Posted by: tim ellis | September 16, 2006

Shongololo Dune Express – Thursday 31st August 2006

It’s still dark when we get up this morning but the staff are still cheerful. Most people have opted for Hermanus so although I am still in Olivier’s bus there are now 9 of us. We drive around false bay to Hermanus where we are to spend the next 4 hours watching the whales (which are shy & distant) and the dassie (which are neither).

After watching the whales breaching out in the bay, and meeting the Whale crier I start to walk along the sea front. There is a sign that advertises a museum in the old harbour – it costs 2 rand (which is all it is worth). From the old harbour I can see a sea food restaurant under the cliff which looks like a good place for coffee. The waiter asks me about my holiday and says it sounds a lot of fun. He then tells me I can walk along a path below the restaurant and up the cliff to the ocean hotel so I elect to try it. The path is not always completely clear, but I find my way then walk back into the centre of town to find somewhere for lunch. I choose a seafood restaurant – the ocean catch -where I choose one of the specials which is plaice, kingklopt and line catch (well it saves choosing a fish) with chips… Very tasty! The menu board lists, along with the salads, starters, main courses and Greek deserts, ‘Italian Kisses’ – this is a bit confusing since all the waitresses are South African – but enquiry reveals them to be lollipops made of ice cream covered in chocolate – choc ices!

My next port of call is the bank to change Traveller’s Cheques. The teller enters all the details then asks me to sign, date and fill in the address where I woke up this morning. When I tell him it was on a train he laughs. I fill in ‘Shongololo Express, Muizenberg station’ . “oh” he says, “you really did wake up on a train!”

A last look for whales – which are being no more co-operative than before – then off for wine tasting (a 5 star Chardonnay) at a very impressive vineyard, complete with yellow weavers in a pair of willow trees. Followed by a trip to a real Aladdin’s cave of a shop. Jimmy persuades Mark to buy a Springbok skin bedspread there…

The train has moved while we’ve been out, so we rejoin it at Worcester where Petra is waiting for us I uniform and with a table full of sparkling white wine. We assemble on the platform along with all the staff in traditional costume. They are introduced to us, then entertain us by singing – Petra warns us that it will be our turn at the end of the trip.

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