09 February 2018

Dias & Port Festival 2018

On 3 February 1488, St. Blaise’s day, Bartolomeu Dias landed at Mossel Bay, which Dias named Aguada de São Bras (St. Blaise’s Watering Place).

The first Dias Festival I attended was in 1988 for the celebration of the 500th anniversary of Dias’ landing.  During the weekend of 1 to 4 February 2018 it was once again time for the Dias & Port Festival.  This year the festival was expanded to include two festival grounds…Santos and the harbour.
At the Dias festival in 1988 with my brother and sister
Looking at the Carvel in the harbour
Dias Festival @ Santos

On Saturday morning I took my son JW to the festival ground at Santos.  Entrance to the festival ground and all the shows were free.  JW had no interest to sit down and watch a show.  He just wanted to explore and play.  We walked through a lot of stalls selling toys, clothes, food, etc and then reached the play ground.

JW ran to the nearest ride and I had to quickly stop him.  After catching him we went to buy tokens.  The tokens for the rides were R10 per token.  Luckily for me most of the rides for the young children were only 1 token per ride but some rides are 3 tokens per person.  So it can get very expensive after a few rides.  JW loved it. 

It was a warm day and all the rides are in the sun.  After a while we went to buy ice cream and cool drinks and sat on the ground in the shade to eat.  There were lots of chairs to sit at the stage but nowhere else.  At the stages it was very noisy and we did not want to sit there to eat.  It would be a good idea to put some tables between the stalls and/or play area.

What we loved:
·         Free entrance
·         Lots of shows to watch and entertainment for the kids
·         Lots of food options

What we did not like:
·         No place to sit except at stage
·         Cars driving inside the festival ground

Port Festival @ Harbour

The harbour is usually closed for the public and I could not let the chance to visit the harbour go by.  So on Sunday JW and me went to the harbour for the “Port” part of the festival. 

It did not start good.  We had to park near the Bayside shopping centre and then walk down to the harbour.  This was fine when we arrived but when we went home I had to carry a tired 3 year old boy for a long way and up the bridge to get back to our car. 

It got worse.  The map was not very clear about where everything was.  There was nobody to help at the information stand at the entrance of the harbour.  The Portnet workers at the gates were not helpful at all and we were tired of walking by the time we found out were to go.  It would help if there was banners at the entrance of the harbour to show people where to go.

There were only a few stalls on the harbour on the way to the main stage.  I think 10 maximum, mostly selling food and drinks. We walked past the stalls and the main stage to the Boat and Tugboat rides. 

This was the best thing about the Port festival.  The rides were R 20 per adult and R10 per child.  I paid and we got on the boat but before the boat departed JW changed his mind.  He did not want to be on the boat.  We got off and the kind ticket seller refunded our money.

We then bought some food and cold drinks and sat in the street under an umbrella to eat.  Once again the only seating was at the stage and no other place to sit and eat.

What we loved:
·         Free entrance
·         Tug and boat rides

What we did not like:
·         No signs of where to go
·         Parking far away
·         No place to sit except at stage

Seven Seas Boat Trips

Seven Seas Boat Trips

Other activities

The Dias festival also includes a lot of other activities we did not attend.  They included a fishing competition, maritime museum tours, Street parade (We did see some of the colourful floats when we drove to Santos but did not attend the parade) and even a classical music event at the Dias Museum.  There really is something for everyone. 

I think th festival was a big success and next year can only get better.  Next year we will try the boat rides again and maybe I can get a babysitter and attend the classical music event.

Address:                      Santos beach & Mossel Bay harbour
Dates:                          ± 1 – 4 February each year
Website:                      www.diasfees.co.za
Entrance Fee:             Free
(Not a sponsored post)

02 February 2018

George Wildlife Park

The George Wildlife and Animal Park opened on 16 December 2017.  I visited the park on a very warm Saturday in January 2018 with my parents and 3-year old son JW.  The entrance fee was R 20 per adult and JW could enter for free.

JW did not want to wait for me to buy the tickets.  He could see the jungle gym and just wanted to get inside to start climbing.  The park has a lovely play area for kids.  There is a big jungle gym to climb with monkey bars and swings and slides. JW was in heaven and could not decide where to start.  He is still too small for some of the equipment and I had to help him but he tried everything.

There is a large grass area with lots of tables under trees or umbrellas to sit.  Between the tables are lots of wooden animals for the kids to play on.  There is a pond with ducks and beautiful water lilies. 

After playing for a while we walked to see the farm animals.  We saw pigs, bunnies, chickens, geese, a pony and some goats.  Visitors may not touch the animals but they can buy food at the shop to give to the animals.  There are different packages of food for the different animals.

Next to the goats enclosure is some wooden car tables with wheels and a steering wheel and JW had a lot of fun “driving”. 

Next we walked to the enclosures for the cats. The park is home to two Bengal tigers, two cheetahs, two serval cats (tierboskat) and two caracals (rooikatte).  It was very warm and most of the cats were lazy and just lying in the shade. 

By this time we were warm and headed bank to the tables.  I went to buy cool drink from the Braai area shop.  The service of the staff at this shop was terrible. I stood for more than 5 minutes while they just kept on ignoring me.  I can understand that I need to wait if they are busy but I was the only client there and there were 3 of them and not even one could just greet me and tell me to wait a bit.  Eventually I asked if they intent to help me or should I leave.  They then sold me some cool drinks. (They were kept in buckets of ice and was ice cold). This bad service was the only negative of our visit.

We found a nice table in the shade near the duck pond and enjoyed our drinks.  I did not want to go back to the braai area for food but bought delicious pies at the shop near the entrance.

JW played some more and then it was time to go home.  It was a lovely day and we will definitely visit again.

Address:                      Victoria St, George
Tel no:                         084 249 0442
Website:                      https://www.facebook.com/georgewildlifeandanimalpark/                 
Entrance Fee:             Adults R20, Children R 10, Under 3 Free
Trading Hours:            Daily except Mondays from 9am to 4pm
(Not a sponsored post)

11 January 2018

Pikkieland at Diaz Water Park

This is my first post for 2018 and after a few years of only posting occasionally I hope to continue to post regularly during 2018.  

We spent our summer holiday at home in Mossel Bay and also made a few trips to George.  During this trips we had a lot of adventures from swimming at the Point and Pikkieland to Happy Valley in George and a visit to the Dias Museum.  We also hosted lost of visitors in our apartment.

One of the highlights for JW (my 3-year old son) was the morning at Pikkieland at Diaz Water Park.  The entrance fee for Pikkieland was R 40 per child and there is no fees for the adults that are with the children.

Pikkieland has two shallow pools for small children to play in.  In the smaller pool the water is only about 30cm deep.  In the bigger pool the water reached just above my knee and is is the perfect dept for the children to play in.  There is a tower in the middle with lots of slides that let them slip into the water.
The smaller shallowest pool

The bigger pool

There is not a lot to do for adults.  The Water Park has other activities but you cannot leave your child alone at Pikkieland.  There is a nice wooden deck with benches to sit but most parents were walking in the water with their kids.  After a while I sat in the water with JW and even went down one slide with him (He needed a bit motivation but once he got the confidence he was sliding the whole time.
Seating for parents in the shade

There are no lifeguards on duty at Pikkieland and parents must supervise their own kids.  My dad went with us and we took turns to walk and play with JW in the water and very soon 2 hours passed.  JW was not ready to go home but the sun was getting very hot and we went home with promises to return soon.

This was a great outing and I will definitely take JW again.  I did feel that the entrance fee of R 40 was a bit expensive for a two hour outing.  I hope when the holiday high season is over that the prices will fall a bit.

I also was a bit disappointed in the water quality. The park opens at 9 am and we arrived shortly after 9 am but the water in the pool was murky and full of small pieces of grass. I think they could keep in cleaner.

Address:                      1 Beach East Boulevard, Diaz Strand, Mossel Bay
Tel no:                         044 692 8429 / 083 679 3555
Website:                      www.diazwaterpark.co.za
Entrance Fee:             R40 per child for 2 hours
Trading Hours:            9:00 to 18:00 (Except Sundays 10:00 to 16:00)
(Not a sponsored post)

22 December 2017

Our favourite kids outings in Mossel Bay

I did a post last week about our favourite kids’ outings in our neighbouring town, George.  
Our home town, Mossel Bay, a small town next to the ocean and mainly a summer holiday destination.  Thousands of people come here to spend time near the ocean during December and January.  

Here are some of our favourite things to do with our 
3-year old son JW:

1.  The Ocean – Swimming, Playing in sand, collecting shells…. and many more

Mossel Bay’s main attraction during the summer month is the beach.  And there is a lot of them to choose from.  For toddlers and younger kids I would suggest the paddling pool at The Point (I usually take my son early, before it gets too busy and the sun to hot) or Santos with is small waves.  For bigger waves rather try Hartenbos or Diaz Beach.

There is a lot to do at the Hartenbos Fun Park…Swimming and Water-slides at the pool, 
a huge jungle gym for climbing, sliding, swinging and lots more and adventure mini golf. The park entrance fee comes in different packages… only an entrance fee or including some or all the activities.  There is also an indoor warm swimming pool (pay separately) and during holidays there are other activities like bumper cars etc.

The Diaz Express consists of three restored Wickham railcars and they offer different  excursions.  I went on the trip from Mossel Bay to Maalgate with work colleges with a stop at the Transkaroo Restaurant for lunch.  It was a wonderful trip with great views and food.  During the December holiday they only do shorter shuttle trips between Hartenbos and Santos Beach. This shorter trip could be great for younger kids that get bored easy.

4.  Romonza / Seven Seas Seal Island Trips

These trips leave every hour from the Mossel Bay harbour and takes about 1 hour.  The trip takes you around Seal Island with its ± 3000 seals and great views of the bay and town.  
I went on the Seven Seas Trip in 2015 and enjoyed is a lot.  I want to take my son on this trip but he cannot swim yet. And even though it is safe and there are life jackets available, I think we will wait another year. Trips are dependent on weather conditions and remember to pack something warm to wear.  You can book online for Romonza (R160 per adult & R80 per child).  I could not find the prices for Seven Seas trips online.

I love going to the Dias Museum and visit at least once a year.  This year I took JW with me and he loved the outing.  We started at the Shell Museum and Aquarium.  Then we walked to the Post Office tree and played outside for a bit.  There is lots of grass and some ducks at the spring.  Next time I will pack a picnic to eat on the grass.  Last we went to the Maritime Museum to see the replica of the Caravel.  JW’s highlight of the day was to climb on to the caravel.  He pulled on the ropes and climbed ladders and loved every moment.   There are 2 ticket options…Including getting on the caravel (Adult R 40/Child R 20) or without (Adult R 20/Child R 5). 

6.  Harry Giddy Park

The Harry Giddy Park is a lovely place for a stroll or picnic.  There is Aviaries with lots of different bids and also lots of other animals to see.  There are fountains and lots of paths for a walk. There is a playground for kids with a boat, swings etc.  But on our last visit the play area was not in a good condition and needed a lot of maintenance.  There is no entrance fee but you can leave a donation.

7.  Fanta Sea @ The Point

This small play area is located at the Point.  They have a jungle gym, put-put, skateboard park and jumping castles.  The entrance fee during the year was R 10 per kid and R 20 for put-put (Prices correct in July 2017 ).  The play ground can do with a bit of maintenance like new paint and a bit of cleaning but it is a nice option and the location is great

8.  Takoda Spur (Hartenbos)

The Spur is Hartenbos has a big indoor play area for kids up to 12 years.  There are slides, swings and lots of climbing.  They also have computer games for the older kids.  It is great for rainy days or when you want to rest out of the sun.  JW loves playing here (or maybe it is about the ice cream he gets when we go)

9.  The Shark Lab

The Shark lab is a small (very, very small) aquarium at the Point.  JW loved the outing and to see the sharks.  The entrance fee was R 20 per adult and R 10 per child (Children under 3 are free).  There really is not much to see except for the 2 sharks in the tank and an octopus.  I think it is too expensive for the 5 minutes you will spend walking through but JW loved it and that is why I include it on this list.

We have heard great things about the following places. We have not done these yet but are going to try them soon:

a)  Diaz Water Park

In Dias Beach is a water park for all ages.  There are water slides for kids and adults.  They also have a warm indoor pool and a toddler area.  I am not sure what the entrance fees are but we are going to visit this park in December

b)  Blasters Family Entertainment Centre

I don’t know why we have not been here yet but it looks like a very nice place for kids to play.  They have a large indoor jungle gym and a restaurant for the parents.

c)  Viking Anchor Restaurant

Situated close to the Harbour in Bland Street is the indoor/outdoor restaurant with large braai.  There is a play area for kids with a boat climb in.  I recently went there for the first time for a breakfast and the prices look reasonable and the breakfast and coffee was good.  Next time I will take my husband and JW with and try the lunch or dinner.

d)  Cape St Blaize Cave and Hiking Trail

I have taken JW to the cave and he loved running on the wood path inside.  He wanted to walk up to the lighthouse but we will do this when my husband is with us.  The cave is also the starting (or end) point for the 13.5km St Blaize Hiking trail.   I don’t think the trail is suitable for young children but can be fun for adventures families with older children. 

15 December 2017

Our favourite kids outings in George

George is our neighbouring town and we visit it regularly 
because my parents live there.  When we go on outings or to
 restaurants we try to find child friendly places
 that our 3-year old son will enjoy.

It is almost holiday time and the perfect time to share some of my favourite places:

Ahavah Cafe & Deli at Outeniqua Palms

We discovered this restaurant recently and have only been there once but it jumped to number 1 on the list.  The outdoor play area is great and there are animals to pet.  The food was also good and reasonably priced.  Entrance is free and the only expense it your food, drinks and maybe buying some food for the bunnies.

Red Berry Farm

The Red berry Farm is always a great outing.  There is a restaurant (I love the strawberry juice) and outdoor play area.  There is also activities like strawberry picking, animals to feed, pony rides, maze, train rides (JW loves this) and more.  There is no entrance fee but you need to pay for each activity you want to do.  Since my son is still small I do a lot of the activities with him and we have to buy tickets for both of us.  This can quickly add up to a lot of money.

Kidz at Mount view is a lovely indoor play area for kids 1 to 9 (Great for rainy days).  There is a toddler play area for kids between 1 and 3 and an indoor jungle gym for kids from 3 to 9 years old.  There are slides, swings and balls and will keep the children entertained for a hour or two.  Next door is “The Coffee Pot” that serves drinks, breakfast and light meals etc.

The entrance fee (Aug 2017) was R 30 per child to play for 90 minutes and R 15 for each additional 30 minutes.  Outside there also is an animal farm and lots of grass for a bit of running.

For a breakfast or brunch we like to go to Kontrei Padstal just outside of George on the N2 in the direction of Wildernis/Knysna at the Sasol Fuel station.  They have a lovely outside play area for kids with a jungle gym, slide and swings.

One of our favourite places to visit in George is the Garden Route Botanical Garden.  Both my husband and I love taking photos and the garden is a great place for photos.  Mostly we visit without JW but it is a great place for a picnic or to take a walk.

Recently we visited the coffee shop in the garden, Getafix Cafe.  There is a lovely play are for kids and the menu has a lot of options. This is a nice place for a drink or light meal after a walk in the garden.

My husband and son both love trains.  We have visited the museum twice with JW and he loved it.  He wants to touch everything and climb into every train.  There is a kiosk/coffee shop refreshments. The entrance fee is R 20 per adult and R 10 per child over 3 years.

We have heard great things about the following places 
and we are going to try them soon:

Happy Valley is another indoor play area for children 2 to 10 with a smaller area for toddlers from 0 to 2 years old.  There is a restaurant to buy refreshments.  The entrance fee according to their website (Nov 2017) was R 30/R40 per child to play for 90 minutes and R 10 for each additional 30 minutes.

My son is still too young for this one but I know my cousins’ kids love this.  Elevate is an indoor trampoline park with more than 60 trampolines.  Entrance fees are R95 for a senior and R 75 for junior jumpers (older than 4 years & shorter than 1.2m) for 90 minutes.

Outeniqua Power Van

My husband and I went on a trip on the Power Van in January 2012 and had a great time.  I think JW is now old enough to enjoy the trip and we plan to do this during the Dec/Jan holiday.  Power Van trips start at the Outeniqua Transport Museum you travel on the railway line into the Outeniqua Mountains with lovely views and commentary about the history.  Take a picnic basket because the Power Van makes a stop in the mountain.  I am not sure of the fee but booking is essential.

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