Saturday, June 11, 2011

Cross country adventure on a GS

At last I'm able to post about our motorbike trip in May from our home in Marquard across the Southwestern Free State to the Southern Cape. 

We left home on Sunday, 15 May at 7am. As usual, I'd packed a box of sandwiches and Grant made a flask of filter coffee. We stopped at Bloemfontein Engen One-Stop and warmed our hands around the stainless steel coffee cup. We only have one [cup] on the flask and share. No place for extras on a motorbike!
Grant and moi on the first day of our bike trip

For me, a classic photo, is always of the bike on a bridge over one of our many rivers in South Africa. Our next stop was about 200kms/125m from Bloemfontein on the Orange River which is the border between the Free State and the Cape province

We travelled onto the nearby town of Colesberg to refuel the bike. While there two little children approached me and asked for R2/US$.28c to buy sweets/candy. I said I don't give money so they asked for Coca Cola. I went into the shop and bought a loaf of bread, two bottles of flavoured milk, a sausage roll and a packed of buns. When I asked where they lived, they said on the hill behind the fuel station. I said they could have all the treats but to take the sliced bread home to their mum. When I asked their names, the little girl looked at her brother and told him to say it. He told me it was Patricia. When I asked her how come she had an English name, she said: "Dis my ma se skuld, merrim. It's my mother's fault, madam!" The people in the Cape speak mostly Afrikaans and these little ones had a lovely way of expressing themselves. When I asked the little boy what his name was, he said: "Speelman, merrim/Playboy madame" To which his sister exclaimed: "Hy jock merrim/he lies madam! Sy naam is Jonatan, merrim/His name is Jonathan, madam! "Too precious.
 Patricia and [Playboy!] Jonathan of Colesberg

Then it was time to get on the road again. Our next stop was Graaff Reinet, about 500km/312m ahead, where we intended to have lunch. We arrived at about 2.45 and being Sunday afternoon in a sleepy Karoo town, everything was shut!

The Dutch Reformed Church in the centre of Graaff Reinet, is a replica of the cathedral in  Salisbury. This beautiful church was built in 1886 and has been declared a National Monument (now known as a Heritage Site) Graaff Reinet has the most heritage sites in South Africa. (The biker in the photo was starving and at this stage not at all interested in my history lesson, LOL!)

We rode on to our final destination for the day, Aberdeen, where we'd spend the night.

 The comfortable Aberdeen Self-catering accommodations where we spent the first night

Before leaving home, I'd googled "Things to do in Aberdeen" and read up on the many different styles of buildings in this little town. I also read that the Aberdeen Cemetery was a must-visit when in this town. My poor husband was not too thrilled with the idea of wandering through graves on a Sunday afternoon after a long day in the saddle, but he went along with me anyway. (We'd heard that the person who used to maintain this tourist attraction, was now lying in that very place and that the cemetry had become rather neglected)

Yep! I cajoled my darling husband into visiting the Aberdeen Cemetery with me

And yes, we did find signs of neglect

Wandering back into the town, we stopped at the Dutch Reformed Church with its 50 - meter spire, apparently the highest in South Africa.  When I downloaded the photos onto my computer, I spent an age trying to straighten the horizon on the church photo. Then I read that the spire leans over and is known as the Leaning Tower of Aberdeen! Take a look and see for yourself!
The Dutch Reformed Church of Aberdeen with its 50 meter spire, the tallest in South Africa and is 45cm off centre due to the weight of the roof tiles. The large olive tree in the church garden (not shown here) originates from the Garden of Gethsemane

Many of the houses are richly decorated and intricately designed with domes, gables, turrets, ‘broekie lace’ and plaster motifs

Aberdeen is an architectural conservation area of the Karoo. Walking tours can be arranged where you can view the Victorian, Georgian, Cape Dutch, German, Gothic, Russian and Flemish influences on the local architecture, as well as examples of houses built by the legendary ostrich barons. The Dutch Reformed Church spire is 45cm off centre and is the tallest in South Africa. The local Anglican, Methodist and Apostolic churches are all around 100 years old.

The Magistrates Court - Aberdeen
 Abderdeen Post Office
Carmen Villa
This old building fascinated me so I had to photograph it. We suspect it was the old Aberdeen Hotel
Next morning (Monday) we saddled up and got onto the road early. We stopped in the flat, silent Karoo landscape to photograph the long road seeming to stretch on forever. I also wanted a photo of a mountain which resembled a chimney.
At the turnoff to Skoorsteenberg/Chimney Mountain
Skoorsteenberg/Chimney Mountain in the distance behind the bike
The road through the Karoo stretches into the distance
We arrived in Oudtshoorn   at mid-morning.
While looking for a place to have breakfast, we passed the CP Nel Museum. In front of the old building which started off as  a boys' school in 1907, was a colourful display of ostrich feather dusters for sale
We had breakfast in the Queen's Hotel, a four star hotel with very reasonable rates and meal prices

I've had trouble with Blogger not saving my photos and text. I will continue our journey as soon as I have worked out a solution.

Note: I've highlighted the towns and places of interest on our journey. Do click on the links to read more about our beautiful country, South Africa.

Have a wonderful wekeend, everyone!


  1. What fun to go on your journey with you, Jo. The story about the children was delightful.
    I've actually seen Salisbury Cathedral, so can really appreciate the church built to look like it.
    And Aberdeen...I almost cried. Grandma Davies (née Fraser) was from Aberdeen, Scotland.
    While visiting Britain with my parents, my siblings and their spouses, I got into one of our rental cars with my two brothers, our brother-in-law, plus our 3-year-old grand-nephew, and headed for Aberdeen.
    However, we didn't get there.
    We stopped in St. Andrews, where The Great Canadian Brother Trio decided they wanted to play golf. After much fuss and bother, during which time little Desmond and I each stuck one toe into the cold North Sea, they found out they couldn't play.
    By then, it was too late to go on, so we had to head back to Edinburgh.
    Therefore, I am delighted to see Africa's Aberdeen. It is so beautiful! Thank you, Jo.
    Luv — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  2. Hi Jo, I'm trying to catch up a little on blogs... I've read several of yours. This one is fabulous... The area where you all were is gorgeous... I always enjoy following your adventures... I know much more about Africa now than I ever did before... Thanks so much..

  3. Your pictures awaken the wanderlust in me. I love to see what's over the next hill. Grant will have to come and teach me how to ride a motor bike. Travelling by car with today's fuel prices is just too expensive!

  4. Thanks for taking us on your journey Jo - I absolutely loved your description of your encounter with the kids ...

  5. Lovely photos and trip you had. I hope to come back and read more later. I love the story about the little children. Interesting that the young boy chose the alias "playboy", lol. No doubt he has learned that word from the adults around him. xx p.s. I've updated my blog about little Kigen in Kenya.

  6. That was some trip! Loved the architecture in the different places and the biking clothes that you two wear! Great photos.

  7. A beautiful post with great colonial architecture, wonderful landscapes and you both looking gorgeous in your leathers!

  8. What a nice post and so wonderful pictures ! I made a sightseeing tour with you ! Grandma and Granddad look great on the bike and in leather geez, that's chic !
    I rode once on a big motorbike I think it was a Harley and that was enough for the rest of my life !
    BTW I don't give money either. Last time a young woman asked me money (a gypsy) at the station. I was just eating a cheese sandwich, so I broke it and gave her the other half. You know what she did ... a few steps farer she throw it in a bin ! That was not the first time it happened.

  9. What a lovely trip. Your photos are great as are your stories. The world down there is so interesting.

  10. JO, I enjoyed your post and photos on your ride and the lovely towns. The Cathedral is beautiful and the children were cute. Some of the scenery is much different than I expected to see, thanks for sharing.

  11. Oh, you are SO Wonderful to help out those precious babies!!!
    I Loved our little trip together Jo! I will Never get to see it otherwise!!

  12. What an interesting blog about a most interesting country. I've been to Cape Town, Jo'burg, and had a day trip via private car with a local pastor there. It was fantastic to read your take on the kids asking for R2. Normally they want a dollar from me! ☺

  13. Nice ride so far. I really liked the Oudtshoorn area. Lots of ostriches.

  14. That was a fun virtual tour, Jo. Aberdeen is certainly a beautiful old historic town. The Dutch Reformed Church looks very well-maintained. Jerry grew up going to a Calvary Reformed Church which is a branch off the Dutch Reformed Church. The town where his former church is started out as almost all Dutch ancestry and businessmen. It's called Ripon and it's in the central valley of CA. Dutch immigrants were attracted to the fertile valley where land was cheap and crops grow well. Jerry still has lots and lots of relatives in Ripon.

    South Africa looks like a very beautiful country.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo