A Wonderful Weekend Wedding in Windhoek Namibia

{can you see any people? No? Namibia is one of the world's least populated countries}

I think my eyes are still sparkling from the sun, the love, the landscape; we spent the weekend in Windhoek, Namibia (a desert country bordering South Africa) for my cousin's wedding.  

Namibia is a place that grabs hold of your heart when you're not looking, and never lets go.  It is a land of extremes: extreme emptiness, extreme dryness, and extreme beauty.  

It used to be rich with diamonds and gemstones, and the hills still glitter with rose quartz and pyrite (fool's gold).  When you walk in the hills you want to fill your pockets with every shining pebble you find.  

That's during the day... At night you lift your eyes skyward, and it feels like the heavens have dropped down to say hello. The stars are clear; clearer than I've ever seen anywhere. If you look long enough, the skies might whisper the secrets of the universe in your ear.  

When you walk around the ancient desert landscape, you feel like you might be the first person to stumble out of the mists of consciousness and into the light of creation.  Was this how the world looked on the first morning? Probably not, but anything is possible in the imagination. 

It reminds me of a quote I recently read by Marilynne Robinson in her book "When I was a child I read books". 

We can and do make small and tedious lives as we sail through the cosmos on our uncannily lovely little planet.

Namibia is the place that reminds you that the world is amazing, and your life is amazing, simply because you're here.  

Yes you... You're amazing.

 Your life doesn't have to be tedious, or boring, or miserable.  Look around, look at the wonder in the world at your fingertips: the sunshine, the rain, the cup of coffee. Go outside, pick up a pebble, and marvel at the forces of nature that brought it to that spot.  If a tiny pebble is a miracle, then how much more marvellous are you? 

As you can tell, love Namibia. It's one of my favourite countries in the world. I've written about my Christmas in the desert HERE

All weekend long we socialized with the glittering guests, partied and soaked up the desert sun. Even though it was winter, the afternoons were warm, and the sun was like liquid gold streaming down from the sky. 

(some touristy advice follows at the bottom of this post)

(and this is my last travel post for a few weeks, as I'm back in the studio now and rushing to finish deadlines.)

The Wedding: 

{ My stunning cousin, Fran, is the founder of Cinnamon Shoes. She makes gorgeous ballet flats with an African twist.  Make sure you check out her new 2013 collection! }  

{The Christuskirche (Christ Church) is one of Windhoek's main landmarks,  and it's where my cousin got married.} 

{Inside the Christuskirche}

{Cocktails and sunshine before dinner and dancing}

{Lounging by the pool the day after the wedding}

Other Things To Do In Windhoek:

Not every one is lucky enough to have a wedding to attend in Windhoek, but there are plenty of other wonderful things to do!

Stargazing: I don't think I've ever seen a clearer sky than the one above Windhoek on my cousin's wedding night.  It was the full moon of the winter solstice, and the stars shone like diamonds.  The GocheGanas lodge (see below) has a special star gazing area with telescopes and star charts.  

Birdwatching: despite the extreme aridity of the landscape, there's lots of wildlife, including birds, to look out for.  I couldn't identify all the varieties, but I saw my first Loerie bird, which is beautiful but it's call sounds like a crying baby in a tree.  Quite bizarre.  

Animal watching: We didn't go on any fancy game drives, but simply driving around the countryside we saw Meerkats and Gemsbok by the side of the road.  

Lodges: Windhoek is surrounded by arid hills and mountains. Nestled in the valleys are world class lodges, spas and resorts.  My mother-in-law is a travel agent, so we had the opportunity to tour GocheGanas.  It is a gorgeous lodge about 40 minutes out of Windhoek in the middle of nowhere (see the first picture in this post).  If you want to relax, you can get fantastic spa treatments or sit by the pool. If you're in a more active frame of mind, you can go mountain biking, or on game drives.  

{ the pool at GocheGanas }

Eating, Drinking and Sleeping in Windhoek:

Joe's Beerhouse: The evening before the wedding all the guests were invited to join the wedding party for drinks and dinner at Joe's Beerhouse.  It's an eclectic drinking hole frequented by both locals and tourists, alike.  Every surface is energetically decorated with historical Namibian memorabilia; it's worth going just to see all the curiosities. It's big and bustling, and very cheery. Go at the beginning of your trip to get the atmosphere of the country before you embark on your other adventures.  

Nice: Nice stands for the Namibian Institute of Culinary Excellence, and it lives up to it's name. The food is excellent, amazing, world class!  There aren't enough superlatives! This is where Namibian chefs and waiters train before getting employment at the various lodges in the country. My cousin had her wedding reception here. You can call in advance to book a table.

Bougain Villa Centre: This is a mediterranean style shopping centre boasting several lovely restaurants and shops.  Sit by the fountain in the courtyard and enjoy a cup of coffee.  Perfect! 

Hotel Heinitzburg: This century old castle is around the corner from my Aunt and Uncle's house, and boasts spectacular views of the city.  Book a room, or just go to the bar for a sundowner cocktail. 

{ The fountain at the Bougain Villa Centre }

Other Considerations: 

A long time ago, Namibia was a German colony. It is primarily German or Afrikaans speaking, though most people also speak fluent English, especially in the touristy areas. It's actually incredible how effortlessly trilingual the people are.  I struggle to keep two languages straight in my head, never mind three! 

It can get very hot, even in winter, and the city is at a high altitude. Make sure you wear sunscreen!  Drink lots of water.  Take along extra moisturizer and chapstick.  If you're not used to the dry air your skin might start to feel uncomfortable.

{ The architecture is still quite German, as Namibia was a German colony. }