Arniston

 
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Arniston is one of those special places.  A tiny village with one shop -- in fact two tiny villages: Kassiesbaai, where the whole 200-year old fishing settlement has been proclaimed a national monument, and the newer area of affluent holiday houses. In 1996, Time magazine voted it one of the world's top ten hideaways!

Aniston's history goes back way further though.  If you follow the road past the Waenshuis big cave and continue down the steep slope at the end to the long expanse of beach, you may see the rock handmade pools, like middens, that were made by strandlopers many centuries ago.  You may even come across some of the local fisherman catching fish there.

The tide comes in and deposits fish which become trapped when the tide recedes again. Skilled locals spot the fish and throw a stone at one, stunning it so it's ready to just pick out of the water!  Ever tried throwing a stone at something underwater with any accuracy?  It is remarkable to watch.

So what's special about Arniston?  It's a village where you can leave your car and walk everywhere.  The Arniston Hotel is the village's heartbeat.  The late and legendary Jock Dichmont used to preside over the Strandloper Bar with its stunning view of the bay, regaling customers with his stories and scrapbooks.  He is missed.

Another legend from the past is Bob Harmon who bought the old Arniston Centre, then a tatty general store, when he had to leave the fishing village of Skipskop up the coast. (Skipskop was expropriated for inclusion in a weapons testing area.) He also started the Waenshuis Restaurant, converting it from a cowshed. (Bob, a born fisherman, first found fame in the 1960's when he opened Cape Town's best seafood restaurant -- the 3 Cellars in the city centre.) Together, the shop and restuarant, in the middle of the new residential area, are at the centre of Arniston.

Of course, the other centre is the fishing harbour and its azure bay. The sea at Arniston is a very special colour! The harbour is no more than a slipway and fishing boats are winched back to shore by an ancient tractor that drives right into the surf before dragging them up the slipway onto dry land.

If you're visiting Arniston and can, buy fresh fish straight from the fisherman when they return to shore. Take it home and braai it. Unfortunately much of the annual catch is sold long before it arrives on shore.

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