THERE is something in South Africa known as the code of the road. Okay, not really; I just made that up, but it was something I pondered a great deal while driving, and it goes like this.
If someone wants to overtake you, and it’s possible to do so safely, you drift into the breakdown lane. As they pass and slip in front of you, it’s absolutely positively imperative that they flash their hazard lights. Failure to do so marks that person as a total jerk with no manners and dubious parentage.
It’s not the end of the social transaction, though. It shows good breeding if you then in turn flash your headlights to acknowledge their thank you. If they are of superior class, they will add the finishing flourish of a little wave, to show they saw you saying thank you. This could go on all day, but by then they should be far away and not dawdling in front of you, having overtaken for no good reason. These people are idiots and should not be allowed out unsupervised.
Motorcyclists are required to extend their left hand at thigh level, sometimes with the first two fingers extended in a type of papal gesture, so show they appreciate that you “think bike” and gave them a little bit more space to roar past; they can sometimes be jerks too but it’s mildly thrilling when a dozen or more do this in formation.
These are the thoughts with which my inner monologue occupied itself over how ever many thousand kilometres I travelled. No I didn’t check the reading before I left. It doesn’t matter. It was a fair amount. From the beautiful Sky Villa in Plettenberg Bay, I drove the short distance to Knysna where I checked in at The Lofts Boutique Hotel on Thesen Island.
I have so many memories of visits to Knysna, from impulsive overnight drives with no plans (and in the days of no cellphones; we just pitched up and yelled “surprise!” after freshening up in a petrol station bathroom) to gorging on oysters, sunset cruises to the Heads, crazy nights at the Tin Roof (is it even still there?) and some other nightclub with flashing lasers which I would never be able to identify even under torture. I’ve stayed with friends, I’ve camped in a Kombi where camping was not permitted, I’ve stayed in the Caboose when it was literally a converted train compartment with the loo inside the shower and only space for one person at a time to turn around, and I’ve stayed in a fancy place up in the trees which I still remember fondly for one of the best night’s sleep ever.
Zero regrets for the old days and the hangovers, but that’s the past. My present is the luxury of a place like The Lofts. Heck, Thesen Island didn’t even exist when I first went to Knysna. The Lofts is on the water’s edge and my room – an actual loft – was almost entirely fronted with glass, offering me the most spectacular view of the boats, the tide coming in and going out, birds, kayakers, and at night, the twinkly lights of the town making squiggly lines on said water.
Tourism grading is a complex business, one with which I cannot keep up. You can read more here, but suffice to say, The Lofts has four stars and it’s flipping amazing. I don’t even know what they could do better to have a fifth.
The tower loft apartment was clean and bright and white, quite dazzling. The sliding doors let in the fresh air, and the curtains billowed in the breeze. There were feet pillows and robes, and a refillable bottle for water in the fridge, with a cooling sleeve if you want to take it outside. Communication with the reception desk was via WhatsApp, which is wonderfully convenient, especially for people like me who loathe talking on the phone even if it is to my benefit, when ordering room service for example.
I unpacked and headed down to the pool deck, which overlooks the lagoon, and ordered a bottle of wine. There I met some lovely other guests and ended up chatting to them (highly irregular behaviour for me; I blame the wine naturally) until sunset, when I moved to The Atrium, the double-volume space which runs the length of the building. It’s filled with plants and greenery, hanging and in pots, couches and low tables for comfy meetings or quiet solo work with coffee, and spacious tables for meals you eat with a knife and fork. This is available to non-guests as well.
The food is very reasonably priced. I had a starter of tempura prawn pops (R60), and a bacon and mushroom pizza (R75) which was rectangular rather than round and extremely yummy (above). On the second night I had the “green” pizza (yes I can do vegetarian) with basil pesto, baby spinach, pear and feta, as well as a teriyaki chicken salad (below) for R75 – delivered to my room at no extra cost.
Breakfast is flexible; there is a menu but the kitchen is very accommodating. I was more than happy with scrambled eggs, bacon and toast (selected individually) but there are also quiches (with or without crust), a bread selection, jams and preserves, fruit platters and the signature Atrium Poached Eggs, “dappled with a vodka crème fraîche sauce, topped with a peppadew filled olive and black sesame seeds.” Yay for alcohol at breakfast.
I was treated to a wonderful massage at Le Spa Tranquille, quite possibly the greatest even (you need to understand I have a lot of emotional baggage and trauma from massages that have hurt more than helped). The hotel offers kayaks if one is so moved to paddle out. I did toy with the idea but then the weather changed, and I decided back under the duvet with my book was the best place to be. My road trip, my rules.
That’s another lovely thing about this place and this town: there can be more different types of weather in a 24-hour period than Cape Town – and I got to experience them all…the glorious sunsets, the sudden wind and choppy water, the rain, the clouds, and the sun. Bicycles are available for guests too, and the front desk will be more than happy to arrange any number of exciting and interesting activities in the area. Other than going for a little stroll, I was quite content to soak up the magnificence of my loft while admiring the ever-changing view from time to time. I make no apology for all the different pics of the same thing.
There was one more stop before I got back to Cape Town but I’m saving that for now…
PHOTO CREDIT: Bianca Coleman ©