Clarens – Jewel of the Eastern Free State

A Day in Clarens

Clarens is a small town in the Eastern Free State will a lot going on.

I visited Clarens in 2015, just after my 21st birthday.

With my leave booked and our accommodation sorted, a close friend and I got into a car and drove to the Free State. We were headed for her family and would be spending a weekend on their farm.

The farm was peaceful and beautiful. I met her family for the first time we got along instantaneously. One the second day we decided to visit Clarens for the day. We packed our backpacks and off we went, excited to see the famous Clarens.

As we pulled into town my heart sank. It was not at all what I had expected! There were only a few tar roads and the buildings were small. I decided to make the best of the opportunity, swallowed my disappointment and set off to explore. We walked into almost every tiny shop we could find. There are a few interesting shops and then a few very strange places. My wanderlust ignited and my opinion of Clarens immediately changed.

Clarens Outside Edited
Beautiful scene outside cafe

We met an elderly couple while buying some chilli jam and had an interesting conversation with a young woman working at the art gallery.

Clarens Car Edited
Antique car outside jam shop

Hunger growled as it awoke from its slumber in our bodies and we searched for a place to eat. We saw a few signs that pointed to a German bar and smiles betrayed our excitement.

Clarens German Bar
German bar

We had a platter of German sausages and we each had a cherry beer to wash it all down. Despite the small size, it was a feast! I have never been big on beer but I enjoyed the cherry beer we tasted.

Clarens Cafe Edited
Interesting cafe

We decided to stroll around some more before heading back home. In a corner, we spotted an interesting shop selling cherry products. Clarens is well-known for its cherries and I have always loved a sweet, red cherry. There was a huge variety of cherry products but we settled on some alcohol, obviously. I bought a small bottle of cherry mampoer, the South African equivalent of moonshine, and my friend settled on some cherry liquor. We were barely outside when I opened my moonshine to have a sip. The fumes rushed into my nose, making my hair stand on end and goosebumps to rush run down my spine. I took a sip but it was far from good; it was terrible! The muscles in my face contracted, pulling my face in strange ways. We both burst out laughing, closed the bottle and never opened it again. I still have the moonshine but I fear to ever open the bottle again!

We headed back home with our souvenirs in hand and memories in our hearts.

Things to Remember

  • The shops are constantly changing, so it’s difficult to say where to go and what to see.
  • Antiques! There are quite a lot of antique stores and I have always been a fan of old, musty furniture.
  • Explore. There is a lot to do in and outside of Clarens. Try the hiking trails!
  • Talk to people. The people are very friendly and they are more than willing to help out. We were even invited to a few parties and hiking trips within minutes of a conversation.

Clarens is a great place that I would love to visit again soon!

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