Friday, 19 June 2009

Road Trip 2.2

Friday 5th June

We were up early to explore Prince Albert before heading off on a long driving day. The town is very picturesque, well maintained, friendly and rich in examples of public art.

All too soon it was time to go though we have promised ourselves to return in the future and spend some more time here and to explore the nearby Gamkaskloof (known as 'Hell' Valley).

We hit the road heading for the town of Graaff-Reinet via the picturesque gorge and the countless bridges of Meiringspoort.

After 4 hours and nearly 400km we arrived in Graaf-Reinet, a fairly large town by Karoo standards. We fuelled the 'bakkie' and went to see the Boer War memorial before heading to the Dutch Reformed Church in the centre of town to get some lunch at the lively church fete.

Suitably re-fuelled we headed back onto the raod and the short journey to our main goal of the day, The Owl House at Nieu-Bethesda, not as you may suspect a bird santuary but a fascinating insight into the life and art of one Helen Martins. The house remains as it was left by Ms Martins and offers a fascinating insight into her troubled life through her art. The graden is full of concrete statues, small structures made from bottles and wire musings whilst every surface on the inside of the house os covered in ground coloured glass. This place is a must for anybody who finds themselves nearby with a couple of hours to fill.

We headed back along the gravel road after a very enjoyable visit and decided that rather than staying back in Graaf-Reinet we would push on for an hour or so and see what we could find. This way we would be setting up a shorter drive to Kimberley the following day.

Two hours later and becoming bored of the stunning scenery (!) we arrived in Hanover the half way point between Cape Town and Johannesburg on the N1.

We drove around the near deserted grid of very wide streets until we stopped at the 3 Darling Street Guest House. We went inside and liked what we saw, well it has been declared a National Monument afterall! A bar and restaurant area with lots of polished brass and warm wood fires and the promise of comfortable accommodation. When we asked how much a room for the night would be it was no great surprise to find that it was outside our budget (double the budget in fact) that we had set. Fortunately for us Dave and Heather (the owners) are lovely and rather than let us walk away offered us a room for half price (it is a very quiet time of year) so we gladly accepted!

We carried our bags to the luxurious room, covered in original theatrical costume designs, situated accross the road from the bar and restaurant, unpacked and headed straight back for a drink and something to eat.

We had one of the best nights out either of us can remember. Being a Friday night the farmers from the surrounding area head into town to socialise. Fortunately for us the head to 3 Darling Street. We were made to feel very welcome indeed by the locals and can now count a good 7 or 8 as friends! Drinks flowed, stories were told, laughs were had and hangovers created. We now have an open invitation to return and go hunting or driving out into the Karoo whenever we like! As Elaine's Dad always tells us, the friendliest people you could wish to meet are country people from the Karoo, now I can agree with him!

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