On day 3 we had an early morning again as we had so much to see. We were greeted by light snow fall, the first on our trip. The day was cold and grey.
We took the u-bahn and visited the Frauenkirsche church, a symbol of Munich.
We made our way to central station to catch the train to Salzburg, birthplace of Mozart. The train was overfull and people just kept pushing so in the end I had a two hour standing journey.
Salzburg was wonderful. We went to Mirabelle palace with its beautiful gardens and the view of Hobensalzburg castle in the background on the hill.
We did the hop on hop off which was disappointing. If you have a few days and can do all the lines it may be worth it but not for a day. You can really see most things by foot if you go to the old town. There were various Christmas markets all over town.
We had lunch at the Christmas Market on Mirabellplatz. I don’t know what I had. It looked like a type of pork pie with soup (which was more of a broth) but it was tasty and hot. We also had fabulous hot chocolate with that.
We then went to the market in front of the dome which was very festive and pretty.
The train ride back was much better and we ended the day by buying some things at the station and using self check out, a new experience.
On day 2 we were up early and had a fabulous breakfast at the hotel. The streets outside were filled with children walking to school and we decided to walk to the Imperial Castle that overlooks the city to watch sunrise which is only after 8.
Afterwards we went in search of Albrecht Dürer’s house, a famous Renaissance painter and explored the surrounding area.
We then visited the St. Lawrence church which is more than 700 years old.
We drove to Munich where we visited the Olympia stadium that overlooks BMW headquarters. There is a Walk of Stars along the pond, similar to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
After we checked into the hotel we went to the infamous Hofbrauhaus for a beer and late lunch. Although not a beer drinker it was great fun to drink with other patrons in a beer hall.
The Christmas market at Marien Platz was extemely busy and people pushy so after a taste of glühwein with a shot of Jagermeister and a pretzel to eat (which is nothing to write home about) we were on our way back to the hotel for an early evening.
Our holiday started with a bang when I forgot my mom’s passport at home. We were already on our way to the airport in an over full Uber when ma asked me about her passport. Needless to say we had to go back home, then got stuck in traffic but we still made it in time.
After long queing at passport control, we were on the plane and our adventure was about to start – literally. The temperature on the plane was like 36 degrees, it was difficult to breath, it was so hot but they were working on fixing the aircon and we were so excited. We got the special seat we wanted with extra leg room – no seat in front of us – a tip from years ago about ths specific plane.
We taxied to the runway and was about to take off when the pilot let us know that the plane had two system fails and we couldn’t take off. After the engineers had a look they told us we had to get on another plane. Our flight was delayed by over two hours.
We switched planes and finally got in the air. When we eventually landed in Munich, everyone clapped, I think out of pure relief.
We arrived with the feeling of Christmas in the air. It was cold but festive, with Christmas trees all around, a small ski rink and shops.
We got our hired car and was on our way to Nuremberg. After we checked into the hotel and had a narrowing escape driving around (against oncoming traffic at one point) looking for the car park, we went to the market where we had Nuremberg Rostbratwurst on a roll and a glühwein.
We found the golden ring at the Schöner Brunnen (Beautiful Fountain) which, according to legend, brings you good luck if you turn it three times and make a wish.
Our morning started with huge confusion as we could not figure out the time and we had to be at the waterfront in Walvis Bay at 9. They changed over to day light saving (or is it from???) and as South African’s who do not have this we suddenly had a watch showing one time, the phone and TV another and we were not sure what was going on. In the end it seems we scored an extra hour of sleep. We went on a three hour catamaran cruise with Laramon Tours and what a fabulous and exciting experience. They take you around the harbour which is in a bay and then out to Pelican point where the lighthouse is and also a small colony of about 50 000 seals. On the way we saw dolphins, seals, pelicans and some people even saw the rare mola mola (sunfish).
Some of the seals are so tame that they jump into the boat to come say hello before going overboard again. A seagull also caught a lift for a while sitting on one of the motors and we had the most spectacular dolphin show as they swam in the waves created by the boat. They serve sparkling wine, oysters and other snacks on the boat and you can just sit and take in the beautiful surroundings with the dunes in the distance. We learned a lot about the dolphins as well as the oysters harvested in the bay.
After the boat trip we shopped at all the fun stalls and craft shops before heading to the lagoon which is home to about 10 000 flamingos. We got a guide to take us around the lagoon to explain the two different flamingo types as well as the salt works and the 25 salt pans which provides salt to most of europe and africa. It was interesting to see. The salt in the pans have a pinkish colour due to micro organisms that they put in the pans but the colour apparently changes based on the saline levels.
We headed to the dunes just past Langebaan as my cousin wanted to do sandboarding. Swakop is known as the adrenalin capital of Namibia for a reason. It offers many extreme sport activities. I was happy to play photographer again and watch my cousin slide down the dune which also incuded a trip on quad bikes again to take us to the site. It was a great deal of fun. We had coffee and cake afterwards at Cafe Anton which is a traditional German confectionary and decided on pizza for supper. Our holiday is almost over as we head to Windhoek tomorrow.
We went to the crystal gallery in town which has the biggest quartz cluster crystal in the world (weighing over 14 tons and about 520 million years old) and other beautiful crystals. We browsed a few shops looking for gifts to take home and then went north to Henties Bay, about 70km from Swakopmund.
There is nothing between the towns except for places to fish. Henties Bay (and it seems everything on the way to it) is about fishing. We were set to find the seals at Cape Cross north of Henties and the dead sea which we weren’t exactly sure where it was. Henties was a bit of a let down in that it doesn’t seem to offer much if you are not into fishing and the tourist centre was closed already so we drove through town looking at a few colourful houses and then set off to the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. What a sight. There are seals where-ever you look. There is an estimate 300 000 cape fur seals that live there which is the largest colony of these seals in the world. I have seen big colonies of seals in Houtbay previously but nothing compares to this. It is however a stinky and noisy place where a mother seal can apparently recognise her pup through smell which seems surreal if you see the masses and catch a whiff of that stink.
North of Swakop is also the start of the Skeleton Coast which has many shipwrecks due to the thick fog by the coast. There is dense fog about 2/3rds of the year which is due to the cold sea current. We found more fishing spots which look deserted and reminds a bit of scary movies in isolated areas ut apparently this fills up over holidays. After searching for quite a while we found the “Dead Sea” which is an old tin mine that is now a swim hole from ground water that rose up. It is near the Fisherman’s Inn with very bad signage which can be easily missed. The water looks green due to all the minerals and apparently it has the same boyancy as the dead sea but as we were all alone out in the nothing (it is about 17km inland on a dead gravel road with not a living soul in sight) we decided not to brave it and only put our feet in the water. Along the main road there are lots of little stalls that sell salt crystals and they have an honesty policy with a bottle or old rusted tin out so that you can take a crystal and leave some money for some soul to return in the near future.
We arrived back in Swakop quite late and decided to have dinner at The Tug Restaurant which is built with pieces of a real tugboat. It is apparently one of the best seafood restaurants. We decided on meat dishes which was a big mistake and a horrible experience so the lesson learnt is that is a restaurant is known for seafood, don’t try anything else they offer. The cocktails were however amazing.
What a phenomenal day! Our day started early. We were picked up just before 8 and went on a 5 hour living desert tour with Tommy. What an experience. We drove through the Namib desert between Swakopmund and Walvis bay which is a 6 kilometer stretch of dunes in the oldest desert in the world.
A desert forms due to a lack of water. The average rainfall here is between 3-15ml per year. Few plants and animals can live in this inhospicable conditions and those that do are adapted in many special ways in which to get or store water and also what they can eat such as turning dead plant material into energy, having two stomachs, being able to draw water from their blood etc.
We saw dollar and nara plants, two types of geckos, cameleon, different kinds of beatles, a tunnel spider nest, jackal and an adder snake. It was an extremely informative and educational tour. We even tasted the horribly bitter sap of the nara plant. Where there is a nara plant, there is water – it might be 85m down in the earth though. The desert sand can get up to 75 degrees Celcius.
After the tour we had lunch at Tiger Reef beach bar on the beach before going to Walvis bay about 30km from Swakopmund. We headed out to Dune 7 and had the most fabulous time driving on quad bikes for an hour among the dunes. Brendan was our tour guide and he showed us an adder and a nara fruit along the way. Riding in the desert was one of the best experiences ever.
My cousin climbed Dune 7 which is a 85m high dune. I took photos of her on all fours battling the sand but she managed to get to the top. The oldest recorded person to climb the dune was 81 and the fastest was in 2.04min.
We ended the day with supper at the Jetty.
Namibia, a land of incredible beauty and contrast. My cousin and I flew from Johannesburg to Windhoek in our neighbouring country, Namibia. We landed at midday and found only one other plane at the Windhoek airport. Windhoek is the capital of Namibia and located in the central region. We left and headed east to Swakopmund, a coastal town in the Namib Desert.
The airport is about 40km outside Windhoek. You have to travel north on the B1 before heading west on the B2. There is only one tar road to Swakopmund and somehow my cousin and I missed it (difficult to believe, I know, but we are notorious for taking wrong roads or turns so I guess no Amazing Race in our future). After we managed to find the correct road at last we realised that we were hungry and thirsty and were so happy to see the Engen One Stop garage only to realise they were still building it. There are no stops on the road so if you want something or need the bathroom, the only places to stop along the way is either in the towns of Okahandja or Karibib.
We did however manage to have a whole lot of fun on our 5 hour trip and saw a great deal along the way. We saw giraffes, warthogs, horses, goats, squirrel, eagle, kudu, falcon, quailes, cows, baboons, guinea foul and an unconfirmed rhino (which most time in Africa turns out to be a big fat rock).
We watched the lanscape change from the plateau to the barred dry land of the desert and what an interesting sight. We checked in to our guest house and headed off to the Jetty to watch the sun set over our first day. We ended the day with a fabulous dinner at The Wreck restaurant overlooking the ocean. I am looking forward to some sleep as we have a half day tour at 7.50 tomorrow morning.