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Namibia Windhoek

from Frankfurt to Windhoek

8th September Frankfurt

As we had the rally here we decided to spend a day in Frankfurt, making it easy to catch our overnight flight to Windhoek. A slightly chaotic start as Lufthansa has decided to parcel out our flight to their low cost Eurowings division (designed for short-haul European destinations and consequently not really comfy enough for long haul), putting on a 2nd flight to Windhoek leaving just 40 minutes earlier (very confusing) and rebadging ours as going to Victoria Falls (no mention of via Windhoek); then getting upset when everyone kept querying it! And don’t even mention the suggestion we share a yoghurt spoon because they’d run out! Go figure!!

9th September Windhoek

We finally arrived at Windhoek at a civilised 9am at Hosea Kutako International Airport, disembarked onto the tarmac and walked into the immigration building. It was very quick and easy through immigration as we were all sorted in advance. After collecting our luggage we found the EuropCar counter and collected our car keys. Whilst Steve sorted this out I went to get a SIM card for the phone so we could use GPS. A long line snaked out of one shop, but a friendly guard pointed me to a second shop with no one and I had sorted it all out when Steve arrived 15 minutes later. The card turned out very well; we had 3 vouchers to top it up, one a week, for less than €25 in total and it handled all our GPS with no problems.
Leaving the terminal to collect our rental (a Dacia Duster), we had to watch a short video on driving safely in Namibia (pretty obvious stuff like don’t hit animals, don’t drive in ditches, don’t cross flooded rivers) before being allowed our car. Then it was a 45km, 50 min drive to Windhoek along the B6 motorway. On arriving there we turned right onto Sam Njoma Drive. At the intersection with Nelson Mandela Drive (and shopping centre) we turned right to Metje Street and then right again to Ziegler Street.
Windhoek is located in a basin, 1,680m high, between the Khomas Highland, Auas and Eros Mountains. Whether due to pure luck or a brilliant stroke of Germanic planning, the city is situated in almost the countries epicentre. Windhoek is the social, economic, political, and cultural centre of the country. Nearly every Namibian national enterprise, governmental body, educational and cultural institution is headquartered here. Central Windhoek is a modern, well-groomed city where office workers lounge around Zoo Park at lunchtime, tourists funnel through Post St Mall admiring African curios and taxis whizz around honking at potential customers. In fact, first impressions confirm that the city wouldn’t look out of place in the West. It’s not a big city and is eminently walkable; add to this a mixed population, a pedestrian-friendly city centre, a relaxed, relatively hassle-free pace and utterly cosmopolitan outlook and Windhoek makes for a very pleasant exploration indeed. Of course that’s only part of the story; a trip into Katutura, the once- ramshackle township on the outskirts of the city, now just another outer suburb, gives insight into the reality of most people’s lives within the boundaries of the capital. The site was a permanent hot spring known to the indigenous pastoral communities and developed rapidly after Jonker Afrikaner, Captain of the Orlam, settled here in 1840 and built a stone church and school for his community. Two Rhenish missionaries, Hahn and Kleinschmidt, started working there in 1842, but were removed by Methodist Wesleyans, Haddy and Tindall. In the decades following, wars resulted in neglect of the settlement and when Hahn visited in 1873 nothing remained. It was refounded in 1890 by Imperial German Army Major Curt von François, when the territory was colonised by the German Empire. The name is probably from Afrikaans wind-hoek (wind corner), but possibly Captain Jonker Afrikaner named it after the Winterhoek Mountains in South Africa, where his ancestors lived. The first mention of the name Windhoek was in a letter from Jonker Afrikaner to Joseph Tindall, 1844.
A request by merchants from Lüderitzbucht resulted in the declaration in 1884 of a German protectorate over what was called German South West Africa (Deutsch-Südwestafrika), now Namibia. The borders were determined in 1890 and Germany sent a protective corps, the Schutztruppe under Major Curt von François. Von François stationed his garrison at Windhoek, strategically between the warring Nama and Herero people. Twelve springs provided water for produce and grains. Colonial Windhoek was founded on 18 October 1890, when von François fixed the foundation stone of the fort, now Alte Feste. After 1907, development accelerated as indigenous people migrated to seek work and European settlers arrived. Windhoek’s three castles, Heinitzburg, Sanderburg, Schwerinsburg, were built. German colonial South West Africa fell in 1915 and until the end of WW1 the city was administered by a South African military government. In 1920 Treaty of Versailles, the territory was placed under a League of Nations Class C mandate and administered by South Africa. Windhoek received town privileges 1965 on the 75th anniversary of its second foundation by von François. Since independence in 1990, Windhoek has been the national capital, and provincial capital of central Khomas Region. Windhoek's three main access roads from Rehoboth, Gobabis, and Okahandja are paved. It is served by two airports; Eros, 7 km south for small craft, and Hosea Kutako International, 42 km east. Prominent landmarks include Alte Feste (Old Fortress), three castles Heinitzburg, Sanderburg, and Schwerinsburg, Tintenpalast (Ink Palace), and Zoo Park.
As Windhoek is not that large it was fairly easy to find Villa Violet at 48 Ziegler St, our guest-house for the night. The private gated parking meant it was safe for the night and our friendly host showed us the drinks (thank goodness for a decent coffee). As we were early (11am) the room wasn’t ready, so we went into Windhoek itself for a walk.
Situated in the leafy suburb of Klein Windhoek, Villa Violet offers a modern accommodation option when visiting the city. The en-suite rooms front onto a grassy central area. Each room has an air-con/heater, flat-screen TV, safe, wireless internet, secure parking and a laundry service. The rooms open out onto a patio with tables and chairs, and a small turquoise-blue pool glistens invitingly at the bottom of the garden. The villa is close to restaurants and shops, and a short drive away from the city centre, making is not only an appealing place stay but a convenient stop when entering the country.
We parked at the cathedral, where one of the numerous “car watchers” waited.
The Christ Church (Christuskirche) is a historic Lutheran church in designed by architect Gottlieb Redecker in a mix of neo-Romanesque, Art Noveau and Gothic Revival influences.. The church was built following the wars between the Germans and the Khoikhoi, Herero, and Owambo. The foundation stone was laid on 11 August 1907, when was originally known as the Church of Peace. It was constructed from quartz sandstone mined from the vicinity of Avis Dam. Its spire is 24 m high. The portico was made from Italian Carrara marble. The clock and roof were shipped from Germany, as were three bronze bells cast by Franz Schilling with the inscriptions "Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe" (Glory to God in the highest), "Friede auf Erden" (Peace on earth), "Den Menschen ein Wohlgefallen" (Goodwill towards men). During a confirmation service in the 1960 the clapper of the main bell came loose, smashed through the window and fell on the street. Window bars were installed in reaction to this. The colourful stained lead glass windows in the sanctuary were a gift from Emperor Wilhelm II. In the late 1990s a tourist noticed that all of them were installed with the sun protection on the inside. In the two years following this discovery, all window elements were restored and turned around. The church is located on a traffic island on Robert Mugabe Avenue, opposite the Tintenpalast.
We walked down into the main town to try to find lunch, which proved trickier than we had expected. In the end we ate at a Fried Chicken venue in a shopping mall! A nearby supermarket meant we were able to stock up on provisions for the next few days; crisps, biscuits, fruit, drinks, etc.
We walked down into the main town to try to find lunch, which proved trickier than we had expected. In the end we ate at a Fried Chicken venue in a shopping mall! A nearby supermarket meant we were able to stock up on provisions for the next few days; crisps, biscuits, fruit, drinks, etc. We walked past Zoo Park, which we’d thought we would eat at, but it seemed a bit over dry and dusty. The remains of an elephant kill c20,000 years ago were uncovered in 1961, one of the earliest known such events in human history. Originally known as Schutztruppe, the land was transferred to local control in 1911 and in 1967 renamed after Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, the architect of Apartheid. In 1989 it took its current name. Cafe Zoo, which is still in operation, opened in 1916.
After lunch we walked back towards the car, but as we went back up the hill we noticed the Independence Museum and thought, why not. Actually, the museum, on 3 floors was surprisingly interesting (we hadn’t realised Namibia as a country was only born in 1989), and the top floor turned out to be a restaurant and bar. Two balconies pointed east and west, and we enjoyed a beer (Steve) and Namibian wine (me) overlooking the city.
The Independence Memorial Museum https://www.museums.com.na/museums/windhoek/independence-museum is a museum focusing on the anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation movement of Namibia. It was designed and built by Mansudae Overseas Projects, a North Korean firm. The entrance is flanked by two statues: Genocide Statue and Sam Nujoma Statue (on the site of the Reiterdenkmal equestrian statue). The museum was inaugurated 2014, the 24th anniversary of independence. The museum consists of a 5-storey triangular glass structure with two glass-fronted elevators. The first floor, "Colonial Repression", commemorates early resistance leaders of Namibia and the timeline of the country under South African rule. The second floor, "Liberation", commemorates the South African Border War and the role of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN). The third floor, "Road to Independence", details the activities of SWAPO, United Nations Security Council Resolution 435, and a viewing platform of the Panoramic Hall of the museum. The fourth floor is the NIMS restaurant, from which there are views over the city.
From the balcony we could see into the Alte Feste (Old Fortress), a former fortress designed by captain Curt von François to serve as headquarters of the imperial German Schutztruppe. It was completed in 1915 and consists of an inner courtyard with high walls and accommodation for the troops on the inside, as well as four towers. Alte Feste is the oldest surviving building in the city which subsequently developed around it. It now serves the school next door and we watched both a concert there and a group of soldiers taking target practise. The Equestrian Monument, commonly known as Reiterdenkmal or Südwester Reiter (Rider of South West), created to honour soldiers that died on the German side of the Herero and Namaqua War was moved in 2009 from its original location opposite the Christuskirche due to public controversy and is now in storage in the courtyard of the Alte Feste. In the distance, on the hill, we could see Schwerinsburg (Schwerin's castle) the biggest of three castles in Windhoek. Today it is the private residence of the Italian ambassador in Namibia. Built in 1890 by von François, the tower of Schwerinsburg was sold in 1904 to architect Wilhelm Sander who converted it into a beer garden and named it Sperlingslust (lit. "Sparrows' delight”). In 1913 Hans Bogislav Graf von Schwerin, governor of the Gobabis District of German South-West Africa, bought Sperlingslust from Sander and engaged him to convert it into a castle. It was later named Schwerinsburg after the new owner. From the balcony the other side we looked over into The Parliament Building aka Tintenpalast (Ink Palace), is the seat of both houses of the Parliament of Namibia (National Council and National Assembly). It was designed by German architect Gottlieb Redecker with Neoclassical front façade 1912/13 using forced labour by Herero and Nama people who, having survived the Herero and Namaqua genocide, had been placed in concentration camps. As an allusion to the ink used by admin workers in the building, it was named Ink Palace. Tintenpalast is surrounded by the Parliament Gardens. Parliament Gardens is a small park in front of the Tintenpalast. It was laid out in 1932 and contains a bronze statue of Herero chief Hosea Kutako, who with two other Namibian nationalists, Hendrik Samuel Witbooi and Theophilus Hamutumbangela, flank the steps up to parliament's main entrance.
When we got back to the hotel, the room was ready (having kindly done us first). Some of the ubiquitous bulbuls sat chirping in the tree outside, birds we saw everywhere in Namibia. We asked the owner for restaurant suggestions and he recommended Joe’s Beerhouse. I phoned, as he suggested because it can get busy, for a reservation and they offered to collect us from the hotel. It was a great place to eat, though somewhat meat-heavy. Steve had a game special, which consisted of about 5 different animals. The outdoor venue is set up for communal dining (as they advertise). We had no problem with this, but a Dutch? couple next to us moaned constantly and “reported” the poor waitress to the management. We intervened for her; hardly her fault after all!

Posted by PetersF 14:06 Archived in Namibia Tagged namibia windhoek

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