Although it has been sweltering in Jozi the last few days, yesterday’s moody storm weather reminded me of the incredible weekend away we experienced in Clarens not too long ago.
The weekend was planned MONTHS in advance; apart from the fact that it is near impossible to get 10 people to all agree to a date, it is actually the availability of accommodation that needs to be taken into account! Clarens, which is located in heart of the Free State, has become a booming tourism venue in South Africa, and it wasn’t until we stepped foot into the this picturesque little town that I started to understand why; its quaint, its clean, its quirky and it makes you feel like you never want to leave.
Our weekend was jam-packed; from bar hopping and jamming with the locals to scenic hikes amongst the natural beauty of the nature reserve, it felt like it flew by far too quickly. Thankfully, I have some photos to remind us why we are looking into booking round 2 early next year.
I have put down my 5 list of ‘to-do’s’ if you ever have the chance to visit this special place.
1. Stay in town. The beauty of this venue is that everything is within walking distance of each other; the town is centred around a very large square surrounded by galleries, restaurants, boutique shops and the local pub (yes, there is only one). Especially if this is your first visit, accommodation close enough to the centre of town will ensure you can experience all of this on foot.
2. Go on a hike. This is a non-negotiable. The scenery is insane, and you do not have to be an experienced hiker to manage the trails. We ventured out after a crazy pub night, and it was so absolutely worth it. A number of trails (ranging from easy to moderate) have been marked out in the nature reserves on the outskirts of town, and I would imagine that it is an even better experience during the warmer months – pack a picnic, and enjoy a dip in the Kloof Dam. Bliss.
3. Feast on waffles and pancakes at the Lazy Gecko Cafe. Wave any diet goodbye at this venue – they specialise in waffles, pancakes and milkshakes – in-fact, you can’t order much else! The varieties are endless, and each version tastes incredible. It was the perfect way to spend our last morning before our drive back (as if the rest of the weekend wasn’t indulgent enough)!
4. Taste locally brewed beer at the Clarens Brewery. This venue seems to be the ‘place to be’ on a Saturday afternoon. It is the only micro-brewery in the Free State, and you have the option to taste their range of beers and ciders on offer with their awesome taster tray. Pair this with a delicious lunch platter board including German style sausages, local organic cheeses, local breads, relishes and pickles and you have a recipe for a great afternoon out.
5. Visit the Purple Onion Deli. This is a farm-store on steroids! Located in the Clarens Windmill Centre, the deli stocks the most delicious treats and home-made delights; decadent chocolates, beautiful jam combinations, turkish delights, beer breads, olives…the list is endless. You will not leave empty-handed, but whatever you take home will always remind you of this gorgeous town.
Although travelling is about new sights and experiences, it is the people you have the fortune of travelling with that make it all the more special. Thank you to my unbelievable group of CRAZY but wonderful friends who made this weekend extra-amazing. I cannot wait for the next one.
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