Paula recently went to the picturesque West Coast town of Paternoster and stayed at the beautiful, Greek-styled Pensione Symi.
A bay gently curves to the right and then left, almost making a complete half circle before the land breaks off and a straight line of solid water completes the horizon. I brush back some lone strands of hair being whipped in front of my eyes by the wind and squint at the pristine landscape in front of me. The sandy bay contrasts sharply with the dark blue of the water, dotted by occasional rocks and boats that litter the almost-empty beach. Picture perfect, white-washed houses bring a quaint element to the scene, a reminder of the age-old fishing culture in Paternoster.
This was a scene from our last look at the ocean before we headed back home. It's not a long drive, nor is it uninteresting, but it gives you the feeling that this popular old fishing village is in the middle of nowhere. And it sort of is.
Driving from Cape Town to Paternoster, we joined the R27 that took us past Koeberg and the lonely West Coast National Park. Other notable roadside stops are two or three lovely farm stalls, !Khwa ttu San Cultural and Educational Centre and the nearby West Coast Fossil Park (where you can see the fossils of animals that lived around these parts over 5 million years ago, including bears and sabre-toothed cats!). It took no more than two hours to reach Vredenburg, the last town before Paternoster. It's a good idea to stock up on some fuel and food if you're camping or staying at self-catering accommodation before continuing west to the coast.
We didn't stop in Vredenburg but we found what we needed from the local Paternoster Express. In 'town' there is also a bottle store and a few simple hardware products at the Trading Post. Apart from locating practical shops, we also enjoyed browsing the Stone Fish Pottery Gallery and a few little stores for tourists that offered a wide variety of fishing-themed decor and souvenir clothing.
After some window shopping, we checked-in to a ground floor self-catering unit at Pensione Symi and immediately had a refreshingly strong cup of milky tea and biscuits (that were thoughtfully placed there for us). The owners, Belinda and Sean, were very friendly and offered helpful advice on where to eat and answered all our questions. This recently-built establishment is named and themed after the Greek Isle of Symi. With white walls and periwinkle-blue shutters, the unit certainly looks the part. Just outside there is a private braai spot and a white-washed table with benches to relax on within view of a garden of lush green grass and a little blue pool.
Before long, our stomachs reminded us that it was lunch time. As to be expected for such a small town, there aren't many restaurants, but each one is defined by its own unique offering. Voorstand is popular because of its namesake location, Blikkies is a chilled pizza joint that is part of the oldest building in town, Gaatjie is set right on the beach with a deliciously adventurous menu while The Square Spoon offers meals with a great Mozambican flare.
At The Square Spoon my husband tucked into melt-in-your-mouth line fish with potato wedges and pan-fried veggies, while I enjoyed a delicious, spicy Prego steak roll (which I might add, was anything but a "light meal" - I'm not complaining). We were quite well satiated and just had a light snack for supper later on while watching a movie (we were pleasantly surprised by the good selection of DSTV channels).
After a great night's rest on a super comfortable bed, we lazed about watching some rather disappointing cricket (the South Africa VS India match, in which India ended up winning by 130 runs). Outside it was such a beautiful windless beautiful morning, that I was inspired to put on my running shoes. From Pensione Symi, we ran down the road towards Gaatjie and then onto the beach where there was a light on-shore breeze that kept us cool under the hot summer sun. Back at Pensione Symi, we took a dip in the pool and had a refreshing shower before packing up our things. It was shortly afterwards that we drove to the scenic look-out spot over the bay, opposite Blikkies.
Our stay at Paternoster was a short one, but it felt longer. As far as relaxing getaways go, I'd highly recommend a stay in this seaside gem - the ideal spot to get away from it all and immerse yourself in a unique landscape.
To find out more about Pensione Symi and to book a weekend away in Paternoster, click here.