A long winding road and wide open spaces; good food, good company and giant Great Danes … these are a few of my favourite things
I’ve just completed an eye-opening road trip along the N3 corridor with the N3 Toll Concession (N3TC). The company was keen to demonstrate all the various aspects that go into maintaining and managing one of the country’s most important arteries. Unfortunately, though, you’re going to have to wait for the October issue to get all the juice.
However, the two-day trip from Johannesburg to Pietermaritzburg gave me the opportunity to, once again, fall in love with the allure of the open road and all that goes along with it. As they say, it’s all about the journey …
It doesn’t matter much where you’re going, or whether you’ve travelled the route before (can you count how many times you’ve driven the N3?); there is always more to see and do.
Getting hold of a detailed, up-to-date tourist’s map will allow you to easily spot interesting places to visit not far off the beaten track. It’ll also probably lead you on to alternate routes, where you’ll discover so much more that the country has to offer – little dorpies, scrumptious food, fantastic views and interesting people.
Sure, those routes and the stops along them will lengthen your journey somewhat, but, if you’re travelling for pleasure, why not? It gives you the chance to stay over somewhere you’ve probably never heard of before.
Oaklands Country Manor, in Van Reenen, was our overnight stop on the N3TC tour. I can highly recommend you make some time to spend there on your next adventure.
The area is steeped in history, and the manor, itself, has been in existence since before the First Boer War. Even if you don’t want to extend your stay and explore the heritage, you can enjoy a good book, delectable food and the company of the manor’s Great Danes as you take in the splendour of the rolling hills that surround you.
You can read a full review of this hidden gem by visiting FOCUS’s online sister publication, Cyberstoep.co.za; but, really, any place that tickles your fancy will do. It all adds to the experience.
That brings me to the next essential ingredient for the perfect road trip: good company. Taking a trip with good friends will only mean laughs, smiles and a good time. The journalists and our hosts from the N3TC – Con Roux and Anita Heyl – were a friendly, jovial bunch, so we had no problems there!
Of course, a road trip has the potential to open your eyes to so much more. One of the most magical sights this time, on Van Reenen’s Pass itself, was the train of over fifty trucks (we lost count) heading down the pass. I suppose it was a case of good timing on our part, so we made our way to the head of the train (a good couple of kilometres) to enjoy the parade as it came past.
At one point, a much smaller train made its way up at the same time, adding to the spectacle. I’m willing to bet even the most ardent truck adversary would’ve been impressed, but for us “truck nuts” it could not have been more perfect.
Well, it could have. We discovered that the reason for the convoy was that a cross-border truck had taken a break on the side of the road, as his brakes were beginning to overheat.
Admittedly, that wasn’t the only malady on the trip (at least he had the sense to pull off the road before causing a major incident), but you’ll just have to wait for the full feature to find out what else happened …
I suppose it can’t be entirely smooth sailing (or should that be going?), but that’s undoubtedly the fourth aspect that makes the perfect road trip: the unexpected. So, next time you need to get away, be a bit whimsical – and enjoy the journey.
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