It’s the middle of winter and the rains are late so the weather has been fabulous. Cold and crisp but sunny, and the light is beautiful at this time of year. Last Sunday my friend Caroline and I dressed warmly and, with her little girl, we set off for lunch and a walk through the very pretty historic village of Philadelphia, just 30 minutes from Cape Town.
Developed from a parish of the Dutch Reformed Church 1863, the name is of biblical origin and means ‘brotherly love’. Philadelphia began, as many small towns in South Africa, as a farm. Local farmers travelled all the way to Durbanville for Nagmaal (the Eucharist) and as a result a local farmer donated a portion of his land to build a church.
Philadelphia hasn’t been destroyed by developers so it’s still small and rustic. The village is dominated by the church and there are a few streets with a couple of shops, art galleries and restaurants. It’s also full of artistic people selling all manner of pretty things, from new and old. The most famous of which is probably the crystal shop where you can buy all sorts of stones, as well as plants, clothes, and a variety of novelty toys not found everywhere.
Getting there requires you to drive through gentle hilly countryside and in August and September the yellow canola fields are among the most photographed scenes of the Western Cape.
Our favourite restaurant is Pepper Tree and it’s so popular that we were very fortunate to be there early enough to get a table for lunch – it was packed. The large old trees are great for kids to climb and there are ropes for swinging. Service is somewhat slow but it’s the countryside, everyone is friendly and it all tastes good. The cheesecake is an absolute must!
After lunch we strolled through the village, Caroline took lots of photos, we bought scarves, rare succulents and other irresistible non-essentials. Then we drove home through the back roads of Durbanville, past wineries that we plan to visit on another day.
All photos by Caroline Elston, with thanks.