent international travel company to use with when planning a Nile cruise.

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© 2015 – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I temporarily share my living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s ginger cat, a stuffed toy dog, named Ike – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters, to functioning normally.

Thoughts on Experiencing Similarities and Differences in Countries and/or Cities you Visit for Only a Few Days at a Time

(I always wanted to write something with a long title like this. My favourite movie title is The Englishmen who went up a Hill and came down a Mountain.)

Countries under Discussion

France (a bit of the South and Paris, ten days)

England (only London, four days)

Netherlands (only Amsterdam, three days)

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One can hardly be an expert after visiting a country or even only a city for three or four or ten days – and for the first time! But we can make deductions, relate experiences and emotions and share observations after visiting places – even if it is after only such a short time. After all – that is why we do the lovely, beautiful, excruciating thing called travelling. So add if you want to, differ if it entertains you, but please don’t digitally crucify me for my inadequate, subjective views and comments on three great places my feet had the pleasure to touch.

We as a little family visited a few destinations in Europe at the end of last year through the beginning of this one. My husband is a seasoned traveller and had visited many countries beyond our continent’s borders, but for our son and I, it was the first trip beyond Africa and the Middle East. we looked forward to it for a long time and we weren’t disappointed. It must actually be ‘normal’ for South Africans like us to visit Europe at least once in a lifetime, because that is where our origins are. But travelling is a privilege and most of the time we can’t just jump on a plane and go wherever we dream to go. For us, the opportunity came up and we grabbed it with all fours.

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France

After hoping and dreaming, we finally made the trip to visit to a friend of mine, residing in the south of France for the last five years. My friend, Mirella, her husband, Christian, and two sons, Daniël and Xavier lives in Sainte Colome, near Arudi, near Pau, near Toulouse in the south western part of Aquitaine province of the country, very close to the border with Spain. This border is lined with the beautiful Pyrenees Mountains and counts as some of the finest of God’s creation.

Our initial introduction with the French people wasn’t that heartening. Speak English at the train station in Toulouse and you are rudely ignored. Fortunately, angels roam the earth and an English speaking one was waiting for us at the ticket machine to help us obtain three tickets to Pau. Once in the countryside, people showed us the nicer side of being French. We breathed the good, clean Pyrenees air for seven wonderful days, we watched the world around us in awe, threw a snowball for the first time ever (!) and admired people’s skills in the soft, white, cold wonderland.

Paris was everything I hoped it would be and more. We visited all the famous tourist sites, enjoyed the food and watched the Parisians stroll up and down the Champs Elysees dressed as if it is a catwalk. We were there for only three days, but somehow we ended up going to the Eiffel Tower every single day! We left for London on the evening before the Charlie Hebdo incident. I don’t know if we will ever have the opportunity to visit Paris or the French countryside ever again, but I know that there is a smile reserved in my heart for my memories of France. I can’t help to wonder what Paris will be like in the summer though?

Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting France for Ten Days

  • It is true. The French don’t like hearing English. We tested it. Every time my husband started an enquiry in his friendliest English, he was impolitely disregarded. I then stepped in, beginning in Afrikaans, our native language, and then flowed over into my version of ‘French’ – English camouflaged in a terrible French accent. It is quite easy to ‘bend’ English words so that they sound We were successful in all our missions this way – from asking directions, to exchanging pleasantries to buying cough medicine!
  • The French seems educated. (They definitely sound educated speaking such a beautiful language!) Everyone They sit on benches and read. They read on the bus, the boat, the train. Men read, women read, children read and grandmothers read to children who can’t read yet. It is just lovely to watch this passionate affair the French people has with books!
  • It also seems that all people living in France can speak French. (It might sound obvious, but it is not necessarily a given that people naturally speak the language of the country they live in – see my observations about London later on.)
  • Being South African and coming from a country where the crime rate is unacceptably high, one of my first observations of the French countryside was the absence of fear. In the village where my friend lives, they don’t even lock their doors (as some of those hundred-plus-year-old houses don’t have keys anymore!) There is a sense of safety and also an absence of aggression – something I had recognised and acknowledged within myself for the first time. I am still shocked to appreciate how living in a society with no respect for life changes you and make you angry all the time. And I am deeply saddened by it, because it had become the psyche of ‘my people’ back home. It is something I have to ponder on and to do something about.
  • I’ve touched the point above already that the French knows how to dress. They really dress elegantly and if you are clothed in the most common South African brand winter clothing, you stand out a little bit. Luckily it didn’t rain much, so we wore our ‘classier’ stuff the two remaining days. But with my weathered hiking boots I still looked very Boer-like in the presence of all those designer heels. Anyway, my feet were happy. And so was I.
  • In spite of them not liking English, the French are friendlier than one thinks and they are pretty likable people in the end.

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London

All I wanted was a beer in a real pub and sitting on the Underground, being in shops and walking in the streets of London and listening to proper English accents, like our friend Simon’s. Boy, was I disappointed! Only twice in the four days did I hear that. The rest of the time our ears were entertained by almost every language under the sun – Arabic, Italian, Russian, other Eastern European sounding languages, Greek, French etc. In shops, we were served by foreigners. The Underground was packed with people from elsewhere. London is a little world in its own.

In spite of not hearing much proper English, we really enjoyed our time in London. We walked, saw touristy places, we went to see Phantom of the Opera at West End, we went to the movies and checked out James Bond stuff in the British Film Museum. It rained and it didn’t and it rained and it didn’t. And we had that pint in a real pub – the Sherlock Holmes Pub, nogal!

I liked visiting London and won’t cry if I have to visit it again. I do still have a dream to go watch a tennis match at Wimbledon. And I want to still see the English and the Scottish and the Welch and the Irish countryside…

Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting London for Four Days

  • There is no good coffee.
  • There is no good coffee.
  • There is no good coffee.
  • Did I mention that the coffee there isn’t any good?
  • London appears very orderly. Properly English. Things work. That’s nice. I liked that. Once upon a time, things worked well in South Africa too. We learned from the Germans and the Dutch and the French and the British. But somehow we’ve lost our orderliness. And a lot of other necessities too.
  • People flock to England to get an education. Some for real. Some under false pretences and get stopped at the airport – something we witnessed.
  • On that point, London had become a place of refuge for many people from many different countries. It brings along its own challenges for the authorities, because of socio-economic issues and increasing extremism, but for most people it had become a place where they can go to be safe and to make a new life. It might be a hard life and difficult to get ahead, but nevertheless, it is a place to where they can go to get saved from where they come from.
  • And also on that point. One gets a feeling of disconnectedness amongst the masses. Most people appear alone and distant and lonesome. Maybe it is because they had to disconnect from their roots and they just didn’t reconnect again. I suppose it is not out of the ordinary. Living in a foreign land does that to a person.

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The Netherlands

Amsterdam was a breath of fresh air. Okay, with a hint of marijuana near the train station. We spend a whole day walking along the canals with our friend, Rudi, who lives there. We ate biltong at an Aussie restaurant/bar that is nice enough to sell South African delicacies for the homesick Springbok supporters who watch rugby matches there. It was bloody cold.

It must be impossible to know for real, but statistics shows that there are more than 600 000 bicycles in Amsterdam. They have their own parking lots – like those for cars. Everyone is riding a bike – young and old. And sometimes the young with a mom or a dad. It is an overwhelming phenomenon, the bikes of Amsterdam. We visited the places everyone visited, rode on a boat in the canals and we walked and walked and walked. And it was bloody cold.

I loved Amsterdam. It was fun, relaxed and relaxing and we just had a great time. And we would love to see the rest of the Netherlands. Maybe in springtime…

Things we Observed and Experienced while Visiting Amsterdam for Three Days

  • The Hollanders are super friendly. Maybe they are always a little bit high with all the fumes hanging around (wink-wink) or maybe that’s just the way they are.
  • They are helpful people. Apart from their friendliness, they have this wonderful way in which they serve you. Really caringly serve you.
  • There also is an absence of fear.
  • Order and education is a visible priority. It’s Europe.
  • In Amsterdam everyone speaks Dutch. The population looks a bit like that of London with white, black, Asian, Middle Eastern etc., working everywhere, but the difference here is that every white, black, Middle Eastern or Asian mouth speaks Dutch! It is so weird, but also so wonderful! And we can understand them a little bit. If they speak slowly.
  • As in the case of London, Amsterdam is also a sanctuary for people from all over the world. Their tolerance throughout history made people flock to the city and it harboured many people in need of shelter in the past and still in the present.

These were just a few comments. I’m still working on my observations about living in Egypt. Maybe I will only write about that at the end of our time here. That is after all a whole different ballgame.

© 2015 – I, Fielies (Riëtte) De Kock tries hard to be a Proverbs 31-woman – excellentest wife, finest mom, greatest lover and successful ‘wordpreneur’ all at the same time. I temporarily share my living space in Cairo, Egypt with my husband, young-adult son, the building’s ginger cat, a stuffed toy dog, named Ike – and the space in my head with way too many ideas and multitudes of story characters, to functioning normally.