Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: Driving the Garden Route - Part 1

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Driving the Garden Route - Part 1

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#ArsansInAfrica Driving the Garden Route

Two-part trip (about 11+ hours) along the Garden Route with a stop in Mossel Bay, an overnight stop in Knysna and a quick lunch (with soup) in Tsitsikamma - Part 1 of 2

Driving the Garden Route
Looking fresh on the Garden Route
(day 1 of the drive)

After several days in Cape Town, we departed on Saturday morning and headed to Franschhoek (wine country) for one night. Stay tuned for more on our stay at Hugeunot House and lunch at Tokara as the #ArsansInAfrica saga continues. Read on for the Garden Route... 

Mossel Bay Garden Route 
On Sunday morning, as we were heading out of Franshhoek, we learned that our 8 hour Garden Route drive was sure to be closer to 12 hours. Mossel Bay (otherwise known as Selcuk's Turkish name Muscles Bay), a harbor town on the Western Cape, was our first stop along the Garden Route. 

Mossel Bay - Santos Beach
(half way between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth)

We pulled into Santos Beach, parked the car and walked down to dip our feet into the water. Our guide book had shown a multitude of activities around Mossels Bay but none that we could spend the time on given our tight schedule. The one activity that seemed interesting was sandboarding on the dunes (the icon in the guide book looked like a snowboarder) but we never found the physical location for the activity.

Continuing on the Garden Route
(Cindy sleeping in the car)

Overnight in Knysna 
We carried onward along the Garden Route to Knysna, which turned out to be a small resort town, similar to Lake Geneva or New Buffalo. We arrived in the early evening and checked into The Lofts - a cute little boutique hotel on Thesen Island overlooking Knysna lagoon. 

View of Knysna from our room
(I shared with Selcuk & Cindy)

The Lofts at Boatshed in Knysna 
(walkway to our rooms)

Knysna was a sleepy town with daytime family activities and water sports. We learned about the oyster farms and were told that the largest number of farmed oysters in the world come from Knysna, but I'm not sure if that is true. 

The shops and restaurants in Knysna were typical of those you would find in resort towns in the U.S. Thesens Island had a handlful of pub-style restaurants and the only place in South Africa where I saw JalapeƱo Poppers on the menu. There were a few upscale shops on the Island, like an antique clock dealer where I saw a gorgeous 17th c. French clock valued over $4K, and a fair number of high-end real estate brokers. 

After we did the check-in dance, like the chicken dance but instead each person must examine every room and call dibs on the one they want, we didn't have much time to explore anything outside of Thesen Island. We attempted to have dinner at Zachary's in the Conrad Pezula but it was closed. See more about Knysna here.   

Dad in the passenger seat
My dad in the passenger seat along Garden Route
(the driver sits on right in South Africa)

Continuing on the Garden Route - Stormsriver
Our next stop was Tsitsikamma and Stormsriver for lunch. Meals were a big part of this trip because my dad had to eat a minimum of three seated meals per day. Of those three seated meals, it was imperative that two included soup. Why did the man need soup in the middle of summer? I cannot say. By this point in the trip, we had stopped asking questions about my father's dietary habits (and other habits I don't care to mention). But just as certain as my dad was to order soup at every meal, Mary was equally certain to tell us that her grandmother was the exact same way. The soup chain of events became a constant.

Storms River Falls
Tsitsikamma National Park - Storms River
(photo from the restaurant)

After a quick lunch, I walked up the trail to the suspended bridge. The trail was a lovely 15 minute hike with loads of trees along a neatly carved out path.

Suspended Bridge in Tsitsikamma
(auto awesome photo walking on the bridge)

I was glad we stopped in Tsitsikamma National Park because it was a beautiful lush area worthy of exploration. The restaurant looked over a swimming beach (weather permitting) and there was a camp ground where campers parked above the crashing waves. Frankly, I could not see parking my camper that close to a cliff overlooking an ocean. As I looked at the campers, all I could imagine was gust of wind carrying my camper straight up and into those rough waters for my sad and untimely death.  

Mary on the Garden Route
(she was reading Coetzee) 

Captain Hindsight 
At some point on this drive, my brothers coined me Captain Hindsight for my irrefutable talent of knowing exactly what the best choice would've been after we had just experienced the opposite. Therefore, I feel compelled to share my talent now.... Given the opportunity to change our sequence of events, I would spend time in Tsitsikamma versus Knysna. I prefer the forest and natural beauty of Tsitsikamma National Park over the resort town hotels and activities of Knysna. 

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