McGregor Meanderings

Finally … the second installment of our McGregor adventures, following Monday in McGregor. Dust roads appeal to me. There’s something a little more adventurous about them, with their ruts and roughness and tiny stones lying in wait. In a wheelchair, dust roads can be challenging but, with my Freewheel, they’re easier. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal: the challenge. And that’s why my visit to McGregor was so cool. Well, part of the reason. The lovely people we met were the biggest part of the reason, the gorgeousness of the place, another.

McGregor caters to both dust road and tar road lovers. The main drag – Voortrekker Street – and a few of its offshoots being tarred, the rest dust. All of its roads are sprinkled with pretty buildings: the ornate big church, with its spire piercing the clear blue sky, Temenos sitting peacefully in its lush garden, old houses with broekie lace and the old jail that looks like a cake with white icing and green piping.

On Tuesday morning, we woke to a refreshingly cool morning, grey clouds gathering above the mountains. After delicious homemade cheese scones with Jenny at Le Bonheur, we headed a little out of town to taste some olives.

Olive cheesecake. Now there are two words I would never have thought I’d see next to each other. After a wonderful visit to Annalien at Rhebokskraal Olive Estate, two minutes out of Mcgregor, I have it on good authority that they do in fact go well together. The Olive and Ginger Marmalade, apparently, makes a brilliant topping on a cheesecake.

The marmalade is just one in an incredible range of olive products produced on Rhebokskraal, most of which we tasted during our visit. Annalien – who’s also a singer and author of ‘Ek Woon in ‘Skildery‘ (I Live in a Painting), and she really does! It’s beautiful! – and her husband bought the farm 30 years ago. It was a grape farm and they planted the first olives, learning as they went and bringing up the children on the farm. The grandchildren now bring life and laughter to the beautiful old farmhouse. 

They produce everything olive you can think of, from traditional pickled olives (in a multitude of flavours), to dried (think olive biltong), to relishes, jams, moisturising creams and, my favourite, olive salt. 

The ‘Road to Nowhere’, which leads out of McGregor and into the mountains in the direction of Greyton, which sits prettily on the other side of the Boesmanskloof, winds up into the mountains revealing spectacular views and ending abruptly on the farm Die Galg. After our visit at Rhebokskraal, we took a leisurely drive up the pass, gorgeous clouds still massing over the valley. As we neared the top, the clouds burst, plopping deliciously fat raindrops onto the dust road and kicking up that smell … rain on dust … that makes my heart squelch with joy.

Depending on who tells the story, the road between McGregor and Greyton (less than 20 km apart, if you’re a crow), was abandoned at this point, either because World War I broke out, or due to the money running out, or due to squabbles between the road makers. I’d go with all three, really, and I’d have squabbled too … it must’ve been back-breaking work through extraordinarily rocky land.

It is now possible to hike between the two villages and one thing everyone agrees on is that it’s a beautiful hike with an even more beautiful waterfall cascading to an even, even more beautiful pool to swim in. Sadly, that bit’s not wheelchair-friendly but those who like a bit of an amble (and this is an understatement, if you’re going the whole way to Greyton, it’s a full day hike), it sounds wonderful.

We stopped in at Lord’s Winery for some lunch and a tasting. Ian guided us through their fantastic range of wines as we nibbled on a cheese platter and watched the clouds roll over the hills and the building of the new tasting room, which promises to be spectacular. It’s the kind of place you could easily get stuck at: great wines, incredible views and a chilled atmosphere.

The Monster Munch Food Truck, an old repurposed fire truck, comes to McGregor every Tuesday evening, parking in the main drag and offering incredible gourmet burgers. After GM enjoyed her turn for a massage with lovely Atholl, we ambled down. Locals gather at Grape De-Vine to enjoy their burgers with great wine and a good old natter.

This is what village life is about and we happily met our new friends for all of the above after a wonderful amble through this most picturesque village. With tummies sated, we ambled back, as the almost full moon played amongst the clouds and a tiny weather vane pig frolicked in front of them, to Little Haywards, where we lay our happy and tired heads on possibly the best bed I’ve ever slept on.

The next morning after a quick pre-breakfast haircut by Dennie (and what a fabulous job she did!), and then breakfast in the gorgeous tranquil garden of Tebaldi’s with Dennie, it was time to head home. It felt way too soon. 

McGregor, we will be back! Thank you for having us.


Wheelchair Accessibility

McGregor is surprisingly wheelchair friendly, situated on a very slight slope. The main road is tarred and the side roads are firm gravel, which were fine in the hot, dry weather, but may be more challenging in wet weather.

Lord’s Winery has a ramp which is at a rather steep gradient, but doable with some help. I’m sure the new premises will be much better. The front stoep is flat, but has those bench-attached-to-table tables. Inside, the cellar and tables are down some stairs. They were very kind and brought a suitable one up for me, so phone before you go and I’m sure they’ll do the same again.

Grape De-Vine is a little hole-in-the-wall right on the road, flat all the way through to the lovely courtyard out back, where there are comfy chairs and where owner, Susan’s, cats play happily.

Tebaldi’s, too, is ramped from the road and should not be missed. It’s gardens are absolutely gorgeous.

Little Haywards, where we stayed the night, was wonderfully accessible, with ramps everywhere. Big and airy, our hosts David and Lesley, were so welcoming and helpful, and keen to improve any accessibility issues.

The self-catering unit is huge, with plenty of space to manoeuvre in the living area, bedroom and bathroom. The beds are quite high, but David was going to make a little platform for that and, as I said above, they’e incredibly comfortable! The bathroom has a level shower (no grab rails) and a toilet that allows front access.

 

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Monday in McGregor

There’s something deliciously decadent about heading out of the city on a Monday morning, when everybody else is heading to work/school/stuff. One of the joys of funemployment is that I can. While it sometimes means working over weekends, it’s totally worth it. Last Monday, we headed to McGregor, just two-and-a-bit hours from Cape Town. It was a beautiful day to drive out there.

We arrived to sweltering heat. Really, really sweltering, but were welcomed by the lovely Jenny at Le Bonheur. After dumping our luggage in our spacious en-suite, separate entrance room, we headed into the main drag in search of a cold drink. How Bazaar provided just such a thing – grape juice made locally. We sat outside on the covered stoep, admiring the garden. It was cooler inside, but the lure of the gorgeous garden was too much.

Suitably refreshed, it only seemed right to do some exploring, so we ambled hotly through the oven main road, up to the Tourism Office and tiny museum within it, marvelling at the church diagonally opposite. I’m glad we made it, because it’s choc-a-block full of old bits and bobs from McGregor’s past and has a wonderful book detailing McGregor’s history by local, Gerrit Davids, who sounds like a character and a half. He leaves no scandal or triumph untold. Edna Cox, in whose house the mousetrap and sickle were found, seems like a woman nobody (and no mouse) should mess with!

And then we were too hot to continue, so had to take ourselves back to the oasis that is Le Bonheur – me to repose on my bed beneath the fan, GM to splash about in the pool in Le Bonheur’s fabulous garden filled with little creatures. Well, I reposed until I had to flop onto my belly, in order to have my massage by the fabulous Atholl Hay. Now that’s Monday decadence. What a treat.

As the sun set over the hills and the valley blushed in its glow, we ambled along the dust road and around the corner to The Sandbag House. Fiona, of Destination McGregor (who also helped organise our trip), cooks amazing 3-course meals, usually on a Sunday, but on a Monday for us, opening her and husband, Tom’s gorgeous home to visitors. They had set a table out under the trees in the garden, from where we could watch the sky turn pink and the almost-full moon rise, along with newest (and fabulous) McGregor local, Dennie, who joined us for dinner.

I had sworn it was going to be an early night, having had a particularly busy on call shift ending that morning, but the company was too good, the food too delicious, and the common threads (Rhodes, Zimbabwe, a love of travel and Africa) were too lovely, so we stayed much later than ‘early’, revelling in it all. We left having made three new friends, which can only signify a very good night.

A short walk back to the comfort of Le Bonheur, under a star-filled sky was the perfect end to a perfect day. Mondays in McGregor are to be recommended. Tuesday will be the next blog. And is also to be recommended. Do you see a theme here?

 


Wheelchair Accessibility

McGregor ‘town’ is set on a gentle hill. A really gentle one. The main road is tarred and easy to negotiate, How Bazaar equally so, although, if you want to go into the garden, there’s a small step. Nothing a helping hand won’t negotiate.

The tourism centre and museum has a ramp up to it and is completely flat inside. The museum itself is a small room, but perfectly navigable.

Fiona’s Sandbag House has a bit of a steep driveway, which we coped with fine using the Freewheel, and if the driveway is too much, it is possible to arrive by car and get out at the top of the driveway. Once there, it’s fantastic.

Le Bonheur is a dream. It’s wheelchair-friendly, with plenty of space, a perfect height bed, and an accessible bathroom (no rails, but the basin is high enough to get under and the shower is level with the floor, with a plastic chair). Jenny, the host, is exceptionally lovely and very helpful. The only small challenge is the stone pathway to the room, but again, doable with the Freewheel, or a little help! It’s well worth it and Jenny’s cheese scones for breakfast are divine.

 

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A Night in Quirky Barrydale

Barrydale is one of those towns just far enough from Cape Town to have avoided being a ‘commuter town’ overrun with city people rushing in and out, but just close enough for it to be a pleasant drive for a long weekend. We decided to tack a day onto our trip to Grootvadersbosch and headed up last Thursday to stay at the fantastic Karoo Saloon and explore the little town a bit.

Arriving just in time for lunch, we headed to Klassikaroo, on owner, Janet’s, invitation and what a treat it was. Chef Dino and waitress, Yvonne, treated us to the most gorgeous meal. Again, one doesn’t need to be in the city to eat like royalty.

After freshening up (and checking out the lay of the land – a fabulous indoor section, and a lovely courtyard out back), we settled on the front stoep, with its view over the town of Barrydale, the Langeberge in the distance, a glass of chilled white wine grown in the valley to enjoy it with.

Chef Dino suggested I try one of the specials of the day – Kingklip con Cozze. I never argue with a chef’s recommendations and it’s never failed me yet. Mussels, cooked in vanilla, wine and saffron, over grilled-to-perfection kingklip, served with basmati rice and garlicky brocolli. Too divine. And oh-so-pretty, scattered with its purple pansies.

GM chose the chicken schnitzel – an incredibly generous portion with velvetty, paprika-infused (I think. I’m no food guru, but I’m pretty sure it was paprika) cheese sauce – served with fresh salad and chips.

After chatting to the fabulous woman who owns the Barrydale Hand Weavers (they have the most gorgeous handwoven goodies), and admiring both the range of face pots outside and the delightful pug, Ozzie, we took a drive around town.

Barrydale is pretty and old and a little quirky. Just the way I like my towns. We’d have taken an amble down the main drag, but it was in the high 30-degrees and our tummies were full of the delicious Klassikaroo food.

Barrydale, you’re mighty fine, we didn’t have nearly enough time to enjoy the galleries and little shops, so we’ll be back soon!


Wheelchair accessibility

Klassikaroo is totally wheelchair friendly, with a ramp from the parking space in front of the restaurant. Inside and out to the back courtyard is also flat and there is a big, accessible bathroom that would allow front or side transfer onto the toilet (but no grab bars) and easy access to the basin. The tables are high enough to fit under, too. Bravo!

Most of the little shops and restaurants along the R62, including the Tourism Office, have ramps up to them, incredibly, considering it’s a fairly steep little hill. Down in town, the main drag is relatively flat but, as I said above, it was just too hot to explore on foot.

We’ll go back, though, don’t fret, to check out the rest!

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Rocking Out at the Karoo Saloon

The sign outside the Karoo Saloon reads:

BUSINESS HOURS
KAROO SALOON
WE ARE OPEN!
Most days about 9 or 10 occasionally as early as 7
but someday as late as 12 or 1
WE ARE CLOSED
About 5.30 or 6 occasionally about 4 or 5
but sometimes as late as 11 or 12
SOME DAYS OR AFTERNOONS WE AREN’T HERE AT ALL AND LATELY I’VE BEEN HERE ALL THE TIME … EXCEPT WHEN I’M SOMEPLACE ELSE, BUT I SHOULD BE HERE THEN TOO

It’s hard not to instantly love it, with a sign like that, so instantly love it, I did. Spending a night there, I loved it even more. Architecturally resembling a proper saloon in the Wild West, one expects to find a cowboy lounging, his booted feet resting on the railing, his cowboy hat tilted against the summer sun. The stoep overlooks the R62 and hills one way, the majestic Langeberg the other. It being a week day out of season, we one found it empty, except for the fabulous manager, Madre, who welcomed us with a smile and offer of icy drinks (it was in the high 30⁰C’s) to enjoy on that there stoep overlooking the world. I was sad I didn’t have a cowboy hat. The boots, though, would’ve been too hot.

Inside the Route 62 Rock Roadhouse is a bar and restaurant with the most incredible amount of rock memorabilia everywhere you look. One entire wall is painted like the cover of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Need I say more? Back on the stoep we watched the clouds roll over the Langeberg and become tinged with pink in the setting sun, while we were treated to a soundtrack filled with great rockers … Bowie, Guns ‘n Roses, Juice Newton … you name them and they were there.

Just below the stoep is a large field and a bandstand. This is where they host various live music shows. I will have to go back for one, because they can only be epic in that setting. Watch their Facebook page for who’s playing when.

There’s something beautifully surreal about sitting about such Klein Karoo splendour, sipping icy white wine from grapes grown in that very valley, especially when Kurt Cobain . rocks the speakers. Something in the Way. Indeed.

At dusk, some locals arrived, ready to play pool and kick back a bit, as one should on a Thursday. This is a watering hole and we all know how I love being in ‘the local’, wherever I am. I am an unashamed eavesdropper, people watcher and chatter. Eating our delicious lasagna I got to indulge in all three. The food is great, too! Good pub fare, and they have a pizza called Red Hot. It has chilli and peppers.

After a good night’s rest behind the red door – the Karoo Saloon has 5 en-suite bedrooms, an 8-sleeper bunk room and camping – we emerged refreshed and ready for the infamous bacon and egg roll breakfast. Home-baked rolls, eggs done to perfection and crispy bacon. Breakfast never tasted this good.

Afterwards, we needed to head – literally – for the hills, as Grootvadersbosch was calling. Rage Against the Machine sent us on our way. The perfect farewell song.

I must mention Ozzie (a popular name for dogs in Barrydale). He’s a boerboel. A 5-month old boerboel with a fascination for wheelchairs. His best toy is a fluffy angry bird that he throws around. He’s very cool, so is the perfect dog for the Karoo Saloon. I must also mention Janet, the owner (of both the Karoo Saloon and Ozzie), who hosted us. She was rushing off to Cape Town but we, luckily, caught her before she left. What a fantastic, welcoming host.


Wheelchair Accessibility

 

The parking at Karoo Saloon is very gently sloped, but it is all one level all the way into the Rock Saloon and onto the gorgeous stoep.

The pathways are made with concrete and little pebbles – the cowboy version of a scattered cobbled road, so it’s a bit of a bumpy ride, but totally worth it.

Inside, the roadhouse saloon is completely flat and there are plenty of tables both inside and outside that are high enough for a wheelchair to fit under.

The accommodation, while comfortable, is a little bit difficult, with two steps up into the room. Once in, there’s plenty of space for transferring next to the bed. The en-suite bathroom is tiny and not accessible.

Taking all of this into consideration, if you’re not keen on staying over, do yourself a favour and pop in for a drink and a bite to eat … this place rocks!

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Small Town Joy, Tulbagh III: Picnics and Velvet Noses

As children, Sundays mostly meant picnics somewhere interesting. More-often-than-not this entailed some traipsing after our parents, over-or-through barbed wire fences stretched just wide enough for us to get through, across farmland, around old family cemeteries where we’d stop to read the headstones, through any streams we could find (remember, I grew up in the drought-stricken Free State and dusty North West) to find the perfect shady spot at which we’d eat our sandwiches, our shorts covered in black jacks and our heads filled with adventure.

The prospect of a picnic brunch while we tasted Saronsberg’s wines overlooking the beautiful mountains on a Sunday, therefore, was welcomed with blissful reminiscence and the smell of khaki bush in my head. That sounds weird but when I think of those long ago picnics, it’s the aroma that overwhelms my memories. So fresh and young and filled with wonder.


We headed off early on Sunday morning, which dawned cool and gray, a welcome respite from the heat. Taking a little drive toward the mountains looking moody under the grey clouds, my predilection for old buildings was satiated. The beauty in the breakdown.

Then it was time for us to meet up with Carol at the well-known Readers Restaurant in Church Street, where we picked up our picnic basket (with two hands, it was full-to-the-brim), stopping to chat about our mutual adoration of cats amongst other things. From there we drove out of town to Saronsberg.


Saronsberg is a treat for both wine lovers and art lovers (and those who love staying on wine farms or marrying on wine farms, apparently … I didn’t try either of those bits of the farm this time, but I plan to visit again!). Welcomed by a spectacular piece, of a naked man with rocks on his head, looking particularly incredible backed by the grey clouds bulked up behind him, everywhere you look, there’s a piece of art, both indoors and outdoors.


Greeted by the wonderful hostess – who’s name I’ve also forgotten, eek, WAY too much delicious food and wine – we settled ourselves at a table outside, overlooking the dam and overlooked by the gorgeous lady sculpture, and spread out our picnic. And boy, what a picnic it was!

Fresh baguette, a box filled with cold meats, another with cheeses on a wooden board with fresh fruit and a bunch of salady stuff (and even a tiny olive oil and balsamic vinegar). Meatballs, olive tapenade, pickles and patés. I’m still dreaming about the smoked snoek paté. There was even pudding … brownies that melted in my mouth. I should’ve got more food pictures but I was too busy filling my mouth with deliciousness. It was superb.

While we slowly ate our way through the feast, we tasted our way through Saronsberg’s delicious wines, making sure we bought a bottle or two to take home to remind ourselves of this heavenly place. Now that is the way to Sunday.

All good things come to an end – a cliché that I could happily do without, but clichés are clichés for a reason – and, after checking out more of the art, we had to bid our new friends at Saronsberg, including the two wonderful swimming ladies at the entrance, adieu, to start dragging our feet back to the city.

Luckily, we still had one more stop, Fynbos Guest Farm, on the Wolseley road. What a fabulous place. They have camping and a couple of chalets and an entire menagerie of rescued animals all living their last days in this piece of paradise. Goats, emus, llamas, ducks, rabbits, pigs, zebra, donkeys … they’re all there and happy to meet people and eat snacks (they tell you who likes what. The lovely guys who own the farm, not the animals).

We took an amble around and met some of them. They were all most polite, including Guido the llama who is known for his fondness for the ladies. When he saw us, he was miles away on the other side of the field and bounded over at speed, only getting shy when he got close. I learnt that pot-bellied pigs fall over in a blissful trance if you brush their backs and emus sound like drums in the distance. And I got to stroke the donkeys’ velvet noses … my very, very best.

And then it really was time to head back to the city, but being lovers of back roads, we took this one, and were rewarded with these views. The perfect end to a perfect weekend, a picnic and some velvet noses.


Wheelchair Accessibility

Readers Restaurant is up a few, relatively short and wide old stone stairs, so a little challenging, but nothing a few strong arms couldn’t help with if you’re not worried about being lifted up stairs. The picnic baskets, however, are completely accessible … they can bring them out to you in the car. I’m telling you, you really don’t want to miss out on Carol’s cooking.

Saronsberg is completely accessible, with ramps and pathways. The gallery is upstairs, but there is so much wonderful art (and wine!) downstairs and outside, that it’s not too serious.Sorry, I know the picture doesn’t show that … I wasn’t very clever with my picture-taking of the paths because I was blown away by the art and distracted by the picnic!

Fynbos Guest Farm has dust and gravelled roads, so it’s a bit of a rough ride, but well worth it. The little cottage near the donkeys and llamas looked like it could be relatively accessible, but we didn’t go in. Contact them to ask and you could have a couple of llamas, some alpacas and some donkeys as across-the-road neighbours for a few days! If you’re lucky (and a lady), you may even get a pic with Guido!


*We were graciously hosted in Tulbagh by Tulbagh Wine and Tourism. Thank you, Patty, for all the organising!

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Small Town Joy, Tulbagh II: Dining like Royalty at Rijk’s

Continuing with my amblings in and ramblings on the lovely Tulbagh, after our trip at the beginning of the month, kind favour of Tulbagh Tourism. I left off after lunch at Waverley Hills. Stuffed to the gills with the most divine food, watered with delicious wines and eye-treated with the beautiful views of the valley, it was time for that necessity – the Saturday afternoon nap – in the cool room at Manley Wine Lodge with a view across the vineyards. And then to Rijk’s, with this vista:

Western Cape tourists (and locals) are often of the opinion that, for fine dining, there are the standard staples in Cape Town and a couple more in Franschhoek. It’s a misconception, I am here to tell you. Tulbagh is right up there amongst the culinary stars. On Saturday night, we were treated to the four-course fine dining dinner at The Governor’s Restaurant at Rijk’s Country House. Chef, Tracy Young creates different menus using seasonal ingredients and transforming them into the culinary version of magic.

Rijk’s, itself, is pretty magical too. On arrival, we were welcomed with bubbles and canapés on the veranda which has holiday-brochure-like views across the vine-covered valley to the mountains on the other side. The Weatherman was being particularly fabulous that evening and treated us to some emotive clouds letting golden sunlight through as the mountains turned from blue to deep purple to black. The canapés were bloody delicious too.

The manager popped over to welcome us and waxed lyrical about Rijk’s signature cocktail, fondly referred to as the Gin o’Clock. Obviously we had to investigate. With a glass the size of a goldfish bowl, the barman fixed gin and tonic and a splendiferous mixture of berries, mint and ice. It was almost too beautiful to drink. Its deliciousness, however, meant not drinking it was not an option. We sipped as we perused the menu, a delight-filled thing indeed.

The food, as it was served with accompanying recommended Rijk’s wines, mirrored the Gin o’Clock … unbelievably beautiful and perfectly delicious. We started with French parsnip and apple soup with just the right amount of appley sweetness, topped with crispy parsnip slivers. Duck-filled wontons was next on the cards, with a mesmerising citrus-soy-honey sauce decorated with gorgeous frilly pea tendrils: my favourite.

Had I not read the menu before, I might’ve thought that the pineapple sorbet brought at this point as a palate cleanser, was pudding. And I would’ve been perfectly fine with that. Fresh, zesty, sweetness.

I’m always a little wary of venison, as I find it is often tough (as one would expect from an animal living it up in the rough neighbourhoods of the bush). The kudu loin threw my wariness out of the window. It was as tender as can be, perfectly complimented by the blueberry jus.

Dessert. It may be hard to believe I had space, but I come from a family that has a completely separate pudding tummy. It’s very lucky that I do, because the dessert was a trio of strawberries … tart, sorbet, and the real deal, dipped in chocolate. Pure strawberry bliss. Accompanying it, was a miniature glass of liqueur, whose name I can’t remember now (too much delicious food and wine!). The perfect end to a perfect dinner.

Thank you, Rijk’s, you’re damn fine!


Wheelchair Accessibility

While Rijk’s is positioned on a gentle slope, there is a ramp down to the main lodge on the left of the parking lot. From here on everything in the main lodge and restaurant is completely flat.

I do remember somebody saying that one of their rooms (possibly more) is accessible, but you’d need to check with Rijk’s Country House. It is a beautiful space if you’re looking for gorgeous views and top-notch service a little way (a couple of kilometres) out of Tulbagh.

 

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Small Town Joy, Tulbagh I: Exploring in a Wheelchair

As I’ve said a gazillionty times, I’m a small town girl. Free State-born-and-initially-bred, North West-bred-through-my-teens, Grahamstown-bred-into-the-freedom-of-adulthood. Well, if you consider 21 as adult. When one is truly ‘An Adult’, though, is not what I’m here to talk about today. The point I’m making, is that for the first 22 years of my life, I lived in small, mostly dusty, towns. Towns where a quick trip to buy bread and milk inevitably meant bumping into at least one friend, and where going to play at somebody’s house usually didn’t require any mode of transport more complicated than my lace-up roller skates or rickety blue bike, because everyone lived within a 1 km radius.

And I loved it.

This could be part of why I loved Tulbagh so much. It is a proper small town, with friendly people and a bustling, vaguely dusty (that may be due to the new pharmacy currently under construction) main road, parallel to the gorgeously kept historic Church Street. It’s small enough to walk around, between historic buildings, museums, art galleries, restaurants and pubs. This, for a small town girl, and someone in a wheelchair, is a win.

Tulbagh Wine & Tourism invited us to visit this beautiful old town and check out its accessibility. The town, ringed by majestic mountains, under a fabulous early-Summer’s blue sky, dotted with kid’s drawing fluffy clouds, was looking majestic as we arrived, late Friday morning. I wrote about the 21 things I learnt in our treat-filled weekend in my last blog and this one’s on some of the universal accessibility aspects of the town.

As I said above, the central area of town is small, meaning that you can visit many of Tulbagh’s attractions without having to get in and out of the car. Church Street, with its perfectly restored Cape Dutch houses – many containing shops and restaurants – is flat and broad. Perfect for a stroll, perfect for wheelchairs. The houses date back a couple of hundred years, and many have three to five stone steps up to their porches, so some of the shops and restaurants may be challenging in a wheelchair. Heavy electric wheelchairs may struggle with these stairs, but manual wheelchairs (with relatively light occupants) … well, this is small town, offers of help at any barriers we came to were prolific.

On Tulbagh’s ‘main modern drag’, Van der Stel Street, accessibility is far easier, with most places on street level. Getting from Church Street to Van der Stel Street – parallel to each other, a block apart – is easiest at either end of the street as the slope is slightly less steep than the road in the middle of the street that joins up. At the southern end is the Oude Kerk (old church) Volksmuseum (accessible, if over some rough stone pathway, first pic), which is well worth a visit.

I could have stayed a month exploring the streets and eateries (and all the surrounding wine farms, olive farms, and a chocolatier!) but we were there only for a weekend, so could only fit so much in. And, let me tell you, we managed to fit in the most extraordinary amount of delectable food and delicious wine over a 48 hour period! Its hard not to, in a town that prides itself on its culinary talents. Beside that, it wouldn’t surprise me if Bacchus himself had retired from the Greek Isles into this fertile valley!

The Tulbagh Hotel, plum in the middle of Van der Stel Street, has a ramp up to a gorgeously shady veranda, The Olive Terrace, which serves drinks and food. The perfect spot for an icy glass of a local Sauvignon Blanc in the late afternoon heat. Across the road, we ate at 1699, on street level (one step in, if you want to eat inside). Outside they have those fixed-bench-tables that are the bane of any non-transferring person in a wheelchair’s life. They saw me arrive though and whipped out an accessible table and set it up for me, so that we could enjoy their fabulous food while watching the sky turn pink. Small town hospitality at its best and bobotie like ouma made it. Delicious.

Our lodgings just out of town at Manley Wine Lodge, too, were relatively accessible, with a ramp leading up to the vine-covered shared stoep. The room, the corner one, was huge, with plenty of space to manoeuvre and an accessible desk/dresser. The bathroom was big, but not universally accessible (shower has step, no grab bars). I could get to the basin, and front access to the toilet is possible.

From the L-shaped building where the ultra-comfortable rooms are, it’s a slightly-sloped grassy walk up to the restaurant which serves a fantastic breakfast. The pool has a lapa, too, which I’d imagine, is a wonderful place to chill out on summer evenings.

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On Saturday morning we popped in to Twee Jonge Gezellen and met up with the lovely Patty, of Tulbagh Tourism, to enjoy a Krone tasting under the enormous trees in their beautiful garden. Here, too, they made the effort to bring it all to us, as the tasting room is upstairs. Their bubbles are fabulous, so phone ahead and arrange for an outside tasting. As an aside … buy a bottle(s) to take home. The bag they come in feels like velvet.

We left Krone late – the company was too good, as were the bubbles! – and rushed off to Waverly for lunch, a pretty drive out the other side of Tulbagh toward Wolseley. Waverley Hills is wonderfully accessible. My initial panic, on seeing the flights of stairs up to the tasting room and restaurant were quickly allayed when I saw the ramp to the side. It’s beautifully spacious, has an accessible bathroom, and is entirely flat throughout. add to that, exquisite views across the valley and even more exquisite food, and I almost asked if I could move in.

Part two will come next week, this is getting too long because I have too much to gush about when it comes to Tulbagh.

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