“Soooo…. what would you like for your Birthday?” inquired my Significant Other one day in early July.
“Oh, that’s easy: A Weekend Away!” (I’d been chomping at the bit to get out of Cape Town for a little break from the daily responsibilities and demands of urban life.)
“Where do you want to go?”
“Hm… not sure… shall we go north? Picketberg, Clanwilliam, Cederberg? Who knows, there might even be snow in the mountains? I’d love to see snow on my birthday…”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Or shall we go east, get a place at the seaside? Hermanus, Agulhas, Arniston…? It’s whale season, maybe we’ll see some whales?”
After several days spent consulting the handy online Budget Getaways guide and a couple of other accommodation websites, without The Perfect Place leaping out at me and shouting “Pick me! Pick me!”, we had an A-ha! moment. We suddenly remembered that a friend of ours had a holiday home in Stanford.
In case the name Stanford immediately makes you think of the University in Palo Alto, California, let me tell you that it’s not the same place.
The Stanford we were thinking of is a most delightful little village in the Overberg region of the Western Cape Province, some 90 minutes to 2 hours outside Cape Town (eastwards), depending on how fast you drive and whether the ubiquitous roadworks require much stopping-and-smelling-of-the-aloes (there aren’t many roses along that route, but there are LOADS of strikingly orange-red aloes). As Stanford’s tourism website explains:
“Situated on the banks of the Klein River, Stanford is on the coastal plain separating the mountains and the sea … .The village is mid-way between the resorts of Hermanus, the Whale Capital of the world and Gansbaai, the Great White Shark diving capital of the world, on the Cape Whale Coast.
Featuring an assortment of renovated cottages and Cape Victorian and Edwardian architecture, Stanford is regarded as one of South Africa’s best-preserved villages. Its heritage status is protected both by law and by an enthusiastic and dedicated conservation trust.
The surrounding valleys feature numerous vineyards, an award-winning cheese maker and a micro-brewery. Health spas and healing, whale-watching and winemaking, hiking and horse-riding, birding and bicycles – all can be enjoyed in this scenic area. The village itself offers a range of bistros and restaurants and plenty of collectable shopping.
Stanford attracts those seeking solace and real contact with nature in all its forms – a break from urban life.
“Ohh! Now THAT sounds perfect. ‘A break from urban life.’ That’s what we need. Plus we’ve never stayed there before. Let’s ask her, shall we?”
Fortunately for us, it happened to be available on that exact weekend, and so Friday morning found us frantically packing our car and doing the usual last-minute checks, including reassuring Tuffy-Cat that we would return. We soon found ourselves on the N2, heading eastwards past Somerset West and the Strand and across the Hottentots Holland mountains.
For your reading and photo-viewing pleasure (as usual, there are looots of photos), I have divided the Story of Our Stay in Serene Stanford into several parts. Click away to your heart’s content: