Ohhhh, J-Bay, how you were good to us! Good food, good drink, good shopping, good men to look at . . . But I digress.
We left Graaf-Reinet on a sunny Friday morning, and arrived in Jeffrey’s Bay on an overcast Friday afternoon. Our fantastic hostel owners, Gary and Cristal, of Cristal Cove, showed us to our dorm, which had its own kitchen and bathroom – always a plus. After a quick lunch, we set out in search of the factory stores. Billabong, Roxy, Quicksilver and the J-Bay original surf shop Country Feeling all have them at the far end of town. Billabong was by far the most successful, I scored a new bikini and Lisa got some shorts; a new pair of sunnies for me at RipCurl sealed the deal.
We spent the afternoon drinking tea and watching the rain fall from our dorm common room, trying to keep warm and not regret that we had left the sunny inland towns. We had an absolutely epic dinner at Kitchen Windows, a seafood restaurant with a great reputation it happily lived up to. Our waiter, Steve, had the art of upselling and force-feeding down pat:
“I think you should have a starter . . . You were thinking the prawns? Oh yes, they’re very nice.”
“For dinner just the calamari? You can add the linefish, you know, I think you should do that, it will be excellent, I promise you!”
“You definitely need dessert, our Sticky Toffee Pudding is what we’re known for!”
With a bottle of wine and all of the above, our dinner came to R400 ~ a mere $60 CAD! You couldn’t even get a bottle of wine and one of our mains for that in Vancouver – yet another reason to love SA!
Back at the hostel, we went to the bar, and met up with some pretty cool people, who all happened to be from SA. Well, Mel was originally from Switzerland, but like me, loved it and decided to stay. She and Coby, from East London were friends in town on a surf trip – except the surf was pretty much non-existent those few days. David, the son of the owners, was manning the bar, and took us to The Lounge, along with Donovan from Blouberg, and Warren, some sort of swimsuit guru in the surfing world who was from Durban. The rest of the night is a wee bit hazy as random South African’s bought round after round of beers, shots and ciders. Cousin Dean had said that if we went out, we would never have to pay for a drink, but I don’t think we believed him until it actually happened! At some point we headed back to the hostel (all safe and sound Mom!) and slept off the alcohol until the sun woke us up EARLY.
A word about sunrise here – it is freaking early!!! South Africa has opted out of daylight savings time, meaning that where we should have fallen behind to extend the sunlight in the evening, the sun rises before 5am EVERY MORNING. Blackout blinds, it seems, have not yet found their way to the bottom of the African continent. *sigh* This affected both Lisa’s and I’s sleeping patterns rather drastically. If you’re still thinking that I’m on ‘vacation’ think again. We both would regularly wake up at 5, 5:30, 6:30, 7 . . . and then just get up at 7:30 because we were tired of trying to get back to sleep.
In J-Bay, we were on the beach by 8:45, and the sun was high above us. We took a walk down to the water and looked in a tide pool – OCTOPUS!!! Actually, there were a few of them, all quite active and changing colour and trying to come after us. Sorry no video of that – too hungover/trying to run away from them. We spent the morning in the sun nursing the hangover and comparing notes from the night before, and set off in search of – you guessed it – food! A really good brunch and we were set, the drive to Plettenberg Bay, or Plett, took less than two hours, and by the time we checked into yet another excellent hostel, Albergo, it was definitely nap time. No worries though, the wind made it pretty impossible to do anything but. It was a quiet, early night, and since the hostel didn’t have a bar, we weren’t inclined to go and drink in it!
The next morning, against all odds (but really because Lisa and I had asked for it) it was sunny and bright (again, at 5am of course!) and we headed to the beach once more. A few hours there and we were nicely sandy and sunscreeny and really actually felt pretty gross. We did see these two guys catch and release a manta ray, which was pretty wicked. Our next stop was Knysna, only 30min away, but we were truly headed into a totally different world.