Paternoster, South Africa

"Father's Nose":
A Picturesque Fishing Village in the Western Cape

It was a stinking hot mid-summer day in the Western Cape. We were driving on the N-46 through the breathtaking Winelands, making sure to stop at Kloovenburg Winefarm to savour their local wines and cheeses. As we got closer to our destination, a quaint little fishing village called Paternoster ("Father's Nose" in English) on the West coast, I dozed off in the comfort of the air-conned car.

I woke up just before driving into the village, when we stopped at the Paternoster Supermarket on the left handside of the road. A group of friendly local teenagers were sharing cool drinks and teasing each other outside. We had hired a cottage for the weekend and wanted to get food and wood for the braai (=South African barbecue). We parked the car and went into the oppressively hot supermarket. We browsed the single rows of very basic items on the shelves and found wood, chutney, rusks and tomatoes. We just bought these simple things knowing that we'd later buy fresh crayfish for the braai as the fishing boats hit the beach.

Lots of character and charm in Paternoster

As we drove into the village, we were greeted by white fishermen's cottages, an endless white sandy beach, colorful fishing boats, and the deep blue ocean.

Most cottages in the village looked beautifully preserved but locked up -- blue shutters and doors closed tightly. The only people walking around in the heat were crayfish sellers and gardeners. This must be why people say "time stands still in Paternoster".

We found our cottage with some difficulty as it was well-hidden in a tiny street among many similar cottages. Inside it was stuffy and humid, but we quickly opened windows to let the ocean breeze in.

Before running to the beach, we went to the quaint padstal to get the other bits and pieces we needed for the weekend. A padstal is an African roadside stall that sells fruit and veggies, along with a few other things.

Down on the beach, the wind had picked up. It was now leaving subtle trails on the white sand. It was deserted save for a few families walking along the ocean with their toddlers and dogs. And of course the natural inhabitants of the beach: seagulls and sandpipers. Very South African.

We too had a long walk during which a pod of dolphins befriended us.

When the sun got too much, we headed for the famed Voorstrand Restaurant on the beach. There were several other weekenders and the seafood was good.

We sat lazily on the deck all afternoon. As the sun slowly descended in the horizon, the light turned soft and the sky a delightful mix of pink and orange. It was Friday evening and the village was coming to life as more and more Capetonians arrived for the weekend. We could now see outdoor braai fires from most cottages dotting the beach. We headed to our cottage to do the same...

Cape Columbine Nature Reserve & Titiesbaai

The next day, we woke up early to a crisp and cloudy morning.

It was so early even the braks were still asleep! (Brak means a mongrel dog, although the ones in the picture below are not strictly braks but Ridgebacks).

We wanted to check out the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve in the neighbouring Titiesbaai, which is the most westerly point in Western Cape. The park is a sanctuary for many bird species as well as home to the last manned lighthouse in South Africa, which is also the very first lighthouse that European ships see as they approach South Africa. With Aylin's love for lighthouses, this was a must visit! So we went to see this rocky stretch of land just a short 10-minute ride away on a sand road.

Another reason to visit the nature reserve was to see the famous beach camp. South Africans love camping out and have some of the best campsites in the world. This one was no exception. It was so popular that some people had to put up their tents on the road before getting to the actual campsite. Although the word "roadside" doesn't by default describe an ideal camp setting, the view here was pristine!

The campsite itself was crammed full of tents. We counted more than 100 tents on top of each other, all of them facing the sea. Everyone had a bakkie (a 4x4), a braai, crates of beer and most of them were still snoring! Not this doll, though...

After this little sojourn, we returned to our peaceful village and did what the doctor ordered: just chilled! We can't wait to spend another serene weekend in beautiful Paternoster...

See you soon Paternoster!

Glossary of South African English, a simply delicious language:

Braai: barbecue
Brak: mongrel dog
Bakkie: 4x4 or SUV
Padstal: roadside stall
Rusk: hard, dry, twice-baked South African bread, goes well with coffee!


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