Luxury travel writer, brian berkman, searches out the fabulous and often affordable options available to you and your pets. Julie, his rescued mixed-breed doggie-daughter, insists on joining them.BY BRIAN BERKMAN
Brian Berkman says this animal sanctuary also has a world-famous painting pig.
With Ceres as your base you can happily explore the surroundings of this fruit-growing valley. There are attractions for all weather conditions. A greater chance of snow than elsewhere in the Western Cape during winter and hot summer temperatures too.
The Ceres Zipline Adventure takes you across a series of mountain crevices and is highly recommended especially on account of the handle-breaking mechanism which means you don’t have to slow yourself down using your hand with only a glove for protection as you need to do in most other Zipline experiences.
Accommodation options are also very varied and many are pet friendly. Our stay on Fairfield Farm, just six kilometres outside of the town of Ceres on the road that heads to Prince Alfred Hamlet and onwards to the Witzenberg Valley and the Tankwa Karoo beyond, is conveniently located if you want to take advantage of the restaurants in Ceres.
At Fairfield Cottages there are three accommodation options, the largest of which is Fynbos Cottage which can accommodate 12 people. It also has an enclosed backyard if you want to keep your pets nearby. You may be blessed with frequent wildlife visitors like birds, small antelope and baboons.
We stayed in the six-sleeper Klipspringer Cottage which is unfenced and which meant that Julie needed to be kept on the leash outside on most occasions.
There is Wi-Fi available at reception with a comfortable lounge and large patio which can be used as a workspace. There too you can purchase firewood but note it is 300 meters away from the cottages. The six-sleeper Mountain Spring Cottage has wi-fi signal too. We had acceptable Vodacom reception most of the time.
What is special about Klipspringer Cottage is there is an outside Victorian slipper bath surrounded by a kraalstyle fence. Nearby, but separately, is an outside toilet too with a stone wall for privacy. One of the bedrooms in Klipspringer has an outside door which makes it easy to access the outside loo and shower. The main bathroom with a large shower is in the centre of the house and if you, as we were, are staying in the main bedroom, the route to the bathroom is somewhat circuitous and via the lounge. The reason for this is that the cottage accommodation was a refitting of an existing building that was constructed before en-suite bathrooms were the requirement they are today. In the open-plan kitchen, dining and lounge area there is a large indoor fireplace on which you can braai. And there is a stove and small oven too.
A DSTV service is available and there were books and games to use during our visit. Although it would be lovely and cosy in the cottage during inclement weather, the environmental beauty of Fairfield Farm with its apples and pear orchards and livestock too is outdoors. There is a well-marked hiking route and a distance away there is a farm dam in which you can swim and paddle if you’d like to.
The three cottages are relatively close together which means that while you will benefit from privacy if you are travelling in a group together, if you want to visit each other this can easily be done. Outside too is a shared swimming pool and sun loungers as well as a braai pit under a big tree.
Forward views are over the apple orchards but behind the houses is the mountain and pine forests. If you want to eat out, the nearest spot to do so is Anna’s which is also pet friendly. There is a seating in the pretty garden and seating outside but on the raised stoep and under cover. Inside, there is plenty seating too. Offering typical steakhouse fare, portions are generous and quite well priced.
Another dining option in Ceres itself is Homegrown Bakery Cafe nearer the entrance to the village and the aforementioned Ceres Zipline Adventure. They make a sensational chicken salad. Serious coffee lovers will have their fix at Tremor in the main road of Ceres and, if you venture into the Witzenberg Valley, there is a new spot, SIP, just as you enter the valley doing fabulous coffees, pizza and other beverages too. Pets are welcome under the trees and on the outside deck too.
Brian Berkman says Hermanus is a wonderfully democratic destination and staying at Norfolk Guesthouse is among its more affordable.
Although only graded three-stars, Norfolk Guesthouse in Hermanus with its five suites offers so much value and comfort in albeit homely accommodation that the value for money and enjoyable time you will have there almost elevates it to a luxury offering.
In fact, the Blue Crane suite, one of two that are pet friendly and which we occupied had a kitchenette along with a fridge large enough to self cater if we wanted to. There is a two-plate stove, microwave, kettle and toaster and an electric frying plan as well as a Weber braai in the large and enclosed outside
What Julie loved most about this accommodation was the private and walled outside area where she could make a cool home for herself in the foliage
amidst the Bougainvillea, Geranium and Angel’s Trumpets. And, the two resident cats and hotel dog, provided plenty distraction for her too.
What we loved about Norfolk, apart from the very competitive price, was that it is one short block away from Fick’s Tidal Pool and the fabulous seasonal restaurant there.
Fick’s, owned by the folks from Dutchie’s restaurant on Grotto Beach Hermanus, is the perfect pet-friendly spot for lunch or drinks and snacks heading towards sundowners. No reservations are taken at Fick’s but there is a row of chairs on which to sit and wait for an available table or lounge setup. And the views are as
spectacular no matter where you sit so waiting is hardly a hardship. We loved our time at Fick’s so much we returned the next day. The crispy calamari is highly recommended. Another pet-friendly dining outlet in easy walking distance from Norfolk is Pure Bistro where you are welcome to sit with your pet on the terrace. On one occasion with cold winds and rain around, the kind owners even invited Julie to dine inside with us.
But, back to Norfolk. Not only is it easy to find with two giant Norfolk Pines outside in the wide Church Street but there is also a large open field directly opposite on which to walk dogs if you don’t want to walk the block to the Cliff Path.
There is cosy off-street secured parking and wi-fi. Storm Kreusch is the guesthouse manager and she will welcome you and show you around. Enjoy their extensive DVD and book library which is intended for guest use. The full DSTV bouquet is available. A king-sized bed and comfy chairs in the room along with a plastic table and six chairs outside also makes this a suitable spot for entertaining.
The small plunge pool is set in a rockery with cascading water feature and a great spot to catch the rays or to cool off. Hermanus is rightly famous for its shore-based whale watching and the Cliff Path is the ideal place to walk and meet other walkers and their dogs. On a Saturday until 2pm there is an outstanding food and craft market near the Hermanus Cricket Club which will welcome you and your pets alike.
If you’d like to treat yourself and pooch, book Afternoon Tea on the lawns at The Marine Hotel, one of Hermanus’ most established and elegant hotels. The Marine has a special petfriendly menu of chef prepared items.
The public art and sculpture along the coast and in the village itself is part of the Hermanus FynArts Festival and aside from being Instaworthy is a wonderful opportunity to engage with art at no financial cost. Perhaps this is part of the enduring allure of Hermanus? While there are mansions and costly places there
is also much that is available at no additional charge. In its way Hermanus is wonderfully democratic.