Thursday, 4 October 2012

A magical weekend at Goudini (including a trip to Birds Paradise)

We spent the first weekend of the school holidays at Goudini Spa.

Yes, we have been to this resort before - in fact we, as a family, have been rather unadventurous when it comes to choosing our holiday destinations - always exploring various options, yet always ending up preferring this one.

On Friday evening we arrived late-ish so, surprisingly, the kids preferred not to swim. I was glad - Aisha (2) and Shakeel (13) were showing the early signs of getting a cold. Mo braaied (barbequed) while we sat around the fire. Annoyingly, the kids kept running to spend time in front of the Disney channel, since we don't have DSTV at home (precisely for this reason).

Our villa was quite secluded, so we spent the evening enjoying the peace and quiet (not counting Aisha (2)'s constant nagging).

It was only the next morning that we could truly appreciate the absolute beauty of our surroundings. We had never stayed in one of the villas before and I had never wanted to, since they are quite a distance from the pool in which we prefer to swim.

But the morning light revealed the absolutely magnificent location of our villa, which was one of many dotting the foothills of one of the mountains surrounding Goudini. Since ours was situated right at the end of a little 'road', we only had an (empty) neighbouring villa on our right hand side, with nothing but mountainous rock and shrubs to our left.


The kids and I explore the rocky terrain

Standing over the basin, washing a heap of Saturday morning dishes (ugh!), I stared out of the kitchen window marvelling at the splendour of the other mountain right in front of me. I gazed, mesmerised by the beauty of the varying greens, yellows and browns, as well as their assortment of textures - so much so that I was done with my dreaded task before I knew it.

Later the cleaning staff came in to wash the morning dishes and make the beds - if I had but known that earlier.

Mo had to head back into town for a few hours, so the kids and I decided to embark upon the dreaded trek down to the pool. And what an incredible walk it turned out to be! We raced, chased, marvelled and okay - pacified Aisha when she nagged to be carried. But it actually turned out to be wonderfully invigorating and I enjoyed these walks/jogs immensely.

Upon Mo's return a few hours later, we headed to Robertson. Mo had heard about a place called Bird's Paradise, which boasted a variety of beautiful exotic birds. Mo also wanted to check it out as a possible future holiday destination, since they do have accomodation and other attractions available.

Firstly we headed to Worcester for lunch. Although not far away, we took a while to arrive at our destination, since we drove slowly and often stopped along the way to gawk at and photograph the spectacular scenery, the most impressive of which were the snow-capped mountains (especially since, as Capetonians, we had never been so close to snow before).

Since KFC was the only Halal food establishment of which we knew, we headed there immediately, but the long and winding queues sent us back on the road to Robertson instead - we preferred to suffer our hunger pangs a little while longer instead of wasting a minute queuing in that heat.

On the way, we ''ooh'ed'' and ''aah'ed'' at the beauty of our surroundings. I tried, in vain, to express to Mo how being in small towns, which appear to be almost timeless, evokes a sense of longing, sadness and nostalgia in me, which I just cannot explain. After all, can one feel nostalgic for a time and place of which one was not a part or to which one has no link or ties?

The sight of the old farmhouses had me picturing what life in those areas had been like a century ago. In many cases, though, it truly appeared as if time had stood still.

After purchasing our lunch at KFC in Robertson, we found our way to the Bird's Paradise.

And that is where Mo was in his element, all the while trying to convince me to fall in love with one of the beautiful birds, so that we could purchase one for a pet. (We already own 2 love birds [our breeding pair], their baby, a ring neck, a cockatiel and Titan, our quaker parrot). Seriously, does it really seem as if we need another bird?

I was very impressed with the non-avian creatures whom Mo, on the other hand, barely gave a second glance.


But I have developed a deeper appreciation for feathered creatures than I'd had before (although I still prefer a cuddly bunny any day). So I truly enjoyed our tour of the impressive aviaries and their clever inhabitants.

Recognise this guy? It is a hyacinth macaw, which is the same type of bird as the main character in the movie ''Rio" - apparently it costs about R80 000!!!

The kids were delighted by the cockatoos who greeted them by saying ''Hello'', ''I love you'' and ''Goodbye'', prompting the birds to show off even more for their admiring spectators.

Admittedly, I truly was impressed by the plethora of gorgeous birds I saw at Birds Paradise. So much so, that I am very tempted to agree to Mo purchasing a macaw as a pet.

We left Robertson late Saturday afternoon and arrived back at Goudini 45 minutes before Maghrib (sunset prayers). Mo and I headed up to prepare supper, while the kids chose to play putt putt until Maghrib.

We spent the evening playing cards - until the electricity went off in our villa. As scary as this had been for the kids, it turned out to be a blessing because they were unable to switch on the television. I kept them entertained with a game of charades, which they later described as one of the highlights of their weekend.

Happily, Mo informed us that he was planning to extend our stay for another day. So Sunday was spent gleaning every second of fun and enjoyment which the place had to offer.


Then, sadly, the morning of our departure arrived. The kids were glum and I was not much better. But Mo had a 10:00 am meeting, so we packed up and said our sad goodbyes to the lovely villa and our magical weekend at Goudini.

Despite our constant search for other possible holiday destinations, I am certain we'll end up back at Goudini (hopefully in the Slanghoek villas) time and time again.