I so often drive through a small town thinking, "Aw, I should actually come and stay here for a night."
Only passing through a charming town that, from first impression, has a lot to offer, is a missed opportunity. A pit stop to stretch your legs and grab a homemade lamb pie and a Coke only scratches the surface of what a place is.
You need to stay, experience the place for its people, food and activities in order to 'get it'.
I recently spent 48 hours in the small Western Cape town of Montagu on Route 62. Known for its dried fruit, this Western Cape dorpie is fresh, juicy and awake.
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Part of the Cape Country Routes (CCR), which was started in 1997 by a group of enterprising independent hotels and country inns, to encourage visitors to explore the scenic, romantic and historic routes between the two harbour cities – Cape Town and Port Elizabeth - the town and its surrounding hot spots are well worth a short breakaway.
One idea is to drive up from Cape Town to Montagu for two days via Robertson. Stop at one of the CCR properties like Van Loveren, or head to Springfield and Graham Beck for some al fresco wine tasting. Then grab a bite to eat, like a delicious Napoli pizza at Four Cousins in the centre of town, or browse and buy at one of the many delightful farm stalls on the way up.
The CCR prides itself on selecting properties based on their charm, character and romance, and the Montagu Country Hotel is one of its chosen few. Book a room here and indulge in the quirkiness of this art deco space.
Here, guests are sure to get an off-the-Gram throwback experience like no other - plus expect quality food, and good old country hospitality.
(PHOTO: Marisa Crous)
Activities in the area include hiking, cycling around town and a ride in a 1956 Cadillac Sedan De Ville with American Dream Cars. True old school.
(View of Montagu after hiking to the top of Aasvoëlkrans, PHOTO: Marisa Crous)
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From Montagu you can trek your way back to Cape Town via Stellenbosch and stay for 2 more nights. South Africa's second oldest town, lined with oak trees is another example of a town with charm dripping from its every pore - from the historic buildings to the people, food and activities.
Other destinations to consider for its charm, character and romance are Arniston, Knysna and Outshoorn.
But really, the options are endless.
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