When was the last time you allowed yourself to do nothing? Nada. Zip. Niks. It’s an indulgence few of us get to have, but so many of us long for. To sit and merely think. To walk with no intention of actually getting anywhere. To find quiet.
The Cape’s West Coast has quiet in abundance. There’s sea, there’s road that looks less travelled, there’s fynbos. And every few kilometres there are little towns offering up weekends of nothing. Which is how I found myself in Paternoster, with its whitewashed homes and sand-sprinkled roads.
What To Do: Walk and Drink
Minutes beyond the town lies the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve (or Tietiesbaai as it’s more commonly known), where there is little more than an easy-peasy hike that snakes along the sea line. Then, head back into town to the famous gem of a pub, the ‘Panty Bar’. Carefully hidden within the confines of the Paternoster Hotel, underwear hangs from every spot of the roof. Which sounds ickier than it actually is. It’s said that the tradition started years ago after a woman was told that ‘no one wearing panties is allowed in the men-only bar,’ at which point she whipped them off. When there, order beer. Watch sport. Catch a chill. And these days you’re not expected to lose your broeks.
Where To Stay: Somewhere Slicker Than Your Own Home
It’s always nicer to do nothing when staying at a place that offers everything. The opulent Abalone House Boutique Guesthouse is a must. Here, old envelopes new in a richly-layered haven of luxury. Modern pieces mix easily with oversized antiques, rugs, old silver-and-crystal chandeliers and the dark wood, African-themed bar with its open fireplace forms the perfect space to relax, sip on a whiskey and just be. If you are in Paternoster with a bigger group of friends, definitely look at renting one of the Abalone self-catering cottages, which are smartly decorated and spacious.
What To Eat: As Much Of Everything As Possible
The hotel’s Saffron Restaurant is fine dining at its best, and if you have a little extra to spend, chef Darren Stewart’s menu will not disappoint. Afternoon tea is an indulgence you can’t skip or skimp on. Ask for Darren’s chocolate-kissed profiteroles. You’ll die. For an easier, feet-in-the-sand, let’s-share-a-seafood-platter kind of dinner, head across to the Voorstrandt restaurant situated right on the beach.
What To Take Away: Crawly Things
On every street corner local kids bend and braid shell wire hearts, the perfect R20 gift for a friend. Also, look out for local fisherman selling fresh crayfish. Just make sure they’re still alive, and the right size.