Get blown away at Lüderitz.
On our way from Sossusvlei to the Fish River Canyon, we spent a few days in the small town of Lüderitz.
Driving up there, we went from the calm, hot african weather to strong gusts of wind, blowing the sand across the road. We didn't think it was too serious at the time, but when we arrived at our guesthouse, the owner's first reaction was: 'Oh my god, I'm so glad you guys arrived here safely!' It made us believe that the streams of sand blanketing the road, were less normal than we thought after all.
But here we were, safe and sound at Haus Sandrose, our colorful stay for the upcoming two nights. Although Namibia is quite a safe country to travel through, we were advised to be careful in the towns, so we asked our hosts right away about the do's and dont's. They assured us it was as safe as any other city as long as you don't go wandering off alone in dark alleys at night and where you don't leave valuables visible in your car, (including nice shoes and clothing). Camping gear on the other hand wasn't likely to get stolen, they said, because most of the namibian people don't understand why anyone would want to sleep in a tent when you can afford a bed...
So we hauled all of our stuff from the car to our spacious room (very handy when you have all your luggage to store) and then... enjoyed our first good wifi connection in Namibia! Ideal to upload some pictures and say hi to family and friends.
To dine, our hosts suggested Diaz coffee shop, a short walk from the guesthouse.
It's a small restaurant divided in two sitting areas. On the left you have the oyster and winebar. The benches here are made out of old orange buoys and there are fishnets and shells everywhere. The perfect setting for a delicious oysters, squid and lobster meal.
The second night (oh yes, we returned ;)), we ended up at the right side which feels more like an old cafeteria. Less cosy, but the same good food. Knowing it's a rather small restaurant, I would advise to make a reservation. The kitchen closes at 9pm and although they are friendly enough to be flexible around that hour, we wouldn't advise a last minute order for a hot meal. We found ourselves in the dark about 5 times (blown fuse) while they were trying to get some late night customers their order.
Although the wind was down a little bit the next morning, it was still rather strong. We decided to hurry out and explore the town a little bit.
Our first stop was Shark Island. In addition to being a lovely viewpoint, this is also a campsite. We actually wanted to camp here at first, but after reading a few reviews about the extreme winds, we decided to play it safe and go for Haus Sandrose. Definitely the right choice. I don't think I would have been able to sleep there.
A pitty though, because locationwise, this is probably one of the most beautiful campsites I've ever seen!
Heading back to the center, it struck us how deserted the town was. We knew it wasn't the most popular namibian city, but we didn't expect it to be so empty...especially not during the weekend.
By then, the wind had gotten stronger again (it builds up during the day) and the cold had us longing for a coffee (somewhat of a 'city' tradition for us as well). Thanks to our Wifi session, Bernd had found this lovely Garden Café that, in contrast to most of the shops in town, was open for visitors. We entered thinking we would have a coffee and maybe grab a small, quick bite, but ended up staying there several hours!
The high walls and trees surrounding the property act as a windshield, turning their garden into this little peaceful oasis full of flowers, herbs, and white-wood furnishings. Add some sunshine, some amazing home made lemon rooibos tea and a latte to that and you can see why we weren't in a rush to get out of there.
Our busy travel schedule doesn't often leave room to chill out half a day, but as soon as we sat down in this garden, we felt so relaxed we just wanted to enjoy the sun and take it all in (including the quiche, a sandwich and some very generous slices of their homemade cake). ;)
They have a nice turtle, maintaining their lawn and an entire bathroom as a lavatory. The owner explained to me that this house used to be a B&B and the bathroom belonged to the room with the garden. They decided not to change it, as a 'huge lavatory' is convenient for people with small children.
They did a wonderful job turning their inside spaces into extremely cosy corners too! But of course nothing can top their amazing garden...
After our long pause, we finally continued our stroll around the city and turned up at the beautiful Goerke House up on Diamond Hill. This is probably the most prominent estate showing off the German roots of this small coastal city.
The house's first owner (Mr Goerke) only lived there for about two years before going back to Germany. It's said his wife didn't like living there. After that, the property's ownership varied over the years between the Consolidated Diamond Mines and the government. In 1975, this villa became a national monument open to visitors.
The visiting hours, mind you, are very limited: Monday to Friday between 14:00 and 16:00 and Saturdays and Sundays from 16:00 till 17:00. For 2,5€ you can spend as much time as you like inside the recently renovated villa.
We were welcomed by a young Namibian who had clearly memorized the history of the estate. A bit nervous, he informed us about the construction of the house, the different ownerships and the current use. It was hard to keep a straight face, because it really felt as if he was giving a speech at school and we were there to evaluate him. Maybe not the best guiding performance ever, but it was by far the cutest one!
Although we could definitely see the prestige it must have had in the past, we were surprised to learn that they are still accommodating diamond sector related VIP's in there...Don't get me wrong, I'm all for authentic charm, but not if it means sleeping in dusty beds...
Back to House Sandrose it was for us...one last night before heading off to the Fish River Canyon (Read: Things you need to know about the Fish River Canyon).
It was a short and windy stay at Lüderitz. Our visit to Kolmanskop the next morning (read here) would determine if we drove all the way down here for a good reason or... not... because unless you're a German architecture fanatic, there's not all that much to see/do here (again, especially during the weekends).
! Please note this wasn't in any way a sponsored blogpost. All opinions are my own!