Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New York- A Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made

Rockefeller Centre

Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys (feat Jay Z) is a song that I often find myself humming when I walk around the Jozi Inner City, and so when I was offered the amazing opportunity to go to New York recently I found it stuck in my head for the entire week I was there.

In New York
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothing you can't do
Now you're in New York
These street will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York!

(by Empire State of Mind-Alicia Keys)

(link to YouTube Video Link)

And now having spent time in New York, I couldn't agree more with these lyrics. New York is a city of dreams, anything is possible and it will inspire you! Although very different, it does stir up emotions like my city- Joburg!

I wanted to write this blog to share my adventures and also to use it as a "Thank You" to those who made my trip possible. So please follow the link to the song above and listen to it when you read this blog post, I hope it inspires you:

At the end of last year I was offered the opportunity by SA Tourism (via Joburg Tourism) to go to the New York Times Travel Show (a trade fair) in New York. I have to say when I first received the offer, I was really honoured but didn't think I would be able to go, as my company Past Experiences is a small family business. But due to generous sponsorship from South African Tourism and TEP, and my company, I was able to go...and what an experience it was! It was definitely the experience of a lifetime, one that I will never forget and I can never thank them enough but I will try anyway...Thanks, Thanks, Thanks!!!!

My week in New York was fabulous! A lot of it was spent at the trade fair, selling the Jozi Inner City to industry and consumers, but I was also lucky enough to explore the city too. The Travel show was an amazing learning curve for us and I made contacts and learnt about the US market. It is also a huge step that tourism in the Joburg Inner City has progressed in the 4 years that I have been involved and that it is now being pushed by National and Regional tourism boards and being promoted at International tourism fairs. I am so excited for Past Experiences and Inner City Tourism and the bright future that we have together!
Our (Past Experiences) booth at the South African Tourism stand at
The New York Times Travel Show

South African Tourism Stand that Past Experiences was part of at
the New York Times Travel Show

Luckily we also had some time to play in New York. New York is a dream to walk around in and I fell in love with the height of the buildings, the buzz of the city and the lights! I wasn't the only Joburg representative at the fair, Lebo from Soweto Backpackers and Soweto Bicycle Tours was also in New York. We did some serious walking around NYC and visited Central Park, FAO Shwarz and probably the highlight, we ended up in a Cigar Shop across the road from Grand Central Station, where we smoked cigars and chatted to local New Yorkers. If you know me, you know I love movies made in the 1980's, including BIG starring Tom Hanks, in which he dances on the Giant piano at FAO Shwarz so I had to do that!

Lebo and myself in Time Square
Dancing on the Piano...woop woop!
Tom Hanks dancing on the piano in Big

Luckily for me a friend of mine Kate, has moved to New York in the last 6 months. She took me out, showed me how to use the Subway and we went to the East Village and Greenwich Village which I loved the vibe of....thanks Kate!!  To read more about her worldly adventures check her blog and stunning photos out on http://lightnessofbeing.me/

Me in Greenwich Village (thanks for the pic Kate)
Judy from SA Tourism in New York looked after our group like gold, she is awesome and the trip would not have been half as good without her! She took our group to dinner, and we went to a restaurant called Gazala's in Hells Kitchen, which has been featured on one of my favourite TV shows "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives". The food is from the Druze culture which I had never heard, follow this link to Wikipedia for more info on this unique cultural group. The food was so Delicious, very Mediterranean with humus and other meze. My next New York trip I will definitely be back.

SA Tourism Stand
Like Alicia Keys, I think New York is amazing and it did inspire me but it is difficult to sum up my New York experience or what New York is in one blog post, i have looked around to see what others have written and I think writer and New Yorker EB White sums it up best:

The city is like poetry;
it compresses all life, all races and breeds, into a small island
and adds music and the accompaniment of internal engines.” 

Will write again soon, Jo xx

Monday, January 28, 2013

52 Weeks of Public Art in the Jozi Inner City- Week 5 (27th Jan to 2nd Feb 2013)

The Nobel Laureates

Since its Week 5 I thought I should definitely include a Soweto public artwork, so here it goes!

This piece is found in Vilakazi Street in Soweto. Depicting 2 strong and powerful bulls, it symbolises Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu, who have both won a Nobel Peace Prize and both lived in Vilakazi Street at one point.

To learn more about this Public Art and to visit it first hand, please contact Past Experiences for a tour on past.experiences@hotmail.com or http://pastexperiences.co.za/

52 Weeks of Public Art in the Jozi Inner City- Week 4 (20th January to the 26th January 2013)

Mosaic at David Webster Park in Troyeville

Johannesburg is such a new city yet it has such an interesting past. I am particularly interested in the anti-apartheid past. So many fascinating events have taken place in Jozi and so many great and brave people spent time here during the Apartheid period and I really think we should remember this.

One way of remembering this is to honour people and events through public artwork. There are a few such artworks in the Jozi Inner City and Soweto and this blog will look at a number of these over the next 52 weeks.

The first such piece featured is this delicate mosaic that can be found in Troyeville in the East of the Jozi Inner City. David Webster was a passionate humanitarian and anti- apartheid activist who lived and was assassinated in the area in the 1980's. The city rejuvenated a park and its facilities and renamed it after him a few years ago. Its a great way to remember a great person!

To learn more about this Public Art and to visit it first hand, please contact Past Experiences for a tour on past.experiences@hotmail.com or http://pastexperiences.co.za/

52 Weeks of Public Art in the Jozi Inner City- Week 3 (13th to the 19th January 2013)

The Bull and the Bear

This weeks public art piece is a really great cement piece that is situated in historic downtown Jozi, in an area where the Johannesburg Stock Exchange was based from about 1903 to the late 1970's.

Featuring a Bull and a Bear, which indicate upward and downward trends and are often used to symbolize a stock exchange, this is a really unassuming but effective piece.

Other Stock Exchanges have a Bull and/or Bear outside, and I love seeing how they differ all over the world. Just for fun here is the public artwork that can be found outside the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (Picture: http://www.german-architecture.info/GERMANY/G-FRA/FRA-024.htm)

Frankfurt Stock Exchange Bull and Bear
For more details, please join us on a walking tour of the Jozi Inner City- email us on past.experiences@hotmail.com or http://pastexperiences.co.za/

Thursday, January 10, 2013

January to February 2013 Tour Schedule

A Huge Hello and Happy New Year to all our Past Experiences Friends and Loyal Clients!


We have had a really busy festive season, with many international tourists, visiting friends and family and local Jozi residents joining us on tours in Johannesburg and Soweto! Thank you for your continued support.

2013 promises to be a great year for us and we have numerous plans to make our tours and offering even better!

The year has started off with a BANG as company founder and Jozi lover Jo has been sponsored by South African Tourism and the Tourism Enterprise Partnership to join SAT in New York at the New York Times Trade Fair. She will be leaving next week for a few days! We cannot thank SAT and TEP enough for this opportunity! We are aiming to sell the Johannesburg Inner City like mad!

We have also started a new project on our blog called “52 Weeks of Public Art in the Jozi Inner City”. We will post a piece of public art on the blog every week of 2013, so please do take a look! We will also continue to post our usual city - themed updates! For more info:  http://joburgtourguide.blogspot.com/                   

So many of you have been asking for our budget tour schedule for the next couple of months so here we go! We have kept it quite light as we know many of you are recovering after the festive season. We might add a few more tours but will update you!

Best Wishes for the Upcoming Year and hope to see you in the Jozi CBD soon!

The Past Experiences Team

January/ February 2013 Schedule

Past Experiences started doing shorter budget walking tours especially aimed at Johannesburg locals in 2009 and we have absolutely no intention of ever stopping these! We believe that Jozi is a place yet to be discovered by her own inhabitants just as much as visitors from afar and so we will always be on hand to show you guys around at a budget-friendly price.

We do this by scheduling a few public tours each month - here is the January/February tour schedule. Booking is essential - so please email us on past.experiences@hotmail.com or phone us on 011 678 3905

Also please note we do create tailor-made private tours for locals, international tourists, corporate groups and schools during the week and on weekends. These are very popular and can be worked around your budget, interests and needs.




26th January 2013- Saturday- Early Morning Marshalltown Photography Tour

Marshalltown is one of the oldest parts of Johannesburg and home to some of its most beautiful and unique buildings. From Edwardian to Art Deco, it is a great place to take some photographs. Join our resident photographer and guide Tania for a walk around this fantastic area. You will have ample time to take photos and Tania will be on hand to give you info on Marshalltown’s history and regeneration.

We will begin and end at the Reef Hotel, where you can have a cup of coffee and relax after the event.

Price: R100

Time: 07h30-09h30

Meeting Place: The Reef Hotel, 58 Anderson Street, Marshalltown

Parking: Reef Hotel parking

To book please email us on past.experiences@hotmail.com or phone Past Experiences on 011 678 3905



9th February 2013- Saturday- I Braamies

If you have visited Braamfontein lately, you will know how absolutely fantastic it is looking. From its stunning new hotel and student accommodation, to its fantastic new restaurants, galleries, shops and the 70 Juta district, this is a tour not to be missed.

Join us for a relaxed but concise walking tour looking at the history, present and future of this special inner city area, as well as a little public art and graffiti!

The Tour will begin at the Grove of the Lamunu Hotel - from there we will discover and learn about the area. The tour will end at the stunning new neighbourhood Goods Market where you can have a delicious breakfast (yum!), browse the stalls or even have a refreshing beer!

This is a perfect way to spend a Saturday morning in your own city.

Price: R70 (Kids 13 years and under R40)

Time: 08h30 and end at about 10h00

Meeting Place: The Grove at the Lamunu Hotel (GPS coordinates: 26.19375, 28.0364) (Corner of Juta and  Melle Street)

Parking: on opposite corner.

To book please email us on past.experiences@hotmail.com or phone Past Experiences on 011 678 3905


16th February 2013-Saturday- Creative Jozi Public Art Tour

Join Past Experiences for a leisurely walking tour of the inner city. This fantastic tour will focus on the wonderful array of public art that can be found in the Joburg CBD. Public Art is great as it is art created specifically for public spaces- as opposed to art created for a private or public art gallery. Public art is for everyone and can be seen anytime. Joburg has awesome public art- both old and new and on this tour we are going to see as much of it as possible. We will also look at the history, present status and rejuvenation initiatives of the inner city as we journey through town.

Price: R110-00 (Kids 13 years and under R50)

Time: 10h00 until 12h00

Meeting Place and parking area: Sci Bono Coffee Shop, Miriam Makeba Street (Across from the SAB World of Beer), Newtown

To book please email us on past.experiences@hotmail.com or phone Past Experiences on 011 678 3905


23 February 2013-Saturday- Jozi Inner City Flash Tours….WOOP WOOP

Why not join us for some flash tours (this means short!) in the Jozi Inner City!! These concise hour-long tours have a number of themes and focus on history, architecture, public art, street art and City culture. This is perfect for anyone who wants to venture into the Jozi Inner City but not sure how to do it! So why not join us for one or a few and explore your city at a great budget price!

Please arrive a few minutes before each tour!

Flash Tour Schedule:

Time: 09h00-10h00

Newtown Graffiti Photo Walk - Guide: Tania

Join resident photographer and guide Tania for a tour of this industrial and graffiti rich area, this tour will give you loads of time to capture the perfect shot.

Public Art in the City - Guide: Jo

This tour will focus on the wonderful array of public art that can be found in the Joburg CBD. Public Art is great as it is art created specifically for public spaces - as opposed to art created for an art gallery. Public art is for everyone and can be seen anytime. Joburg has awesome public art - both old and new and on this tour we are going to see as much of it as possible.


Time: 10h20-11h20

A Tiny Touch of Inner City Shopping - Guide: Tania

Join us on a mini intro to shopping in the Ferreirasdorp area. You will make whirlwind stops at the Chinese Supermarket, a material shop…and a few more surprises. Don’t forget to bring cash for a little retail therapy.

Joburg’s Original Chinatown - Guide: Jo

Did you know Johannesburg’s original Chinatown is in the Inner City? Why not join us on a short exploration of this fascinating area and learn more about its people and history? We will also make a short stop at the city’s oldest Chinese supermarket.

Time: 11h40-12h40

Mandela’s Joburg - Guide: Jo

This flash tour focuses on Nelson Mandela’s life in the Inner City during the 1950s’. We will look at what life was like during this period and visit his law office. We will also learn more about other apartheid activists who spent time in the area.

Newtown Past and Present- the Perfect Intro to an awesome area - Guide: Tania

Newtown is definitely one of our favourite areas in the Inner City. This former industrial area and present day cultural precinct has a lot of heart and is home to many creative….. Join us on a tour looking at its early history, formation, buildings, present status and future development.

Price: R50 per tour (Kids 13 years and under R30)

Times: Please see above

Meeting Place and Parking area: Sci Bono Coffee Shop, Miriam Makeba Street (Across from the SAB World of Beer), Newtown

You do not need to book for our flash tours but for more info please do not hesitate to contact us on past.experiences@hotmail.com or phone us on

011 678 3905






Tuesday, January 8, 2013

52 Weeks of Public Art in the Jozi Inner City- Week 2 (7th to the 13 January 2013)

Graffiti in Ferrirasdorp

As a huge lover of graffiti, it seems only fitting that my second week of "52 Weeks of Public Art" be a graffiti work. This one is found in the Ferreirasdorp area, near Chancellor House which was Oliver Tambo's and Nelson Mandela's Law office. This piece is District 9 themed. If you haven't seen this film...it is awesome. Set in the Joburg Inner City, this sci-fi film centres around aliens landing in the city and the consequences. I think it is heart breaking and is a great comment on how illegal aliens or immigrants are sometimes treated in Jozi.

This great image shows a prawn, or as many would know it "a Fokken Prawn".

I have to say I am not sure whose work this is- I cant quite make out the words, but I am sure someone would be able to tell me, so comment please and share the love!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

52 Weeks of Public Art in the Jozi Inner City- Week 1 (1-6 January 2013)

Eland by Clive van den Berg (Braamfontein)

Maybe not everyones favourite piece but I think it is rad, its a piece that locals seems to know as a bit of a landmark. Maybe because it is large and an image that you would not expect to find in a bustling city! This one is part of a wider project and welcomes you to the city.

52 Weeks of Public Art in the Joburg Inner City- An Intro

To touch art is to touch the mind; to touch the mind is to touch a life- J. David Arnold

I have decided to pimp up my blog with a new concept "52 Weeks of Public Art in the Joburg Inner City"which basically means that over the next year,I will post a piece of public art that can be found in the Jozi Inner City (or Soweto) every week. I am passionate about the public art in the CBD as anyone can see it, interact with it and experience it, and surely that is what art should be about in a city like Johannesburg. Joburg aims to be the largest art gallery in the world, where you can walk around the city and see art everywhere...just like you would in a gallery like the Tate Modern. The City of Joburg spends a certain percentage of its yearly budget on art and we have hundreds of pieces through out the Inner City. The blog will feature official and unofficial public art and don't forget the graffiti!

So here is "52 Weeks of Public Art" in the city I love!

(If you would like to see the art first hand please book a tour with me and my company at http://pastexperiences.co.za/)

BTW, I will also still post other interesting titbits on a number of topics.