Don’t overlook Small Towns
Small towns are often forgotten and I understand why. We never dream of exploring towns we can’t even pronounce let alone towns in our own city. Today, I’m here to tell you why small towns are not to be overlooked.
My permanent residence is Cape Town and when I tell people that, they forget that there are more towns in Cape Town then just our central hub. Don’t worry, before I got the travel bug, I too never thought of exploring the small, unknown towns in my own backyard. Rather, I thought of visiting big names like Bali, Thailand and let’s not forget the passionate city of Italy because who wants to visit names like Graafwater, Elim or Touws River, right?
It was only last year October when I found a tiny town off the West Coast called Jacobs Bay that I begun appreciating the true local feeling of traveling locally. I started enjoying my time more because I wasn’t being consumed in a rushed atmosphere nor do you have to stand in line for anything.
Well-known central destinations like Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban are always packed with tourists, so you don’t get to discover the real authentic vibes as long as you stay on the beaten path. Sure if you take a few side streets, you’ll be among the locals as well. But small towns have a special charm that no large city can compete with. Small towns still have their authenticity because they’re not influenced by other cultures and stick to their original establishments.
One thing I love about exploring towns that occupy a small number of citizens is that everyone knows everyone and if you’re patient enough, you get to listen to all the hilarious tales and stories of how the town came into existence. Courtney and I make it a point to visit museums first before venturing off to places that make up the town. It gives us a sense of the history behind the name, the culture that is boasting a wealth of historical sites and local curiosities.
You see, small towns are the best towns to try out new adventures. We forget that these towns have more to offer than bigger and busier cities because you can do everything at your own pace. The drive through unfamiliar roads which no structural lines, looking across diverse landscapes is worth every hour spent in the car. The hidden mountains, hectares and hectares of rolling fields where cows and sheep gaze make for the best scenic drive from your window.
You’ll find tiny birds standing on the hot baked road as you drive by while farmers on the other side tend to their herds. You get to oversee peaceful lagoons, discover whitewashed thatched cottages that were built in the 1800s and see fascinating stand alone windmills.
You get to marvel at the intricate architecture of past centuries, each with it’s own personality and traits. And if you’re an eater the way Courtney and I are, then you know the journey to local restaurants are always the best treats that make up the vacation with interesting cuisines that burst of local flavours and best of all, you never have to make a reservation. You’ll find old antiques stores and dusty old books through local shop windows. You get to enjoy the fresh town air, the smell of that sea breeze, the lushes green forestry and the slow, unhurried lifestyle of the town.
The narrow streets offer a sense of belonging like Voortrek Street in Swellendam or unfamiliar surroundings that allow you to stop and asks locals for directions on our excursion in Piketberg. Where history roamed the town of Genadendal and the eccentric town of Barrydale leaving you with a lasting impression.
Don’t overlook these small gems. Each town is a minor journey, an exploration, an escape to the mysterious unknown where you meet interesting and endearing characters. After visiting so many small towns, it’s hard to believe that I underrated them all.
It’s true what they say, “The best things come in small packages” and that’s why this blog is so important to promote small towns, tucked neatly away on the outskirts of our city where we’ll tell stories of the unexplored, untravelled towns.
Until next time.