The simple answer? Stay at Abalone House and dine at Reuben’s, of course. That’s just what we did last weekend…
Saturday, 10 June 2017: A night at Paternoster’s Abalone House, with dinner at Reuben’s
We reassured the doggies that we’d be back in 24 hours and that they’d be in good hands with their uncle Spec, then off we went!
Rainy road trip! It’s comforting knowing there’s a luxurious destination at the end of the road. Also see my takeaway Wimpy coffee, a road trip essential.
Destination Paternoster! Less than two hours since setting off from home, including a few stops along the way for snacks and scenery snaps, we’d reached the sleepy town.
Some of the pretty things you’ll see in Paternoster – sea views from almost anywhere, whitewashed houses, the striking ‘see kat’ statue, and helpful sign boards to almost any destination.
Winding through the streets of Paternoster we soon found our lovely location for the night – five-star boutique hotel, Abalone House. See some of the sweet kitties that roam the premises, an abandoned boat and the inviting but absolutely off-limits cold pool in the wintery rain. We’re desperate to return on a warmer day and try it!
Abalone House is extremely warm and welcoming in winter, partly due to the old-fashioned charm, partly due to the blazing fireplaces dotted around the main property. We learned from the general manager that the outside sitting area you see bottom right will soon have glass sliding doors instead of these tarps, ensuring the weather stays out in winter and that you can let the sun shine in during the warmer months by just folding them away. We’ll have to return to report back on that, too!
Tretchikoff ladies everywhere! On the cushions in Reuben’s, on the wall in our lounge, in our bathroom, and on a stack of cushions in the library.
Pretty patio set, inviting bed, underfloor heating beneath soft carpets and loungers beside the Jacuzzi on the roof – we braved it for a good 40 minutes or so after dinner.
Our room at Abalone House was a real sight for sore eyes. Instant stress relief. Soon after check-in there was a knock at the door and we were presented with flutes of welcome bubbly and assorted warm canapes. The decor was bright, warm and just what we needed.
Here is Husband gazing at the gorgeous stormy seascape. Once settled in our room we had a warm, cosy nap and listened to the soothing sounds of the rain outside. The sound of birdies chirping alerted us to the fact that the rain had stopped and we could safely venture out to explore the beach.
What a wonderful beach. We saw a few couples heading that way once they realised the rain had eased off, and watched the stunning sunset.
Various things on the otherwise deserted Paternoster beach – me, swirls of foam, and Husband as the sun set.
Many know Paternoster’s Abalone House as it’s the setting for local foodie favourite Reuben Riffel’s Reuben’s – and boy, did we eat well!
Our dinner drinks at Reuben’s – a glass of Merlot and an ice-creamy strawberry shake (not on the menu, but just ask).
See my spicy tomato ragout meatballs with Melba toast-style health bread, amuse bouche of pulled pork from two angles and my lemon cheesecake with mint sorbet, berry coulis and Terbodore cappuccino.
More food – Husband’s ‘mushrooms on mash’ starter with mustard drizzle, his braised lamb shank, my pork belly ribs and the malva pudding dessert with granadilla sorbet. Watch for my review on Biz soon, for all the descriptive words!
Ahh. My ultimate sign of ‘quality place to stay’ is if there are fluffy white terrycloth gowns to prance around in once evening hits. That’s just what we did, as you can see from these numerous shots – we even had matching bedside slippers!
Sunday, 11 June 2017: Breakfast at Reuben’s, sightseeing at Saldanha Bay
Ordering a hot breakfast like the eggs benedict or full English means you can also have your fill of the continental buffet – one of the most varied and value-packed I’ve seen! As we were the first eager beavers to arrive, we got to take the prime table at the bay window with a view towards the sea. Just heavenly.
We’d seen the big anchor on our way into town the day before but didn’t stop as it was raining. We stopped on our way out so Husband could pose for a variety of photos, from polite tourist the ‘this is my wrecking ball’ swing. Teehee!
Having seen a field of wind turbines in the distance we took a slight detour off the tarred road home onto a dirt road to take a closer look. They’re really quite majestic and awe-inspiring up close as they whoosh methodically overhead.
We also visited the Saldanha harbour on our way home. The wind was picking up by then and rain started up again so we only took a few snaps – Husband was fascinated by the mix of sea-ready boats and shipwrecks.
That’s all, folks! One of the most beautiful places we’ve reviewed, we’re sure to return and hope you’ll venture out that way, too – you won’t be disappointed.
*Disclaimer: Obviously our meals at Reuben’s and accommodation at Abalone House were part of our review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally.
last update I was a little vague about just how we’d be unravelling our city-stress knots and niggles, now all can be revealed: I’d been invited to review* the oh-so-magical Majeka House in Stellenbosch for a few days. See just some of the best things we did below and click here for my official review, as the professional pics do a much better job than ours from our phones below…
There’s nothing better than that feeling of excitement when you’re about to set off on a road trip – even if it’s just a hop, skip and jump away. Always start your journey with pics of the road ahead and any pretty scenery to rub in the fact that you’re getting away from it all. Take this pic, for example. Road ahead, check. Pretty scenery, check. Excited to see more, check.
Sometimes the sights you see are so strange you’d think you were dreaming if you hadn’t snapped a photo. These scarecrow puppet people are at the Polkadraai farm stall and strawberry picking point about half-an-hour from home.
Those puppets are just to the left of where this shot was taken. Another road trip tip is to definitely stop when you see one of these yellow Nat Geo frames and take a photo no matter what the view.
Feel free to stop and try the local fare before you reach your final destination. This is Husband trying a Black Label draught at Hudson’s on Dorp Straat in Stellenbosch. Just as good as a draught at any other pub, and the cheese burger and chips we shared were just as good as any of the other Hudson’s meals we’ve had. It was so very windy that things were blowing off the tables and everyone else was choosing to sit indoors, but we couldn’t resist the pretty tree-lined street for a spot of people-watching.
In and around your room
Of course each form of accommodation differs, even each room at each venue will have its individual quirks. At Majeka House this included an honesty bar system in the kitchen corner, with a fully stocked fridge (don’t touch the R700 mini bottle of champers, whatever you do)! All these lovely treats were individually priced, apart from the complimentary coffee pods with complementary fresh chewy peanut butter cookies. Don’t worry, there were no crumbs in/on the bed for our room fairy to take care of as we ate them standing.
Look around your room very very carefully, as there may well be hidden features. Following our spa sessions we showered then trotted around in the bunny-soft robes in the room – and on sitting on the bed noted the landscape painting mounted above our heads.
You may notice other interesting room/suite features on your third or fourth lap. For instance, look at the suspended TV in the pic on the left, and the similarly inbuilt painting in the pic on the right. It’s the front and back of a swivel, so if you’d rather watch TV in the lounge you just give it a slight nudge and hey presto, the painting faces the bedroom and you’re ready to channel hop!
This was the view from our rooftop balcony. Lots of soothing colours for the eye, as well as pleasing mountain shapes to rest on.
If you’ve brought reading material with you, be sure to try out each possible reading point. For me this included various chairs on the two patios, our all-too-comfy bed and a number of couches and cushions in the lounge before I settled on this corner, complete with soft blanket to buffer against the wintery wind outdoors.
Snap the sunset from as many view points as possible. Or just over the course of a few minutes from the same spot. This is the setting sun from our bedroom balcony…
The same scene just five minutes later – all yellowy and happy-making.
Of course you can’t stay cooped up in your room the whole time and need to explore the grounds. What delightful grounds these are in Stellenbosch, with all sorts of hidden lighting cleverly highlighting features you’d otherwise miss in the daylight.
The spas and watery things
Following a back-relaxing hour-long couple’s massage all you want to do is close your eyes and think happy thoughts. Here is Husband, having a soak/pummel in the viciously strong Jacuzzi – so much so that the bubbles almost overflowed into the adjoining pool. No bubble bath required!
As we’re both Aquarians we could easily spend all our free time in water and be happy chappies. So of course I did the exact same thing as Husband. Note lovely landscape on the wall behind me, as well as doors off to the sauna and steam room – yes, they’re different things.
Here is Husband, stoking the steam in the steam room by topping up with hissing water over the aromatic logs every few minutes. As it was set to 70’C we didn’t stay in there for long.
At night, the chandelier-style lights lit up the spa and pool area in the most magical way. We’d been encouraged to have a swim or soak after dinner – all you do is swipe your room card to access the main hotel section, even after staff have locked up for the night. As appealing as the thought was, we didn’t follow through. Here’s why…
The fancy (filling) dinners
If it’s not quite dinner time, it’s surely time for a pre- (or post-) meal drink. We sampled two of the fancy cocktails at the blue-lit M Lounge – I went for the espresso martini, Husband had the Long Island Ice Tea. Both expertly made and just the right thing to sip at the fireside.
This is the fireplace beside which those cocktails were sipped. Note those walls of books are not real – that’s a special wallpaper that almost everyone who entered the bar when we were there went up very close to examine.
If you’ve booked the three-course dinner at Makaron, Majeka’s in-house award-winning restaurant, don’t by any means fall for the idea that you’re only getting three plates of food. For example, soon after being seated you’ll likely be offered complimentary still or sparkling water and a breadboard filled with the freshest, fanciest bites with touches of onion and cinnamon where you’d least expect.
Once your wine is served, be sure to swirl it around a little in your glass to release the flavour, as Husband did with his. He made it last throughout the bread, amuse bouche, starter and main course, only opting for something different with his dessert. But more on that later…
See a sample of the things you’ll eat at Makaron. Top left is our saffron-infused amuse bouche. Top right is Husband’s prawn linguini starter, bottom left is my ‘rainbow beets with goat’s cheese chantilly’ starter, and bottom right is my steak with herb gnocchi mains. All part of just one meal. Plan ahead and go on an empty stomach!
When ordering dessert, be wary of ones with bits you’re not sure of. While my vanilla creme brulee was large, light and lip-smackingly good, with perfectly brittle sesame tulle on top, the exotic-sounding ‘yuzu’ was just that – exotic and a little too sharp on the tongue. Don’t be afraid to ask for your waiter’s recommendation.
Because our waiter recommended the caramel bar for Husband’s dessert, which was hands down the best thing we ate in Stellenbosch – and we ate a great deal of delightful meals! This may look small but was as caramelly, chocolately and ice-creamy as possible, with warm brown melty flavours and a dainty little coffee macaron on top – alas Husband popped the whole thing in his mouth before I could have a taste. Sad face. I’d go back just to try that mysterious macaron!
The sweet dessert called for something a little sweeter gliding down the throat, like a tot of KWV 5-year-old.
The breakfast choices
The breakfast buffet is eye-poppingly comprehensive, but don’t fill up before your hot meal arrives or you may not have enough space for it. Rather copy me and order a cappuccino, then pour a berry smoothie and mix all manner of muesli, nuts, yoghurt and berry coulis in a bowl to slowly munch through before your eggs benedict or bacon-filled French toast arrives.
Or copy Husband and fill a side plate with flaky croissant, selection of meats and cheeses and pepper to your liking. I repeat, do not overeat, especially on a Sunday. You’ll see why soon.
This is what said French toast and eggs royale looked like. Amazing and so filling. Especially if you have an adventurious day ahead…
The outdoor hikes
Just 5 minutes up the road from Majeka House is the entrance to Paradyskloof nature reserve. Do yourself a favour and go for a brisk trot or even a cycle if you’ve packed along your bike. There are no steep uphills and lots of shady bits to pause and catch your breath or admire the view – or both.
Of course you’ll take a selfie while you’re on your walk, as we did. This was the best option of the six we attempted, promise. 😉
The Sunday morning markets
Goodness me but you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Sunday morning markets in the Stellenbosch area. Our first stop was at the Blauwklippen market, where you simply won’t know where to look as there are so many tasty delights on offer. Best you not have already filled up on breakfast. We did not know this so just looked and looked while our full-to-bursting bellies made regretful noises.
The main Blaauwklippen restaurant is exactly what you’d imagine a ‘Cape Dutch eatery’ to look like, with warm inviting interiors (we just peeped through the windows).
Of course you’ll wander a little off the beaten track while browsing the Blauuwklippen Market, as it’s set on such pretty grounds, with ducks floating on ponds and squirrels chasing each other all around the greenery.
And then we stopped at the Route 44 Market at Audacia. Even more food, crafts and soul-rejuvenating scenery to look at. This is the view from just one of many seating areas.
By then we’d walked up quite an appetite, and Husband simply plopped himself down on the beach bar stool (with real sand for your shoes to rest in) at the Mussel Monger and ordered himself a couple of oysters. They smelled like the cold sea and I’ll bet tasted like it, too.
And that, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll need to go back to Stellenbosch many, many more times to fully experience all it has to offer. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend Majeka House and Spa, what a treat!
*Disclaimer: Obviously our accommodation at Majeka House and meals at Makaron were part of the review package. All else came from our own pockets. All enjoyed equally. Prices included in my official review.*
This week has been a super busy one, mainly because I’m on leave next week so had quite a bit of work to tick off my to-do list, then its Easter weekend and before you know it we’re in April! A quarter of the year gone! It’s hard to believe. Here are the past week’s highlights…
Saturday, 12 March 2016: Driftwood breakfast and parents airport pick-up
We woke early and dropped the car off at the nearest car wash then trotted across to the Driftwood Cafe. I had this pleasing cup of coffee as part of my R25 breakfast.
Husband buttering toast to go with his bigger-than-mine breakfast.
We’d been tracking the parents’ planes through an app on Husband’s phone so timed our arrival at the airport pretty well. This was their flight from Joburg taxiing along the runway…
We watched them disembark from the viewing deck before dashing down to the arrivals hall.
The doggies were very keen to see Granny and Grampa again, see their sad faces when I asked “Where’s Granny Grampa?”
Later that day we were at Tyger Valley Shopping Centre. I couldn’t help snapping a pic of this eye-catching window display at Identity.
Such a cute ‘hot-air balloon’. Husband snapped me sipping a McDonald’s caramel latte beside it. Yes that is Rey from Star Wars looking at it jealously over my shoulder and photobombing me.
Sunday, 13 March 2016: Breakfast at Rusty Oak Bistro
We read up on the Rusty Oak Bistro at Ruslamere through Zomato and decided to try them for breakfast. Husband opted for the hot buffet – and promptly toppled the pepper grinder onto his first plateful, teehee.
My rather large cappuccino, just delicious
I went for the waffle topped with berry and bacon bits – ahem, and got the double. And finished it all. Kept me full till we got to Mum’s for lupper that eve (note my fancy Roo shirt from the parents’ trip).
The pretty outdoor area at Ruslamere.
Much, much later, at Mum’s that eve we had raspberries with her homemade coffee icecream. Goodness me it was delicious. Washed down with a delightful pink wine.
Thursday, 17 March 2016: St Patrick’s Day work events and celebrations
I started my Thursday at an exclusive presentation at an agency walking distance from the office. Just love the multicoloured light-sabre type lights that hang from the reception area of the FCB/Hellocomputer building in Woodstock, and the little window near the ceiling. This picture does not do it justice.
Walking to the lift I saw this interesting wall art – which I later found out was printed by Husband! Tis a very small world.
There was time for a quick cup of coffee before the presentation began. Note my stripy pants did not match the stripy carpet.
Lots of pretty clouds about on my way to the bus stop after work that evening. There’s a definite chill in the air these days – the start of autumn so soon?
We were just too tired to head out anywhere after work for official celebrations, but Husband had a Guinness in St Paddy’s honour.
Friday, 18 March 2016: Fat Cactus farewell to Meg
My colleague Megan (two down from me in this pic, she was in most of my pics from last year’s Loeries blog post) is jetting off to teach English in Japan in a few weeks, and as most people are on leave next week we had a brief farewell at the Fat Cactus across the road from the office today. I was sat at the ‘espresso milkshake’ end of the table 🙂
The Milkshake Queen strikes again! These are the espresso shakes in question. |I almost had another.
That’s all, folks! I’m going to use the next few days to switch off, reset and recharge my batteries. Hope you have a wonderful long weekend!