Tubing and New Years at the Yacht Club

shapeimage_2-11Waking up early to participate in the black water tubing we postponed breakfast until the security briefing. At that point we realized that breakfast wasn’t included so we ordered some cheese and tomato toast and ate while simultaneously getting in our wet suits and trying on life vests and helmets.

After a little bit of hiking in wet suits we got into the calm black water at the start of the river. It was more of a pool than a river and it was nice to get some fresh water to cool ourselves. We then slowly made our way down the river, some swimming, some paddling and an occasional cliff jump or two along the way. Storms river have had a quite severe draught so the water was really low casing the trip to include more hiking than usual but it was still a nice activity. It was very tranquil and apart from the splashing the forest was calm and quiet. We spotted a baboon and some birds but otherwise it was a great way to spend your morning. Some four or five hours later we had made it all the way down and were driven back to Tube ‘n Axe for a nice braii. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the vegetarian alternative I was given, although it doesn’t much to beat their national pride sausages who look like something originating from a dog with a bad stomach.

During lunch we chatted with a father and his two kids that had participated on the same trip and it turned out they were heading to Knysna themselves. So they offered us to join them in their car rather than having a staff member of Tube ‘n Axe drive us there (for 40€ or so). Sweet, I had a good chat with the guy who worked as a oil price analyst and had been living in London for the last five years before they dropped us off at Island Vibe Knysna. He flatly refused when we tried to at least pay for the petrol so it was a cheap ride as well.

Island Vibe Knysna was much smaller than the one in J-Bay, and had more of a comfy attitude, and not that heavy focus on partying. We slacked at the pool and had a chat with the other guests while trying to figure out how we would spend new years. After a couple of tries the reception managed to get us a table at a place called The Anchorage which was supposedly “quite posh”. Dressed to kill we went there and were pleased to see the really nice seafood menus. We treated ourselves with some cultivated oysters on ice and followed that up with a seafood platter and had some sparkling wine and a bottle of sauvignon blanc. The waiter gave great service although he was a bit nervous so we complimented his work and tipped nicely after enjoying the meal who now held the prize “best meal in South Africa”. It was a bit too early for clubbing so we headed back to Island Vibe for some more drinks.

Most of the people were supposedly going to some place called Tryst so we decided to check out that as well. Yours truly are not known for his navigation skills and neither is Mona so around 2330 we realized that we would perhaps not find the place before midnight. We were at the time outside some place playing music though, “the whitest place in South Africa” was a phrase that came to our minds when hearing the music from outside. Apparently this was the Yacht Club for members only – so we walked in with another couple in a similar situation. We were not kicked out despite most people were in pirate costumes and started dancing and drinking.

Sean and Janine kept the drinks coming and we didn’t want to be bad either so when the place closed we had had more than a few drinks. Funny when a round for for costs about 5€ though, not exactly Swedish prices. Some tequila shooters later and Sean and Janine invited us over to their place nearby for some snacks and more drinks. We thought we perhaps would go home but then changed our minds, how many chances of a nice after party with locals in South Africa do you get? It may also have been the evil evil man that passed me (and others) a bottle of Jack that caused our minds to shift. Sean had worked as a chef and promised we would have some strawberries for a night snack and also a lunch for tomorrow.

Sean and Janine’s place was Nice and in a Nice neighborhood, we had a few laughs but eventually we felt it was time to head back home. Easier said than done. On our way back we bumped into one guy and two girls having their own party in some parking lot – they were very happy to see us and urged us to have some very foul green liquor – not that we needed more though but bring it on. We gradually made our way towards Island Vibe, but at some point Mona was too tired though so yours truly, always being a nice guy, told her to jump in a nearby shopping cart and off we went.

A couple of youngsters found this sight quite amusing and it may have saved us from being robbed, hard to tell and one always feel bad about suspecting every colored person to be a likely robber whereas others are judged harmless, it’s a strange country. The final triumph of the journey is not completely clear in my own memory though, but some parts of my brain was still working since I was told that I very carefully avoided the pool in a big circle before finally reaching the dorm and falling into sleep flat faced fully dressed like a proper Swede should on new years.

“No need to book in advance”

shapeimage_2-10This day could be summarized with one single word. Waiting. Since I woke up early but wanted Mona to sleep well I waited until she woke up around ten. After a nice breakfast at Protea we waited for someone able to take us to a place for Bungee jumping.

We waited long and good, together with two girls from the same dorm, and when we finally got to the Bungee place we realized that this was just a startup for the real long wait. The ladies in the reception at Tube ‘n Axe had stated that it was not at all necessary too book any jumps, this was not true. It was on the famous hair that we were allowed to jump that day at all, we thanked some people who had bailed out on their booking and got the last three spots (Mona decided that throwing herself off a bridge with a rubber strap attached to her feet wasn’t really her thing). So we waited. And waited until we after finally got to walk out on the bridge.

“For security reasons” it was not permitted to bring cameras or anything like that out, which was a shame since it was quite a view from there. Walking out on a metal grid on the bridge seeing the ground quite far below you was quite interesting as well. Yours truly and one of the girls, Danny were going to do the jump naked. We had convinced the owner at the restaurant while we were waiting that by the time we would jump there wouldn’t be any children or by any other reasons overly sensitive people left in the restaurant showing the live feed so it would be fun. He didn’t promise but said it wasn’t impossible. However, as my turn came the guys doing the jump called the restaurant and apparently it was not possible for me to do it naked, I had to at least put on a pair of boxers. Well well, said and done. I jumped out, sort of scared but enjoyed the tumbling fall as I gained speed. The bungee jump used to be the highest in the world and those 216 meters sure pass fast when you’re falling.

As we got back I saw that the photos taken on me by their professional photographers were extremely blurry, out of focus and in general crappy. So I coughed up the 12€ to get my lovely jump on a DVD so I would at least have some form of digital memory of the event. As we got back to Tube ‘n Axe in the evening we realized that we weren’t actually hungry but instead went for some ciders as we made re-adjustments to our travel plan and booked tickets for Robben Island in Cape Town before going to bed early as usual.

Surfing and getting to Storms River

shapeimage_2-9 P1000275We decided that it was time to struggle on our own with the surfboards this morning and rented boards and wetsuits at Island Vibe, 5€ per hour in total, definitely worth it. I was a little reluctant to leave my camera gear on the beach though so we took turns which also helped to avoid us getting too tired. After some two hours I was rather cold though, and we returned the gear and had a nice big breakfast back at Island Vibe again. A shower revealed why I felt some minor pains at my chin, it seems that the surf board and I had have some close encounters.

We had a bit of a discussion with the reception manager who although understood and agreed that the Addo-trip thing was a rip-off she would not return any money to us. Vernon had offered a 30€ refund but anything above that we would not get, better than nothing I guess and they surely would not use him for those trips (if ever for anything) again. Well well, we decided we had spent enough energy on that matter and took our losses. So if we ever return to Lungile in P.E or Island Vibe in J-bay we know that although helpful they will not take any financial responsibility for the services they provide.

As we were waiting for “Sunshine Express” shuttle to pick us up we were greeted by the very same pleasant taxi-driver that had taken us to J-Bay as well, Nikki. She drove us to Tube ‘n Axe in Storms River, a ride taking about an hour or slightly more. We had only been able to get dorms at Tube ‘n Axe for the first night but it’s better than tents, besides it’s always fun to meet people and I’ve yet to get something stolen in a dorm so after reluctantly leaving my stuff we went out for a walking some trails in the area.

The exotic thing with Garden Route is the forests, they have these very unusual pine trees and stuff, not only the Savanna style with sparse Akari trees but many trees rather closely together. Sort of like every forest in Sweden in other words, but it was still a nice trail and the weather beats the Swedish one for sure.

When we got back to Tube ‘n Axe we decided to skip their dinner offerings and head to a nearby place, Protea, instead. They offered yellow tail but I’m not that boring yet (although I’ve given up on their local beers and always order Savanna Dry to drink now) so instead I had prawns in curry sauce. After the nice meal we went back to have a now classic early night.