A weekend in Riebeek Kasteel could change your life forever

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A BOLD claim, to be sure. Perhaps things will happen that you will never speak of again (mainly because you can’t remember them on account of the wine), in the “what happens on tour, stays on tour” vein. Or maybe you’ll win a hotel in a lucky draw and relocate there to pursue a new life as an innkeeper. Who knows?

The main drag into town

Earlier this year, we ran a story about Kasteelberg Country Inn & Bistro owner Allan Barnard’s decision to give the place away. You can read about it here. Long story short, if you book the special package, you will be in line for the grand prize of an entire hotel.

With a background of a career in radio and the mellifluous voice to go with it, Allan is a convivial host, and I witnessed him at the head of the long table in the pub, holding court as it were, with locals drifting in and out until whatever time of the night…I’d wobbled off to bed long before the festivities drew to a close. I clearly do not have the capacity for that amount of alcohol or holding such lengthy conversations, intelligent or otherwise. I heard about it all the next morning at breakfast in any event. With only one sober person in the mix, facts could not be verified.

Local hangout, Allan is at the back on the right

Maybe this won’t be a requirement for the new owner, but Riebeek Kasteel is a very sociable little town – I’ve always made new friends when I’m there whether I want to or not – so it would probably be helpful if you end up in this position that you’re able to get along well with others. All the details are here.

I’ve been to RK many times over the years, and stayed in several places. Allan has always been generous with his accommodation so Kasteelberg is quite familiar to me now. To say it’s in the middle of town is accurate; you can also see most of the town from the front stoep. What you can’t see is just around the corner, and there’s no need for a car once you’ve arrived. It comes with two dogs, a big one and a little one, although I don’t think they’re included in the prize.

The big dog

The little one joined me at dinner time and she like the bits of steak I fed her, but the carrots not so much. It was a jolly good steak. Later this year, Allan plans to install a meat shop, filled with consignments from the local abattoir, and the focus of the restaurant will become steaks and grills. He intends to resurrect the House Of Bubbly idea as well, replacing the existing pub with a space to taste bubblies, buy bubblies, and slurp down oysters.

Of all my trips to Riebeek, this one was the most chilled. Yes, I partook of plenty of wine on the first night, no surprise there, and a couple of tequilas that I know of, but the rest of the time was filled with reading my book (bliss), going for a walk up to Het Vlock Kasteel’s nectarine orchards which are in beautiful pink blossom, and visiting my favourite shop, Crystal & Twine. The ladies even remembered me! They have utterly gorgeous stuff for your home and garden, and I never leave without buying something.

Some places have closed (the craft beer brewery) since I visited last year in May, and some new places have opened. Like Bay Leaf & Thyme, which is diagonally opposite Kasteelberg, and where we had a decent late lunch. The fresh produce market has relocated from over there by The Alchemist when it was called Crisp, to adjoin Bay Leaf & Thyme as The Biggest Little Market. Sadly they don’t have the Tabasco Bloody Mary mix any more; it was brilliant, just add vodka. I had a Google and it appears to be on Amazon.

Crystal & Twine

I always pop in at Aitsa, a general dealer but I prefer the Afrikaans “algemene handelaar”. It just sounds better. You can get leather belts, biscuits, cakes, tea, mugs and bowls, haberdashery, trinkets and souvenirs, and there’s a whole room with second hand books (one shelf is packed with all the red covers). They now also have small selection of vinyl records, so I nabbed a few of those (including a Carl Perkins).

Aitsa

Looking ahead, the weekend of September 6 and 7 look lively: there is the new First Fridays vibe as well as the Lentefees. Find out more here. There are wine farms to visit, olives to be eaten, and great pizzas to be eaten. It’s never not a good time to go to Riebeek Kasteel.

PHOTO CREDIT: BIANCA COLEMAN ©

 

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