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Rocks at the Kristall Galerie
Biggest crystal in the world
The Free Press of Namibia, "still telling it like it is"

Having arrived in Swakopmund in glorious sunshine and benefited from it yesterday we woke this morning to sea mist. As we watched the daily routine of clearing the seaweed from the beach we pondered whether the mist would clear but it gave no signs of doing so. So we had another relaxed morning in our room.

In the afternoon we headed out to see one of Swakopmund’s main sights, the Kristall Galerie, which is home to the largest single crystal cluster in the world. It was a quirky little place. You start in a small courtyard out the back where lots of bits of polished stones of all different sorts are scattered around a “garden” for you to go and rummage through. One lady there seemed to have bought a bag from reception that enabled her to fill it up with stones. She was particularly partial to the blue ones.

Our route then led us through a replica of the tunnel the original excavators went through when they found the large crystals. It was a bit of a tacky plasticky affair but I bet kids have great fun running through it and touching all the plastic crystals that are embedded into the walls. The tunnel brings you out into a large, open, brightly lit room where the largest crystal is proudly on display. It is pretty big, weighing about 14 tonnes. From the front you expect it to be almost a circular lump but while the front is still ridged and lumpy with crystals the back is a smooth flat face, presumably from where they have carved it out of the rock. The project to excavate the crystals took something like eight years to complete and it sounds like they had to carve out half a hill to get to them. A few smaller, but still very big, crystals are also on display on the ground floor.

Upstairs there is a gallery looking down into the main hall. Here there are displays on the different types of crystals commonly found in Namibia. I think if you are a geologist and/or a rock collector it would be a mine (pardon the pun) of useful information. While it was interesting to look at the different types of crystals the technical information displayed about them was a bit dry and hard going to digest. We opted not to go into the jewellery shop where I am sure people spend lots of money on items of dubious taste. On the ground floor a few windows let you see in to watch the local women sorting stones and making jewellery. It was not of our taste!

Having found the crystals hard to digest we went for something a bit more palatable stopping at the Out of Africa coffee shop. They claim that “life is too short to drink bad coffee” so Stef had high expectations, which weren’t met with his middle of the road cappuccino. Even so it was a nice place to sit for a while and watch the world go by, not that there was much of anything happening even though it was Monday.

We spent a few hours in the afternoon catching up with emails at a little internet café in one of the “malls”. Here the coffee was better, but only marginally so. By about 7:00pm we had both had enough and headed for the Brauhaus where we hoped to eat. It looked pretty full as we walked up to it and sure enough for tonight they were fully booked so we stayed and had a couple of beers at the bar, booking in for tomorrow instead. It’s certainly a busy place with huge steaming platefuls of food coming out of the kitchen in a steady stream.

With hunger well and truly kicked in by the addition of a couple of beers we went in search of somewhere to eat, again bumping into the German’s we had visited the Himba village in Opuwo with. Being so small, Swakopmund doesn’t seem to have an abundance of different places to choose from but we soon found another nice German place and settled into a table for two. The food was really tasty but the Canadian sized portions defeated us both and we then waddled back to our hotel and to bed.