where we would like to welcome guests in the future. We are planning to open our Vyn Guest House in April 2023. As I am often asked how this came about and what we have experienced and are experiencing, I have committed to sharing this in this blog. Everyone who would like to hear more about it is very welcome to read it.
If I speak about us, I mean Klaus and myself – Martina.
How it all began…
I have been fascinated by southern Africa ever since my history lessons in grade 6. I recall a teacher who gave a very gripping account of all the initially failed attempts by European seafarers to circumnavigate the Cape. Finally, Bartolomeu Dias made it in 1488, and the sea route to India was accessible. This is how the seed was planted for my passion for this country and its “Cape of Good Hope”. At the time, however, it was so unimaginably far away for me as a child. I don’t think I ever thought I would be able to travel there – my world was still so small.
A little later, I learned about the events of that time. What had become of this country? Horrified, I observed reports on television about South Africa’s apartheid policy and Nelson Mandela. He had been imprisoned before I was born, but even from prison, he continued to fight against the oppression of people due to the colour of their skin. I closely followed his journey until his release and later his election as the first black president.
My parents also established a fascination for the wildlife of Africa. In our family, it was customary to spend wintry Sunday afternoons watching wildlife documentaries, preferably from Africa by Mr Grzimek. After all, who hasn’t seen “Serengeti Must Not Die”? The only way we could see all these animals was in zoos. In those days it was common to keep them in even less species-appropriate enclosures than is the case today. The thought of how delightful it would be to be able to marvel at them in their natural environment crossed my mind time and again, even back then.
Making dreams a reality
Until 2005, the whole idea remained a dream. It was then that we, as a family with two children, were able to think about a holiday away from Europe for the first time and I was overjoyed that my husband and children were also delighted with South Africa as a destination. The excitement was tremendous. At the beginning of the planning process, we were faced with the question of what to choose from the wide range of options, as we were limited to two weeks in the autumn holidays and the children had to return to school. Like most, we decided on Cape Town and the Garden Route all the way to Addo Elephant National Park.
But how to describe it? I suffered the same fate as so many, the “virus africanus” had infected me and fortunately, the consequences of this virus were much more pleasant than they would be far later in 2020 with the newly emerging SARS-CoV-2. This country with its mostly so charming, friendly, cheerful people, its multitude of gorgeous landscapes and its great wildlife, paired with its unique light, culinary experiences and fantastic wine inspires something in you. I always had the feeling that my genes were letting me know that I had my roots here – in Africa. So, we had to keep coming back, and over the years we have visited large parts of this country with great enthusiasm.
Apart from Europe and the south of Africa, I have not seen much of the world, but Klaus has travelled a lot for work. He travelled to every continent except Australia/New Zealand and Antarctica. Every time he returned, I asked him if it was more beautiful there than in South Africa and he always shook his head. Consequently, I did not have to go there in the first place …
We also took my parents with us on two trips, and they fell in love too. After the first trip, my mother used to ask her friends if they had ever been to South Africa. If they said they hadn’t, she advised them to put it on their bucket list.
At some point, it must have been around 2015, we were on a domestic flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town. Upon landing, we saw Table Mountain appear in the window and Klaus exclaimed, “This feels like coming home.” I could hardly agree with him more. To this day, every time we land in Cape Town, I get emotional. It is the same during take-off, only the emotions associated with it are different… 😉
Likewise, I feel the same way every time I am at the airport. Are you familiar with the “Welcome to the Mother City” signs when arriving 😊 and the “Cape Town – a time well spent” signs when departing ☹?