In recent years there has been a newly-found interest in far-off little towns where one can strole through quiet, safe streets and become part of village-life – even if it is for just a night or two. Magazines such as “Country Life” have put many off-the–beaten-track towns on the map and in people’s hearts again. Many “yuppies” from cities nowadays prefer to take a break in a small town where they can truly recharge their batteries again.
Tourists from abroad are often seen in Graaff Reinet. You recognize them by their backpacks, cameras and strange accents. Sometimes they are on their own and sometimes with a guide visiting all the places of interest. That is the one thing Graaff-Reinet has plenty of – places to go.
Graaf-Reinet is filled to the brim with history. With over 200 buildings declared as national monuments one day will hardly be enough to see everything. Some of these buildings are museums and others are homes where people currently live in.
Graaff-Reinet still feels like a 19th century town. Flat-roofed Karoo houses nestle next to old Victorian buildings. Old “leivore” (waterways) can still be found in some streets. It is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and dates back to 1786.
Graaff Reinetters have a tremendous love for their buildings and renovators make a good living here. It gives me such a feeling of joy to see old, run-down Karoo houses being spruced up and beaming under the caring hands of a renovator. One can hear wooden frames being stripped of old paint, revealing their true colors again, just as the Karoo does to people.