Category “English – Touring”

Port Nolloth

Thursday, 14 July, 2022

We headed out on a drive to Port Nolloth recently.  It is a leisurely 700k  drive from Cape Town.

The town itself is not big, and, well, desertish one could say. 

When copper was discovered in 1852 at nearby O’Kiep (ok, 160km is ‘nearby’ in this part of the world) the then Cape Colony administration decided to develop Port Nolloth as a port for the export of copper.

However, the harbour was too shallow for bigger ships, with some resulting losses / repairs, and by the early 1900’s they started sending O’Kiep’s copper via rail to a different destination for export.  In 1926, though, Port Nolloth was revived when alluvial diamonds were found.  [Source:  Port Nolloth – Wikipedia]

The most recent sensus figures of 2011 show the population of Port Nolloth as 11 982.  [Source:  Richtersveld Local Municipality – Wikipedia]

Heading West the last 80km’s after leaving the N7
The town has a definite starting point and end point
Typical platteland small town
Bella de Port restaurant
The view from Bella de Port

A tour within a tour

Since we were in the vicinity, we decided we should explore the Southerly neighbouring towns. 

The road to Hondeklipbaai

Our travels took us first to Kleinzee, some 70 km’s South of Port Nolloth.  Kleinzee used to be a closed diamond town with, at its peak, some 4000 inhabitants.  Mining came to an end by 2013 with the town now being ‘open’, but evidently with very scaled down economic activity. 

Interestingly, whereas the road from Port Nolloth to Kleinzee is a gravel road, between Kleinzee and Koingnaas the road is tarred.  Koingnaas was established in 1970 as a satellite town of Kleinzee, and the same fate thus befell it as Kleinzee when mining activities came to an end.  I would assume De Beers, who did the mining explorations, had the road tarred for the benefit of the people living in these two towns.  The population in 2011 was 728 and, well, it shows.

The last remaining town on our day trip was Hondeklipbaai (Dog stone bay, directly translated).  Population 540. 

A local with whom we chatted explained that with the demise of the mining activities, and also with the fishing factory closing down, the town basically ground to a halt. It is, well, small and quiet. 

The name comes from a stone that looks like a dog.  Viewing a picture of this stone, I could not make out the dog, so I skipped the 4km drive to check out the stone for myself.  Sorry.  We rather had lunch at Sam’s.

Sam’s restaurant
Sam’s view

From Hondeklipbaai you can aim to the East the 94km to Garies, or back North to Port Nolloth 157km away. After lunch at Sam’s Restaurant, we headed back for Port Nolloth.

In the week before our visit a storm dislodged the bell buoy in the harbour from its mooring and they had to send a tug after it to chase it down and bring it back. 

Bell buoy

What follows is a summary for dummies on navigation in Port Nolloth harbour.  I found it fascinating.

The recalcitrant bell buoy is some 12 meters in height.  The upper 4 meter structure houses the bell which rings as the swell causes the buoy to move in the water – for the foggy days when you have to listen for the bell because you cannot see it.  The buoy itself is another 4 meters, and the part below the water also 4 meters.  This buoy needs to be anchored to two moorings, and held in position which is indicated on the nautical navigational maps.  Given the purpose it serves, only a very small margin of movement is allowed.

So the traveller approaching Port Nolloth first needs to line up (at 066 degrees) the lighthouse, the leading light (which is about 40 meters in front of it) and the light on the bell buoy. 

You then navigate your boat to the bell buoy at 66 degrees.  Once past the bell buoy, the aim to the right where there is a designated channel through which you should travel.  This is demarcated by three red buoys on the port side (left) and three green buoys on the starboard side.  Once through this channel there is a further series of yellow buoys just to keep you on track up to the jetty.

Map Source:

Since I take it that the discerned readers of this blog were just dying to know how to navigate into Port Nolloth harbour, I inserted the part above specially for you.

Port Nolloth
Diamond boats in the harbour

A short Mossel Bay visit

Tuesday, 23 March, 2021

Working from home caused by Covid-19 caused chaos for some.  But it also brought about some unintended happy consequences.  Like working from home.  Or working “from home” from an exotic location with access to wi-fi.

Having had the good fortune of being humoured by friends who allowed us to stay in their place of abode close by the sea, with full access to wi-fi, introduced me to this adaptation of working from home.  I can attest to the fact that it is a very palatable experience.

We travelled the leisurely 390 km’s from home, stopping over at the Oude Post Bistro & BP filling station, commonly known as Malgas.  This Malgas, though, is not to be confused with the town of Malgas, which is quite a distance from here, although that Malgas also does sport a fuel pump.

The thing to buy at the Malgas shop (other than fuel) is their roosterkoeke.  I don’t think it has an English name.  Sorrie.  But I trust the picture will suffice.

There is a board which tells you which direction you could go, whichever takes your fancy.

Arriving at the sea always evokes some elation for me and my family.

But first unpack the car and get settled in.I thought my friend was being overly confident when he said the house is close to the sea, but I would say “close” would suffice.

Then to explore the area a bit.  The view to Mossel Bay’s direction.  Naah, don’t worry about those clouds.  It was mostly empty promises.And to the East:Walks on the beach abound.  I thought this guy was using his fishing rod to save the folks in the water, but it turned out he was actually angling.And then,  what came down must go up again.Close by is the ATKV holiday resort.When lockdown ended (the first time), many memes did the round with the caption:  “And poof! All became joggers.”  Well, “Poof!” and it was the end of the weekend.  As the Chinese proverb goes:  “This too shall pass.”…

A Short Southern Cape Tour

Sunday, 27 September, 2020

Have leave, will travel.

Thirty-two years ago on our honeymoon, we chanced upon the road to Malgas. Well, actually we were then heading to Witsand, but getting there required us to take the road to the Pont across the Breë river at Malgas.

With lockdown levels down to the extent that local tourism has become possible again, and given our upcoming anniversary, we thought to check Malgas out again.


On the maps you will find the village identified as Malgas.

[Source:  Map data @2020 AfrGIS (Pty) Ltd]

When the village had its origin in the mid 1800’s it was called Malagas, after a local chief. However, as international mail tended to end up in Malaga in Spain, instead of in Malagas in the Southern Cape, the name was changed to Malgas.  So says the instruction manual of the Malagas hotel.

Now just let me run this past you again slowly.  International mail getting diverted to Malaga in Spain in the 1800’s?

Wikipedia offers a different take on the name.  It references the word Malgas as the Afrikaans word for a Gannet.  Also, if you split the Afrikaans word in two, namely ‘mal gas’, it means ‘mad guest’.  And this is, according to Wiki, the reason why the hotel opted for the name Malagas instead. But I think I’ll go with the hotel’s explanation.

Getting started

But let me start at the very beginning, to quote madame Julie Andrews, who is reputed as considering the beginning a very good place to start.

We set out from our home at the outskirts of Cape Town for a leisurely 280 km drive for the day.

Having had time on hand we took the scenic Du Toitskloof pass instead of the Huguenot Tunnel.  At the lookout point just before you start descending, we did the been there dunnit pic.

We did a coffee pitstop at the petrol stop outside Worcester.

I had a philosophic moment about how Covid has changed our lives.

Outside, I marvelled at two very cool Cape Sparrows. They figured out there is no need to go hunting anymore. You just check out the vehicles as they pull in, pick one with a bunch of dead insects on the grill and have an eat-out.  (Yes, I do have a picture of it, but it came out so useless that I’m not even going to insert it here.)

For desert they just hopped (literally) into the shop and collected the crumbs of a croissant here and there, and dinner is done and dusted.

Normally a pitstop is quite a business like affair, then one hops back into your car and continue with the journey.  However, as we had the whole day time, we took our time.  I even had time to pay more than just the cursory glance to the industrial sculpture in front of the building.

Through Worcester, Robertson, Ashton we went. In Ashton we stumbled across the 9th wonder of the Langeberge: the bridge that has been under construction for the past 24 years, was now passable.  OK, I might be exaggerating maybe with 20 years or so, but the bridge has been years in the making.  The local tourism website now lists it as a tourist attraction. It is impressive, I have to admit, but by now nobody really believed that it will ever reach the point where vehicles would actually be able to travel across it.  Well, you never know.

I wanted to post a picture of what the bridge looked like over the past many years (as found on Google maps), but did not want to risk falling foul of copyright principles.   So you will have to settle for screenshots from a hastily taken video taken as we too late realised that the bridge is already open.


From Ashton we travelled to Swellendam. Could there possibly be another town in South Africa with this concentration of restaurants per square kilometer? Ok maybe Riebeek-Wes, come to think of it.

We enjoyed lunch at Tredici.  A pleasurable experience with a massive plate of good food.

And then we hit the road for the final approximately 45km to Malgas, the last 40km thereof being gravel road. The road is very good, with the last 5km a bit more robust than the rest. It ends with a short stretch of tar road down into the village. I guess without that, it would be nigh impossible for sedan vehicles to tow anything uphill from the river, especially when wet. Long stretches of the gravel road appeared like clay soil. I can imagine it being a slippery slope when wet.  Just to give you an idea, below is Strava’s elevation analysis.  You’re talking about a 75m drop (or climb) over about 800 meters.

[Below was a walk from the Malagas hotel to and back from the Breede River Trading Post – hence the evident duplication in the elevation.]

Calculated as a percentage, it is an incline/drop of 9,4%.  This compares favourably with the Graskop Peak Pass which is considered to be the 12th steepest pass in South Africa (


We booked into the Malagas hotel (these brave folks stuck to the name, risking getting their mail ending up in Spain).  A notice at the entrance reads “no dogs allowed, not even small ones”.  I should have asked whether that includes Bullterrier – just to be clear.

The hotel is on the banks of the Breede river. Boat houses as well as dinghies, canoes and paddle boats are available to rent.

Note the ‘boat house’ lookalike just to the right of the pool.  Pretty Belinda probably lived there.

We went for a walk to get the idea of the lay-out of the village. Nothing much to it, though.

There is general trader.

Houses are mostly on the river bank on large erven, with a road on the away side of the houses, parallel to the river. Plus there is the hotel, two fuel pumps with notices that says ‘no mask no service’.

And that was it.  Or so I thought.

Taking a drive the next day, we found the rest of the village, substantially bigger actually than what we thought were the village.  I guess one can even call it a town now.

Oh. Then the pontoon ferry …

Netherlands and Paris tour 2018 – Part 1

Saturday, 6 October, 2018

Netherlands & Paris, September 2018

Part 1 – Getting there,  and getting started


I have done a bit of touring through Southern Africa.   Then on a good morning my wife suggested we do something different for our 30th anniversary.  Let’s visit the Netherlands, said she. So we went to the Netherlands.  Her ruse was that the friend that married us back then now lives in the Netherlands with his family for the past 10 years, and would it not be a splendid idea for us to renew our vows before him.  It was said in a fashion that did not seriously invited debate, so I considered it safe to agree.  Not that I disagreed with the idea.


Banking on a visa

Getting the Schengen visa turned out to be less of a daunting task than expected. If you can get parking in Cape Town, you’re good to go. In fact, the most daunting part of this project was to obtain bank statements. This took six hours.

See, the bank statements had to be in English. To do that the bank required that I formally change my language preference with them from Afrikaans to English. To do that they insisted that I should first provide them afresh with proof of my existence and addresses, because the law requires that with a change of address.  And as I was changing my address from “straat” in Afrikaans to “street” in English, this would constitute a change of address.   The fact that one can show a letter that you have received from the bank at your residence also does not convince them that this is where you actually stay.

Once I jumped through all the hoops, they insisted that my wife must do the same, as she has signing powers on my account. So we did just that. But then the bank said they won’t accept the certified documents we provided. No, my wife had to appear before them in person. When I started to show some discontent they offered to solve the problem by simply removing my wife as a signatory from my account. I told them I would rather remain happily married instead and thus physically produced my wife at the bank.  Afterwards I wrote a letter to the bank that made me feel a lot better.

Once I got past the bank, though, it was a fairly simple process.


Friday, September 21 – Saturday 22nd

Leaving on a jet plane

On our way to the airport on our day of departure, we got blocked away from the road that should have taken us to the airport.  The road was blocked by traffic officers.  Seeing a large number of taxis in the distance near Bellville taxi ranks, my heart sank. A taxi strike may well cause us to not be able to reach the airport in time, or even at all.  My wife did a quick check on Twitter, which indicated that there had been a shooting incident.  We managed to find an alternative route, and arrived at the airport only minutes later than intended.


Dubai to Schiphol

Cape Town to Dubai took nine and a half hours. We arrived in Dubai in 34 degrees Celsius – half-past-five in the morning! Fortunately we left less than three hours later, before the temperature could get serious. Some seven hours later we touched down in a wet Amsterdam – it rains there from time to time.

Schiphol rendered a novel experience: friendly immigration officials. Kudos to the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee officers.  Google was kind enough to teach me how this word is pronounced.  (I just thought this was something you should know).

At Schiphol you basically step from the airport building into the train station.  We contacted our friends on WhatsApp to find out to which of the three Hilversum stations we should catch a train. But before we could manage to buy the tickets, our host arrived and led us back with her to the train and off we went to Hilversum.

The gentleman who sat next to me on the train later gave up trying to figure out why our language sounds like he should be able to follow, yet he cannot. Turns out his originally from Sierra Leone and has been living in the Netherlands for nearly two decades. So he is fluent in Dutch and hence Afrikaans sounding familiar to him.

The Dutch has often been described to me as being very “direct” (their own term), meaning they tend to speak their minds. I saw this characteristic in action just as we left the Hilversum station. A lady was conveying her dissatisfaction with another lady.  She clearly realised that the other lady was hearing impaired, so she repeated herself a number of time with increasing volume.  It was inescapably clear that she was discontent.  I made a note to myself to not unnecessarily antagonize any locals.


Sunday, September 23rd

 National Military Museum, Soest

After probably having had only about four hours sleep in the previous 24 hours, I slept like a log.

The next morning my wife and I we went for a stroll to nearby woods to check out walking or jogging routes. Fortunately we had our phones with us with Netherland sim cards in as we had to consult Google maps to find our way back.

After breakfast we set out to the National Military Museum at nearby Soest. On the way there, I was trying intently to figure out how the driving on the right hand side of the road works. I found it very unsettling. Had I been the driver I would have braked every time a car approached from the front, as it just felt so wrong to see cars hurtling towards me on the right(hand) hand side of the road.

It has to be said, people here stick to the rules, and diligently so. Their also seems to be an auto-correct function built into the Dutch.  They are quite keen to point out to you when you get it wrong.  Although I did get an international driving permit just for in case, I decided that this would be for emergencies only.

But I digress.  The museum was impressive. It concentrates on the Dutch Armed Forces.   It is situated in the …

Netherlands and Paris tour 2018 – Part 2

Saturday, 6 October, 2018

Part 2 –  Day visit to Amsterdam


Monday, 24th of September


We headed to Amsterdam for the day, under guidance of our host.  It really helps tagging along with someone who not only knows where the station is, but also how the ticket sales and incidental detail works.  Such as where you need to run your ticket through the machine when you enter the station, and again when you leave the station at your destination.

The bicycle is evidently king in the Netherlands.

Even assuming that not all these riders headed for the Starbucks, it still remains impressive.

There is a complete network of roads for bicycles, and quite often cars need go yield to bicycles. Pedestrians too – something cyclists are renowned for reminding you about lest you forget, or worse, dare to transgress.

Under guidance of our host, we also travelled to the station by bicycle, but you must be very attentive to the rules to get it right. In fact, kids get trained in this at school and get “certified” after an evaluation. We, of course, did not have the benefit of that training. So we stuck to the back roads.

Katie Melua sings about the nine million bicycles in Beijing. She should come here.

The bicycles are heavy duty models with large wheels and with all manners of saddle bags and carriers. More like the SUV format of bicycles. I guess the reason for the sturdiness is to enable you to travel with your luggage. Everyone rides bicycles, and in their office clothes. I mean, really smartly dressed folks travel like that.

In downtown Amsterdam you need to pay even more attention. There you need to watch out, in addition to vehicles, for bicycles, pedestrians and tourists, also for the trams.

And if you’re from a country where you keep left and pass right, you really need to concentrate. Oh, of course in Amsterdam there are boats too, but they tend to stick to the water, which helps.

Everything is automated. Train ticket sales happen online or at an automated booth. You swipe your card as you enter the station, and again at the station where you get off. This opens the gates for you and registers the length of your travel. It works really smooth, but it is not cheap. A train station is part of the setup at Schiphol airport. And at Amsterdam Centraal the train station is also the place where trams and ferries meet.

Everything works efficiently.


I Am sterdam

You need to have a look at a map to get an idea of the Amsterdam water ways.

[Source:  Map Data 2018 © Google  South Africa]

We started our day with a channel boat trip. Ours was a fixed trip, as opposed to the hop on hop off tours. Commentary is provided in 19 languages on headphones, but I thought it best to stick to a language that I was familiar with.

One gets the feel of an old town with houses crammed together in limited space. Some of the building lines have become skew because of foundations having been damaged over time.  Because by “old” I mean really, really old.

Limited land space had caused the Dutch to go upwards many stories, rather than expansive on a floor plan.  And the “building line” is basically the next door building.  One can understand why the Dutch had to develop proper rules on various servitudes providing for neighbourly tolerance.

After the boat trip we took the ferry that crosses the large channel to the northeast of the station.

We had no business on the other side of the channel.  But the ferry was for free, departing every three minutes, so we did it just because it is there.

To reach the ferry you walk through a subway.  As everywhere, bicycles galore.

Inside the tunnel, the walls are covered, not with graffiti, but tile works.  Or maybe this is Dutch graffiti.




Rijks Museum

We took the tram to the Rijks Museum.  We could have walked.  Amsterdam is actually comparatively small.  But the tram was a novel experience, and as we had our hostess who knows her way around, it made everything very comfortable.

In front of the museum is the iconic I AMSTERDAM in huge letters, with seemingly everyone scrambling to have their picture taken on it.  In spite of the many letters there was a bit of jostling for space for your ideal picture.

As for the Rijks Museum:  Even for me as a totally uneducated art watcher, the greatness of the institution and the artists struck me, probably more than the artwork itself.  I mean, my goodness, here I am looking at artworks originally done by the masters themselves.

If you do not fancy your pictures getting photo bombed, do not visit the Rijksmuseum go on tour.

Speaking of art works, the red light district was pointed out to me from a distance. Apparently a visit to the red light district has for decades been a preferred tourist attraction for visiting South Africans.  Before I left home I endeavored to educate myself on YouTube.   This led me to decide to rather not visit the red light district.   It just seemed potentially very awkward to look (stare?) at the girls through their windows. So I decided to rather give it a pass.

From the Rijksmuseum we walked back to the station, rather than to take the tram. On our way there we visited the Begijnhof church complex.

In one chapel we spotted their newsletter in Afrikaans.  They apparently have Afrikaans attendants to their congregation.

If I must sum up my observations for the day I would say I found Amsterdam enchanting. Maybe the fact that I can more or less grasp the written language (and thus the signs and instructions), and the fact that the spoken language sounds like I should understand it,  helps making me feel at home. Also, I quite like the way things are happening in orderly fashion.  Of course, it helps that everyone actually sticks to the rules. This environment can work for me.

[Click below on Part 3 to read further]…

Netherlands and Paris tour 2018 – Part 3

Saturday, 6 October, 2018

Part 3 – Paris

 September 25th– 27 th


Shortly before our departure to Europe, we had contact with a relative who is living in Paris temporarily.  He offered us his flat to stay in as he would be out of town during the time of our tour.

So with our Dutch host as guide we left Schiphol for Orley airport South of Paris.  From there we caught a bus that took us to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. We found the flat a 340m walk from the far side of the Arc de Triomphe.  Or if you want to be pedantic, 300m from the near side of the circle.


Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe turned out to be a massive thing.   Twelve big streets connect at the circle around the Arc de Triomphe, with no traffic lights to regulate traffic. Although I found it entertaining to watch, I would not want to drive there!

[Source:  Imagery 2018 © Google, map data © Google]



Big bus tours

We got tickets for the hop on hop off Big Bus Tours bus, valid for two days.   We were told that if you start your trip on the bus past 16:00 in the afternoon, then that day does not count. So we trundled down the Champs Elysees, whiling away the time until four before boarding the bus.

We considered this to be an exploratory trip, so we did not hop off. We wanted to get the feel of the route. Just as I got to the Eiffel tower, my camera memory was full, and I had to resort to some picture with my phone instead.  The bus does not wait.



The next day we did the tour again, this time getting off at the Eiffel tower to begin with.  As we got to the Eiffel tower, I realised that I have not put the camera batteries back after I charged them the previous evening.  Fortunately I found a set of back-up batteries in the camera bag that I actually forgot about!

It’s really no use describing the details of a tour like this. It’s like taking pictures. I later gave up on taking them. Paris is massive and old, with a seemingly endless supply of really impressive old buildings.  And as far as the Eiffel tower is concerned, every ten meters that you walk in any direction from or around it, you find a better angle for a picture.  You just can’t win!

What left me in awe was hanging around these highly recognizable landmarks in the world such as the Eiffel tower and the Louvre and the Notre Dame.  Just being there was just amazing.

According to the running commentary on the bus, the Champs Elysees is a rather expensive street to run a business from. I was thus surprised to find, tucked away on the Champs Elysees, even a MacDonald’s.

It turned out to be the start of fashion week in Paris. Everywhere girls in bridal or other fancy dresses got photographed against the backdrop of the Eiffel tower or other exotic views.



Between changing from the Red Bus to the Blue Bus (for different routes) we visited one of the Lafayette buildings to get to the rooftop which offers a commanding view of Paris – for free.  Getting anything free here is noteworthy.  Even toilets require payment.  Speaking of which, I was initially rather surprised to find a female cleaner going about her business of cleaning the gents’ toilets, unperturbed by the gents using the urinals.  I never quite fancied taking a leak as a spectator sport.

Sorry, I digress.  To get to the top floor of the Lafayette building, you pass a number of exotic stores. At some of these outlets you can buy yourself some really hideous outfits for €1800 and upwards if you are so inclined.   Not even the sky is the limit – very much like with stupidity.

We gave Louis Vuitton a skip because we did not want to do queues. Apparently they had a new range of handbags which is so exotic that you had to queue up just to be let into the shop. I guess they contact your credit provider before letting you in, just to prevent embarrassment to both you and them.  Crazy Store never does that when we go looking for a handbag there.


Sacré-Coeur, Montmartre

We took a walk to the next bus stop. This turned out well for the increasing of the number of steps on my step counter, but it was disastrous from a navigational point of view, even with Google maps. With the sun sitting south of centre instead of north of centre as is the case in the Southern hemisphere, I had difficulties getting my direction. Eventually the answer was to enlarge the screen of your Maps, and to start walking so that one can see in which direction one moves on the phone screen. Eventually we did get to the right bus stop to get to the Sacré-Coeur.

The church is perched on a hill. A steep hill.

Having survived the steps, you are at the top of Montmartre. They had a funicular for the faint hearted who could not do the uphill walk. In spite of the sacredness of the institution one had to contend with all manners of hustlers. Some had these three upside down cups moving around a coin, and for a few Euros you could incorrectly guess were the coin was – and of course, lose your money.  I was saved by my wife from a chap who started tying a rope to my finger. I assume he would have made some ornament which would be impossible to get off and then expected to be paid for it. I was also for the second time urged by lady to “just sign here” on a collections form. Apparently that is just the diversion to get into your pockets – literally.


Place du Tertre

Close by is the Place du Tertre, where you will find a huge collection of artists, many of whom offering to draw your picture while you sit there.  There is a square, and the streets joining the square are very narrow, with a proliferation of restaurants and curio shops.  It …

Netherlands and Paris tour 2018 – Part 4

Saturday, 6 October, 2018

Part 4

Friday, 28 September 2018

Exploring locally – Hilversum museums

Our host took my wife to IKEA. I understand IKEA to be a shop selling furniture and stuff.  Fearing that my wife might come home with a double bed or something that would be guaranteed to not fit into our luggage, I decided to explore a bit of Hilversum by bicycle to calm my nerves down.

Pretty much everyone can ride a bicycle, but doing so whilst obeying rules is a real novel experience. I decided to rather stick to quiet streets and watch what fellow cyclists do. I also ran a quick check on Google on the things you should not do while cycling in the Netherlands. And off I went.

These big bikes are very comfortable, but if Lance Armstrong had to do the Tour de France with such a bicycle he would probably have become a plumber or something on the side to put food on the table.

I am happy to report that things went rather well. One interesting observation is that there is no need to stick to smaller roads. In fact, it is on the smaller roads where you may find yourself sharing the road with cars. On the big roads, on the other hand, you have your own cycle lane.  One must just remember to stay on the lane on the right hand side of the road and to go around a circle anti-clockwise.

My first stop was the Hilversum museum.  There I found a nude art exhibition by Carla van de Puttelaar.  I really only found that out only after I entered.  From there I headed for the Instituut vir Beeld en Geluid.  This is a cultural archive and museum that collects information on the Dutch audio-visual heritage.

I spent quite a few hours there and had great fun!

They have a number of interactive activities where you can be the star in your show, for instance being the driver of a car in a car chase scene in a movie, or reading the news.  Recordings hereof are then sent to your email where it is stored for thirty days.

For my navigation I was reliant on Google Maps, but only on the voice prompts, of course.  I would be looking at a sudden death if I were to look on my phone’s screen while staying out of trouble with the bicycle.  However, picture (or try listening to it in your imagination) the English voice prompts and accent on street names such as Gijsbrecth van Amstel street, Roeitjiesweg, and Burgemeester Gülcherlaan.  I missed quite a number of turnoffs, because I was looking for a street name that sounded like the voice prompts.


Saturday, 29 September

Naarden Vesting

The Naarden Fortress city is built in a star format with fortified walls and a moat around it to keep attackers out.  Napoleon’s brother, however, apparently did manage to breach the fortress, but that was a while ago. These days you can go there without running the risk of being held at bay by the locals.  One can do a boat trip around the city in the moat for a small fee.

As with many of these places, being there of course makes it impossible to get a view of the place.  Below is a 3d picture from Google Maps. The colour scheme makes it look a bit strange, but the two variations of dark green are the water masses surrounding the city, providing the required security against breaching.

[Source:  Imagery © 2018 Google, Map data © Google]

This is one of the entrances to the Vesting, viewed from the inside.  Note the ground wall behind the building.

In what used to be the court house (or rather the mayor’s house) a local gave us the historical background. One room appeared to have been the court room. As this visit commemorated our 30th anniversary, and we were in fact visiting our friend who was then the (nearly qualified) minister who did our marriage sermon, we did a quick refresher of our vows.

From there we paid a brief visit to the 18th century Kasteel Groeneveld.

That evening we had a braai. Rib eye steak on the bone (which sells for roughly 10 times the price we get this back home), salmon for a starter and lamb and pork sausage home made by our host. A good evening was had by all.


Sunday, 30 September


Kinderdijk is an area some 70km’s away from Hilversum with 19 working windmills that (along with more modern pumping mechanisms) pump water out from low lying areas.

A rather entertaining presentation is offered, giving a bit of background to the project.   Thereafter we boarded a boat that took us down the river between the mils.

I found these mills as problematic as the Eiffel tower: every few seconds you find a new angle that you think would make a better picture.

[Click on Part 5 below to read further]…

Netherlands and Paris tour 2018 – Part 5

Saturday, 6 October, 2018

Part 5


Delta Werke Neeltje Jans

The South-western province of the Netherlands is Zeeland.  Geographically, this part has large peninsulas.  In 1953 the Netherlands suffered from massive floods.  The floods caused the forced evacuation of 70 000 people, and left more than 1800 people dead.  More than 47000 houses were damaged, and dykes were breached at more than 60 places.


The Dutch then embarked on a massive project, Delta Works, to build new water restraining mechanisms.

[Source:  Imagery © 2018 Google, Map data © Google]


The works consist of dams, sluices, locks, dykes, levees and storm surge barriers in South Holland and Zeeland.  The purpose of all these was to shorten the Dutch coastline by building dykes and sluices on the outer perimeter,  and in doing so reducing the number of dikes that had to be raised further inland at different places.

[Source:  Imagery © Google, Data SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA, GEBCO, Map data © 2018 Google]

The problem here is similar to climbing on top of the Eiffel tower – once up there you can’t see the Eiffel anymore. These delta constructions are huge, and given the layout of the land being so flat you have no vantage point to get to see the project.  Hence the need to resort to Google maps just to give an indication of what one is looking at.  Suffice maybe just to say that I was awestruck.

Bear in mind that the Dutch had the ability to (and did) reclaim land from somewhere in the 1400’s already, and they are still at it, only better.

If ever you get the chance to see the Dutch movie, De Storm, do watch it.  It tells the story of the 1953 storm that caused havoc, and preceded the construction of these Delta works series of dykes.

As a child we were told this story of the boy that put his finger in the hole in a dyke to prevent it from getting worse.  After having seen these dykes, I rather doubt that story.


Monday, 1 October


Utrecht is a 15 minutes train drive to the South of Hilversum.   We stuck to the part of town that centers around the Dom church, so I have no real idea what the rest of Utrecht would look like.


Dom church

It’s a Gothic church, huge and old, as these structures invariably seem to be.  Interesting here is that the tower sits apart from the rest of the church.  See in the picture below the tower left, with the huge space between it and the rest of the church to the right.

[Source:  Imagery © 2018 Google, Map data © Google]

It used to be one structure, but a storm in 1674 caused the connecting part of the church to collapse.  Bearing in mind how large the remaining part of the church still is, the complete structure must have resembled a warehouse.  Size wise, I mean, not architecturally, of course.

Serene church organ music was playing there.  Well, I guess that’s what church music is supposed to sound like.


From a cultural perspective, my wife was very happy to find in the Dom church a book written and illustrated by South African writer, Piet Grobler.  She also found Miffy.   Miffy is the one on the right below.  This bunny had been created by Dutch author Dick Bruna in 1955, and has featured in more than 30 books since then.


In service of the community

We also went to the Olivier’s pub, which is housed in an old church.  The original pipe organ is still there, but unlike as in the Dom church, nobody was playing it.  I’m probably not supposed to say this but I found the atmosphere in the Olivier’s church somewhat lighter.  Their wine on offer is not limited to communion.  Come to think of it, the architecture in this instance does not remotely remind one of a pub, yet it evidently serves the community, albeit somewhat differently than initially intended.

We eventually extracted ourselves from this church.  Utrecht, too has waterways.

Eventually we made our way back to the Utrecht train station, and from there, back to Hilversum.


Before my departure on the tour the war museum at Oosterbeek, Arnhem, was on my bucket list.  It turned out I would not get to Arnhem, so I opted for binge watching the series Band of Brothers instead.  I guess that should count for something.


And that was our tour.  I still have a few observations thought I should add, but this delivery has become somewhat lengthy.  Might do that in a further chapter.…

Elandsbaai road trip

Sunday, 25 March, 2018

March 2018

We went on a little road trip to Elandsbaai recently.

First we did a stop-over at Stompneusbaai.

[Source:  Imagery ©2018 DigitalGlobe, DigitalGlobe, Data SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA GEBCO, Map data ©2018 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd]

St Helenabaai

The following picture had been taken from St Helenabaai to the North-East, the direction of our tour, with Elandsbaai just out of the picture to the left.

At the spot where I took the picture there was a warning sign indicating that pregnant Zebras would be crossing there.  We waited a bit, but not even those of the non-pregnant variant showed themselves.

Looking over the sea it seemed as if a Jack Sparrow crew moored out in the bay with a ship drifting in nothingness.

Getting the show on the road, our first stop was at Velddrif, at the Riviera hotel.

Sorry, I know, the pictures looks like the forecourt of a car sales outfit, but I actually intended to give an idea of what the hotel looks like seen from the river.  We had a very nice brunch there at very fair prices.

Just on the other side of the bridge, a number of (among other things) eateries could be seen.  I think next time I should go and check out the Kuiergat Pub.

Looking down from the stoep of the hotel where we had our brunch, I spotted this father and son combination in their boat.

I could just imagine the boy tuning his dad:  “Dad, when you said we’re going out on a boat, I had it play out differently in my mind.”

Velddrif/Laaiplek to Elandsbaai

From the hotel it is a leisurely 70km’s drive on tar road to Elandsbaai.  But first we had to do some shopping.  Laaiplek’s Tops has a Spar too.  A big one nogals.  No, I did not take a picture.

We travelled through Dwarskersbos and past Rocher pans.  Approaching the t-junction where you turn left to Elandsbaai and right to Auroa, one can see Klein Tafelberg in the distance.  And an arty variation of style and colours of different asphalts.

Just before Elandsbaai you find Verlorenvlei.  As the name indicates, it is supposed to be a water mass where birds to their thing.  If I may quote from

Verlorenvlei is one of the most important estuarine systems in the Western Cape and one of the largest natural wetlands along the west coast of South Africa. It is also one of the few coastal fresh water lakes in the country. The system comprises a coastal lake and reedswamp connected to the sea by a small estuary. Situated amid dramatic topography, the lake is approximately 13.5 km long and 1.4 km wide and occurs in the zone of transition between the karroid and fynbos vegetation types. This results in the region displaying a high species diversity typical of an ecotone area. (RAMSAR)

Due to the drought, though, it seems fair to assume that this estuary does at the moment not quite meet estuarian requirements.  Below is a picture I took, and just below a comparison with what it looked like when the Google Streetview car passed through in 2010.  Spot the difference.


For years I had wanted to sleep over in the Elandsbaai hotel.  At long last we now did exactly this.

The entrance to the hotel.

The front view of the hotel, viewed from the sea.

The view from the stoep.  Those promising clouds did, in fact, deliver a bit of rain that night.

View from the upper sea front rooms.

And on the other side of this mountain is where the Saldanha Sishen train would come through.

Incidentally we caught the train on its return trip from Saldanha.  Apparently the longest this train had been on occasion was 7,5km (660 wagons).  I did not count the wagons, but I would guess this train was closer to its normal miserly 3,7km length with 342 wagons and 8 locomotives.


Inside the hotel we found this notice.

It was put up near to the Presidential Suite.  I guess one need a notice like that if you know your president has lots of children.  Just for the sake of the other guest.  But just to be on the safe side we decided to neither run nor scream.  We appreciate your appreciation.  No, really.

Elandsbaai is a world renowned surf destination.  (I don’t surf).  Hence the shop (I did not shop their either).  There are other shops as well.  I did buy a tooth brush from the shop right across the street from the hotel.

I’ve been told that, after the fishing factory had been built at Elandsbaai, it turned that the harbour was not deep enough for trawlers to offload their catch.  So ‘n block and tackle system had to be designed to haul the dinghies (bakkies) up and down.

I was wondering whether it might be a good business opportunity if they could maybe make money from hoisting tourist kids up and down in dinghies.


2009 Hyundai Tucson 2.0 (petrol)

Travelled 545 km’s

Used 41.28 liters of fuel

Consumption 13,2 km/l

[No, I did not lie a bit, we just travelled at a very unhurried pace.]…

A Taste of West Coast

Wednesday, 5 August, 2015

Laaiplek & Stompneus Bay

We recently went for a short weekend to Stompneus Bay, my home town. Kaart

It’s a leisurely two hours drive to get there.

A river runs through it

We arrived at the twin towns of Laaiplek  / Velddrift on Saturday afternoon.  The Berg river runs through the town and reaches the sea there. Hawepunt

Velddrift is where the annual Berg River canoe marathon ends.Laaiplek arial

[Source:  Imagery @2015 CNES/ Astrium, Cnes /Spot Image, Digital Globe, Landsat,Map data @2015 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

Some 80 species of birds can be found in the estuary there.  I’m told there are 30 000 birds there, but they did not say who counted them.

Down by the river

I found myself just too late to catch the SA Fisheries Museum open.  They just closed three minutes prior to my arrival.  Will simply have to come back later for that.

We attended the Laaiplek hotel for lunch.  We sat outside.Laaiplek hotel

And this is the view we had over the river from where we sat.Rivieruitsig

Close by the the Laaiplek Slipway did business.Laaiplek Slipway

And some 100 meters away the Martinho has apparently been docked there since 2005, but sunk in 2010.  Maybe the owners should contact Laaiplek Slipway?Martinho

At the jetty there were very few boats.  Most were out to sea.  Stormkop was there.


Stormkop rear

Shelly Point

Later the evening we returned to Stompneus Bay and headed for Shelly Point where we stayed for the night.

Stomneus Bay is part of the bigger St Helena Bay, where the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama set foot on African soil in November 1497. Vasco da Gama

We studied this at primary school, probably because the school was at Stompneus Bay.  I was never good with dates.  Thank goodness for Wikipedia, nuh?

As we drove along the coast to our destination we could see the trawlers heading out to sea.  Some found fish close by the shore.  We spotted Silver Bounty going about his business very close to the shore at Shelly Point.Silver Bounty

We had a glorious sunset.  I only waited until too late before I took the picture.Sunset

The sound of memories

During the spitbraai dinner at the Bon Shelly Point hotel we were entertained by a gentleman making live music.  Rather nice.

About 04h30 the morning I woke up from what sounded like a helicopter hover overhead.  Later I thought it is probably a truck.  But there were no roads nearby for a truck that can make that kind of noise can drive.  And then it dawned upon me what I was hearing!

I got up and watched out of the window.  Between the lighthouses of Cape St Martin and Shelly Point I counted six trawlers heading to the factories with their loads of fish.  The typical wooden vessels’ engines produce up to 500 horsepower, and the bigger steel vessels up to 1500 horsepower.   Which probably explains the rather beefed up sound effects.  Picture the sound of a lorry’s exhaust brake – and amplify it a number of times.

I got back in bed and found myself still for long time listening to the vessels on their home run, with a smile on my face.  The sweet sound of memories.