Friday, 19 June 2009

Road Trip 2.3

Saturday 6th June

After a very late Friday night we treated ourselves to a nice long sleep in the luxury of our electric blanketed king size bed and nursed the beginnings of hangovers with coffee.

We eventually forced ourselves to leave saying fond farewells to Dave and Heather (who seemed unaffected by the previous night's indulgences) and headed off on the next leg of this epic journey and the capital of the Northern Cape, Kimberley.

We had a brief stop in nearby De Aar for supplies and were immediately greatful that we had decided to stop in Hanover rather than continuing the previous night. De Aar is famous mostly for a song about the 'Bar in De Aar' frequented by railway travellers during stopovers to change trains at the large station over the road. Unfortunately for De Aar the trains don't seem to stop anymore and the town looks like it has been in decline for some time. To better put the feeling of the town into context try listening to this piece of music!

From here on the landscape changes, the mountains gave way to vast open plains and Savannah. All of a sudden the landscape started to look a lot like the Africa we see on the television back in Europe. The sheer scale of things takes a little getting used to and is quite simply awesome. After stopping again at Britstown (where Elaine forced me to eat a giant 'dagwood') and Hopetown (where Eureka, the first Diamond in South Africa was discovered)we finally reached our destination, Kimberley.

First up was a visit to the 'Big Hole' - Kimberley's main (and only?) tourist attraction. Pretty self explanatory really, what used to be a hill is now the largest man-made hole in the world following extensive diamond mining on the site between 1871 and 1914. I have to say that for a museum about a hole in the ground this one was fascinating. The viewing platform gave us an excellent view of the hole and it's deep blue water and the displays and information provided was first class.

Elaine especially liked the large vault containing some real diamonds as well as replicas of some of the largest diamonds found in South Africa.

Outside the museum is the 'Old Town' replicating the diamond rush era with many restored period buildings and even a working tramway. Highlight for Jon though was the fact that the 'Occidental Bar' was actually fully functioning! How could we resist an old time beer to celebrate another interesting day!

It was getting late so we checked into the functional but unexciting Formula 1 hotel and ate an equally unexciting meal at the local branch of Spur's. Still we had another great day and were now over 1400kms into the trip!

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