‘Trump has won’. That was all the text message on my phone read. I sat in shock at the magnitude of it – too surprised to even take a sip of my coffee. Helen was the first person I saw, and upon breaking the news to her, she simply smirked and said: “C’est La Vie – didn’t Nero destroy Rome?”.
This was my first introduction to Helen – the quirky and charismatic manager of Via’s coffee shop in Greyton. Once she left I couldn’t help but chuckle at her rejoinder, and for a few (and sadly short) minutes I forgot about the state of American politics. Although her whimsical remark was indicative of her character, I began so note something similar about the lovely people of Greyton – a lesson that I’m still trying to teach myself: to note take oneself and life too seriously, and the importance of being present. Welcome to country living.
I was visiting Greyton whilst on sabbatical in late 2016, and was excited to have ten days to explore and enjoy the village. I had enough time to get to know the village and its folk beyond just a weekend whirlwind visit and started by visiting Roslyn at the tourism office, and her broad knowledge of the town meant that I was given enough ideas to keep me busy for the ten days.
What to Do
Even for a small village there is a lot to get up to. Here are my top 4 suggestions for a weekend or longer trip:
- Drive to the end of Park Street and take a walk in the free Greyton Local Nature Reserve. I was completely enamored by the flowering Proteas that straddle the scenic paths. Do follow the little river – the walk ends in a beautiful fern-lined kloof where the water comes down from the mountain, the source of the Plattekloof River, and provides Greyton with water for consumption and its extensive lei-water system that dates back to 1854.
- Every Saturday morning the Market Square fills up with locals selling their goods, from smoked meats and treats to block printed fabrics. Make sure to arrive early to get those prized cakes.
- Some of the best views and pictures of the town are from a small nearby hill, opposite the Gobosrivier . If you have an off-road vehicle, exit the town on the R406 towards Riviersonderend, and take the third dirt road to your left and you’ll see the road up to the spot. Otherwise access it via the zig zag path, accessible from the river on Vlei Street. I managed to fall whilst trying to capture a sunset shot – luckily one of the locals was also at the spot, and out came her horse medical kit (!), and quickly patched me up.
- Destress with a pampering massage by local Lizel Majiedt at Look Alive Hair and Beauty Salon. Not only is she very talented with her hands, but she was also great at answering my questions about the town: telling of its beauty and charm, but also some of its complex and painful history, as much like many other towns in South Africa unfortunately Greyton was victim to forced removals.
Where to Eat
For breakfast: One of the highlights of my day was my usual morning routine of finding a coffee shop to sit and work at. I quickly discovered that I did less work than anticipated, spending more time speaking to the town folk, and hearing their stories. I alternated between Via’s and the Oak and Vigne Café. Both offer scrumptious breakfasts, good coffee and complementary ‘country WIFI’ – don’t expect speed , it’s all about taking things slowly.
For lunch: Heart and Soul is a little pop-up restaurant in Greyton that is open from 12-3pm on Fridays and Saturdays. It’s very reminiscent of Karen Dudley’s ‘The Kitchen’ in Cape Town. I wasn’t therefore too surprised to hear the owner here (also Karen) and her are friends. Definitely worth a visit for the wholesome local lunches. Karen and her team offer the most amazing vegetarian offers over buffet style lunch. I simply couldn’t get enough! Find it alongside the NG Kerk Hall in town.
For supper: For those with the more sophisticated palate, The Post House is undoubtedly where country cuisine and fine dining meet. This iconic hotel is proud to have Chef Grant Lynott in its kitchen, and his offerings are simply sublime. A regularly changing menu, locally sourced ingredients make the restaurant a must visit. My favourite was Lynott’s single origin dark chocolate torte, with orange blossom honey yogurt, and wild flowers.
Where to Stay
I was surprised to discover that the little town offers 500 beds every night. The tourism office has a good grasp of what’s available and in your budget. I split my stay between a friend’s holiday home and a visit to the delightful Old Potters Inn. It’s the oldest property in the village that has been recently renovated to offer a bouquet of different accommodation offerings, and now the town’s only brewery. They currently have four brews, with the Pale Ale being my favourite. I stayed in one of the original rooms in the old building, and loved the mix of luxurious décor, but tastefully complementing the heritage and context.
For a weekend’s stay, their spacious and well-appointed rooms, homely restaurant and superb beer tasting will definitely not disappoint – but remember to book early as they’re often booked out for weeks! There is also a rather inviting pool for the hot country summer days.
Greyton certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful villages in the Cape. For more information contact the tourism office on 028 254 9564, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.greytontourism.com.