05 April 2013
After the glorious sunset on the famous Jetty the night before, I had expected blue skies the next morning. Instead what greeted us was fog so dense that we could barely see the houses on the other side of the street.
“Are we still going to go for our drive?” I asked doubtfully, as we sat down to our breakfast of muesli, fruit and yoghurt. “Will we be able to see anything in this fog?”
“Of course we’re going,” said Lissi firmly. “The fog will lift in a little while, Flat Kathy. Don’t you worry.”
We finished our brekkie, tidied up and packed the car. I noticed that Reggie was looking rather pale; she confessed that she had a dreadful migraine, but didn’t want to stay behind and miss all the fun and excitement. We drove down the road to pick up Aunty Christa, who had wanted to come with us to Walvis Bay.
“What’s the quickest way out of town, Reggie?” asked Richard, struggling to see the road ahead through an almost impenetrable fog. She directed him to skirt the town centre, and on the southern outskirts of the town, we crossed a bridge across the Swakop River, and left Swakopmund behind us. As so often in Namibia, there was no water in the riverbed – it was just a river of sand, with some bushes and muddy patches. I still find this so odd; I am not used to seeing completely dry riverbeds.
“On the left are the sand dunes of the Namib Desert,” gesticulated Richard, “and on the right is the ocean. Well… you can’t see it today, but it’s there, just hidden by the fog. And there is water underground, Flat Kathy, it’s just not flowing much at the moment.”
“The Swakop did come down recently, though,” interjected Aunty Christa. “It was flowing for quite a while. It’s always an exciting event when it happens! Everyone rushes down to the river to see it flowing.”
“But in the old days, when the Swakop came down, it often caused a lot of damage,” added Reggie. “There used to be a railway bridge here too, but itwas completely destroyed by the floods in 1931. You can still see some of the original pillars, which is all that remained. A new railway bridge was constructed about 6 km upstream. The railway line now runs behind the coastal dune belt.”
On our way south towards Walvis Bay, the dunes rose up on our left, sometimes hidden by the swirling mist; on our right, we passed a couple of settlements with had names like Langstrand (Long Beach) and Dolfynstrand (Dolphin Beach). Aunty Christa explained that these were mainly beach resorts and holiday homes, though some people do live there throughout the year.
Evenutally, we reached the outskirts of Walvis Bay. The road was lined on either side by palm trees, which looked rather pretty.
“First stop: Café Probst,” announced Richard firmly, to a chorus of agreement. Then he hesitated, as we approached a traffic circle. “Um… Does anyone know how to get there?”
Thanks to Aunty Christa’s knowledge of the roads of Walvis Bay, we soon found ourselves at our destination. What a lovely restaurant it was! The front room was the bakery, with all the display cases, where you could choose among an array of delicious things to nibble. The room behind was the restaurant itself, with huge windows letting in the light, and wood panelling on the ceiling and walls, which were covered in gorgeous landscape paintings. Tables were also available outside, but it was rather chilly. Much cosier inside!
“We used to come here often, when I was little,” Richard told me, as we found ourselves a table at one of the windows. “When we visited our grandparents who stayed in Walvis Bay, this was where we got our fresh breadrolls – or Brötchen, as we call them in German. You must try some too.”
The waitress came over to greet us and to take our order. She gave me a questioning look. Reggie quickly introduced me, and explained that I was visiting from Canada.
“I am pleased to meet you, Flat Kathy – welcome,” responded our lovely waitress, as we politely shook hands.
“Thank you,” I replied, giving her my best smile. “I have heard much about this place from my friends, and look forward to enjoying some of your fresh Brötchen.”
“Certainly, I shall bring your order right away.”
“What a friendly waitress,” I said to Richard. “Will you give her a big tip from me, please?”
Richard laughed. “Of course, Flat Kathy.”
It was very cosy inside the restaurant, the coffee was invigorating, and the Brötchen were wonderfully crisp. I can see why my friends like coming here.