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The long weekend
A Weekend in the eastern Transvaal
The long weekend is a peculiarly south African phenomenon. What we do is take an ordinary weekend and take a day's leave on the Friday preceeding the weekend or the Monday following the weekend and 'go away'.
These trips are usually less than 300 kms from home and consist of a bushveld break, a game park break, going to the mountains or alternatively going to Sun City. The latter named is a frenetic, Casino, cum watersport holiday with possibly a dash into the Pilanesburg for game viewing..
The Sun City break generally leaves one more jaded than refreshed as you can guess! Gambling tilll dawn, seeing a show Jet skiing, or swimming in the valley of waves, (hung over) all have their toll!
At any rate on this occassion, My dearly beloved myself and a few friends (two other couples) decided to go to White River in the scenic and historic Eastern Transvaal ( now named Limpopo) and stay in one of the new luxury hotels being touted by a respected Hotel group which we use fairly frequently and are usually familiar with thier offerings.
All well and good, internet booking were made, deposits paid, confirmatiom emails with reservation numbers printed out and we were set to go!
One small wrinkle, my beloved is in the midst of a budgetting cycle from hell in her workplace, so Laptop, cell phone, broadband G3 card are coming on holiday too!
At any rate we pack up the car and we are off. Barely 50km from home the electronic cruise control fails and the car computer tells us so. We have brand new luxury german car which has just had its first service a few days before the trip.
So we need to stop at the dealership in Witbank to have the car checked. (By the way when I took delivery of his vehicle, on the first day the electronics failed and it was ignominiously towed away not to be seen for 3 weeks!)
So you can understand my desire to have it checked - bloody computerised cars!
The dealer tells me not to worry he has reset the computer so we can proceed just don't use cruise control..We proceed and do the obligatory stop at Milly's which is a fuel stop and restuarant which has a crackling fire, a view of a lake and stunning trout pies not to mention various home made canned goods to take away.
We arrive at our Hotel uneventfully and check in.Our room is in a dungeon down stairs but somehow managing to front onto a lawn and tennis court. The rising damp on the walls and the tatty carpets don't bode well. On the tennis court is a marquee with around 100 loud conference or rally attendees.
The coffee station is outside our window and the attendees choose to stand outside our window to make loud cell phone calls. Oh well they will probably leave on the Friday. Not so! The Rally / conference whatever lasted until Sunday!
We decide to have dinner in the Hotel restaurant.This is sumptuous buffet which starts out well enough but just before we opt to get our main course the delegates from hell are led into the dining room food queue, two by two all 100 plus of them. Never mind, we tell ourselves, we are not in a hurry and as we don't have to drive we can relax and consume a few good bottles of wine.
Once the food queue .had gone, we find that all the food left was cold or finished. After some discussion with the hotel we had a special platter prepared for us. However we were not really consulted and were served a sort of overcooked mixed grill - not very good.
And so to bed.
The following day after a reasonable breakfast, the two of girls opt for an excursion to Phalaborwa for the day. Dearly beloved decided to work on the hotel verandah (laptop, cellphone broadband card and all) and the men opt to watch Super 14 Rugby on the Pub TV - What else.
To our dismay the hotel has chosen to host goups of 20 people to display the hotel's features to them. These loud (and well entertained - read well oiled) groups were walked past us at intervals throughout the morning much to our chagrin.
That afternoon we (the guys) went to the local shopping centre and motor museum. We also had coffee at a pleasant little coffee shop and scouted out a location for dinner. Unanimous decision -we will not use the hotel for dinner again!
That evening was a revelation! The restaurant Salt was outstanding. we had champagne, excellent starters and wonderful main meals accompanied by recommended wines,
We all agreed we would return to White River just to eat at Salt!
The next day after a horrendous breakfast - rubber poached eggs, cold fried tomato- we left for home.The staff were actually trying to be helpful- "you dont have to eat the buffet breakfast we will make to order" (big mistake). We shopped a bit en route at antique shops, buying one or two knick knacks as memento's and we stopped at Milly's again .As it turns out they were having a mother's day lunch and we had a great meal there.
Sunday evening we arrived home refreshed, relaxed and agreed we we had a great long weekend break!