20 July 2015

Gordon's Bay - Pretty Seaside Village

Gordon's Bay Harbour

Seaside villages, both in South Africa and abroad, usually offer charming harbours, quirky shops and interesting places to eat.  Sometimes, one will chance upon a coastal village in South Africa which appears to be totally soulless with only huge, pretentious mansions lining the shore. We tend to avoid those as they don't have much to offer unless all you require is a very laid-back beach holiday with nothing but sand and sea. This scenario is great for relaxation but not much else!

However, sometimes, one just wants to escape the city, so we decided to head out towards Gordon's Bay, one of my favourites, just 50 km or so from Cape Town. Gordon's Bay is very spread out and the huge mansions do line the hillside but they don't detract from the pretty beachfront area. This beachfront simply buzzes in summer which makes parking rather a nightmare. During winter, the scene is much more laid back, parking is not an issue and there are no queues at the restaurants.

This seaside village has the most dramatic backdrop of the Hottentots-Holland mountains, making it extremely picturesque and well worth some exploration, especially along the shore. The small harbour and the quirky, interesting shops will also draw one in. Personally, the Book Store is my best - I can lose myself in that place for hours, wandering the aisles looking for an interesting read. Take loads of cash as temptation is sure to strike if you are an avid reader.  Although it is named "Bikini Beach" books it is not above Bikini Beach!
Bikini Beach Books

The village has a number of restaurants and the town boasts over 400 accommodation establishments should one wish to stay over. It's idyllic for a week-end away, during both winter and summer.

Bikini beach is a secluded beach next to the harbour and this is hugely popular during the summer months. On a slightly chilly July day, needless to say, there were no slim beauties for any male to feast their eyes on.

Walk along the harbour wall for interesting views of the town, the sleek yachts and possibly a whale or two during the whale season (August & September)

The South African Naval College is situated next to the harbour - this facility is an officer training centre.

The anchor with GB high above Gordon's Bay

High above the very opulent houses there is a huge GB sign on the mountain. Now most folk would take that to mean "Gordon's Bay" but, in fact, it stands for General Botha which was the original name of the Naval Station in the town. This should be a lesson to all of us never to "assume" that we know everything!

There are a number of restaurants in town - check out the Trip Advisor Reviews before making your choice as quality can vary substantially.

The town was named after Robert Jacob Gordon (1743 - 1795) - this man was a Dutch explorer of Scottish descent - a strange combination? As well as speaking French, Dutch and English , this gent also learnt to speak Xhosa and the local Hottentot dialect. He obviously enjoyed a talent for languages. If you ever wondered where the merino sheep in South Africa came from, this was the man who introduced them to South Africa!

Artwork depicting a poem by Ingrid Jonker

There is an interesting art work along the walk near the beach depicting a poem " The Child" by Ingrid Jonker (1933 - 1965). This poem was read out by Nelson Mandela at his inaugural address to the first democratic parliament on 24th May 1994. Sadly, the poet herself suffered from severe depression and took her own life.

So, if you are looking for a fun day out, just 50 km from Cape Town, give Gordon's Bay a try.

Gordon's Bay
© Judelle Drake

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