It is about 6 p.m. when coming over the hill top the white washed cottages of Paternoster and the cool blue of the Atlantic beyond, come into view; a view that could hardly be more opposite from the one I left behind this morning in Grünau, now 787 kilometres back. The West Coast has no reputation as the Garden Route or the Winelands, but when Maaike, the German manager of Hawksmore, heard I would be travelling through the area she insisted on giving a few tips of hidden treasures, and this sure is one. Originally a fisherman’s village, named after the ‘Our Father’ prayers of Portuguese seamen shipwrecked in a neighbouring bay (the ancestor of the South African I met north of Wlotzkasbaken near the Zeila shipwreck might have been among them), its white washed cottages are a popular destination in spring when after the first rains a carpet of flowers cover the gentle hills and on weekend also for Capetonians, with Cape Town only at 150 km from here.
‘Commerce and nightlife are almost as frigid as the water’, my ‘West Coast Travel Companion’ states with an honesty as refreshing as the sustained breeze coming in from the Atlantic. That may very well be the case, but the quirky ‘Noisy Oyster’ (the daily menu starts with ‘foreplay’ and then proceeds to ‘intercourse’ before moving on to recommended music and literature, trivia and the odd aphorism; I limit my lunch to extended foreplay, 4 fish cakes and salad in stead of 2 and quite tasty they are), the ’beach cottage’ style ‘Voorstrand’ Restaurant (I enjoy an excellent daily catch of Red Snapper), the business like ‘Paternoster Lodge’ (Cape Malay chicken curry) and the common ‘Paternoster Hotel’ (pan fried Hake) provide sufficient opportunities for the recommended activities: ‘sit on a terrace or somewhere along the 8 km pristine unspoiled beach with an unopened book’ (my WCTC is at it again).
The ‘Dunes Boutique Guest House’ interior is entirely ‘Flamant’ in style, its four star facilities all I want (including Super Sport 6 for live coverage of the Australian Open), the view ’imprenable’ and the service of Gavin and Deon as attentive to detail, as, it seems, only gay couples can manage. They had an interior design business in Cape Town (the ‘décor boys’), Rhinelle, who joins them after two days, tells me, but when they visited Paternoster decided on the spot to come and live here: “But now they are getting bored and want to move on to something new again”, she adds with an understandable bit of regret in her voice.
Which means two things, a) I was completely content just to have breakfast on the terrace and then work a bit on my entries taking in the sea air and the beautiful view, and b) you may have to hurry if you want to have a taste of this perfect set-up in the cutest village I came across on this trip.