Not a town for me, Vredenburg
All the towns are not the same. They are different in history, characteristics, religion, faith, people and food. Especially, the food; always viciously searching for relatively unknown attractions, eateries and stories. Yet somehow Vredenburg gave me none of that.
About 130 kilometers from Cape Town lies Vredenburg along the infamous Cape West Coast route. I love the West Coast – The early morning sea breeze smell and that delicate flower scent will always remind me of my early childhood days driving with my parents to Langebaan beach. Oh, the good old days.
We were excited for our first small town trip for 2018. We traveled quite a lot last year and not going anywhere for a while can make the travel bug itch like crazy. Having researched the heck out of Google to find some popular places to explore, I could only locate two; one is a local attraction and another a coffee shop.
It’s not like we haven’t been to smaller towns before. Just look at Goedverwacht – Small is what we love.
The first stop of the day is the West Coast Fossil Park that lies just outside of the main town. It’s something different and unusual then the norm we accustomed too.
The area in which the park is located where extinct animals such as the saber-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes, hunting hyenas and, African bears once lived.
The fossils were discovered by mine workers where 80% of the remains are unfortunately destroyed.
Because of climate change 5.2 million years ago, the animals could no longer survive and their bones have been scattered all over the place.
The museum offers an hour-long tour with a guide. Seeing that a tour was already happening, we waited at the restaurant for the time to go by; overlooking the rough, rugged landscape of the Park. The Guide took us to the site where she explained each and every bone and species, how researchers identify which species belongs to whom and, what the process is like. It’s informative, captivating and knowledgeable to know South Africa had fascinating creatures roaming the earth.
Now what bothered me is that we paid R80.00 per person for an hour-long tour only to be completed in 30 minutes. The other half of the hour got spent running our fingers through tiny bones on a mat. I left feeling quite disappointed. I was expecting more.
Too commercial for me
By the time we left the park, it was lunch time and I knew from my research that there’s a local coffee shop nearby. The town is bustling with people and cars and every building we passed is some sort of shop. It reminds me of Wynberg or Voortrekker Road. I had to remind myself that this is indeed a commercial and transportation hub so to be fair, I had to expect nothing less.
We stopped right in front of a beautiful masterpiece of a church. And of course, I whipped out my camera to snap as many angles I could get. This Dutch Reformed church is nothing but spectacular to stare at.
Vredenburg does come with a bit of history. ‘Vreden’ actually means ‘peace’ yet history states otherwise. The town originated of a water feud that ensued over a spring serving as the boundary line for the neighbouring 18th-century farms of Heuningklip and Witteklip. As a result, the spring became known as Twisfontein (fountain of strife), and after legal action was taken, it was renamed Prosesfontein (lawsuit fountain).
Our stomachs were grumbling and we drove in circles trying to find this shop. Where is it? Our GPS took us to warehouses and it can’t be there, right? So we went back to the church, got out of the car and thought it will be best to ask the locals.
They were unfriendly to say the last. Every person we asked walked right past us or simply said, “we don’t know”. After the 7th person, we gave up. Being a traveler, this is part of the package. But when you encounter a few nasty people, it leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth. It’s not to say that the entire community is unkind and unpleasant. It probably wasn’t our day.
Unfortunately, Vredenburg is not a town I’ll return too but I’m glad I got to experience it.
Have you been to Vredenburg? What was your experience like?
Until the next adventure.
Been living here for a year now. This is the best move I’ve made so far. Bustling economy. Good service delivery. I work for the municipality. We have a good employment rate which means less poverty and on average less crime.
I can’t speak to your experience. But this town and it’s surroundings offer just about anything a big city does without the clutter, noise and crime. Did i mention our great economy here?
So yeah… this is the town for me.
I have been staying here for 11 years and moved from Cape Town. I also stayed 4 years in Saldanha and 3 years in Langebaan. between the three I prefer Vredenburg. It is because you possibly chose the wrong people to ask and one of them was not me. Just opposite the church is Pick n Pay which has coffee shops and coming into Vredenburg we have Juffroushoogte. An amazing guesthouse and restaurant,. We are not an small town with lots of private owned coffee shops. We are “die dorp” so we consist of many franchised shops, restaurants and services. Feel free to contact me and please do visit us again as you did not have the full Vredenburg experience!
I am so sorry you feel this way. Moved here a little over 5yrs ago. Sorry about the rudeness you experienced, not all are unfriendly. The coffee shop/restaurant you were looking for was actually just around the corner in the IPIC Centre. Entrance to the centre on P&P side to your left. The West Coast Mall, 1.7km from IPIC Centre also have resraurants and and coffee shop. The town have lots to offer so please don’t let one bad visit spoil this little gem for you. Hope you would come back and explore some more.
I agree fully with your finding that Vredenburg is not a friendly place. Not just that, it can be a very nasty place to live. The municipality and traffic department, in contrast, are effective, helpful and friendly. But that is about all that is positive. The crime rate is very high and the police are known to be indifferent when they are needed.
In summary, it’s also not the town for me. The best intentions that I came here with have long been undone by the nastiness of the people. I hope to find myself out of here soon.