The sign outside the Karoo Saloon reads:
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.
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.
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!