Umhlanga is a residential, commercial and resort town north of Durban on the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
This post follows Why we love Durban: Moses Mabhida – 4.
Where to stay advises of the following:
“Durban’s Victoria Street Market is a vast oriental bizarre with hundreds of stalls offering a huge selection of spices, fabrics, baskets, beads, sculptures, soap-stones and other African curios.
It is a favourite tourist destination as it offers not only great prices, but a unique chance to experience the atmosphere of an oriental marketplace where haggling is considered the norm.
The market is located at the corner of Queen St. and Victoria St. and has plenty of underground parking“.
There is a general section for all and fish / poultry / offal section (not for the meek). Traders on the roadside sell vegetables.
Ulwazi, as always, provides a wealth of information:
“The Victoria street market in Durban is a rich historical site that reflects the struggles of a poor community striving for their own identity and a burning need to make ends to meet to survive in new pasture market currently stands strong in the central business district of Durban, and is an epic in the Indian community as it serves as a reminder of a disadvantaged community that was determined to survive against all odds.
The market was a seed sown by the Indian indentured labourers that had completed their indenture ship and had a choice of either going back to India, or to seek employment, or create their own means employment.
The market was seen as transition from farming to industrial employment. Having experience from an agricultural sector their best option to survive was growing fruit and vegetables and selling them on the streets of Durban.
Initially they used the Grey Street Mosque to trade but as the number of traders grew from both Hindu and Muslim backgrounds they moved to the streets. The atmosphere was a buzzing environment of a rush, with horse drawn carts and people sitting on the streets of Durban, attracting potential customers. They had to pay a daily rental fee to Durban town council and because it was unaffordable to travel back and forth from home they were forced to sleep on the pavements or seek shelters at a nearby temples.
A typical market day started at 4am and ended at 6pm. Farmers reached the market as early as 2 am to secure a trading place. There was no access to toilets and there was no protection from extreme weather conditions.
In 1910, the Indian market was formally built by the municipal in Victoria Street it was also known as the Top Market or Squatter Market. The traders also sold groceries, fish, spices and crafts as part of their trade.
The traders also experienced conflicts amongst themselves as the squatters on the street was seen as a hindrance to the stall holders inside the building complaining the squatters was causing pollution and was a threat to their sales.
In 1934, the Durban Town Council prohibited the sale of cooked food to accommodate restaurants in the market building.
The squatter traders were members of the Indian Agricultural Association, Natal Farm Association and from the towns of Springfield, Newlands and Clairwood it was a business hub, but the traders were seen as a threat as they were selling cheaper commodities that meant other business were running losses.
The squatters also caused traffic congestion, and they were also destroying the cemetery that were near them. The Durban Town Council built a wall which the squatter traders had to pay the costs of.
In 1970, the Durban City Council were set to build a freeway across the market which was opposed by the traders who protested, however in 1973 a fire destroyed the market and although the reason behind the fire was a drunk street man, the traders viewed it as a sabotage.
The market was reconstructed and its still thriving strong as ever with a blend of Indian spices and African craft.”
Wikipedia describes Port St Johns as follows: “Port St. Johns (or Port Saint Johns) is a town of about 5000 people on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It is situated at the mouth of the Umzimvubu River, 220 kilometres (140 mi) northeast of East London and 70 kilometres (40 mi) east of Mthatha.”
South Africa Info is way more descriptive: “Port St Johns is a swashbuckling village of legend on the Pondo side of the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape. It is also one of the highlights on any international backpacker’s world itinerary because of its natural setting, frontier atmosphere and appeal to more adventurous younger travellers.
The backpacker facilities in this African village are excellent. They cater for couples, solo travellers and small groups of young people. The backpacker lodges will help their guests set up activity itineraries every day, which include everything from jungle swings to unusual walking destinations.
Four backpacking establishments that come highly recommended in Port St Johns are:
I stumbled upon PSJ (Port St Johns) for the second time in 2004. It has a special place in my heart.
Whilst I am no expert of the goings-on in PSJ, I do know a few things that work well for me when there:
- Jungle Monkey and Amapondo backpackers are great for a party; Spotted Grunter best if you want to sleep. Cremorne is on the North bank and neat
- The fishing is relaxing / laid-back if you want it to be; sometimes successful and sometimes not
- The food at Delicious Monster is “eat your fingers off your hand” stuff
- Cow pooh lines the airfield runway and the view from up there is refreshing / magnificent
- You can stay on the “cultured” side of the river (North bank) or cultured side (South bank) – horses for courses
- Don’t swim in the sea as there are a lot of Sharks and attacks
- The drive to Poenskop is full of sights and it’s nice to fish there and have a picnic
- Crime is everywhere so be careful
- There is a gap in the mountain, which I have seen from a distance for good reason
- The sea is rough at times and the area has a history of shipwrecks
- There is an abandoned hotel (Cape Hermes) overlooking the sea
- The Sardines swim past in July / August
- Buy your food and drinks in the town – there area ample stores
- Visit PSJ at least once in your life if you are able to leave fussiness at home, drop any airs and graces, and “get down on the ground” with some of the locals – you will then have a laid-back rejuvenating holiday
- Read some more “facts” below
Early morning view from airfield
“Don’t land now as we are busy grazing”
The birds are far & few but laid back 😉
Pic taken from Spotted Grunter side of river; Cremorne is in the rear
Buy your nuts, bananas and avocado pears on the roadside
The view from a table at DM (Delicious Monster) Restaurant at 2nd Beach
DM undercover & open eating / chill areas
My no 1 dish Crayfish Thermidor
Timol’s choice of a meal
The other / alternative “facts”:
- During 2004 I met a chap by the name of Daryl. He stayed in PSJ on the side of a small river
- Whilst he may not have been an Angel and I’m sure wronged some people (like we all have), he was a gentleman
- He taught me few a few important things about life
- I did not take Daryl seriously when I first met him: he was dressed shabbily and did not have a few cents to rub together. However, looks can be very deceiving
- He made many claims about his “former” life. I thought him to be a storyteller of lies until he showed me some photographs that stunned me (shut my trap)
- He indirectly gave me relationship advice which turned out to be so true. I wish I had listened to him more carefully
- One day when chatting about load shedding (electrical supply cuts) for a few hours every week and how this “seriously” affected our lives, Daryl said “hey bru, that’s nothing. I never had electricity for 3 years”. This stumped us yet again.
- I caught a Salmon at Poenskop and gave it to Daryl. He was very appreciative.
- The next visit to PSJ I was gobsmacked to hear how Daryl stretched and shared that one fish with lots of people / neighbours
- Daryl was free diving one day when an octopus “attacked him”. His recount of this story every visit / every evening would have all and sunder in stitches / laughing our heads off
- One afternoon, when I first met Daryl, I needed salad dressing. I never thought to ask Daryl of all people. He offered to make me some and I hesitantly accepted; not knowing what on earth he would bring back. Daryl turned out to be a super talented cook – he came back with a fresh herb / creamy salad dressing that was so tasty. Again, Daryl proved that we should not judge a book by its cover
- In early April 2012 we again met up with Daryl and went on a fishing expedition to Poenskop
- Daryl was clearly suffering from a grave illness but made no fuss of it
- He slowly walked to and climbed onto the vehicle, and accompanied us – he made the effort albeit huge beyond what most would manage
- Daryl so unwell that he was not able to cast his line into the water – we had to help him
- Daryl still hasn’t told me why some call him “Double Barrel Daryl”
- He was an authority on many subjects
I have never telephoned Daryl although he gave me his mobile number years ago.
We called Daryl’s number last night; I’m not sure what made us do this. It might have been because we were sipping on a few beers, having fun, laughing and enjoying the company of family – the moment was good despite other heart-wrenching things going on in our lives at that time.
Alas, a feeling of sadness came over me when I heard that Daryl had passed away in April 2012 – no doubt shortly after that last fishing trip.
Below are some pics of the Legend.
Daryl in 2004 telling us the “octopus story”
The last fishing trip in early April 2012
Goodbye mate, until we meet again in person or spirit.
It was my big day and I needed a top-spot to enjoy a great meal with my precious company.
Friends had told me of Harvey’s and I thought I would investigate. It turned out to be a very good decision.
Their “about” on the web states:
“In Durban’s bohemian suburb of Morningside, a restaurant that combined the demeanour of fine dining with a super-cool attitude and sleek modern styling that spelled instant success with its previous reputation intact and improved.
The original Harvey’s, opened fifteen years ago, has re-opened, This second incarnation of Harvey’s, has already won all the accolades the first one gathered over the years, SA Top Ten, Amex Platinum Fine Dining Awards and International Wine and Food Society best restaurant award for 2009.
Harvey’s restaurant is in a landmark building, nestled between two elegant parks in Durban’s prestigious Morningside suburb. Within its first few months it became a nationally known institution as one of Durban’s must visit venues for any visitor or local.
The venue comprising two rooms, one for dinning, named the picture room for its mass of original paintings covering the padded walls and out elegant Cocktail lounge that spills onto the veranda and pavement terrace, cheekily covered in “grass” and a pavement terrace. An open-air cigar lounge is strikingly decorated as a sort of indefinable retro-quasi-gothic-hunting lodge hodgepodge, complete with mounted buffalo trophies, padded velvet walls, gold ceilings and original oil paintings.
Consistently crowned Durban’s best since 1994, this stylish restaurant is known for its innovative flavour combinations, excellent presentation, and efficient service. The menu changes every two months, but may feature items like crisp fried spiced calamari served on marinated aubergine with an avocado ice-cream and a roasted pepper coulis or duck confit with grilled magret served on pak choi, with a sticky red currant and pink peppercorn jus, with pear infused pomme William or an assorted berry plate that includes a rhubarb and ginger crème brulee, with a white chocolate and strawberry cake, lightened by a cherry and nougat ice-cream.
Although the menu changes every two months, Timol and I did not miss the bold-printed information above as the waiter “purred” away.
We started at the Cocktail lounge that spills onto the veranda and pavement terrace.
It was lovely to just watch cars and pedestrians go by as we slowly sipped on the bottle of Alto Rouge.
They weren’t joking about the picture room
Timol was not the only pretty lady in that room
After viewing the frame below I had doubts about my gold card being able to pay for the meal we were about to have
The calamari was certainly crispy
Timol had the Dorado on mash
I went for the duck
A present was thrown in for good measure
We ended with more wine and coffee on the veranda
For me, it’s now a toss-up between Harvey’s and 9th Avenue Bistro. I was properly impressed with both and did not mind paying the extra Dollars for extraordinary food.
Cafe 1999, which I previously went to, is not really my cup of tea.
I will have to return to 9th Avenue for round 4 to make up my mind.
SA Venues accurately describes the Bluff as follows: The headland known simply as “the Bluff” – a thick green belt that has a strong attraction for those who steer clear of the built-up beachside areas of Durban, Amanzimtoti and even Umhlanga Rocks – is a collection of suburbs that cover the stretch from the military base in the north of the Bluff to Treasure Beach in the south. The Bluff also forms the gateway to the South Coast with its many seaside resorts and other attractions.
The Bluff offers stretches of unspoilt beaches with dunes, rock pools plus favourite fishing, diving and surfing spots that provide sport and recreation for the adventurous. Ansteys Beach with its paddling pools and surf spots is popular with the local residents especially the surfers, body boarders and kite surfers.
A dear friend and ex-work colleague let me into his secret a few weeks ago.
Roscoe and I cracked the nod to join him for some good clean early morning fun – coffee, after the “exploration”, from my friend’s stainless steel flask was mandatory.
The sunrise that greeted us from over the Indian Ocean was magnificent.
Roscoe, pictured below, was patient with us (well for 30 minutes or so..). This fishing expedition did not involve long walks, meaty bones or a warm blanket.
We joined a large bunch of fishermen, who were trying both spoons and bait.
It was a hive of activity.
The great thing about fishing is sometimes, if not always, just being at the sea, making an elaborate trace, constructing an amazing trace, smelling the fresh salty air, mingling with good friends, taking a break physically and mentally, pondering, letting the cold water run through your toes and feeling the sand underfoot.
The fisherman below, “Basil”, was in the action.
My friend below, although going through very trying times right now (times that would make lesser men crumble), was full of fun, optimistic, energetic, encouraging and set a fine example as to what the rest of us should do under such circumstances.
I know my friend as a wise level-headed gentlemen, who I first met in 1989 or so. At that time I heard of his great work accomplishments and my aspirations were then set.
I wish him and his ex-colleagues the best of luck with the challenging times ahead. The good they have done in our community is etched in our history; no-one will take this away.
For all of us I record the words of Mary Anne Radmacher below:
“Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen Hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Appreciate your friends. Continue to learn. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.”
And when a hard day nears its end ““Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”
Or better still “I will do again tomorrow!!”
A drawing below by grade 5 (standard 3) children, aged 11 years or so, is golden advice to end this post.
On Saturday the 4th of August, Timol and I felt like spending a few extra ZAR on some really tasty food.
Cafe 1999 came up on the cards.
I did some research on their website, which revealed: “Cafe 1999 offers a dining experience to excite the senses: a vibrant ambiance, gracious service and a delectable menu in the heart of Durban’s trendy Berea. Chef Marcelle Roberts award winning contemporary Mediterranean cuisine is designed around sharing”.
Next thing, to test out this claim, Timol and I ambled over to the restaurant, after arranging a “rapid reservation”.
I was armed with my faithful Canon 550D and an FNB credit card.
We settled down to our starters below; whilst deciding what to devour as a main course.
Starters (liquid) – Barista: a good deal at ZAR 125.00
Tasted just as good as it looked on paper (once in our glasses)
Starters (complimentary) – Amuse-bouche : I needed a few more to chew on
A friendly waitress rapped off the specials and, before she finished, we made our choices without any further hesitation.
Timol had the large line-fish at ZAR140.00 – she loved it
I went for the seared tuna; also at ZAR 140.00 – down the hatch mate!
The wasabi and soy sauce was thrown in – a must of course (burnt like hell but top drawer)
Creme brûlée to share – ZAR 38.00: well worth it
Irish coffee for the short drive home (ZAR 30.00) – a genuine single shot of Jameson
A total of ZAR 570.00 for two, which included a healthy tip, for a great fine-dining experience.
Directions and telephone number here.
Read the Eat Out review.
But also give the spot a try yourself!
We previously had a look at Timol’s tin fish creation with Pilchards.
That tasted great!
Now the Sardines (also a Lucky Star product) get a chance to delight the taste-buds.
Now before we jump into the end result, let us explore what the term “Sardine fever” means to us folk living on the East Coast of South Africa.
Let us go back to Timol’s latest creation:
- Mince up fish
- Add chopped onion & green chilli
- Toss in diced tomato
- Add salt to taste and Dhania (Coriander) leaves if you have
- Mix all
- Lump generously onto toasted wholewheat bread and enjoy!
Well done Timol.
Coming soon… peri-peri chicken burger made for Timol by Andy (I had to reciprocate of course).