5 Things to do in Greyton

2013-06-25 12:14

There are few towns in South Africa, nay the world, blessed with both the beauty and tranquility that characterizes Greyton. 

In fact, I would go so far as to say that it's what the Irish would call a ‘thin place' - a place where the boundaries between heaven and earth collapse, and for a moment you are able to catch a glimpse of the transcendent. 

The opaque veil of the mundane starts lifting as you drive along the R406 - a road only slightly more substantial than a farm track - that bends and twists among the Overberg's famous canola, wheat and sheep-flock-covered farmlands. By the time you hit Greyton's perfectly pretty oak-and-rose-lined main road, the border between the commonplace and the divine becomes so tenuous, it leaves you feeling slightly giddy. 

However, if you're not one for all this esoteric talk - fear not! There's more than enough stuff of substance to keep you intrigued: a wide array of delightful eateries, intriguing shops and all sorts of interesting people. 

Located about 140km from Cape Town, it's perfect for a day outing, however, once you get there you may just want to stay! We check out five fun must-dos: 

Saturday morning market 

Every Saturday morning at 10:00 Greyton's town square, a shady patch of grass and gravel right across from the stately NG church, bursts into a buzz of activity. Delectable aromas of baked goods and freshly brewed coffee permeate the bustle of country-tinged transactions and hearty greetings.

Stall contents vary from newly-uprooted veggies, dirt still clinging to the roots and leaves, home-made confectionaries to hippie-style garments, succulents and second-hand books. 

The prices are pretty good, and you can do a good bout of shopping for well under R200! What makes it even more charming is the fact that the weekly influx of city folk and tourists hasn't put the locals off attending, lending it a more genuine sense of laid back country goodness. 

Find out more about the Saturday morning market on the Greyton website

Browsing and thrift shopping

One actually needs an entire morning (or afternoon) to trawl the amazing variety of shops dotted along Greyton's main road. Some are super exclusive with prices to match, while others are quaint and reasonably-priced... and then there are the charity shops. 

There are at least two, and if you're the thrift-shopping type, you will be able to appreciate the glittering gems hidden among the happy jumble of previously owned goods. Like the two high-waisted tweed skirts that were practically made for me and cost only R35 each. Not to mention the beautiful anthology of English Poetry, well loved, but perfectly preserved, I got for a steal at R12. 

Yes, Greyton is indeed a paradise for thrift-shopping, especially if you have the time to really make the most of it.

Check out the Red Cross shop as well as Lady and the Tramp, whose proceeds go to animal welfare. 

Lunch at Abbey Rose

Choosing the perfect spot for lunch in Greyton is a tough call. There are just way too many pretty places with great food!

We, however, found ourselves drawn to Abbey Rose with its dainty Victorian-looking garden furniture, large outside area and broekie-lace awnings. On entering, we met owner Andre Ferreira, who quickly ushered us through to the back of the restaurant, where a lush garden was hidden from street view. 

With many secret nooks and overgrown crannies, the Abbey Rose's garden is the perfect setting for a romantic tete-a-tete, and as it turns out, also an option for weddings! A little chapel - which seats about 60 people and serves as Andre and his wife, Anita's house on ordinary days - hides behind a small lining of trees, and creates the impression that nothing but fairy tale forevers are wrought here. 

But isn't the fact that it's the Ferreira's residence a bit of a logistical nightmare? According to Andre, it's not. "It takes about half-an-hour to carry our furniture and things out, and replace them with the collection of church pews we keep in the shed. Our furniture and the wedding décor temporarily change places," he explains.

After the magical backyard tour, we headed back to the front where sunbeams filtered through oak leaves, seeing to a sublime Autumn afternoon, the perfect setting for a wine-tinged lunch. The Abbey Rose's food is a mixture of hearty home cooked goodness and light experimentation. The decadent bacon and cheese topped burger is a must if you're in the mood for something meaty, while the home-made pies are the epitome of comfort food.

Contact: Give them a call on 028 254 9470 or check out the Abbey Rose website

Get a massage at High Hopes 

If you thought all massages were equally enjoyable, I have news for you! Getting a back and shoulder treatment at the hands of reflexology expert, Lisa Kevitt, in the absolute tranquility of the High Hopes retreat is most certainly an elevated experience.

While I thought the lazy lunch had put me in the ultimate relaxation mode, I soon found out that I still had a little way to go. Making use of a mixture of Swedish massage principles and Aromatherapy, Lisa set to work, kneading away at the myriad of knots formed by far too many hours hunched over a computer keyboard. In no time my mind started wandering and soon enough I was delving into the realms of deep, deep sleep. 

While I can highly recommend the back and neck massage, High Hopes actually has a lot more to offer. Among other things, you can opt for Reiki, reflexology, counseling and meditation training - all in a gorgeous Garden-of-Eden-like setting.

Contact details: Call them on 028 254 9898 and check out the High Hopes website  

Go mountain biking

Going for an outdoor adventure shortly after getting a relaxing massage is a rather strange sensation. At first it felt like a bit of a rude awaking, having to emerge from the delirious aromatic slumber, only to hop onto an unfamiliar bicycle and head out into the woods.

However, as soon as I met Ria Wills and Andrew White, two representatives from the Greyton Genadendal Mountain Bike Club who had offered to accompany us on the ride, their infectious energy and enthusiasm got the better of me and I was ready to go. 

They took us on a short, beginners track through the enchanting Rockhopper forest just outside of town, and by just outside, I mean literally 2 minutes' ride from the centre of town. Since it had none of the obstacles, ramps and drops one would face on more advanced routes, it was pretty much the perfect sort of ride to take on in super, super relaxed mode. According to Andrew and Ria, it's also the best track for family rides with kids. 

There are a variety of other routes to try, including the intermediate Blue and Green routes, as well as an advanced Red route, which is great for Cape Epic preparation. The trails around Greyton are all clean and well-looked after, and it's clear that the GGMBT Club take their passion seriously and like to share it with others. 

If you'd like to make their acquaintance, group outrides take place every Saturday and Sunday at 09:00, departing from the Oak & Vigne café in DS Botha Street, just off the main road. However, if you prefer going it alone, that's okay too! Just be sure to pick up a permit at the Oak & Vigne before you go. Temporary permits cost R20 if you're a member of the Pedal Power Association, and R40 if not and are valid for two days. Annual permits are also available for R150 for PPA members and R300 for non-members. 

For more details, you can send Andrew White or Ria Wills an email or you can check out the GGMTB website

To end off my trip, I used the Europcar Roadtripper app to map out the route I took. It's a fun way of reminiscing about your favourite journeys or planning ones you've been dreaming about. Check out Europcar's Facebook page to find the app and read this article for more information on how it works. 

Thanks to Europcar for the trusty Kia Rio that took me all the way along the Cape Country Meander!
Read more on:    weekend escapes  |  travel south africa  |  lifestyle

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