Explore Grahamstown in a Day

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Thursday, 1st December 2016

With so much to do and see in Grahamstown, you’d ideally need a few days to take it all in. However, if your time is short, here’s how to make the most of the local attractions in just one day. Most places are within walking distance of each other allowing you to soak up the sights along the way.

6am: Hike from Grey Dam to the Toposcope and enjoy the spectacular views. The hike is approx. 5kms and suitable for the whole family. Take sunscreen, water and a hat.

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7.30am: Picnic at the Botanical Gardens (enter through Lucas Avenue). Pack a basket of food and picnic at “Bots” which is said to be the home to the ghost of Lady Juana Maria de los Dolores de Leon Smith, wife of Sir Harry Smith, who died in 1872.

8.30am: Coffee at the Provost (Lucas Avenue). The Old Provost was a military prison, designed as a Panopticon and built in the early 1800s and it now houses a little coffee shop.

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9.00am: Visit the Albany museum complex (Somerset Street). The Natural Sciences Museum and the History Museum just down the road from the Old Provost are filled with extraordinary artefacts. The museums are open until 4.30pm and are closed on weekends and public holidays.

10.30am: Explore High Street and enjoy the architectural gems to be found there. Stop at Church Square where you’ll find the Cathedral of St Michael and St George which has the tallest spire in the country.

11am: Get a 360 degree view of the city at the Observatory Museum (10 Bathurst Street). This 19th century building originally the home of Henry Carter Galpin, a watchmaker and jeweler, is now a museum that houses an observatory and the only working Victorian camera obscura in the southern hemisphere. It was here that the Eureka diamond was identified in 1867.

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12.30pm: Lunch at the Bakery with Hand Made Coffees (corner High and Somerset Streets). Enjoy freshly baked bread, tequila-and-lime mustard, decadent praline-filled croissants, cordials, yogurts, ginger beer, home-made pies and other foodie treats and enjoy a perfect cup of coffee from award-winning barista Sisa Mapetu.

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1.30pm: Visit the Festival Gallery. Support local art and crafts at the Festival Gallery right next door to The Bakery.

2.30pm: Eastern Star Press Museum (4 Anglo African Street). Grahamstown has a rich literary and journalistic history, with the oldest surviving independent newspaper in South Africa, as well as the School of Journalism and Media Studies. To appreciate the advances we’ve made in journalism, visit the Eastern Star Press Museum where you can find the original printing paraphernalia. Viewing is by appointment only.

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3.30pm: Attend a book launch at NELM (25 Worcester Street). The National English Literary Museum, established in 1972 by Guy Butler, now has a shiny new building to house the vast collection of South African literary resources. NELM also hosts book launches, creative writing workshops and author discussions.

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4.30pm: Grahamstown is full of weird and extraordinary things to spot. Try finding the oldest official letter box (corner Worcester and Somerset Streets); see the coelacanth caught in 1938 at SAIAB; the Winged Figure of Peace in High Street—an Anglo-Boer War Memorial with a dedication by Rudyard Kipling; the wooden mice in the Cathedral or the tiny yellow canary on the Muirhead and Gowie building in Church Square.

6pm: Sundowners at the 1820 Settlers’ Monument and Fort Selwyn on Gunfire Hill. Home of the National Arts Festival; enjoy the spectacular view of the city below.

Original article by Carissa Govender, Grocotts Mail has been edited. Photos from FB of the people/places listed.

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