The Lagoon, Walvis Bay, Namibia
 

Walvis Bay Some Points of Interest

 

 

There are plenty of activities to get involved in and around Walvis Bay, kayaking on the lagoon, wind surfing and kiteboarding, also fishing and boat trips where you will likely encounter dolphins, seals and maybe whales as well as the Mola Mola sunfish. Then head to The Raft for lunch, sundowners or dinner, or why not try all three!

 

Walvis Bay sunset from The Raft

 

 

Some interesting wine history.

The history of wine is inextricably interwoven with the history of man.
It has been said that civilization grew out of agriculture: when the first nomads planted seeds and waited for the crop to grow, their wandering ceased.

It might be as true to say that it was with wine that civilization began, for the vine takes longer to mature than any other crop, and does not produce grapes for the vendange until its fourth year after four years in one place, a nomad tribe would be well settled and already practiced in domestic arts.

We do not know when men first had wine, but it was accepted as a gift from the gods: the Egyptians attributed it to Osiris, the Greeks to Dionysos; the Armenians maintained that Noah planted the first vineyard near Erivan. Since grape seeds have been found in prehistoric caves, it is conceivable that wine is older than history although it is unlikely that the cavemen knew how to ferment their grapes.

That discovery, when it came, was probably accidental. Mesopotamia and the Caucasian slopes were no doubt early sources of wine: the Libation Scene in the "Standard" panel from Ur (now in the British Museum) dates from the first half of the third millennium before Christ.
In Egypt vineyards were being planted for firnerary wines soon after 3000 B.c.; and legendary tales of wine-drinking in China date from much the same period. In any case, it is believed that Greece, the first European country to make wine, received the art from the East, and also, no doubt, from Egypt.

The earliest records of wine in Egypt are the sealing inscriptions on the stoppers of amphorae found in pre- Dynastic tombs.
In early days, the king had his own vineyard, from which the funeral wines came, and (according to H. F. Lutz) a domestic vine plot to provide his table wine. Vineyards belonging to important persons were given names: Rameses III (1198-1166 B.C.) developed the famous Ka-n-komet, as well as new plantations in oases. Another, more long-winded name was King Zoser’s "Praised be Horus, who is in the front of Heaven" the wine from there was sometimes more succinctly described as "Beverage of Horus." Wine labels, on the other hand, could be models of clarity: "In the year xxx Good wine of the large irrigated terrain of the Temple of Rameses II in Per-Amon.

The chief of the wine-dressers, Tutmes." Would that all labels were as honest, explicit, and simply expressed. In the unchanging climate of Africa, vintage years were not very important. But soil matters vitally to the vine, wherever it grows, so that the Egyptians were concerned about the sites of their vineyards. The vines grew best near the Delta, where they were irrigated by the annual flooding of the Nile, but since marsh is not the land for them, the walled vineyards were planted on artificially raised plots.

The reliefs and wall-paintings in the tombs, in which so clear a picture of Egyptian life is preserved, show workers harvesting the vine with curved knives like the hand sickles still occasionally in use, the grapes being picked by women and dropped into wicker baskets to be carried on the men’s backs, or balanced on shoulder yokes to the press.

The Egyptians used fermenting vats of acacia wood, in which they trod the grapes in a compulsive rhythm, sung and clapped out by hand, this is a sight familiar to everyone who has watched the vintage on the Douro or in Spain. Nor does the parallel with modern times end there: a certain Bilgai, "Overseer of the Fortress of the sea," shamelessly recorded, on a stele, that he had assessed the people 23,568 measures of wine in excess of his due as tax collector. Moreover, the Code of Hammurabi (Babylon, c. 2000 B.C.) stipulated the conditions under which wine could be bought; and a seller who gave short measure was thrown into the water, then, as now, there was fraud in the business.

We know little about the wine of the common people because they lacked the means to have themselves buried in great tombs or to have their thoughts and histories carved out in stone, probably they drank the wines made from palms and dates, and the barley beer. The wine of the royal and the rich was mainly white. The most celebrated kinds were as follows. Mareotic: grown near what was to be the city of Alexandria, a white wine, sweet and light, long-lasting, and with a fragrant bouquet. Centuries later, it was known in Rome: Horace wrote that this was the wine which fired Cleopatra. Taeniotic: Athenaeus (c. A.D. 200) declared that this was even better than the Mareotic, an unctuous, greenish-white wine, sweet and aromatic, and of a slightly astringent character. (He went on to say that the wine loving Egyptians often ate boiled cabbage before a feast, and took cabbage water to cure a hangover.) Sebennyticum: described by Pliny as being the product of three different grapes, the Thasian, the soot grape, and the pitch pine.

Egyptian wines were sealed up in amphorae of the Greek pattern, and since they were not sufficient for the people of the country, many more came in from Greece, from Phoenicia, and from Syria. It has been reckoned that wine is mentioned 155 times in the Old Testament and 10 times in the New. In the book of Numbers it says that, at the time of the Exodus, the Hebrews regretted leaving behind the wines of Egypt: but they need not have feared, for the land of the Philistines and the Plain of Sharon were green with the vine, and Palestine came to be rich in vineyards. Indeed, vines flourished prolifically in the eastern Mediterranean countries and around the Caspian and the Black seas. In Ezekiel, Chapter 27, we read about Damascus, that great center of the wine trade: "thy merchant . . . in the wine of Helbon." The wine of Byblos was celebrated too. The Syrians and the Phoenicians sent their wine by the old caravan routes to Arabia and Egypt, to India, and as far as China; and their famous Chalybon went to the Persian kings. Vines were planted in Arabia too, and large quantities of wine, mostly red, were made there.

There are also many references to wine in the Babylonian Talmud, in their inscriptions, and in their art. The southern parts of the country were not very suitable to the vine, and here, as in the Nile Delta, plots had to be raised by human labor. But in the north, soil and climate were favorable, and at one time Babylonian wines were much esteemed, and traveled as far as Arabia, Wine was blessed and offered to Abraham by King Melchizedek (Genesis, Chapter 14): libations were made with daily burnt offerings at the Feast of the Tabernacles; and so a link is made with King Nebuchadnezzar, dedicating wines with strange names to the pagan god Marduk, and with Assurbanipal in Nineveh, making libations freely, pouring wine on cornerstones, on sacred objects, on lions killed in the hunt, or on beheaded enemies. In the voodoo ceremonies of Haiti, libations are still offered to the gods; nor is there anything surprising about this custom, since primitive gods are largely anthropomorphic, and what more natural than to offer wine to an honored guest? The ancient Greeks also poured libations to their gods, and from Homeric times and earlier they were a wine drinking people. Vines decorated the shield of Achilles, the gold cup of Nestor is still famous, and Odysseus and his men washed down "abundant flesh with sweet wine."

The Greeks liked their wines old and watered down. These sweet wines, trodden in stone vats and matured in earthenware crocks, may have borne some resemblance to Malmsey. Hesiod, the Boeotian farmer-poet, who was writing his Works and Days in about 700 B.c., pruned and planted his vines in the ways that were to be followed by countless generations. The Pramnian and pure Maronean first described in Homer are still discussed and regretted: some writers are of the opinion that the well matured vintages of ancient Greece  were the quintessence of fine wine. Nobody alive is in a position to dispute this view. Yet the pitched vessels in which much of the Greek wine was stored, the mixture, with some of it, of sea water, and the addition of perfumes must have combined to produce flavors not much to our taste. Some of the grapes which yielded the Greek wines were almost certainly transplanted to the Greek colonies in Sicily and southern Italy, and the wine would surely have been made there in the same way.
Up on the mainland, the Etruscans (migrants, it has been said, from Asia Minor) were already a wine drinking people, loving luxury and splendid banquets in which their women took a prominent part. The Etruscans’ wine god was called Fufluns. In the same province of Tuscany some of the best Italian wines are made today.

Viniculture, therefore, would have been a natural heritage of the Romans. Like the Greeks, they made red, white, and amber wines; and they too could drink them "pitched and pickled," sometimes mixed with sea water or exposed in a smoky room (fumarium). In old age some of them would be, as Tovey said, "reduced to a syrup and rendered so muddy and thick they had to be strained through cloths and dissolved in hot water." But the jizmarium was intended to mellow the wine by heat rather than by smoke, the principle was not unlike that of maturing Madeira near ovens, and the jars were protected by a thick coat of plaster or pitch. The Romans themselves complained of "smoky wines" when they returned from Marseille, settled about 600 B.c. by Greeks from Phocaea, and surely the first place in Gaul to have made real wine.

The wines most prized in Rome were luscious, less in need of acrid preservatives, they probably resembled the Lagrima of today.
Wine traveled in earthenware arnphorae, and fragments of these jars have been found in riverbeds and along roads. Wrecked ships loaded with amphorae have been retrieved from the Mediterranean, the jars, still corked, contain a liquid that, in the years before Christ, was new wine. Where the Romans went, conquering and colonizing, the culture of the vine went with them.

Using the waters of the Rhone to make their way northward in what is now France, they are said to have planted the Picatum, a hardy grape with a slight taste of pitch. On an old wine cup found in the region, the legend reads, "Give us Aminean, not Picatum." At the end of the first century, Martial tells that this wine was being exported to Rome. When in A.D. 97 the Emperor Domitian issued an edict calling for the uprooting of many vines throughout the Empire, no doubt protecting Italian wines was one of his motives (along with encouraging agriculture and controlling surplus wine production). But it is not to be supposed that all of the vines were destroyed the French character being what it is, orders are not much regarded; but however half-heartedly the growers carried out the order, their descendants must have been relieved when, in 280, the Emperor Probus repealed it. When the vines were openly planted again, they spread beyond the old vineyard regions of Marseille, the Rhone Valley, and the Iberian peninsula.

 What they say about us;

If you are in Namibia you need to visit the Raft
I love the Raft,  I have been there about a dozen times over the last 2 years and always look forward to coming back.  Great staff, great manager and tonight I finally met the owner Sarah who is just lovely.   I love this place, if you are in Namibia then you need to come to the Raft, Its the best place to eat in town. I recommend it to everyone I know.  The food is excellent, the view is spectacular, its a great place to spend a night with your family or freinds.  I have been here about a dozen times over the past couple of years and always look forward to coming back.  If I had one complaint it would have to be - the Crocodile was off the menu... (sorry, but I do love the Bushmans Platter with the Crocodile)  Thank you to you all, I look forward coming back next week before returning to the UK.  David Carroll Director Purple Pear Creations Web Design Ltd UK  PS Get yourself a Facebook page so we can all like everything about the Raft... 

What a pleasure to find such a great place on our travels through Namibia.

We liked it so much we came back twice. -S. R. Australia

We are from California-USA, and your restaurant was a perfect end to our time in Namibia. -Joseph

Les Otaries ne font pas assez de spectacle.Superbe soirée, -Mera Switzerland

The best seafood I have ever eaten! -Natalia Czechoslovakia

Thoroughly enjoyed our evening. Lovely atmosphere, warm fire, friendly staff and divine food. Great to visit you in Walvis. Would love to come back one day. Thanks for excellent service. -C.W.G.

Sorry but we think you have to move your outstanding, extraordinary restaurant to another place- our home town in Austria for example. We will be back. Svelyn and Chuish

Ein lob an die gute kuche!! Wir waren sehr zufriendin G.Germany

Quality is when the client comes back not the product. We’ll come back. -M. P.

Have been coming here since 1 ½ years ago, when we moved to Walvis Bay Best in Southern Africa!  -Victor & Hanlé

Excellent Restaurant! The finest place we have eaten in Namibia!  A.P. UK

Congratulations to the chef! C. I. Belguim

We wish we lived nearer to you, so we could be regular customers. This was our first experience at your Restaurant and we will be back!  -Mike & Linda Liverpool