I don’t normally pull over at Riversdale on any of my N2 jaunts (it’s usually too close to my destination), and on the odd occasion that I do stop, it’s usually to give Die Rooi Aalwyn/Bali Trading a spin so that the girls can have a little run around on their lush green lawn and enjoy their play area.
However, thanks entirely to the power of Instagram and clearly a very clever restaurateur, Chantelle and I now most definitely do have a reason to stop. Ikigai.
Named for the Japanese concept meaning “a reason for being”, Ikigai is sandwiched in next to the Spur (to your left as you travel on the N2 towards the Garden Route), and is best described as an artisan coffee bar and deli, with a sense of style that leaves you confused as to whether or not you forgot to leave home and are actually still lounging about in Observatory, Cape Town.
Trendy decor and inspirational quotes aside, Ikigai is obviously known first and foremost for its good selection of coffee and other warm drinks. Then of course there are its light meals and snacks, the most important being their delectable selection of pies – which Chantelle and I simply couldn’t get enough of!
(That said the girls would of course argue that no, their massive selection of baked cookies are by far the best!)
In summary: The space is small and intimate, the service prompt and friendly, the food good, and thanks to Ikigai’s trendy decor, visually everything is a treat for the eye.
Definitely well worth a coffee run stop then!
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P.S. Chantelle and I enjoyed Ikigai enough to prompt a return visit on our way back home!
Alongside the N2, lying just on the outskirts of Heidelberg (and conspicuous thanks to the bright blue roof), is the Blue Crane Farm Shop, a long time favourite with travellers tackling the long road between the Garden Route and Cape Town.
Home to a proper farm stall selling all kinds of home made goodies and baked treats, Blue Crane is also a small restaurant, serving a selection of simple but delicious foods – making it a great stop if your stomach is bugging you to take a break from your roadtrip.
Jessica and I stopped there for the very first time back in March this year, and we both loved the little treats on offer, colourful walls, and the superb mural decorating the wall of one of the main dining rooms.
Also, their blue cheese burger was rather nice! ;)
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Great little spot to stop and stretch your legs if you don’t feel like the hustle and bustle that inevitably comes with pulling over in a town whilst on the N2.
Bonus: Seeing as we were on that road anyway, I decided to do an impromptu turn off at the now defunct (and ghost town feeling) bungee jump station at Gouritz River Bridge.
This was the first (and super popular) Bungee Jump station in South Africa, and operated for about 18 years, before shutting up shop for good in 2008 over safety concerns stemming from the rusted, crumbling infrastructure on which both the bungee and rope swinging operations depended on.
Situated on the banks of the Sonderend River and originally part of a farm that was established in the 1700’s, Stormsvlei (translated as Storm Marsh in English) is a now tiny Overberg hamlet that forms part of the greater Swellendam area.
Originally settled as an outspan for ox-wagons that were travelling the inland route along the coast, it was once an important stopover on the old wagon route, growing around the need for wagon repair facilities and refreshments for passing travellers – especially during the festive season when families from the surrounding areas would make their way to the sea for the holidays.
These days however the hamlet has shrunk to a point of being pretty much non-existent, meaning that you could literally drive past without even knowing that you had missed it!
(Well technically that’s not quite true. The restaurant does its best to make sure that the turn-off to Stormsvlei is relatively well marked along the N2!)
Apart from the Stormsvlei Riverside Cottages, the only other notable spot in Stormsvlei is where the old hotel stands, now rebranded as the Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farm Stall – which is perfect seeing as that was exactly what I was looking for on my journey up to Gouritz with my girls for last year’s December getaway.
Basically, a place that I’ve never stopped at before.
As it turns out, the Stormsvlei Restaurant is a bit of a Swiss Army Knife, in that it acts as a storefront for a lot of local products and produce (including leather couches and dried hydrangeas by Mary Spies, a local legend apparently), a bar, a dining hall, a function venue, as well as a lovely garden retreat – perfect for light meals out in the sun then.
The girls and I took full advantage of the good weather by first knocking back some cool refreshments and then tucking into a small lunch – double for me because as it almost always works out, one of the girls never quite feels like eating on the day!
We took our time wandering about the garden and inspecting all the flowers (including the nearby Hydrangea growing operation), browsing the art and antiques hanging up throughout the venue, and of course enjoying the rather tranquil ambiance – not to mention marvel at the surprisingly large amount of people that kept filtering in for a bite to eat!
I guess that then means that Stormsvlei is a lot more popular with travellers than what I would have thought!
Anyway, a rather rewarding little discovery for us then.
As expected, with it being just myself and the girls, entertainment for me translated into taking a fair bit of photos over the course of our lunch stop (much to the eventual annoyance of both Jessica and Emily I might add).
These are some of the better ones that came limping out of that particular crop:
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Bonus: Just in case you also want to make a stop here on your next journey down the N2…
Related Link: Stormsvlei Restaurant and Farm Stall
Having thoroughly enjoyed a midweek getaway to Stonehill River Lodge in Buffeljagsrivier (near Swellendam), we were making our way back home on a warm Friday afternoon via the N2 when for the first time ever (note: I’m 36 and we’ve travelled the N2 since I was a baby), curiousity got the better of me and I decided to pull off at the Dassiesfontein farm stall – which stands literally alone in the middle of nowhere between Caledon and Botrivier.
Chantelle and the girls were a bit grumpy at having been woken up by me leaving the highway, but they soon cheered up when a) the girls spotted the lovely donkey encampment next to Dassiesfontein’s parking area and b) Chantelle discovered the incredible treasure trove of antiques, art, fashion and food that this rather incredible place actually houses!
Back to point a) though. Amazingly the girls were far more enamored with the donkeys than I thought they would be. It might be their smaller stature, or perhaps because of the fluffier youngling in the pack, but Jessica and Emily (although the latter from an always safe distance) seemed to both genuinely enjoy interacting with these furry four legged beasts.
Anyway, I digress. Back to the brilliant farm stall itself. Originally the Dassiesfontein farm stall was little more than a couple of homemade goods being sold from two wagons alongside the N2, before the farm stall was eventually built in 1995. The restaurant was added a year later, and believe it or not, Dassiesfontein has been a super success from then onwards.
These days though, the quaint thatched roof that characterised the farm stall is nowhere in sight, having been completely covered with end to end solar panels, a big 60.13 kwp generating project brought to life by the team over at RenEnergy.
Inside however is where the real magic lies. The first thing to note is that Dassiesfontein is much larger inside than what it looks from the outside. Each room kind of spills into the next, and the smorgasboard of items on sale is simply put, jaw dropping.
Antiques, art, clothing, shoes, kids, decor, furniture, food – you name it and they sell it.
Without a doubt, if Chantelle was here by herself (i.e. with her wallet and without her disapproving of clutter husband), I guarantee she would quite easily be lost for a couple of hours, only to then return with a boot full of stuff!
Incredibly enough (despite that fact I suppose that I already mentioned this fact in passing), Dassiesfontein even houses a restaurant in the middle of all the muddle, a restaurant which is known for its proper ‘boerekos’ served in portions that well, ‘skrik vir niks’. (Plus, Chantelle was gushing like a fangirl when she spotted their ‘Dover’ cast iron stoves in action!)
Oh, and then there is the cheese and dairy on sale. So, so much cheese, not to mention the butter which was being sold at such a good price that Chantelle immediately grabbed my wallet and bought a box for her baking.
Right, looks like we’ll be stopping here a little more often now that we’ve finally ‘discovered’ the place!
Also, I have no idea where all these photos come from by the way – because there are very definitely signs up all over the place explicitly reminding you that the taking of photos inside the shopping area is strictly not welcome:
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It’s difficult to miss because it is literally the only thing standing in the middle of nowhere, but just in case you need a map…
We find ourselves taking the short hop over the mountain to visit the apple rich Grabouw/Elgin area quite often, which of course then means we travel via the N2 national road over Sir Lowry’s Pass and past the Steenbras Dam (Upper) to get there.
On one of my recent expeditions to the area with my girls, I thought it a good opportunity to stop at both the entrance to Steenbras Dam (which is these days sadly closed to the public of course), as well as the Sir Lowry’s Pass view point.
(The girls were of course not impressed with this plan of mine, but I bribed them with the promise of ice cream, so all was good in the end.)
Although still a bit on the low side in terms of water level, thankfully the Steenbras Dam (a reservoir for Cape Town as well as part of a pumped-storage power system) is looking a lot better than what it was just a few short months ago – which is a big relief when you consider just how gloomy the outlook in terms of Cape Town’s water supply for the upcoming season originally was.
(Sure, it’s still not great, but it is a damn sight more positive than the original forecast outlook!)
Anyway, after a couple of minutes of standing next to the car and taking photos of the dam, guarded entrance and pretty tree next to me, I hopped back into the Getz and headed up the road, only to pull off at the Sir Lowry’s Pass view point which is probably only a kilometer or two away from where I had first pulled off the road for the dam.
The girls opted to stay in the car once more, allowing me to take my time strolling around the rather large view point area, happily snapping pictures with my cellphone in pretty much every direction that presented itself to me!
Named after Sir Galbraith Lowry Cole, governor of the Cape in 1828, today’s modern and upgraded Sir Lowry’s Pass is essentially a cantilevered four-lane highway which then crosses the Hottentots Holland mountain range between Somerset West and the Elgin Valley.
As you might imagine, the lookout point affords you a spectacular view of the Helderberg basin… not that you would necessarily say that if you have only ever had my not so great cellphone camera photos for reference! ;)
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Lastly, a handy map in case you need a better idea of where this view point actually is:
Keeping the theme of going away for at least one weekend a month this year (Jacobsbaai, Mossel Bay, Barrydale, Stanford), June was no different with a three night stay in the Far Hills Country Hotel just outside of George on your way to Wilderness.
Having taken both the Friday and Monday off from work, we got a nice early start on our adventure, heading up the N2 and making our way towards the Garden Route. Following the recent wet weather, the hills and fields were starting to look greener already, and overall the scenery was much improved from the last time we headed that way back in April.
Halfway through what was quite a pleasant drive thus far, just as we were entering Buffeljagsrivier (outside Swellendam), we pulled over at the Rolandale Restaurant and Farm Stall for a bit of a lunch break – giving the girls an opportunity to run around and stretch their legs while we waited for the other half of our holiday party, Monty and Cheryl, to join us from Bellville for the last leg of the drive.
If you’ve never stopped at Rolandale before, then you’ve missed out. It’s the perfect halfway stop for trips through to Mossel Bay or George, has a massive grass and play area for the kids to run around on, is very dog friendly, and happens to serve good old ‘roosterkoek’ – at very good prices – all day long!
Chantelle and I got comfortable in the homely restaurant section while Jessica and Emily ran around exploring outside.
We had a bite to eat and then joined the girls in playing outside, before Monty and Cheryl eventually turned up, having been held slightly up by all the trucks on the Ashton route that they were travelling.
Of course, it was only fair that they too had a spot of lunch, meaning that our halfway stop ended up being quite a ‘stop’! :)
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(Oh, we stopped there on the way back again, though that time around the weather was wet and overcast. The cat had the best spot in the house – right next to the fireplace!)
Related Link: Rolandale Farm Stall
Following our lovely Sunday out and about in Hermanus was of course the drive back home to Gordon’s Bay. Seeing as we had already enjoyed the scenic coastal route on the way there, I opted for the quicker N2 route home – and for the very first time ever (that I can remember as an adult), I actually pulled over at the Houw Hoek Farm Stall instead of just whizzing on by!
I have to say, it is actually pretty nice. A lovely restaurant from the looks of it (we opted not to sit down for a cup of coffee because it was beginning to get late), a well stocked farm stall with some particularly tasty things being cooked up by the onsite bakery, and a nice little open play area for the kids.
Which naturally, they quickly made full use of! :)
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In other words, definitely a pit stop option then if you’re ever driving through the Elgin region!
The first thing you’ll see is the large rolling green lawn of The Orchard Farm Stall, a large airy farm stall filled with all manner of home made treats, farm produce and of course arts and crafts.
Of more importance to us here is the attached coffee shop / restaurant, which features a host of well priced, simple food options, covering you if you just want to stop and have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake, or sit down and devour lunch proper.
The huge green lawn means that there is ample space for the kids to run around and play, and the owners also have had a little jungle gym with swings installed, perfect to keep the little ones busy.
Also, there seems to be a permanent jump castle setup as well – which needless to say keeps the kiddies pretty happy!
So if you want to get some fresh air, let the kids run around a bit, and just sit and relax, then a stop at The Orchard Farm Stall in Grabouw is certainly not a bad option.
(My only complaint is a little one – given that it sits right on the N2, you do get the noise of the passing traffic – but in the same breath that gives you a little more to see and to talk about, so it’s not all that bad!)
Note, if your kids are of the older variety, then another great option slightly further along the route is Peregrine Farm Stall and its associated Red Tractor Cafe – looking particularly good following its recent refurbishment.
Oh, and on the way back, don’t forget to pull over and stop at the Sir Lowry’s Pass viewpoint. Stunning views of the False Bay, Gordon’s Bay, Strand, and Somerset West guaranteed!
(The day that these photos were taken proved to be a little too windy for the girls – they were back inside the car before you could blink!)