Thursday, August 09, 2007

Through Meiringspoort and Barrydale to Montagu

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Time for the next chapter in the South African travelogue - to refresh the memory, here's the previous post.

To avoid screaming, other than of delight, we took another scenic route than the Swartberg Pass, when we left quaint Prince Albert heading for Montagu. Namely the part of N12 which goes through the deep cleft of Meiringspoort, a 25 km long tarred road, which winds along the floor of the gorge, crossing the Groot River 25 times. To get to the gorge road we took the R407 to Klaarstroom.
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Quite a beautiful drive on serpentine roads, and a bit of dirt roads before we got to the gorge. Parts of the mountains really has a spectacular, sort of radiant, red glow to them. Which these pictures just don't do justice.
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And this road was also the place where I first encountered baboons walking on and beside the road - I just wish they hadn't been so camera shy, when we fumbled with the camera trying to snap a picture. If you can imagine these bushes away, there's actually a whole bunch of baboon family and friends hiding there.Can you see them?
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N12 then turns in to, or incorporate with, R62. The road offers views over wide open spaces, an odd house here and there, but basically just nothing but mountains and fields as far as the eye could see. And then, in the middle of nowhere, this sign -
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- talk about setting up an unexpected business in a place where one might think the customer base is somewhat thin, perhaps non existing. Or not. What do I know about the habits of South Africans and their inclination for extensive travelling just to visit such a place...
As it turned out, it isn't a place that offers toys for carnal pleasures, but a friendly pub - we didn't stop, but the story behind the, um, misleading name of the pub you can read here.
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Reaching Barrydale we stopped for a late lunch at this cute roadside restaurant/farm stall, The Country Pumpkin. Loved the place, the food was far from the best - apart from as always, wonderful fruit juices - I had in ZA, but the ambiance was completely charming.
Which might have something to do with the chatty owner raving about that when Swedish women speaks English it sounds like we're singing due to the intonation - which most of us really don't like to show off in public... But from now on I'll always try and think of the dreaded, infamous Swenglish intonation as being a quaint and charming thing. Sort of.
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At the Country Pumpkin you'll also find the studio of the talented Inkaroo jewellery designer Heather. Beautiful and inspirational things made from nature materials. And very affordable. It didn't hurt that she praised my faithful summer companion, my favourite NoaNoa skirt either... Once again, it's all in the details...
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From Barrydale it wasn't very far to the next stop and stay at lovely guesthouse Malherbe in Montagu. Owned by a Dutch couple, whom have restored the historical Cape Dutch house really beautifully. And I did love the eye for details there too, such as the presentation of toilet paper...
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Which sort of makes the perfect end-ing for now!

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