Travel

Houtbay/Houtbaai

Hout Bbay situated about 30 minutes away from, Cape Town CBD, has long been a getaway for the city slickers to unwind, take in the scenery on the drive there and enjoy the freshly caught catch of the day as just minutes after seeing it come in from the trawlers.

Hout Bay which was founded by Jan Van Riebeeck, aptly named this gem of a village because of the rich and vast forest that once covered the valley where the town now is. The wood from the forest was used for the building of ships and the natural bay , was perfect to act as a fishing harbour and so Hout Bay as we know it was born.

My earliest memories from Hout Bay was sitting in my dad’s bakkie watching the trawlers come in and unloading their tons and tons of sardines and anchovies into the fish processing plant. My late dad was a fisherman, whose trawler would frequently come into harbour, when I was little, many precious hours between my dad and myself was spent on his bopat there, him teaching me about the ocean and his job and me more often than not being completely captivated by his stories and the hustle and bustle of the harbour.

I remember Hout Bay, when the now o-so -famous and franchised Snoekies was run out of a single room building on the jetty. I remember getting gifts from Mariner’s Wharf.Choosing a live crayfish from the tanks, which would be cooked to perfection and devoured with great greed at the sun soaked tables outside. In these memories Hout Bay was the place to spend quality time with my day. The place to buy calamari steaks and fresh yellow tail,snoek and galjoen. It was memories filled with misty morning coffees at the caravan on the harbour, Snoekies hake and chips for lunch and my dad’s ship’s cooks cooking at night. Seal island just around the bend and Chapmans Peak and its glorious views just beyond the bay. Big wave surfing and friendly people.

So, during one of my first weekends back in SA, I decided a Sunday outing would be appropriate. I was glad to discover that this little gem nestled in the valley behind Constantia mountain, with its trawlers, fisherman and beautiful scenery, was almost the same place as the one in my memory. The old favorites were there, the harbour shops, Mariners wharf, The new improved Snoekies, which pay homage to its beginnings. The fish vendors, the trawlers, the yachts. Everything was there, just with a few additions.

As we entered the harbour, we were met with wave upon wave of tourist group, trying to find as souvenir from one of the many stalls that line the jetty. The sound of the minstrels or as we know them, Kaapse Klopse was wafting in the air and everywhere we looked families were enjoying what the harbour had to offer. We took a walk around the harbour, before going to look for the Bay Harbour that we have heard so much about. On our walk along the jetty, we met Leon, a local,who comes to the harbour everyday to feed his seal Angel. We saw this seal circling around in the water beneath us and just as Leon would call her, she would come to Leon, but upon seeing that he has no fish, would swim away. A couple of meters away a group of men , where playing music, having a drink and relaxing on the jetty. Young boys in their undies, jumping and diving into the freezing Atlantic and bragging about their skills. A family passed us on their way to do some fishing and all around you could see happy faces, everyone enjoying a picnic out of a car boot. Eating an ice cream and taking in the beauty which is on our doorstep.

As we made our way across the harbour, the transformation, of Hout Bay from just a fishing harbour, into a tourist destination was evident. The harbour has lost it’s “work clothes” and had a new look, sleeker , cleaner and a little less busy than previously. As we came to the Bay Harbpur, the brightly painted concrete fench, the sound of music and the smells mad our excitement grow. The Bay Harbour was found two years ago, after two men,Paul Rutzen and Anthony Strobel, went to visit an old fishing factory. They had the idea to turn this space into an market. The created the space, the vendors filled it and the clientel flocked to their door! Boating over 100 stalls varying from clothes, decor items, jewellery and antiques, to dumplings, sushi and genuine Karoo lamb, this place it where you want to be if you love shopping, food or both.

The market hosts some of the best up and coming food vendors that the country has to offer. It has variety and quality.The relaxed yet busy atmosphere which hangs over the market adds to the experience. unlucky for us we filled up too much at breakfast and could only manage to eat some dumplings and a stuffed pork bun, form a lovely Chinese man, which transported my taste buds back to Shanghai. Vegetarians, carnivores and everyone and everything in between gets covered in this market.It truly is an experience if you enjoy markets.

I am sure to take a trip to Hout Bay and its market soon, hopefully next time I will be able to eat and drink a little more!Read more about the market on http://www.bayharbour.co.za.

So next time when you’re in Cape Town and tired of the same-old, same -old go and take a drive along Chapman’s Peak, go eat fish and chips at Snoekies and have a craft beer at the market! Just go and enjoy!

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