Shopping and Steam Trains make a good combination for a day out. In this case I am referring to a trip yesterday to Elgin Railway Market. Elgin is a place I associate with apples and it is not surprising because about 60% of South Africa’s apples are grown in this valley. More recently they have started making wine and I believe there are some unusual varieties due to the climatic conditions. I must make a plan to do some wine tasting there soon.
I supposed it is was inevitable that some clever businessman would figure out that a grand old apple warehouse could be converted to an interesting market. Then work out that as the apple warehouse is in a rather rural location, but next to a train station, that a steam train would be a good way to bring in more customers.
My sister and her husband bought tickets for the steam train which runs from Cape Town to Elgin so we arranged to meet her at the market. We arrived about 30 – 60 mins before the train was due to arrive. So we got some coffee, found a nice table and settled down to wait. In the end the train was about an hour late. It seems it kept running out of steam and had to stop to let the steam to build up again. The route to Elgin is uphill and includes the rather spectacular Sir Lowry’s Pass with fantastic views of the sea.
The market offers a nice range of food stalls so once my sister arrived we all went to get something to eat. One thing I liked about the market is that while there were enough people for it to feel lively there weren’t excessive crowds. We didn’t have to queue for long and were able to find a decent place to sit. (I once went to a festival where they even charged to get into the seating area and we left feeling cheated.) In fact at the Elgin Railway Market we were able to find a nice place to sit overlooking the train tracks and could watch them preparing the steam train for the return journey while enjoying a few drinks and some cake. I particularly like the gin bar with a good range of gins and tonics and interesting garnishes.
We also managed to browse the various craft stall which included wine tasting, clothes, jewelry and paintings. I managed to get a jar of bacon, rosemary and pinotage chutney for IT Guy and a nice necklace for one of my nieces. It was a good day out but I must say, I’m not sure I would drive that far just for the market. It definitely needed the added attraction of something like the steam train.