Montagu, a small town with big heart...

2013-11-18 16:13
Cape Town Allison Foat shares her latest meanderings through the Western Cape....

"Route 62 is one of the most stunning drives in the Western Cape, probably in the whole of South Africa actually, & one of my favorites. It leads to some of the most picturesque towns & villages in the province, like Montagu, a 2-hour journey from Cape Town & also known as the gateway to the Klein Karoo.

I was there to co-adjudicate the dance section of the annual youth arts festival with Miz Fiona du Plooy.

The dramatic entrance to the town is via that famous 'gat innie berg' or hole in the mountain that was blasted into existence in 1899 by one Thomas Bain, to clear a passage through the rock face. Surrounded by the impressive low lying Langeberg mountains that are currently blanketed in snow, Montagu is overflowing with amazingness.

Stroll down Long Street where there are no fewer than 14 national monuments; take beautiful walks, go quad- biking, or enjoy wonderful restaurants like Ye Olde Tavern, the Burgundy Gherkin, the Rambling Rose & Die Boord. Browse in fabulous gift shops like those at Church Corner (I picked up exquisite crystal wine glasses at the antique store & a wool coat at the Diva Dressing Room second hand outlet), or forget all that retail therapy & head for the soothing hot mineral springs to de-stress.

There are more than 50 wine cellars in the Montagu area - they say 62 has the longest wine route on the Planet. Montagu- produced 'takeaways', other than the nectar of the gods, include olives & olive oil, dried fruit & nuts, honey, home made rusks, rose geranium products & preserves.
Other than its scenic beauty & must-have wares, what impressed me was the friendliness, hospitality & amazing service I experienced (almost) everywhere I went, be it the Montagu Country Hotel, the local Shoprite, or waiters at the restaurants I mentioned earlier. Take, for example, my experience at Niël se Huiswinkel...walking past I spied a table in the winter sun & thinking I could, I asked for tea. Proprietor Niël Ackermann didn't bat an eyelid, but warmly obliged & as it turned out his store is a DIY enterprise, not a coffee shop, not even close; Niël was just being friendly, in the Montagu way...too fabulous & another reason I love the town.

On my way...flaming red disa flowers line the way on sections of Route 62...

The famous hole in the Kogelberg...blasted by Thoams Bain in 1899..

One of many national monuments on Long Street...

The NG Kerk...

Meet Niël Ackermann...the friendly man with the coffee shop that isn't ... 

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