A place to stay: Kestell Hotel and Guesthouse

by Maretha Langenhoven

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future” – Corrie Ten Boom

What seemed like just another building in this small town actually turned out to be a real gem filled with character, old world charm and lots of antiques. This hotel has been renovated and the owners did a very good job of preserving the “feel” whilst at the same time giving the property a new lease on life.

Rumours has it that on the opening evening a bit more than a hundred years ago, the second floor burned down and it was then decided not to have a double story building. The original owners are not known, as the deeds cannot be found.

This little hotel and the town (almost the same size) is very central and just a short drive from “Golden Gate” and “Clarens” so we treaded off on a site seeing trip and enjoyed the beautiful mountains and scenery.

While relaxing in the foyer next to the fireplace we met some very interesting people and as you know us, started chatting to Dr. André Kruger, his wife Monica and their daughter Annie from Hoogland Health Hydro. They were travelling with Dave Barr, a remarkable American man who lost both his legs when his Jeep hit a landmine in Angola while Dave was the legendary colonel Jan Breytenbach’s machine gunner. “Dave Barr’s Rough Riders” are touring South Arica on motorcycles raising funds for Cheshire Homes. Annie organised this entire tour. You can follow them at www.chutzpah.org.za.

Lesson learned: “I have learned that the biggest disability any of us may ever face is our own attitudes.” – Jeffery F Walton

 IMG_3065 IMG_3066 IMG_3078

Advertisements

A place to stay: Poelanie’s Guesthouse

by Maretha Langenhoven

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world.  But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” – Walt Disney

This is a true reflection of this beautiful place and its people, Neels & Poelanie Craven, who’s dream started with one room in the Guesthouse and now there’s 25 different type of rooms, a wonderful breakfast room, relaxing gardens and the most amazing coffee and gift shop called “Chocolat”.

At “Chocolat” you will find something unique and special around every corner at very reasonable prices.  The cakes, home baked by Poelanie, are all so delicious and you have to try the cappuccino as it is truly remarkable and has a special ingredient, which I will not reveal as it is for you to discover.  J

So much care goes into making every guest feel at home and this is exactly how we felt during our 3-night stay.  The hospitality, friendliness and warm smiles of each team member are commendable.

The rooms are spacious, equipped with a mini-bar fridge and coffee station; the beds are very comfortable and fitted with electric blankets for the cold nights.  There are family rooms and even a donkey family and some other farm animals to keep the kids busy (and me company during a 2am feed).

We made friends! Friends we are looking forward to seeing again.

This is a destination, a place we will visit not only when passing through.

Lesson Learned from Neels & Poelanie:  “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” – John F. Kennedy

IMG_3021 IMG_3053 IMG_3055

A place to stay: Lions Rest

by Maretha Langenhoven

You have to meet Thabu and Ethel Masihleho as well as their lions to truly appreciate Lions Rest.  I have little words really to describe their huge spirits and they waved us off, leaving us with an immense sense of inspiration, respect and hope.

My personal highlight was of course the lions.  The big camp adjacent to the lodge homed the biggest lion & lioness I’ve ever seen, the male had such a presence and in the dead quite of the night while feeding Marhané he kept me company through his constant vocalization. These two lions had two very tiny cubs in a small adjacent camp but to my disappointment they were already feeding themselves.  Thabu explained that they don’t allow cuddling (SAD) but I admire them for this decision, as they want to keep the lions as wild as possible.  3 more lions, about 2 years of age wondered a bigger camp a few hundred meters from the lodge.

Thabu and Ethel joined us for dinner and we had such an awesome evening sharing stories about each other’s journeys, our country’s journey and many more a subject.  The food was superb, so well presented and very tasty.  The chef prepared it in the open kitchen and introduced the food with each serving.

Yet another unforgettable experience with new friends made and most of all filled with hope for our country.

 

IMG_2981 IMG_2985 IMG_3009 IMG_3011

A place to stay: De Hoek Guesthouse

by Maretha Langenhoven

A belated writing but certainly not a reflection of the hospitality we received from Frankfort (a little town, south of Villiers in the Free State).

On 6 May 2014 we arrived at “De Hoek” guesthouse where we entered a world of beautiful lavender bushes, sprawling passion fruit bushes, calming water features, a fusion of farm and French style décor and most of all a world where we met a warm, friendly and smiling Magda. She is truly an amazing woman as she single handedly ensures that her guests are welcomed, comfortable, feels at home and that they don’t go hungry (dinner and breakfast were simply fantastic) or without their caffeine fix for the day J. She graces this beautiful old renovated house with her flair and it is visible in every aspect of this old charming building and its gardens.

We stayed in the family room and had everything we needed. All rooms have a fridge, coffee station, microwave and let me not forget the extra blankets and the wall mounted heaters that keep the cold nights at bay.

If ever you pass through this small little town in the Free State, be sure to stay at “De Hoek” guesthouse, as it is truly a home away from home.

As you all know Hanno had a painful Achilles tendon and we decided to look up a physiotherapist in Frankfort, this took us to the practice of Johan Taute and made us experience yet another warm, welcoming and generous side of Frankfort. Johan sponsored Hanno for two treatments and was at the same time great company and clearly little Marhané’s favourite person of the trip so far.

As the 7th was voting day we decided to make our mark count and proceeded to the voting station in Frankfort before leaving for Tweeling. We voted nationally and although there was no cue it took us twice as long as it would because strangely we were not allowed to take Marhané in with us so we had to take turns holding her outside.

Lesson learned: its ok to ask, otherwise a yes will never be possible…

IMG_2950 IMG_2931 IMG_2965

A place to stay: Lekoa Lodge

by Maretha Langenhoven

I guess my “hospitality” background automatically nominated me as the blogger of our accommodation, food & beverage experiences. Trust me, this is not an easy task because I am very service orientated and have the inability to see past the smaller details.

Let me start by saying that I was pleasantly surprised by Lekoa Lodge. They were the first place to return my e-mail and sponsor our stay for our first night away from home on 5 May 2014.

Leaving Hanno behind on the N3 somewhere between Heidelberg & Villiers, I decided to go ahead, find the lodge, check in, feed Marhané and relax a bit. The GPS co-ordinates took me to a dirt road, through corn fields, passed beautiful birding spots and when it said “You have reach your destination”, I stopped, looked around me and all I saw was more fields with plenty cattle to welcome me. Lesson in life is to always search a bit further…. Just a few hundred meters ahead, over a little hill lay the most beautiful forest-like trees, green lawns, thatched roofs and the great welcoming entrance of LEKOA LODGE.

Elize was so excited to meet both little Marhané and myself. She checked us in and to my relief we had the first chalet closest to the reception and restaurant.

Our little chalet was so welcoming, tastefully decorated and well cared for. The cleanliness and attention to detail deserved a special mention. The chalet had a little lounge area with a kitchenette (stocked for all self catering needs) and a table seating 4. The bathroom is spacious and has a bath, shower and the most beautiful old world basin stand. When I entered the room I could feel the difference immediately, it was nice and warm and I thought its because the sun bakes it in the afternoons but later in the evening, when I walked barefoot on the carpet, I realised that it has under floor heating. This was such a blessing as the cold set in the moment the sun disappeared behind the hills.

I unpacked our bags, fed Marhané and settled in. Felt right at home when a beautiful black furry friend came to visit me, said hallo and then accompanied me to our car. I drove off again to fetch Hanno “somewhere” on the N3 between Heidelberg and Villiers.

On our way back from the second run of the day Elize called to ask if we are going to have dinner at the restaurant and what time we would like to be served. After freshening up and dressing warm we made our way to the restaurant. A very homely space and all I can say is the food was spectacular.   Luckily we abided by our rule of sharing because the portion sizes are very generous. The presentation was excellent and the service we got from the staff was superb.

We slept like babies…. (Truly cause we are sleeping according to little baby Marhané’s schedule). The bed was very comfortable, the linen crisp, the room warm and of course the silence of the “platteland” was very good for our souls

Elize came to say goodbye early morning as we headed out just as the sun rose, this made us feel like part of the Lekoa family.

Thank you Elize and your team at Lekoa Lodge for making part of our Barefoot Comrades Journey possible.

Lekoa Lodge 1

Lekoa Lodge 2

Lekoa Lodge dinner