We’re clearly out of the velt and back in the urban world. We pass through the city of Durban, and George, and then we pull into Mossel Bay. Tonight we’ll be sleeping in the first-class sleeping compartment in a train, on rails, parked by the beach.

Santos Express Train Lodge / Munro Rd, Santos Beach, Santos Bay, Mossel Bay, 6500, South Africa / +27 83 900 7797

The Santos Express Train Lodge, 30 meters from the breaking surf of the Indian Ocean, is on the “Garden Route” of South Africa. It’s easy to spot the train cars and the station house from the roadway; the station is the reception and the gateway to the restaurant.

Santos’ raison d’etre is, of course, the train! If memory serves, there are five relatively modern coaches in the style of the Trans-Karoo train, with compartments converted into single and double rooms. At the head of these coaches are two vintage wooden coaches called the Royal Suites, built in 1919 and 1921. These were transported by boat from England to South Africa, put into service by a luxury rail company, then decommissioned, and finally purchased and moved to Mossel Bay. (Yes, we’re staying in the most royal of suites.)

The cars still display some of their working markings.

The rear of the station is the restaurant. It overlooks the beach and its palm trees. An outdoor seating area has tables and cheery red sun umbrellas.  The inside is spacious, albeit spartan.

The only thing between the Santos Express Train Lodge and the sands of the beach is an access road for locals to park their cars.

The restaurant menu is wide, catering to travelers. We tried the oysters and several meat dishes; all were good, filling, a reasonable value for the money.

The beach’s main attraction, at least on the days we were there, was this huge flock of birds who ran up and down the beach, staying as close to the breaking waves as possible without getting wet. The large numbers of birds doing this simultaneously was comical and made the walk up and down the beach much more fun.

Evidence of their actions will be my computer desktop image, for a while at least.

Mossel Bay is a small town, without a lot of obvious activities, but it was also the site of what’s perhaps my favorite typical South African meal. Next, we visit Kaai 4 Braai.

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