Friday, May 16, 2014

The Last Few Months in Pictures

Brian and Jo have fun on the Old Park Station Platform
The Roof of the Greek Orthodox Church in Hillbrow
Graffiti in Newtown (By Fin and Tapz)
My Jozi
Baskets at the Saxon Hotel
The doors of the Johannesburg Public Library
 
Yummy Cupcakes made by the kids at Bethesda Children's Home
My Beautiful Kitchen

 
Rissik Street Postoffice

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Back to the City- An Urban Street Culture Festival in Newtown, Johannesburg (2014)



Just a quick post showing some of the photographs I took at Back to the City. For those of you who don't know, Back to the City is a street culture festival that takes place in the Joburg Inner City every year. It focuses on hip-hop, skating, basketball, street style and of course...Graffiti. Every year the pillars under the highway in Newtown get painted during the festival. Its done as a competition, organised by Graffiti Studio Two by Two, and different crews and individuals battle it out to win best pillar. So here are a few pictures taken during the festival:



 
 

 
 
 
 

An Insiders Tour with Graffiti Artist Mars


Mars in Newtown

Past Experiences has been doing Graffiti tours for a few years now and my passion for graffiti has really grown (so much so, that I am now doing my Masters on Graffiti in Jozi). I realise that some people are anti-graffiti, but I think that graffiti adds so much to an area: colour, interest, creativity and art. For most, art is unfortunately a luxury, not a necessity, and I think that this is really true in the Inner City. Many people earn so little, they live in inadequate housing and basically life is incredibly difficult..no time for art when you are just trying to feed your kids. Although graffiti (and street art and public art) might not do anything to alleviate these situations, they do bring something to Inner City communities: colour and art (particularly Inner City kids). I also appreciate that graffiti artists interact (more than most) with marginalised communities and difficult areas, as this is often where graffiti can be found. And on its most simple…graffiti looks awesome.

The warmth and support of many of the graffiti artists towards the tours has been great and we really try to make our tours benefit them where possible.

We were suuuper lucky to have one of Jozi’s most talented graffiti artists Mars join us on a tour a few weeks ago. The tour focused on the graffiti in Newtown and it was really awesome to have the insiders’ view of what it is like to be a graffiti artist, info on the graffiti culture in Joburg…and so much more. Mars made us all think about graffiti in a different way, how in many ways it can be seen as a dialogue, between different writers, communicating through the walls of the city.
Mars explaining his work to some of his young fans
 

I also think it’s really cool, how Graffiti tours draw a crowd of people from many walks of life, different backgrounds and ages. We had parents, kids, teenagers and young professionals on the tour- all united by an interest and open mindedness for graffiti.
The message says it all
 

We got some rave reviews for this tour..and we hope to do many more similar experiences and tours with local artists in the future. If anyone is interested just drop us an email and we can definitely organise you something similar.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Joburger in Cape Town- My Top Picks in the Mother City

Cape Town photographed from Robben Island


There always seems to be a competition between Joburg and Cape Town. And as a passionate Joburger I obviously love my beautiful city a HUGE amount. But that doesn’t mean I don't love Cape Town too.

I have been doing my Masters at UCT in Cape Town so I have really fallen in love with the city, but haven’t really had time to enjoy it properly and really experience everything it has to offer. Recently Monkey (my other half Justin) and myself decided to spend a week in Cape Town experiencing the best that the city has to offer. We also wanted to visit a few friends who call the mother city home and end our Cape Town adventure by coming home on the train.

But we didn’t want to do it like tourists, we wanted to be travellers. Recently I have come to realise you can be a tourist..or a traveller. Travellers really experience a place like a local, not just on tour buses and through busy attractions. They get to know a place through meeting its people, experiencing its restaurants’, shops and of course walking its streets.  I think that the quote below from Eleanor Roosevelt sums up my travelling philosophy, .

The purpose of life is to live it, to taste it, to experience to the utmost,

 to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience



We ended up having the most amazing holiday in Cape Town so here is a shortish post on our little adventure and our top picks (in no particular order). Hopefully this will help anyone thinking of visiting Cape Town.

My Cape Town Top 10

1) Truth Coffee Shop

Truth coffee shop is INSANE. It’s more than a cup of coffee, it’s an experience!  Situated in District 6, this is the place to come for amazing service, yummy food (I had the Drambuie oats)…and the artisanal coffee is incredible! I also love the d├ęcor- steampunk has not really taken off in South Africa (yet..hopefully), so it’s really cool that Truth has gone with a steampunk feel, complete with staff wearing really top-notch top and bowler hats. This place is so epic; people are even calling it the “best coffee shop in the world”. We can’t wait to go back: www.truthcoffee.com

SteamPunk Coffee Roasting at Truth
 

2) A Walking Tour with Wanderlust Tours

I think that if you are going to do a tour in a new city, it has to be a walking tour. Since I run a company that does walking tours, I am sure I am a little biased but I do think that by walking the streets, you smell the smells, taste the food, meet locals, take the best photos and really “experience “ a place. I really wanted to do a walking tour in Cape Town, and Wanderlust Tours had some really great reviews on Tripadvisor so we booked for a 2 hour tour. Our guide was well known author Ursula Stevens who did the tour in both English and German. It was a fantastic tour focusing on the history, culture and architecture of the city and if you want to know more, Ursula's books are really great. For more details: www.wanderlust.co.za


 
Cape Town Art Deco at Mullers Optometrist (seen on walking tour)


3) Local Friends

I know not everyone has friends in Cape Town (or for that matter, every place you visit) but If you do it can really make a holiday more awesome! Firstly no one knows a city like its locals, it is also great to have a comfy home base and of course (and definitely most important), you get to spend time with friends. We are lucky enough to have our awesome friends Raph, Ernst and Dr D (aka Jen) living in Cape Town so we spread our time between them. They also have pets,which is something I always miss when I travel- so in this post about Cape Town I have to mention Otie, Elmo and Cupcake. The cutest cats in Cape Town.

 
 

 

4) Bo-Kaap

I'm not going to go into to much detail about the Bo-kaap as you can do this yourself on the Internet or through some research. But the so called “Malay Quarter” is definitely one of my favourite places in Cape Town and I always make sure to spend some time in the area, every time I'm in Cape Town. Its colourful, a little edgy and gritty and home to a really interesting community (as long as gentrification doesn’t relocate them). My advice: spend a morning walking around the area, chatting to locals, taking photographs, visiting the Bo-Kaap Museum and Nurul Islam Mosque, tasting the food and generally experiencing the area.

Typical Bo-Kaap Streetscape
 

5) Robben Island

Yes….I Know, this is a super touristy choice but I still think it deserves a place on the list. We spent an awesome morning on the Island. The tour is divided into the boat ride across to the Island, a tour of the political side of the prison by an ex-political prisoner, a bus tour of the little village and then the boat ride back. It was super interesting and we wished that we had, had more time to explore the village. We all know the political history of the Island and some of its more famous prisoners but we loved the earlier history when it was a leper colony and how it functions as a village today.

Old Robben Island School
 

6) My Citi Bus

Cape Towns version of the Rea Vaya Bus, this is a great way to get around cheaply. You just need to register and buy a card, load some money on it and then you are set. I'm a huge fan of public transport and My Citi has some great routes, although it doesn’t reach the whole of the city yet. My advice: download a map or two of the routes beforehand as they don’t seem to have them at the stations. For more info: www.myciti.org.za

Justin looking suave while waiting for the My City Bus
 

7) Milnerton Market

Every time I’m in Cape Town I have to spend a Sunday Morning at the Milnerton Market. It’s not for everyone: a little bit of junk, some antiques and a whole lot of car boot sale. I LOVE IT!!! I love anything from the 1930’s to 1970’s, particularly the mid-century modern period and Milnerton is the best place to pick up a few items. I bought some great plates and postcards and Justin bought some kick-ass tie pins. Set a few hours aside to potter around, shop and enjoy a coffee and sweet treat.

My Milnerton Finds
 

8) A Spa Treatment at the 12 Apostles Hotel

My wonderful better half treated us to a very luxurious couples spa treatment at the 12 Apostles Hotel Spa, which was a bit of a splurge but totally worth it. The Spa is in a cave like space and from the moment you enter, to the time you leave you are spoilt rotten. Our massage was insanely good, the healthy snacks are great and we ended our experience with a glass of champagne on the hotel patio overlooking the ocean: www.12apostleshotel.com

Post-Spa Champagne
 

9) WALK, WALK, WALK

This seems pretty obvious, and maybe its covered in Number 2 but the best way to experience Cape Town (and most cities), is to walk. If we didn’t take the public bus on this holiday we walked. So Walk…you wont regret it. Its lets you explore, stumble across some awesome little finds and meet the locals.

 

10) Shosholoza Meyl- A Train Adventure from Cape Town to Joburg

Maybe I am leaving the best to last, but taking the Shosholoza Meyl train from Cape Town to Joburg was unbelievably fantastic. For those of you who are not familiar with it, this is the standard government train. We boarded at Cape Town Station on Friday Morning and arrived back in Jozi at Park Station on the following Saturday afternoon.  We had our own cabin in tourist class- pretty basic with seats that fold down into beds, place for your luggage and small sink. The train has communal bathrooms and a bar/ catering carriage and everything was super clean.  We took a picnic and our own bedding. Train travel was so relaxing, we chatted, read, watched movies on our i-pad and best of all, watched the scenery and small town life pass us by. Watching the African sun set and rise from your bed as you travel is unbeatable and being able to see the stars shinning brightly over the Karoo is just breath-taking. We cannot wait to do this trip again!

Justin relaxing on the train



Our Train Cabin

 


Sunset

 
Small Town Life

 

Upcoming Weekend Budget Tours with Past Experiences- May and June 2014

Chamber of Mines Building in Marshalltown
 
 
As many of you know, we love our local fans! Since Past Experiences was formed in 2009, we have always offered a few budget tours monthly. These are primarily designed to get locals (and anyone living in Jozi), out and about in YOUR city. We believe that Jozi is a place yet to be discovered by her own residents 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.

Booking is essential so please email us on past.experiences@hotmail.com or phone us on 011 678 3905
 
And Don’t Forget……
We do specialise in tailor-made private tours, experiences and team builds 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
 
May
Saturday 17th May – I Love Shopping- Joburg Inner City Shopping Tour
It’s time for another Past Experiences Shopping Tour!
People come from all over the African continent to shop in the Johannesburg CBD! Past Experiences will show you the best shopping that our fair city has to offer you and guide you through the vibrant and cosmopolitan inner city. You won’t find specials like this anywhere else – material, traditional African blankets (just in time for winter), gorgeous bags, records and so much more! Let us introduce you to this truly remarkable African city shopping extravaganza! Please bring cash as many shops don’t take cards!
Price: R120 pp
Time: 09h30 to 11h30
Meeting Place and parking: Sci-Bono Coffee Shop, Miriam Makeba Street, Newtown

Sunday 18th  May - Newtown Graffiti Tour of Fresh 2014 Pillars (Fundraising Tour for Bethesda Childrens Home in Soweto)
Interested in graffiti and street art? Then why not join us on a tour of Newtown’s fantastic graffiti. The famed graffiti pillars under the highway in Newtown were recently redone for the Back to the City Festival and are looking amazing. The tour will look at what graffiti is, major players and the industry in Jozi. The tour will also include a short visit to Two by Two Graffiti Studio in Newtown, where the graffiti -inspired “Media Monster Exhibition” will still be on.

A percentage of funds raised will go to Bethesda Children’s Home in Soweto, a cause very close to our heart! If you have any unwanted toys or clothes at home, we will be collecting on the day. The home is desperate for basic toiletries at the moment- Dettol, toilet paper, soap, nappies (2 years and up), basic non-perishable food items etc so if you have any extra items lying around we will also collect that etc
Price: R120 pp (Students and kids R80)
Time: 09h00 until 11h00
Meeting Place and parking: Sci-Bono Coffee Shop, Miriam Makeba Street, Newtown

Sunday 25th May - Soweto Graffiti and Bird Tour with graffiti artist ‘Bias’ and Soweto Bird Expert Raymond Rampolokeng (Details still to be finalised)
On this walking tour, we are celebrating the beauty around us! From the hip graffiti at the Soweto Power Station, to the natural beauty of the wetlands and birds in the surrounding area.
This is a perfect one for the all those people who love taking photos and exploring, and for anyone wanting to learn something new. We have organised two experts to help guide this one, along with one of our Past Experiences guides.
On the graffiti side, we will have one of Joburg’s rising graffiti artists ‘Bias’ who will be telling you more about his art and giving you an insider’s guide to graffiti in Jozi and Soweto.
On the birding front we will have ‘Raymond Rampolokeng’,  from Soweto’s only full time bird watching tour company “Bay of Grace”, to show you the best birding on offer.
Why not make a day out of this and have lunch at the cooling towers followed by a trip to some of Soweto’s top attractions which are all nearby

Price: R210 pp
Time: 09h30 to 12h00 (times are estimates)
Meeting place and parking: Orlando Cooling Towers (Cnr Dynamo Street and Old Potch Road)

Saturday 31st May - Ka’Ching Tour of the Financial District and Tea at the Rand Club

Travel back in time to 1886 and early mining in Johannesburg. We learn about the discovery of gold in this city and the huge impact that it had. The tour takes a look at some of Johannesburg’s oldest buildings and we enjoy a relaxed walk past many of the mining houses and banks in Johannesburg. The importance that minerals have played in South Africa’s development is revealed and there is an opportunity to view one of Johannesburg’s earliest mining stopes if time allows.
The tour will also look at some public art, regeneration and architecture and end with Tea and scones at the Rand Club
Price: R160 pp
Time: 09h30 to 11h30 (followed by tea)
Meeting place and parking: Rand Club, cnr Loveday and Fox Street
June
Saturday 7 June - Graffiti Workshop with ‘Two by Two’ Art Studio
Do you love graffiti? Have you always wanted to give it a go? Then this is the perfect opportunity for you to try out some mad graffiti skills! Join the experts from ‘Two by Two’ as you learn all about the history of graffiti and of course how it is done! And best of all, you will have loads of time to give it a go and get creative with a spray can!
Price: R400 pp
Time: 10h00 until 12h00
Meeting place and parking: Two by Two Art Studio, Gwigwi Mrwebi Street, Newtown
Saturday 21st June - Braamfontein Tour
Braamfontein is fabulous, home to so many great spaces, from the Wits Art Museum to the Neighbourgoods Market. The area is buzzing on a Saturday - so why not join us for a stroll through Braamfontein, looking at its history, exciting regeneration, fabulous public art, bright street art and graffiti?
After the tour, why not stay for a yummy brunch at the Neighbourgoods Market or one of the surrounding coffee shops! The ideal way to spend a relaxed Saturday morning.
Price: R120 pp
Time: 09h00 until 11h00
Meeting Place: Velo Cafe, Shop 2 The Grove, Cnr Juta and Melle Street
Parking: On the surrounding streets or in the Arbour Square Public Parking Lot, On Cnr Juta and Melle Street (entrance on Juta Street)
Disclaimer: Past Experiences is not responsible for any loss, theft, damage to property, injury or death that might occur during any of our tours or events. You are advised to remain vigilant at all times, leave valuables at home and we recommend if you bring a bag, it should be worn across your chest.