Time-trav­el­ling to sea­side Ar­niston

Ni­cholasYelld­is­cov­er­s­the true­meaningofre­lax­ation

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - TRAVEL 2010 -

THE first thing to do when you get to Ar­niston is to re­lax on one of the pave­ment benches in front of the ho­tel and drink in the unique hues of the vil­lage’s aqua­ma­rine sea.

And, while fill­ing your lungs with ozone, soak up the view of the most un­usual for­ma­tions of putty-coloured rock, both those ring­ing this ef­fer­ves­cent bay and those whose foun­da­tions are just be­low the water­line hark back to larger stony citadels past. Well, that is our rit­ual any­way.

Af­ter check­ing i nto our s econd­storey apart­ment in one of the thatched Ar­niston Sea­side Cot­tages, we took a g e n t l e wal k t o t h e whi t e s a n d s o f Ro­man beach, only a few hun­dred me­tres down the road. While we were con­tent just to stroll along the wa­ter’s edge, groups of brightly clad chil­dren pad­dling in the break­ers demon­strated what a safe swim­ming spot this is too; t heir pres­ence added hi ghli ghts of colour and youth­ful ex­u­ber­ance to this oth­er­wise tran­quil shore­line. A pair of black oys­ter­catch­ers showed their mus­sel-crack­ing prow­ess as they prised some of th­ese hardy shell­fish from the rocks, mirac­u­lously manag­ing to free the con­tents with their long and dex­trous or­ange beaks.

T he i nc o ming t i de , a nd a pr i o r drinks and din­ner ar­range­ment in nearby Napier, un­for­tu­nately put paid to our ear­lier thoughts of walk­ing to the Waen­huiskrans cave, far­ther along the coast. By most ac­counts, though, it is said to be big enough for one, if not sev­eral, fully spanned ox-wag­ons to turn around in.

But, af­ter col­lect­ing some shells and surf-smoothed stones, we were con­tent just to sit on a stony ledge, high above a small group of res­i­dent surfers, and savour the ex­pan­sive sea views un­til it was time to leave.

“ Do you ser ve break­fast here,” I asked at the first craft shop and restaur a n t we e n c o u n t e r e d o n o u r wal k through his­tor­i­cal Kassies­baai – the 200year-old fish­ing hamlet just north-east of the ho­tel the next day.

“No dear, sorry, we only do meals on re­quest. You can book for din­ner if you like through the re­cep­tion at the Ar­niston Ho­tel,” replied the woman, her deeply etched laugh-lines ac­cen­tu­ated by the broad­est of smiles.

Ac­cept­ing that break­fast wasn’t on of­fer there, we bought a small yacht in­stead.

Okay, so it was only a scale model, one made by one of the skilled lo­cals who had ap­par­ently in­jured him­self on a fish­ing trip some time ago and was no longer able to earn a liv­ing from work­ing on life-sized boats.

To walk along the ragged and rocky road through the maze of thatched and lime-washed fish­ing cot­tages of Kassies­baai is to take an au­then­tic step back in t i me. Chick­ens s cat t er, dogs f er r et around i n t he un­der­growth f or l ast week­end’s braai scraps and the an­ces­tors of Khoi fish­er­man go about their daily chores, se­cure in the knowl­edge that tonight there will be fish on the ta­ble, as there’s al­ways been.

Back in the more mod­ern and af­flue nt s e c t i on of t own, our nost a l gi c reverie was quickly bro­ken, the four-star Ar­niston Ho­tel pro­vid­ing a stark and sober­ing con­trast to the time cap­sule we’d just walked through. But, while time travel through Kassies­baai is highly r ec­om­mended, t he l avish break­fast spread at the Ar­niston Ho­tel cer­tainly is too.

Sit­ting there drink­ing freshly brewed f i l t e r c o f f e e a n d wor k i n g o u r way through steam­ing plates of gourmet fare, we toasted our favourite Over­berg sea­side town. It’s unique ap­peal just never seems to fade — even with the pass­ing of time.

Where it is: Ar­niston is an easy twohour, 15-minute drive from Cape Town.

Why go: To swim, snorkel, fish, surf, pad­dle-ski, walk, bird-watch, whalespot (in sea­son), or just to read and un­wind in un­spoilt sur­round­ings.

The ac­com­mo­da­tion: We stayed at the thatched-roofed Ar­niston Sea­side Cot­tages – comfortable self-ca­ter­ing units near Ro­man beach. But make sure you ask for a unit with a view.

Food: If you pre­fer not to cook, then the Ar­niston Ho­tel’s restau­rant is a safe bet, oth­er­wise there are many good restau­rants in Bredas­dorp and Napier.

Rates: R240 a per­son a night, chil­dren un­der 12 half-price out of sea­son.

Get­ting there: From Cape Town, travel the N2 to Cale­don then take the R316 to Napier and Bredas­dorp. Ar­niston is 24km out of Bredas­dorp.

What else to do and see: Nearby Napier is well-en­dowed with gal­leries, pubs, and bric-a-brac shops.

Also visit the south­ern­most tip of Africa at Cape Agul­has, the charm­ing wine farms of Elim and the ship­wreck mu­seum in Bredas­dorp.

Con­tact: 028 445 9772 or visit w w w. a r n i s t o n - o n l i n e . c o . z a o r www.where­tostay.co.za

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