The tableau above has become a bit of an icon on the N2 highway before traversing Sir Lowry's Pass on the descent into Cape Town. It invites travellers to browse a stupendous collection of bric-a-brac and perhaps consume a welcome breakfast before embarking on the final 100km of the journey.
The 5 days of missed highlights proved to be pretty intense. A pause at the end of Day 2 seemed a good idea so that we could include a few surprises, starting with breakfast in a prison.
Actually you already went off piste at Grunters Twice! ... get on with it, (Ed.)
Turn off at Riversdale
Who'd have thought of taking in the Riversdale prison on a road trip? Actually, who'd have thought of stopping at Riversdale!
It turned out there was another good reason to swerve off the N2 highway at this unassuming town but, first, how about a volle tronk ontbyt (see below) with all the trimmings, to set us up for the day ahead.
Above: (clockwise from top left) while choosing your breakfast, you can read how the dastardly Gilbert Hay of Heidelberg came to meet his maker in Riversdale; following that you can admire the rope that brought about his dénouement; then you can consume the hearty brekker, fit for a convict; a fair degree of convo-chic has been added to what is now a labyrinth of small shops selling art and used furniture (some of it very good value for a wandering British tourist).
Now, back to that other reason (incorporating a bit of preamble).
The English have a strange tradition of "bagging Wainwrights", which involves going through a book (or many books) identifying Wainwrights (hills/mountains in the Lake District catalogued by one Alfred Wainwright), walking up them and then ticking them off on a sort-of bucket list.
You can imagine the conversation halfway up Scafell Pike in the drizzle, two Wainwright-baggers on a mission cross paths:
"Hello, lovely day 'innit? This is #113 for me," chest slightly puffed out.
"Oh, this is #142 for me. Have you done Blencathra?"
Interlocutor number one looks crestfallen, aware of being trumped by the taller, more difficult peak.
And so it was with Shan and me that sunny morning in February. I doubt the Wainwright-baggers would've accorded us the credibility we felt we deserved but we'd motored over a few South African passes in our time, many of them gravel in a dubious state of repair.. names like Sani, Naude's Nek, Quacha's Neck, Ramatselitso's Gate, Price Alfred's, Bainskloof, and Swartberg (the last three of these the sadistic machinations of Thomas Bain - and the last mentioned the one Shan made me vow to never take her over again). Now we were contemplating a new road, swooping over the Overberg into the Klein (Little) Karoo.
If you love craggy scenery with gentler curves, ascents and descents, Garcia's Pass will get you started and begging for more. The gravel road to Barrydale just behind the mountains is a perfect introduction to the Little Karoo if you wish to relieve the monotony of the N2 highway, mostly notable for taking the shortest distance between Mossel Bay and Cape Town.
It was an easy drive to Montagu (allegedly pronounced Montagee by those in the know although we couldn't bring ourselves to do this), punctuated by brunch in one of the many cafés in Barrydale.
Above (clockwise from top left): breakfast on the terrace at the scenic Kogman & Keisie Guest Farm; the pocket Leidam Bird Hide and sanctuary in central Montagu, with egrets and stuff, which delighted my wife; two samples of the delightfully OTT baroque/contemporary/Art Deco BluVines winery, dining and coffee establishment ... the pic on the right a kind of temple to wine and the one on the left for sun-worshippers who are serious about their religion.
When he heard we were spending the night in Montagu, my friend, Daryl (Balfour) insisted: "If you go nowhere else in the town you must go to BluVines."
Sadly they weren't open at the time for evening meals but we managed to drop by when leaving town the next day and vowed to return if we ever visited the area again.
I had heard about Greyton but Shan wasn't sure. It is a small town in the Western Cape with a bit of a rep for being a lovely place to visit. I probably wouldn't have been that bothered had it not been for the lure of wine. Somehow a few winemakers had recognised the potential of the area around there. In recent years one in particular had risen to the fore through a combination of her skills and her fortitude in overcoming a devastating fire.
For all our Roaminations around the length and breadth of South Africa during the five months starting at the beginning of October 2021 and despite Greyton being a relative stone's throw from our base in Hermanus, we had never seemed to get there. Weekend trips had been mooted from the very start of our stay but never quite materialised for some reason or the other:
"There's an art festival on this weekend and accommodation will be impossible in the town;"
"Why would I want to go to Greyton with all the other superior attractions;"
"It is a drop with a mountain - every time we've been there we've never seen the mountain because of the cloud;"
And so it went. And now we had less than three weeks left. And I wanted to "bag" a winery, Lismore, with its window on the world in central Greyton. With a following wind I might catch a glimpse or even a word with its inspirational winemaker, one of South Africa's current finest, Samantha O'Keefe.
In so doing I had set myself up for another in a series of "Broomfield Moments".
After more than 4 months during which I had, unbeknownst to Ms O'Keefe, tried to contrive an opportunity to congratulate her personally on her peerless Viognier I had failed miserably. Not only was she out of town (I believe she may have been in London being feted by the likes of Roger Jones and Neleen Strauss, restaurateurs of note and formidable sommeliers to boot) but the Lismore shop was shut for the time we were there.
As for the dreaded cloud cover, there wasn't a daytime Greyton moment when we didn't see the mountain.
So for anyone asking hopefully of our visit to Greyton: "Did you see the mountain?"
My answer was going to have to be: "Yes but we didn't see Samantha O'Keefe."
Above: (top row) The Lismore shop is bookended by scenes from our rather pleasant digs at Fiore Garden Centre, Restaurant and Guest Accommodation - on the left the mountain can be clearly seen, on the right the makings of an evening joyfully spent; (bottom row) one of several corners of the town that has been attractively restored.
But someone did tell us we should visit Genadendal ... perhaps it was Emma?
Genadendal (née Baviaanskloof)
It does seem a little bizarre that Genadendal is evidently subservient as an attraction to Greyton. There is so much to say about the former that I'm really not going to attempt a full description. It is a place that stands proudly on its own and deserves a day spent there, walking around absorbing the magic and taking in one of the most comprehensive and wide-ranging but eclectic museums we've ever visited.
Essentially Genadendal was the first location in Southern Africa where European religious zealots attempted to proselytise the local population and the intervening almost 300 years has had its ups and downs. The Genadendal Mission Museum tackles this pretty much head on and is consequently a fascinating interlude for those interested in the vagaries of South African history since the Moravians arrived to set up the mission in 1737. It has veered from a refuge for freed slaves in the early 1800s to an eminent teacher training facility set up in 1838 and closed in 1929. Nelson Mandela visited in 1995 and it is rumoured that his naming of his Cape Town presidential residence was associated with that trip. Visit the museum to absorb the fascinating details in more depth.
Today Genadendal is a town of two parts, the somewhat regal historical village and a sprawling modern township. It is ironical that it has become subservient to Greyton, falling under the latter's tourism ambit.
Above: This is a sampler of what is to be found in the historic village. There is no substitute for the museum and for generally moseying around. The final frame shows the mountain sans cloud - at its base there are nature walks between Grenadendal and Greyton.
A few quirks on the last leg
The subject of Shelley-ann's opening photograph to this blog draws travellers in to an extraordinary cave of bric-a-bac with useful ideas for that gift you just forgot to buy for your Capetonian hosts before setting off on your visit - options can be mulled over via enjoying a breakfast, brunch or lunch.
We were also drawn to the fine pub that now inhabits one of the old sheds at Bot River station. The Shuntin' Shed serves tasty pizzas and other victuals to go with the beer and wine. Bot River is becoming increasingly admired for its wine and I would salute the entrepreneur who established train-based booze cruises
Above: I think these pics are self-explanatory.
Wrapping up our 144 days (perhaps as illegal aliens for the last 54).