One of the challenges of travelling is finding ways to meet the locals – and one of the best ways of solving the problem is shopping where they shop. Especially if you can do it in the places where they’re also relaxing.
In short: going to their markets.
Community markets have been the hubs of peoples’ social lives for generations – and the market is still one of the best ways of enjoying an authentic experience of any host city.
Here are Five of our Favourites:
Friday evenings and weekend days at Lourensford Market
Lourensford Market – in its unique, U-shaped facility on the ridiculously scenic Lourensford Wine Estate (4 kilometres, 7 minutes from Easy Five) – boasts around 70 permanent stalls as well as numerous pop-up vendors for ongoing variety.
Friday’s Twilight Markets really rock. This is when friends and families come out to wind down after the working week – and on the first Friday of every month to enjoy ‘celebrated Cape Town DJs,’ with the dance floor ‘set up for an evening of dancing under the stars’ (quoted from lhfm.co.za).
The Saturday and Sunday affairs are rather more laid back – with local musicians performing live for the crowds. But whether you go on Fridays or on the weekend, you’ll enjoy an incredible selection of freshly prepared food, organic produce, handmade craft, and original art – as well as the ABRU Craft Brewery and, of course, Lourensford Estate’s superb selection of wines. You might also like to visit the Motor Studio, with its collection of the finest cars from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s.
The Lourensford Market takes place every Friday from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m., Saturdays 11:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. – but there’s always something new happening, so follow lourensfordmarket on Facebook for the latest updates.
Somerset West’s Country Craft Market
This excellent craft market takes place in the village from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on selected Saturdays (usually every second Saturday, although it closes altogether during winter – check here for dates).
Strict selection criteria ensure that almost everything on the market has been created by the crafters themselves – with the possible exception of second-hand books. And, since no agents are allowed to trade, you’re guaranteed to meet the artists in person.
Food and drink are available, and products range from African crafts to home and fashion accessories, and from applique to candle-wicking.
If you need gifts for the folks at home, and you’re in our area on a Country Craft Market day, you’re bound to find something authentically unique here – and it’s just 1.4 km from Easy Five!
Your kids have goat to have a blast at the Blaauwklippen Family Market
If you’re travelling with kids, visiting the Blaauwklippen Family Market could be the best way to spend your Sunday. It’s got a jaunty jungle gym to play on, wide open spaces to run free in, friendly goats and alpacas to meet, and pony rides on request on Market days.
But it’s not only about the kids: there’s plenty of fine food – from banting burgers to international cuisine (Indian samosas, Greek kebabs, German flammkuchen, Chinese dumplings…) – as well as arts, crafts, clothing, gadgets, and – but only once a month – an awesome antique fair.
It takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. under the fig trees on the spacious Blaauwklippen Wine Estate, 14 km (15 minutes) from Easy Five.
Nostalgia, meet Steampunk! It’s the Elgin Railway Market
This new addition to our area opened in 2018 – but it’s already a huge hit with the locals. And steam train enthusiasts, too!
It’s situated in a repurposed old apple warehouse (Elgin – just above Somerset West and over the Helderberg Mountains – is fine fruit-growing country) that’s been decorated in bustling Art Deco-meets-Victorian steampunk style. As befits its position next to the Ceres steam railway line.
Usually open on Wednesday and Friday evenings from 4:30 to 9:00 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (although sometimes at other times, too – check here for details), this market offers fine foods, artisanal coffees, wines, beers, and gins, sweet treats, and fresh produce and cut flowers from local producers. Crafters include woodworkers and potters, and – it goes almost without saying – the entertainment’s local and lekker.
You can get to the Elgin Railway Market by car – it’s about 32 kilometres (30 minutes) very scenic drive via Sir Lowry’s Pass from Easy Five – but you’ll probably have a lot more fun going by steam train with the Ceres Rail Company. The train runs from Cape Town to Elgin on the weekends (dates here). It’s a full day excursion that departs at 8:00 from the Royal Cape Yacht Club (48 km, 37 minutes from Easy Five), and includes a 3-hour train journey over the mountains, three and a half hours at the Market, and another three hours home by train (departing at 2:30, back at the Yacht Club at 5:30). Book here.
Eat like a locavore at Root 44 Market
No matter your culinary desire, you are sure to find it at the recently renovated and enlarged Root 44 Market just a 12-minute drive up Route 44 from Easy Five. From steak to sushi, waffles to wonder juice and everything in between, your toughest job will be deciding what to nosh on. With a large indoor area for those rainy or blustery days and extensive landscaped grounds, it is the largest – and probably busiest – market in the area. Besides a cornucopia of foods, there are also arts and crafts for sale and a large play area where your kids can work off steam. Open Saturdays and Sundays (and every day except Christmas between 16 December and 6 January) from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Another truly authentic experience of the awesome people of the Helderberg to enjoy when you stay at Easy Five!
Image: Lourensford Market (Francis Moran)