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Monday, 6 February 2017

Travel: Exploring Calvinia

I'm all for exploring South Africa & this year it's definitely on the To-do list to see as many places as possible. This time around i'll be exploring a place called Calvinia which is a regional town in the Northern Cape province of South Africa named after the French religious reformer Jean Calvin. The Calvinia district is part of the Great Karoo region of South Africa. The town is just south of the Hantam mountains on the banks of the Oorlogskloof (meaning "War Ravine") River. 
So the reason why this town is rather special to me is because this is the place where my mom was born and lived in for most of her childhood years. I have always heard about the most amazing stories of her time in Calvinia however I have never actually been, until this past weekend. The driving time from Cape Town to Calvinia took about 4 hours and 1 minutes to be exact. On route we past some really amazing places such as Clanwilliam, Vredendal and then the Vanrhynespas. When I arrived in Calvinia, the rich history is quite evident in the surroundings. The first stop definitely was the most biggest postbox that I have ever seen. It seems to have become and iconic landmark in the area. The post box measures 6.17-meters high and has a circumference of 9.42-meters & In the exact same road you can find a beautiful erected building of the Dutch Reformed church which architectural detail is simply breathtaking. 
I really wanted to explore more about the town, where it originated and what had happened in this part of the Northern Cape and I knew the only place to find the purest form of history and not just hearsay stories was to go to the local museum. The museum now housed in the old Jewish synagogue is now an accumulation of all of the history within the area. The space holds many priceless artifacts as well as some really astounding antiques. Calvinia was founded in 1845 on the farm Hoogekraal which was purchased by the Dutch Reformed Church in order to establish a parish for the far flung community of the Hantam Karoo. The original name of the region and the village was Hantam. The name Hantam has its origins with the Khoi people and it is believed that the name refers to “the hill where the red nut sedge grows”.
The branch railway line running from Hutchinson through Carnarvon and Williston, were completed in 1917. For many years the railway was the primary conduit for the transportation of agricultural products to various parts of South Africa & this railway network linking Johannesburg and Cape Town. Sadly started to not be in use as frequently & then not at all. The train now stands in the garden of the Calvinia Museum.
Another amazing discovery when exploring Calvinia was the Art street which boasted beautiful artifcats which consisted both of valuable and junk pieces found all around SA and gorgeously arranged to form an eclectic pathway. I must say that I have never seen anything quite like this, but there was something really special about it! You can an array of old road signs, rustic cars, bikes, shoes, cups, plates and array of random stuff that gives this space the unique look and feel.
This weekend in Calvinia, was so much fun. I cannot believe how much there was to explore and a weekend is really not enough! So excited to be doing more of these on the spur of the moment trips! SA is really such a beautiful place!

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