It’s all about wine up in this area of South Africa, and as a non-drinker, it was pretty interesting to see what else was on offer in Stellenbosch.
The town itself is very pretty, nice old European architecture in all the main streets, and the town centre is spacious and filled with rather nice little art shops and cafes. Art seems to be a focus of the town, with lots of bits and pieces dotting the streets, and plenty of galleries to be seen. There’s also a rather obvious Christian element, which I was faced with in the form of a male choir and preaching group who started to warn the entire street of their sins during breakfast (far too early for a sermon).
To the north of the town, past the university is a couple of parks, the botanical garden is small, but well presented, while the larger one is more spacious allowing for family picnics and events. It felt very community minded, with lots of people coming together to enjoy the good weather and a brai (South African barbecue). The larger also had an area of set aside land that was supposed to transport the visitor back to the natural state of the area before the settlers, but in all reality it felt as though they simply could not be bothered to cultivate the park land any further. There is plenty of brush land to be seen elsewhere, it did not need a large section of the park dedicated.
The most interesting thing about this town is the overwhelming student population, they appear at night to take over the bars and clubs. I joined them for a night (with a group from the Hostel), starting in a funky little rock bar, watching the local boys show off their skills on the table football. It’s clear that they’ve been practising, like Pool in the UK, table football is an institution (at least in Stellenbosch). From there on to a club, where the usual commercial hits were playing downstairs, but upstairs a very different matter, hardcore trance in one room with strobe lighting and more table football, imagine playing that with strobes on! The last room was the most peculiar thing, the music was a danced up style of Dutch folk, and the kids were doing a traditional style of swing dance. It was very strange but entertaining to watch, surprisingly energetic and physical as well. It seemed to the way the ugly boys would try to impress girls, as the ones that were the best were nearly all hideous!
Overall a pleasant stop, but definitely missable compared to most of the other places I saw in SA.