Paternoster: A West Coast winter indulgence

2015-06-17 10:07
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If you allow yourself to snake along Marine Drive, all the way past Cape Town's Table Bay Harbour, on towards the R27 West Coast road, you'll find yourself taking one of the simplest, yet pretty spectacular and lesser-known road trips in South Africa. 


R27, West Coast en route to Paternoster.

A video posted by Selene Brophy (@selenebrophy) on

It skirts along the seaside towns of Melkbos, Yzerfontein, Grotto Bay, Churchaven, Langebaan as well as the likes of Darling - all worth a day trip or weekend escape in their own right. 

But if you continue on towards the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and Tietiesbaai - you'll eventually turn left towards Vredenberg and end up with an incredible view of the quaint, natural beauty that is Paternoster.

READ: The West Coast Way - a gateway into this quaint coastal region

"Paternoster, or The Lord's Prayer in Latin, is said to have taken its name from the thanksgiving of shipwrecked Portuguese sailors who came to rest there"

Misty beach walk in the quaint town of Paternoster.

A photo posted by Selene Brophy (@selenebrophy) on

Invited to visit the Abalone House & Spa in Paternoster by the Manleys, the delightful five-star Boutique Guesthouse really does lend itself quite nicely to a sultry, winter escape.

On arrival, a delicious sherry warmed our bones just enough for us to leave the boutique haven for a crisp, late afternoon walk. We wanted to get an up-close and personal look around the village.

It's hard not to be impressed by the moody-looking, unspoiled beaches that hit you front and centre as you clamber over the rocky outcrops dotted with indigenous fynbos. 

Quaint fishing village charm of Paternoster.

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The sky was heavy with rain clouds and the sea a churning green. Colourful fishing boats are scattered across the town and all manner of nautical paraphernalia add to the decorative charm of the whitewashed fishermen’s houses.

But there's no denying that while sailors, fishing and high-end seafood such as crayfish and abalone are the lifeblood, besides tourism, to this village - it really is just a village. So if you're simply looking to relax in a beautiful coastal spot with a bit of tranquil pampering thrown in on the side, then this would be the place for you.

During our walk we bumped into this cheeky fellow, an "ex-military para-bat" (parachute battallion) who wouldn't let me photograph his face. Yes, he came across as pretty hardcore. 

"I work as private security for this here crayfish factory," he said.

"My family and I moved out here because I'm a marked man, after working up East, targeting illegal pirates off the coast of Somalia."

The ex para-bat went on to explain just how lucrative and rife the poaching of abalone or perlemoen, as well as crayfish, is along the West Coast.

A large crayfish apparently sells for R70 each (paltry when you consider some restaurant prices). Doing the math it seems a cool eight sold per day easily nets in excess of R17k per month. Whether they stick to the legal size though is anybody's guess. 

I'm told it is relatively easy to obtain a permit that allows you to source four descent sized crayfish, but many people (who don't dive) find it simpler to buy from the locals who have already done the ground work for them so to speak.

However, if you do purchase a few of these tasty critters and get caught in possession without a permit, chances are you'll face a steep fine and the possibility of having your vehicle confiscated.

Not the ideal holiday memory now is it?

"The stark beauty of the West Coast extends beyond Paternoster. Day trip to St Helena and Saldanha"

Hearty winter fare at Reuben's. Beef bourguignon certainly hit the right spot.

A photo posted by Selene Brophy (@selenebrophy) on

The tasty selection on offer at Abalone House seemed like a far-less riskier bet.

As the sun began to settle and with our sherry-induced warmth worn a bit thin, we made our way back to where a two-course meal awaited us at Reuben's. This is the third in the Master celebrity chef's chain of restaurants - Franschhoek being home to the first and the other located in the heart of the V&A Waterfront at the One&Only Cape Town.

Read: Cape Town Urban Escape - A stay at the One&Only

The menu also boasts typical winter fare such as lamb shank and oxtail stew, along with signature Reuben's dishes such as the sweet and sour squid. It all makes for a 'Maagie's vol, oogies toe!' scenario.

The next day played along even better than expected, since it brought with it a winter storm and the continuous pitter-patter of the dripping rain made the carpeted, underfloor heating and plushly decorated room seem even cozier. Your room has a well-stocked beverage station and ordering in is a charm if you're not keen to move an inch - not even for the breakfast selection also served in Reuben's.

Slipping over to the onsite Healing Earth Spa for a set treatment as part of the winter indulgence package, was quite possibly the only thing that could get me out of the room on that day. 

Abalone House's Healing Earth Spa is the perfect winter retreat indulgence.

A photo posted by Selene Brophy (@selenebrophy) on

The 2.5 hour treatment involved a full body coffee, cinnamon and orange scrub, then a relaxing hot bath filled with detoxifying crystals, followed by a gel wrap, yet another shower to remove all the gel (be careful here, it can be really slippery) and then finally a fully-body massage to beat your muscles into utter oblivion. 

All this together, with the Reuben's dinner forms part of the fantastic Abalone House winter indulgence spa special. And I honestly could not think of a better way to spend a wintry weekend - the fact that the Winter Indulgence package at Abalone House & Spa is such excellent value for money too makes it even better.

The Winter indulgence package costs R1 945 per person sharing per night and includestwo night’s accommodation at the 5-star Abalone House hotel, one 2.5 hour spa treatment (as described above) per person at  the  Healing  Earth spa, breakfast on both  mornings and a 2-course dinner at the highly-acclaimed Reuben’s on both evenings. It is valid from 1 May to 31 August 2015.  Subject to availability. To book contact 022 752 2044, e-mail info@abalonehouse.co.za or visit www.abalonehouse.co.za

Traveller24 Editor Selene Brophy was hosted by Abalone House & Spa for an introduction to their Winter Indulgence package. 

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