Why did Paternoster end up on my bucket list ? I am not sure. I have read much about it in the travel sections of the newspapers over the years. The description of a one road town with some fine restaurants near the beach probably captured my brain’s eye. It sounded like it was something different.
The drive up the West Coast from Cape Town was beautiful, and only about 140 kms. Stopping for loo breaks made us realise that we not in the land of the trendies but in the jam jar of rural lifestyles.
The closer we got to Paternoster, the more intriguing it all seemed. Through the conservative town of Vredenburg, we pressed on, looking forward to getting to our bed and breakfast, and finding some warm food. I won’t mention our bed and breakfast as, for me, it lacked basic bed and breakfast hospitality – the breakfast was good but that is about that!
There was more than one road … we were shocked! Oh OK, one main road, the rest darted off to homes and guest houses. It was cold and windy when we arrived and we ushered ourselves off to Blikkies Pizzeria for some food until we could check into our bed and breakfast. After unpacking, we took a short walk to the beach. Wrapped up warmly we walked along the shells and kelp. It is a beautiful part of South Africa even in the cold. The bird life is wondrous.
It has an eclectic mix of people and dwellings. Fine houses alongside guest houses alongside lower income housing.
Chickens, goats, dogs and cats roam around some parts, while hard-working locals walk home clutching their shopping and jumping out of the way of touristy, snooty Hummers tackling speed bumps without blinking.
The vibe in the main street is fun, warm, friendly and enchanting. Gaze down to the beach and you will see boats strategically placed as if they were art form – which they are really! Gaze up and you will find art and craft shops and galleries, the local bottle and supply stores for the community.
The Paternoster Hotel was obviously the local watering hole, with typical pub and bar food. You could sit outside on the benches and watch the Paternoster life go by: all sorts – all kinds of people. Real people watching.
Food aside, the best thing about Paternoster, are the beach walks. The gulls and Oyster Catchers. Being the start of winter, while there was a fair amount of people around, it was relatively quiet and peaceful. Up early one morning to watch the sun rise made us feel we were completely alone, surrounded by exquisite natural beauty.
It is, for me, the kind of place to put your feet up and stare vacantly across the bay and sea – a bit like a human-refuelling refuge. It is different. As I said earlier, quite enchanting, quaint, quiet.
You’ll find me on the rocks chasing Oyster catchers with my camera.