To Graaff-Reinet

Graaff-Reinet Travel Blog

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Traffic lights don't get more environmentally friendly than this...

It’s six o’clock when we get up, we leave the trading post at 7.45 am. Jennifer, Ashley’s wife and a very nice person, is seeing us off. She looks very much like Mrs. Bucket from Keeping up Appearances and her famous line “The Bouqet residence, the lady of the house speaking” comes to mind more than once. The trading post’s gate is narrow, no more than half a metre wider than our bus, but Gert is a very good driver and backs our bus through it in one go.

Right on schedule we are on our way to the local border authority at Van Rooienhek, where we arrive at nine. Formalities are settled swiftly and in no time we are on our way again.

After a while we come to a site where the road is under construction, and it is here that we see an environmentally friendly traffic light.

Eating our huge piece of chocolate cake in Aliwal North we had this view.
It is a stop sign that has Go/Rij on the back and it has to be turned by hand. Speaking of creating employment...

At 10.45 am we stop in a village called Aliwal North for coffee and chocolate cake in a beautiful restaurant on the riverbank with a terrace where we sit in the shade. The piece of cake is so big that Johan says it’s part of our lunch. Since Trudy doesn’t like either coffee nor chocolate cake, I arrange an ice cold glass of milk for her. This is a rarity, because everything that is not canned is lukewarm in South Africa. We have the opportunity to go for a short walk, but it is so hot that we choose to remain in the shade of the terrace.

We drive for about one hour and then at one pm lunch is waiting for us in a village called Burgersdorp.

During lunch in this restaurant in Burgersdorp we could enjoy replica's of famous cave paintings.
In the restaurant the walls are adorned with replica’s of famous paintings from the caves in this region. We cannot visit the caves, but at least we can have a look at the art, made by early man. The sandwiches and salad are great, but nobody’s hungry really, so Johan has the leftovers put in a doggy bag for some afternoon snacking.

The further we drive into the Groot Karoo (Great Karoo), the landscape gets dryer and the vegetation smaller. In the last hour before reaching Graaff-Reinet we see lots of springboks and storks on the plains that we cross.

At 4.45 pm we have reached today’s destination, our lodge in Graaff-Reinet. We get an ice cold, but alarmingly sweet welcoming drink. We drop our kit in our rooms and then we’re off into the town, together with Joke, Els, Annette and Barbara.

In the Groot Karoo water is more scarce than in the north.
A funny thing is that all the masts supporting the cell phone network in South Africa are disguised as trees, you can spot them, but you have to pay attention. We pass the Reinet house (this used to be the vicarage) and then head for the Groot Kerk (Great Church) which was built with an Anglican church in London as its example, unfortunately opening hours are over.

Tonight Trudy and I want to eat just with the two of us and we decide to go back to Number 8 Pub and Grill, which we passed earlier this evening. A smaller church (the St. James' Church) lies on the way to our dinner and its gate is still open. It looks nice, and silently we walk in to have a peak. We are not really dressed for church, so we stop as soon as we can put our heads through the wide open door. The sexton spots us immediately and invites us in. He is a very friendly man who wants to tells us all he knows about the history of the church but, so he says, if we have a moment the vicar will arrive shortly.

In this little church we were more than welcome.
And so he does, wearing his collar, short trousers and knee-high socks. The men show us old pictures of the church and tell us all they know. We are allowed to take pictures wherever we want, even standing on pulpit so I can get a better shot. After saying goodbye and thanking them for their kindness we take another walk, because I want to take some pictures of the old buildings with the brightly coloured sky as a fantastic background.

Then, finally, we are having dinner at Number 8. We order Springbok Espetada (or something). This is a metal skewer with cubes of succulent Springbok meat on it with a little salad and potatoes on the side. This is the best dish I have had on this entire trip. And it set us back only 160 Rand including drinks!

On our way back to the lodge a woman approaches us, begging for some money to buy a loaf of bread for her children.

Springbok Espetada is a dish every meateater should try at least once in his life.
She looks a little old for having little children, but I give her the benefit of the doubt and give her some coins. She counts them immediately, frowns, and then says that it’s not enough, since a loaf of bread costs 5 Rand. I smile and tell her that she should be happy with whatever she gets, then she smile back at me and thanks me for the alms.

Back in the lodge we take a refreshing shower and go to bed. Then we change beds, because there are some dead bugs in Trudy’s bed and she doesn’t like that too much. I don’t care, I sweep the deceased off my sheets and sleep like a log.

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Traffic lights dont get more envi…
Traffic lights don't get more env…
Eating our huge piece of chocolate…
Eating our huge piece of chocolat…
During lunch in this restaurant in…
During lunch in this restaurant i…
In the Groot Karoo water is more s…
In the Groot Karoo water is more …
In this little church we were more…
In this little church we were mor…
Springbok Espetada is a dish every…
Springbok Espetada is a dish ever…
In South Africa cellphone radio ma…
In South Africa cellphone radio m…
The Reinet House under coloured sk…
The Reinet House under coloured s…
Graaff-Reinet
photo by: Stormcrow