Archive for September, 2010

A rainy night in Stellenbosch

I’m not mad for hotels, even luxury ones with every mod con and luxury available, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy an overnight stay in the Cape Winelands – and recently we did just that at Majeka House in Stellenbosch. Fair enough, my experience with luxury hotels is limited, but give me a tent in the middle of the bush over some fancy hotel any day.

Having said that, I really enjoyed my stay at Majeka House but it was another discovery in the old town that really got me excited. Our day started off  trying to find somewhere to watch our “beloved” Athlone Towers get the explosive treatment – what I don’t understand  is why some people get emotional over two ugly blots on the landscape, with no more practical use than announcing to N2 drivers that you are near the city – get over it.

Anyway, after realizing that the top of Cavendish was no good for tower spotting, we landed up at the rooftop parking at Stadium on Main, camera at the ready, well kind of. We met some friendly people who offered us some shelter from the rain while we waited for the big moment and the shot of a lifetime.

So that didn’t work out – I saw the towers fall but my shot of the dust will not win me any awards. Off to Stellenbosch for a night away, and as taking non-award winning photographs can be hungry work we needed to eat. Stellenbosch was cold, wet and frankly depressing – everywhere looked deserted – but we had insider knowledge. A local had recommended Ginos restaurant, so we prowled the empty and wet streets and dodged a huge downpour to find a packed and warm restaurant – we got the last table. The place was buzzing with students, oldies and everyone in between – great value food, student price beer and cute Matie waitresses to boot – my kind of place. The Pizza, a superb Mexicano, loaded with cheese, mince and a good chili kick was served in an oval shape with our own pizza cutter – awesome – and at R52 bucks superb value. The Scoops, being slightly more sophisticated, ordered a spaghetti bolognaise – the small one was large and at R34, a bargain. More beer, (for us not Scoops) and we moved onto the litre jug of very nice Sangria to wash down an excellent meal.

Scoops outside at Majeka House, Stellenbosch

Scoops outside at Majeka House, Stellenbosch

Off to Majeka House, a two year old, boutique hotel in Paradyskloof, just off the R44. A nice room, a warm indoor pool and Jacuzzi with retractable roof and we were happy to hang there for the evening. A nice flat screen TV in the room, which, is standard fare for any hotel worth their stars, and a good collection of DVDs for adults and kids. Perfect for a rainy night in the winelands.

My problem with hotel rooms is what happens when I wake up in the middle of the night and want to watch TV or read without waking the partner and kid. Most rooms are too small to do this comfortably – so I moped in the dark until it was a reasonable hour for an early morning swim in the hot water. Also what is it with hotels and fat pillows that are just too uncomfortable too sleep with? Most hotels throughout the star range tend to offer these and it’s annoying, as is the bad coffee they offer in the rooms at Majeka. Come on guys, you have a quality place; get decent coffee, not the carton coffee you offer in the rooms and as for the turn down chocolate – it tasted like soap and for a moment I thought it was – some things you should not get wrong.

Breakfast was great and their little library is very cool. Scoops in particular loved the breakfast and didn’t stop eating for at least an hour, o.k. nor did I. The staff was friendly and helpful and an Aussie I met at breakfast said the villa was a great option for a larger crowd wanting something more self catering.

The following day we visited butterfly world and Scoops loved the variety of creatures both airborne and crawlies and in particular the “cheeky monkeys”. Sometimes just a night away, only 30 minutes from the city centre, can feel like a holiday.

Butterfly World

Butterfly World