17 December 2013

11. - 17 Dec.: Knysna properties and drive through the mountains to Swellendam

Get up and breakfast in Mike's terrace. It has been too short, these four days in Knysna flew by so fast. The view in front of us here is spectacular, so is the house behind us. We don't want to leave but there is so much more to experience during the rest of our time in South Africa.

We talk about real estate, it would be fun to invest and spend some time here every year. Just for fun, we look at a house on sale. A newly renovated townhouse with two bedrooms, a good size living room and a huge kitcken with a dining area. Asking price is 1.2 mill rand, about 70k euro, negotiable. OK the Rand is weak this year but this won't buy you more than a parking spot in Rome.

We take some final pictures with Mike and his classy and nostalgic Merc SL convertible. He chose to have his name on the number plate to make it even more persona. Time to go.

Today we are heading west, toward Swellendam. Mike come with us part of the way, until Sedgefield, a small town on the coast about half-way between Knysna and George. We are going to have lunch with a friend of his who is building shopping malls all over Africa and wants to talk to Yan about Chinese business. As everywhere else in the world, the Chinese are pouring into South Africa, both to buy (raw materials mainly) and to sell (pretty much everything). They also want to invest the immense capital that they have accumulated over the last decades of break-neck export growth.

Easy drive to Swellendam. We don't take the shortest route toward Cape Town, but instead opt for climing up the mountain and enjoy the incontaminated landscapes of the interior. Several hours of infinite emptiness. Reminds me of Nevada, or Arizona.

We miss our chance for an ostrich ride by ten minutes at Oudtshoorn as they close at 4 in afternoon. This region is known for its ostrich and yan wanted to ride one. Oh well. I would not have been able to anyway as I just exceed the maximum allowed weight  (I won't say what that is).

By the evening we reach Schoone Oordt Countryhouse, a well appointed boutique hotel in an old  colonial house. Old style but classy property ran by a couple from Cape Town that bought a dilapidated manor about ten years ago and made it into their lifetime project. Big room, bed with posts and a fireplace which we actually enjoy in the evening before going to bed. Or while in bed for that matter. It is a bit of time travelling.

Dinner in the villa. Very few choices in their menu which does not change for the week, but they are all excellent. Quail for me and salmon for Yan. They politely suggest that, tomorrow, we may want to try another restaurant in town. They are not really a restaurant, not yet anyway, as they mostly cater to hotel guests. By the end of the dinner Yan and I agree we don't really need another restaurant tomorrow, we will come back here. A bottle of mellow and fruity Pinotage 2013 by African Java provides the necessary lubrication for all of the above.

And this is the official celebration of my birthday, for which we get complimentary dessert :)

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