#160 JOURNEY:
Garden Route Road Trip from Cape Town

June 16, 2020

This is the first leg of my road trip from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
I start driving Garden Route to Oudtshoorn via Cape Agulhas.
On the way, I visit Ronnies Sex Shop.

Leaving Cape Town

Hello, Howzit, Hi. 

I’m super excited to say that I’m back and I have so much to share with you in the upcoming weeks. When I last left you on The Radio Vagabond, I was in Cape Town and I was just about to go on a 20-day road trip on what South African’s fondly call the Garden Route all the way to Johannesburg. 

Here’s a video I recorded just before the roadtrip.

This episode was recorded the last time I was in South Africa and as I edit it now, I am back in Cape Town, the Mother City, which is still one of my most favourite places on Earth. I’m still in lockdown here in South Africa due to the Covid-19 pandemic and with a bit of extra time on my hands, I decided it was time that I got back to editing. 

Being the enthusiastic vagabond that I am and suffering from a serious case of itchy travel feet, listening to the recordings certainly helped transport me to the open road and helps to satisfy my ongoing need to keep moving. I’m really hoping that the next few episodes will help do the same for you by keeping your wanderlust at bay until we can all do a little more travelling. 

Table Mountain view
Stunning view from the foot of Table Mountain just before I start my road trip out of the city I love.

So, let’s begin…

My road trip begins at the base of Table Mountain from the wonderful place I had been staying at for the last two months on Kloof Nek Road, which winds its way up to the entrance to the famous Table Mountain cable car. It is a beautiful sunny morning and I have the local radio station KFM playing in the background as I wave goodbye to Cape Town.  

My first destination: Cape Agulhas, the Southern Most Tip of Africa. 

The Cape Whale Coast is the first stretch of the famous Garden Route in the Western Cape. It’s close to Hermanus which is another famous SA destination and has many hotspots, restaurants and hotels with the name Whales Coast. It’s situated directly after False Bay which got its name at least three hundred years ago by sailors who confused it with Table Bay which is further north. 

This is my route the first two days of the road trip. My first stop is Cape Agulhas – the southern most tip of Africa, as you can clearly see on this map.

From The Cape Whale Coast to Greyton

There weren’t any whales on The Cape Whale Coast when I was driving, but right around now until November the shoreline is full of whales coming to the Western Cape’s southern coastline and it is quite remarkable. 

After reaching Hermanus I made a turn and found myself heading north through what felt like a very rural country area, full of fields with corn crops and sheep along the way. I was heading up to a place called Greyton which is in the mountains and it promised to be a truly beautiful drive. As I passed through several little spots on my 400km journey on day 1, I also listened to an audiobook by John Grisham enjoying the general beauty of the South African countryside. 

Greyton turned out to be this charming little village surrounded by mountains on all sides and it’s got a lot of small shops and cafes. Driving out along the dirt road I see some horses and a donkey casually strolling past me along the side of the road. Which you might just say is another regular day in Greyton. 

The dirt road continues for another 20 to 30kms and there is nothing for miles and miles. Not a person in sight. Even my navigation tried to point me in the wrong direction towards a road that had been blocked off. Eventually, I was rerouted and found firm cement once more. I was on my way to Cape Agulhas.

Cape Agulhas is the southernmost point of Africa where the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean meet. 

Getting to Cape Agulhas

Imagine a roaring seafront with one of the world’s most iconic lighthouses as a backdrop, this is the scene as I finally reach the southernmost tip of Africa. It’s simply spectacular. 

Funnily enough, as I was about to go and stand at the tip of Africa the hostess at the hostel that I am staying in cautioned me not to wear the t-shirt I was wearing. That was when I realised I was wearing my “Cape Point” T-shirt, which for those who don’t know would be a big faux pax as Cape Point for a long time claimed that IT was the southernmost tip of Africa, which it is not. 

Cape Point vs Cape Agulhas 

I wake up on day two of my big South African road trip and head down to breakfast. Before getting in my car and continuing to Oudtshoorn, the Ostrich Capital of the world, I take a moment to chat with Stephanie the manager of the Cape Aghulas Backpackers

The famous lighthouse at Cape Agulhas.

Stephanie has been at the backpackers for almost 11 years and I explained how her colleague had given me a lot of tips of where to go and how she had also told me not to wear my Cape Point T-shirt. Stephanie just laughs as she begins to explain the rivalry between these two epic South African landmarks;

‘Well, a long time ago there was a big debate, in actual fact, people looked at where the southernmost tip lies compared to where Cape Point is. So yes, there was a big rivalry back in the day…before satellite photos.’

She continues to say that ‘they advertise themselves as the place where the two oceans meet and the southernmost tip, but we corrected them on that… we are actually also where the two oceans meet because you can feel the difference in the water temperature. There’s a 10-degree difference between Struisbaai and Agulhas’

As I congratulate Stephanie on winning the big rivalry she continues to tell me about the other wonderful things to see in Agulhas; including the longest stretch of white sandy beach in the Southern Hemisphere which is 14 km long and a bounty of wonderful enormous stingrays that have lived in the harbour ever since Stephanie could remember. 

On my way to Oudtshoorn

As I set off for Oudtshoorn, I expected to see a beautiful landscape but it’s almost impossible to describe. The first 100kms on day 2 were a little dull – very flat, but eventually, I found myself surrounded by mountains that were simply unbelievable. Just below me was a river running through the valley and if I looked up there were mountains situated even higher than where I was. The pictures I took just couldn’t do the scenery justice. 

I have pinpointed on the map where this was, so when you get a chance to explore once more you can go find it for yourself. It is well worth it! 

Oudtshoorn is about 300 km north-east of Cape Agulhas and has a population of about 60 000. There is a stretch of road along this route of about 25kms where there is simply nothing again – not a house or shop in sight. 

Then, all of a sudden, in the middle of a field I saw a sign that said Ronnie’s Sex Shop! 

Ronnies Sex Shop before prank
... and after his friends made a prank.

One kilometer onwards I came across a house with two lights that said Ronnie’s Shop painted in red on a white wall and then beside the word Ronnie’s, the word Sex was also painted in red but in a different typeface. I just had to pull over. I saw a lot of people, many cars and a bus pulling up at the same time as I did. I saw people sitting on the patio with drinks and beers while eating from the little fast food spot called Road Kill. Right next to it was this bar where they sold the drinks. 

As you walk into the bar you will see business cards pinned to every inch of the wall with not a clear spot in sight. People have written their names on the white walls by the bathroom, even on the ceiling. As I walked through the bar into a third room where t-shirts were being sold I found Ronnie

Ronnie is an older gentleman the waist-length grey hair and a grey beard that is almost equally as long. I had found the legendary Ronnie of Ronnie’s sex shop holding a can of beer and naturally, I had to ask why it was so busy in the middle of nowhere? 

“Sex Sells, My Boy” Ronnie explains

As I jovially ask where the prostitutes and sex toys are, Ronnie begins to explain how his ‘sex shop’ came into being; ‘In 1989, I painted Ronnie’s Shop on the wall. I wanted to open a farmstall but in 1989 there was one car a day and that was my neighbour. So it never really took off. But about two years later some of my friends decided to add ‘Sex’ and I was furious. I didn’t even know, I was at the beach and when I came back I had a sex shop’ 

I can’t but help giggle as Ronnie continues to explain how a silly prank by some friends in 1991 resulted in the thriving business he has today.  

Hear Ronnie tell the story on how he ended up owning a sex shop without any sex.

‘I left the paint on the wall for about 7 years and in that time people were driving by and stopping and talking about it, so as a joke we decided to open a bar.’ explained Ronnie. Before that is was just a broken-down cottage with the words Ronnie’s Sex Shop painted on the wall. “Then we opened the bar for fun, we were drunk for months and they came from everywhere. From there on it just grew!” 

20 years down the line and Ronnie has a booming business that sells t-shirts and caps, there’s a bar and then a kitchen around the corner that does milkshakes and burgers. 

When I ask Ronnie if he just sits in the back counting the money as a result of a silly prank from 2 decades ago he responds firmly; ‘No, I’m not counting the money, I’m drinking beer like a good South African boy should do and watching people come and go!’ 

He claims, he’s still not forgiven his friends but then concedes that he’s not ‘cross’ anymore but also has no intention of giving them a piece of the proverbial pie 😉

In Oudtshoorn I had the most amazing dinner.

Sunset on the horizon

As I settle in for the evening in Oudtshoorn, I sit on a huge annexe staring across a beautiful lawn and  I plot my route for the next day to Knysna which is a lovely village on the east coast of South Africa.

Keep your eyes open on my social media channels for the next chapter of The Radio Vagabond where I take you towards the picturesque town of Knysna and start by visiting an ostridge safari farm here in Oudtshoorn.

Until then keep moving and remember folks, sex sells!

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