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A late holiday is a happy holiday

A human blanket covers a scorching Muizenberg beach. It's at the peak of summer on Boxing Day and tourists are out in their droves at almost all of Cape Town's beaches. It's many locals' worst nightmare. It takes an hour and a half to travel 11 kilometres along the coastline from Retreat to Kalk Bay. There's bumper-to-bumper traffic, nowhere to park, inflated prices, limited breathing space, angry car guards...

"Raaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!" Let's call the whole thing off! And so we go home, watch TV or grab a drink somewhere.

I'm VERY glad I work through the festive season. Yes, there are times when you long to see family and friends as pictures of faraway places and happier days clutter their Facebook timelines. But, let me tell you this: a late holiday is a happy holiday. I took my leave on the 20th of January. I suppose I'm lucky that I get to choose when I take my holiday - I'm guessing not everyone has that privilege. But if you do - DO!

Capetonians will tell you that being one means you're permanently on holiday. It's true to an extent as pearl-white beaches, luxurious restaurants and picturesque wine farms are only a stone's throw away. But when Camps Bay is down the road and visiting there is just as nauseating as venturing to Kalk Bay on Boxing Day - you want to escape the Cape Town metro altogether. So it's either the West Coast or the Garden Route. And while I love Langebaan, I felt it was high-time my girlfriend and I visited the Overberg. The time to do that is when everyone else is back at work.

It took us only a few searches on the web to find some accommodation and eventually settled on a 4-star backpackers nestled in Fisherhaven - a little village outside the famous one-time whaling town of Hermanus. The trip there was bliss for a Friday. No GP number plates - or CA for that matter - pushing you off the roads. The two-night stay at the self-catering lodge was relaxing, at the small price of R750. The unassuming B&B-styled venue is just a short distance from a beautiful lagoon connecting to the sea.

For an extra 30 bucks each we got a filling English breakfast, served with a smile. And despite a group of adventurous canoers sharing the lodge for the weekend, we weren't bothered. I don't want to think about how busy this little gem of a lodge was over the holidays. It was the right place at the right time. We found the right ingredient - and happy we didn't settle on Hermanus. Off-season or not, Hermanus - with its very own little V&A waterfront - doesn't cater for Capetonians. It's constantly in tourist mode. Fun fact: the town has 5 Italian restaurants - none of them cheap.

Hermanus, famed for its annual whale festival, has been bitten by the commercial bug. It's sad to think this "mini-Cape Town" used to look like the quaint seaside villages of Fisherhaven and nearby Vermont. These hidden gems are overlooked_ because_ of Hermanus. My stay in Fisherhaven and swimming in Vermont's hidden tidal pools - three weeks after the crowds from Cape Town and Hermanus left - was my greatest holiday decision to date. And it didn't cost me an arm and a leg.