THIS comes as no surprise to me, but I am able to spend an extraordinary amount of time simply sitting and watching the ocean. Which is what happened when I spent a couple of days at the Arniston Spa Hotel.
You will find many lists online detailing the things to do in Arniston. Some of these require physical action, like walking out on the rocks to the famous cave from which the town – can you even call it a town? – gets one of its two names: Waenhuiskrans. It’s beautiful, as far as bucket list items go, but you do need to check the tides before setting out.
There is Kassiesbaai, which is the old fishing village that is a heritage site, and a restaurant called Willeen’s Meals Arts & Crafts, where a woman polished glasses and ignored me, the only other person there, before disappearing into what I assume is the kitchen. I will never know, because I left.
There are beaches and beach activities best suited to the summer months; I was there in autumn, when the cloudy, sometimes rainy, weather with brief spurts of sunshine suited me just fine. And in the absence of anything else pressing to do, I was able to relive the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s Time, except in a pleasant and not at all depressing way, with my book and the sea shushing softly on the rocks.
My accommodation at the four-star Arniston Spa Hotel is the complete opposite of Agulhas Country Lodge from whence I had recently come. The latter is a small eight-room family establishment; the former has five room types over three floors, stretching across its beachfront location. At the back, the rooms face the pool courtyard. I had either a luxury sea facing room or a superior sea facing room. On the website both look equally good, and there’s a jolly good special rate until the end of May, although prices are now out of peak season and very affordable. Your petrol there will probably cost more.
In any event, the room was on the second floor, and I had my own private balcony where I could sit drinking tea and watching the ocean. When that got boring, I could go downstairs and across the road to sit on a bench overlooking the ocean, and look up the tides, pretending I would go see the cave again. The sunrises are gorgeous and as a natural early riser (not by choice I assure you) I was able to enjoy those, then go back to bed before my scheduled breakfast time between 9am and 10am. This was due to the hotel being so full. I can’t imagine what it might be like without these rules because it was still busy as heck when I got there.
Besides the breakfasts, I had two more meals at the hotel, and a toasted cheese and tomato sandwich with chips because a mid-afternoon craving hit and doesn’t count as a meal. The nice lady even brought it up to my room for me. When I arrived the previous day, I’d missed lunch for reasons which are not important now, but happily the Bistro was well and truly open for business. It has a fireplace, a bar, and big screens showing sport. There’s also a deck, with a view, obviously.
I had the Arniston Combo, a seafood platter with prawns, line fish and calamari, lemon butter and tartar sauces, rice and chips for the bargain price of R170. On my second night I had dinner in the formal restaurant with its candles and white tablecloths but since the one thing on the menu I wanted was not available, I ended up ordering from the Bistro menu again. This time it was spaghetti with prawns, bacon and mushrooms in a creamy sauce. Let me just say, I am that person who will likely face a firing squad in Italy, or severe disapproval at best, because I actually like lots of sauce on my pasta (and pineapple on pizza). I also don’t mind if that pasta is not strictly al dente, which is a very subjective thing anyway and I’m not a fan of crunchy or chewy fettuccine. The point is, that’s how the spaghetti was and I scoffed the lot.
Zero regrets. Must have been all the fresh sea air.
PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©