domingo, 27 de marzo de 2022

Windhoek, Namibia: Sleeping in the German Castle, Heinitzburg



Hotel Heinitzburg



Now back to finish the recount of our vacation in Namibia. We leave Swakopmund, a beautiful vacation beach, and drive to the nation's capital. We arrive in four hours by car and drive through desert roads to the desert of the pavement.




We were lucky to stay in front of the swimmingpool




Doing the Covid Test to fly home




View from the Garden Terrace





We arrived at the Heinitzburg Castle Hotel. It looked like a medieval castle and was an oasis in the heat of the afternoon. We settled in and booked a table at their Garden Terrace restaurant.



But the time to rest had to wait. We drop off our bags and drive to the Covid Testing Station. We were right on time because in two days we would be flying back to Cape Town. We waited a bit, because a group of women (that we met in the Solitaire gas station) got ahead of us and they were like 10 women who were escorting a famous woman from Africa, from some country neighbouring Namibia. We got a little desperate seeing how they got into the line, justifying that they were a group.




Our room




Well, we did our tests and went back to rest in the hotel pool. We were very lucky to have two rooms on the garden side, facing the terrace. The holidays were coming to an end and soon we would be back with our pets Chica and Lola.




Dinner al fresco






We dined with a formidable view of the city. The heat had subsided and there was a delicious breeze blowing. The feeling of the castle was there and the rooms also had that touch of charm.



Windhoek by night




Shopping Center and a German Restaurant




Grove Mall




The next morning, our plans weren't many. My husband would have a work visit to a veterinarian and my daughters and I would visit the largest shopping center in Windhoek. Back to school was just around the corner and I had to find some things for school.






A very german architecture




We got up and quietly enjoyed breakfast on that magnificent terrace of the hotel. Without haste we get ready and drive to the Grove Mall.


We stayed there until after two in the afternoon. My husband arrived and we went to eat at the Rocco Mamas Burger Restaurant, a chain that we met in South Africa. Well, apparently in Namibia many products are imported from South Africa and the stores in the shopping center were the same as we know in Cape Town.



And the test that did not arrive




Having fun at the
german restaurant



We did not receive any results of the covid test by email, we drove back to the clinic to ask for the result. Sure enough, someone had made a mistake in our data, but fortunately we were negative and we could travel by plane back home.


The vacation routine returned and we spent a very pleasant afternoon in the hotel pool. In the evening we would go to dinner at the famous German restaurant Joe's Beer Garden. The best decision we would have made.


The restaurant seats about 600 people. So it was not a problem to find a table, because in times of Covid, tourists are scarce. The place was packed with locals and some German tourists and us of course.





Back home with 
Airlink




My husband was happy because I tried a typical German sausage with French fries and salad. He had a a chicken Cordon Bleu.


And that's how our vacation ended. The next morning, we had a leisurely breakfast and flew with Airlink, the South African airline, without any problem. Thank you very much for reading me. My next story will be about our vacation in the famous Kruger Park. Until next time!

domingo, 27 de febrero de 2022

Smelling like a seal: Cape Cross







Hello, I'm still with the story of Namibia. This time to tell you about a very interesting place near Swakopmund, Cape Cross, the paradise of the seals. We traveled by car from the Strand Hotel. It took us an hour and a half to get there. The tour was along the coast and the desert. On the way we try to pause to contemplate the sunken ship. But we couldn't even get out of the car, because immediately the crystal sellers came out of their hiding places to show us their treasures. A car in front of us was his object of attention, and we decided instead to continue the journey towards the seals. But we took nice photos from the window. 




 
The paradise of precious stones 





Namibia is famous for having precious crystals. On our way back, my daughter bought a Rose Quartz crystal. Obviously there were no vendors. Only tables exhibiting the pieces. The tourist could pay by depositing the money in a small metal box that nobody could move because it was fixed to the metal table. Good method. Although everyone can take them without paying. We arrived at the park entrance. The tourist is greeted by two metal seals. The door leading to the sanctuary. We saw few tourists on the way. We were really only two families and they were already finishing the tour of the beach. Cape Cross harbours around seals. The sanctuary is protected and you have to pay the entrance at the booth near the beach. 





 80,000 t0 100, 000 of Seals 





The first impression when seeing them is surprising. It wasn't cold but I put on a cap so the wind wouldn't ruin my hairstyle. It was a sunny day and the seals' skin shone with its natural oil. Your protection against the cold. The shock of the visit was seeing dead seals on the sand. Few adults, but many babies that did not survive their journey to predatory gulls or other adults that crushed them. But it was so nice to hear them calling their moms as they moved on the beach! On certain parts of the road, seals could get through. The fence was open, but they didn't do anything to us. 






When somebody knows were you went just by smelling  you!


Many of them were under the raised wooden path, sheltering from the sun. On leaving, right at the entrance, a group of seals had landed, making it impossible for us to cross. My husband and daughters got through with no problem, but one of them got mad at me when I ran away. But it was more his laziness to get up than the trouble I gave him. We get back in the car and find our way to the Fish Corner restaurant at Hentiesbaai. A seafood and fish restaurant. When the waitress showed us to the table, she immediately asked us: Did you visit Cape Cross, right? The smell of seal gave us away. 











Luckily our table was outside and almost all the diners had left or were paying. I ate fish cakes. My eldest daughter spaghetti, the youngest and my husband fish and chips. Back at the hotel, the first thing we did was take a shower. When we were ready, we went for a walk along the boardwalk and then had dinner at a typical tourist restaurant, nothing special. The next morning the journey would continue to Windhoek. The last station before returning to Cape Town. I will continue this story next time. Thanks for reading me!

sábado, 22 de enero de 2022

Swakopmund, the German Beach that appears Out of Nowhere


From Sossusvlei to Swakopmund

Hello, back to continue with the story of Namibia. The trip that we started through this country in the month of September 2021.

A little bit of scenery. But most of the time
 the way was dunes!


We leave the Sossusvlei region to continue the journey to the city of Swakopmund, which is on the sea. It is a city with German heritage. Let us remember that Namibia was a colony of this country.


Solitaire Gas Station!


Time to eat a German pie just below the Tropic of Capricorn


Time stops here!


The first stop was at Solitaire, a gas station in the middle of the desert. In this place the clock stopped as in the 60's. The gas station works with all possible modernity, but they have left the dispensing tanks of yesteryear. You can also see the remains of vehicles on the desert, which gives it a touch of abandoned place.

The most famous German Apple Cake


But it is not so abandoned, because the visitor has the option of sleeping in two hotels. It is a mandatory stop for tourists, considering that Solitaire is just below the Tropic of Capricorn.


Looking like an abandoned place, but with 2 hotels!

We did not fill gas but we arrived at this station to try the famous German cake of Mc Gregor's Bakery.



From the desert to the beach



From the dessert to the beach!


The journey to Swakopmund continued along a deserted road, in the dunes. If you have ever wondered what our civilization might look like in ruins, then this road will give you an idea. That was what happened to me. I felt lost, far from everything. As if Planet Earth were in extinction.

Promenade


This feeling was deepened by the installation of a pipeline across the road. At some points it was under construction, and at others it was already installed.


But the smell of the sea reached our car, we were approaching the coastal city of Swakopmund, founded by German settlers in 1892.



Someone was very happy at the Strand Hotel


Suddenly, the desert weather changed and we started to get cold. The sea breeze greeted us as we stepped out of our vehicle to check into the Strand Hotel Swakomund.


We leave the shorts to dress with pants and jackets. That night we dined at the hotel's German restaurant, Brewer and Butcher. Obviously my husband couldn't resist looking at the menu and ordered the famous Eisbein German-style beef.


South African tourists, Germans, a convention plus the locals having breakfast

The next morning, patience would be the first thing we would have to practice. The hotel restaurant was packed. We were very lucky the night before at the German brewery. It was also packed with hotel guests.



A typical German Market


Apparently the South Africans had visited the Namibian beach during the holiday, Heritage Day. We also noticed that German tourists had returned to this country. In addition, in the hotel there was a group of guests from a company in a meeting. After waiting a long time, we got our table.

More German Architecture


We finally walked through a city again


The morning was to finally be able to walk at our leisure. Along the boardwalk where we saw a dolphin, and of course, through the city, with a very German architecture. We also got into a courtyard where a famous flea market had been set up.


Anker Platz

We arrived at the Ice and Spice restaurant to savour delicious ice cream sundaes. We also visited in this square, Anker Platz, souvenir shops and a local Earthnique jewelry store. We walked even further through the city until we reached the Kristall Gallery, but it was closed. Afterwards we walked back to the hotel. It was a pleasure!


The night would continue with more walking this time from the hotel to the authentic Fish and Seafood restaurant The Tug. Not with tourists, but with many locals.

Are we in Germany?



More German Influence!


The next morning a great adventure awaited us: Cape Cross, the seal sanctuary.


The Tug

I will tell you this next time. Thanks for reading me!

martes, 11 de enero de 2022

Hot Air Balloon Ride to the Dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia





Hello, I am back to tell you about the most impressive adventure of 2021, a balloon trip to contemplate the entire landscape of the Sossusvlei region in Namibia.





That day, September 23rd, we got up at four in the morning. We left the hotel to travel at four thirty. A company employee picked us up at the hotel reception. We waited about 15 minutes because one of the guests forgot his mask. We drove about 45 minutes from the Sossusvlei Desert Lodge to the Namib Sky Balloon Safaris Camp.

 



We arrived and there was already a group of more than 30 tourists. Once again the activity was slowed down because we were waiting for two tourists who did not arrive. Finally we drove in four vehicles to meet at the Namib Sky area where the air balloons were being prepared.





The adventure started by filling the balloons with hot air.

The owner, Eric Hesemans, directed his employees in several languages ​​to fill two balloons with air. We heard him speaking to his employees in Afrikaans and in English. And probably in other African languages. Later we realized that he is a polyglot.











The Assembling of the balloon


Assembling a balloon is not easy. They are made with fabrics manufactured in Spain.


But they are beautiful! The basket is made of wicker. The colours of the balloon are those of the Belgian flag. Eric is from this country, although he was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.





When the two balloons were ready, Eric called us all to form two groups. We were the first to climb up the basket, because for security reasons it did not have a door. And so the journey began.


After listening to all the safety instructions we began the journey through the Namibian sky.

Dawn and currents: We don't feel the speed in the air.





The first impression of the trip was to contemplate the earlier rays of the sun. These hot air balloon rides are scheduled to watch the sunrise. We hardly saw it because of the tourists who were late.


Eric explained many things to us about the desert, especially his adventures in the Dunes. Before they flew directly to the Big Daddy Dune. They landed on it once and were unable to get it back to the Namib Sky facility. They left the balloon there overnight. The next morning, they found the balloon carp destroyed by the hyenas. These animals eat everything! Eric told us.







But we flew very close to the dunes. On this trip we learned that there are different air currents. Obviously Eric is a specialist in recognizing them and taking advantage of them for each maneuver in his balloon.


Speed ​​is not felt. It is incredible. Air and balloon merge into a single element. They are a unity. Really with a specialist, you can't be afraid of being at that point.





We obviously saw some animals. Some Oryx and a rabbit. For Eric the animal adventure on the balloon has been Zambia. Safaris by air. That is my dream, to see from the heights the Big Five of Africa.








The journey was about to end. We listened to the recommendations of the landing and the culmination of the trip was to witness the perfection of the landing, since the basket landed right in the vehicle that would transport it to the Namib Sky Lodge. The owner is an expert in this maneuver. Definitely the best decision to have traveled in a balloon through the Sossusvlei desert.







The Breakfast in the desert






Then the vehicles took us to a special area in Sossusvlei. There the company had prepared a brunch for us. Around nine tables were waiting for tourists from all over the world: Brazil, the United States, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, and of course, Mexico.





During lunch we had the opportunity to speak with Eric. He told us about all his adventures around the world. He loves Latin America, especially Costa Rica, where he lives part of the year. He has also traveled through Mexico. His Spanish is perfect. His son is married to a Brazilian girl. What an international family!







The food was excellent. The show of opening the champagne with the machete was part of it. Time was up and we returned to the hotel. We will always remember those hours in the Namibian sky. We waited several days to do it because the wind conditions were not appropriate. Luckily our trip was confirmed for one day before traveling to Swakopmund. That was our next adventure through this desert country. Thanks for joining me and until the next adventure!