Day 4: Autumn

I now have an editor.  Look at me being all fancy and stuff.  So if my blog posts are late or suddenly have no sense of humour – blame him!  hehe

DSCN4453ANYWAY.  Back to the point.

When I started this whole endeavour I went outside and took some photos of things I love here.  Most of the photos were of my dogs, but that’s just because they’re really cute and I get distracted too easily.  The plan was to save those pictures and use them if I really had nothing else to say. A little sad, but I say it’s better to be pathetic and have a contingency plan than rock for 5 days and then fall flat.DSCN4518

Turns out I need those pictures anyway, so it all worked out well.

The original photos were of some leaves and the autumn trees.  They’re your typical autumn pictures with the red leaves and the bare branches, but I think it’s really pretty, so I took them anyway.

Today I went outside and stood in the exact same place and it was like I had been transported!  Yes, the leaves had changed colour a little more.  Yes, the trees were a bit more bare.  Yes, there were far more leaves on the floor than before.  But it wasn’t any of that which caught my attention. I didn’t notice anything until I was about to walk back to the door,  but in that moment I turned as my dog ran past and kicked up some leaves – and it hit me!



The smell!  There’s a certain scent to autumn that just smells magical!  It’s like this overwhelmingly lovely earthy, warm hug.  Like a blanket.  One that smells nice.

Now I have no way of knowing if Autumn smells this way anywhere else, so it’s not like I can promote it as this beautifully quintessential South African thing.  But I can tell you that I love South Africa in the autumn!  I love how the sun stays out but the air gets nippier.  I love that I (FINALLY) get to wear cute things like hats and boots.  I love the way the green lawn turns into a carpet of reds , yellows, oranges, browns, and golds.  And I love the smell!




Day 3: The Heavens Declare the Glory of God

I heard some time ago that South Africa has a unique kind of sunset that looks differentsunset 2 to almost all others – especially those in the Northern Hemisphere.  The reason ours seem so much more splendid is because ours have a magnificent red hue.  In fact, one of the most iconic images of South Africa is that of a tree (or giraffe or elephant…) silhouetted against a red sky and a bright yellow sun.  The reason for these lovely daily paintings in the sky?  Red dust.  We have an inordinately large amount of red dust and it floats about in the sky making our cars dirty and turning our sunsets red!

Now, I live in a city.  Johannesburg is hardly known for its vast landscapes and endless plains.  It’s more like cars, trucks, looming office buildings, and lots of pollution.  But because of the number of cars, trucks, taxis, buses… (the list goes on) we get to set in traffic for a really long time.  Especially if we travel on a highway or at peak times.

sunset 1I say “get to”… A lot of people hate traffic with a ferocity that causes cold shivers even on the hottest summer days.  But me?  Well, I’m strange.  I like the anonymity of traffic.  It means I get to sing and dance and say hello to total strangers, and then never see them again.  Many a soundtrack has been memorised in my car while waiting for the traffic.  But there’s another great advantage to sitting in traffic – one that I managed to capture today.  Not very well, mind you (hey, I warned you I’m a terrible photographer), but capture it I did.DSCN4507

And this is where we get back to sunsets.

Rays that shoot across the sky in seemingly endless beams.  Yellows and pinks and blues and purples and oranges – colours that would look ridiculous together on a painting but somehow look incredible in the sky!  Silver lined navy clouds that hint at a cooler night, juxtaposed against white clouds that still have the sun DSCN4511spotlighting them in the great show that is the sunset.

Sitting in traffic tonight for 45 minutes meant a free 45 minute show of one of the greatest spectacles in the world.  With a repeat performance every night!

I realise that this series is supposed to be about South Africa and touristing.  But I’m quickly realising that it’s simply impossible to see the beauty of this country and not recognise the creator.  No one could choreograph anything as grand as the movement of the clouds.  No one could paint anything as breath-taking as the sunsets seen each dusk.  No one but my Lord.

The heavens declare the glory of God.

And here in Jozi, I get to see God’s handiwork in all its spectacular glory every single day!  If that’s not a reason to visit this place, what is?DSCN4509

Day 3 and I’m learning to love my country a lot more than I ever did before.



Day 2: A World-Class Performance

Welcome to Johannesburg – a world-class city!  Or so the tourism board insists.  DSCN4487I still question this, but tonight I definitely saw some world-class quality in the show “Stage by Stage” put on by none other than South African theatre star, Jonathan Roxmouth.

I must say, I thought is exceedingly odd that I was walking through a Tuscan themed building while looking for South African things, but I came to the conclusion that that was simply part of the charm – a nod from South Africa to Italy to say, “hey, nice place.  Can we share in it?”.

Monte Casino (for anyone still wondering) is a great place in the Johannesburg for a little bit of fun.  Great place to eat, great entertainment, great shops… and great theatre!  The whole place is designed to look like an old Tuscan village – right down to the pigeons on the window sills – and it’s absolutely fantastic for a night out!  It was at the Teatro – the main theatre – that The Lion King debuted in South Africa.  It was here that I watched Beauty and the Beast and     developed a greater love for Disney, Menken and Ashman, and fairytales in general.  It was here that I fell in love again with a man in a mask who sings like an angel (of music) and writes operas for beautiful chorus dancers. And it was here that I watched Stage by Stage and was reminded of all the reasons I so love musicals.

RDSCN4502ight from the beginning, Jonathan had the audience in the palm of his hand.  He restarted the show four times – once for each time a new passel of late-comers walked in – and each time more hilariously than the last.  He enthralled with humour, story-telling, and fantastic music.  With songs from musicals ranging from Pippin to Jekyll and Hyde to Phantom of the Opera to Les Mis, there was a great variety and many opportunities for the star of the show to show how he became such a star.  I was impressed.  Very.

now in all honesty, I’ve come to expect this kind of quality at Monte Casino – after all, it’s a major tourist attraction.  But doing this tourist challenge I realised tonight that this is another reason to be amazed by this country.  I take it for granted, but as a tourist, this is absolutely spectacular.  This show that l so thoroughly enjoyed was written and performed by a man born and DSCN4504bred in South Africa.  He referenced great South African performers.  He used some of our oh-so-descriptive slang.  He took us back to memorable Jozi moments.  And all of these things were proudly South African.

So here’s to a great man, a great show, and a great country!


Day 1: Some QUALITY Service

Meet Stanley.DSCN4486  Stanley did something extraordinary today and as my hero for the day, he has made it onto my blog.

Today, Stanley brought me a bag.

Now bringing a bag doesn’t sound like anything too impressive – but let me give you a little more background:

I arrived back in South Africa three days ago and after waiting for what felt like hours for my bags to make it around the carousel, I realised that those bags were not coming…  That’s right!  I got the gift all plane passengers wish they could receive – the gift of not having to lug 40kg home with them after a long flight.

Ok, maybe making lost luggage sound like a good thing is a little too much of a stretch.

But this great catastrophe in my life (as I perceived it – just think: no hair straightener, no facecloth, no slippers) turned out to be a great introduction to some of the great people of this Nation.

Since the moment I informed the people at OR Tambo International Airport that my bags were missing, I have been impressed.  From phone-calls about the progress, to friendly smiles at delivery.  Each person I have interacted with has been compassionate, patient, polite, and friendly.  When I came frustrated and exhausted, the people who assisted me offered understanding, and considerate and fast service.

Tonight I received my second and final piece of luggage.  It arrived at the hands of Stanley, who drove his own car, and had his wife and daughter with him.  He arrived at eight o’clock on a Sunday night.  Never before have I known such dedicated service – and it came with a smile!

I have heard before that the people of South Africa are some of the friendliest in the world.  Today I witnessed first-hand the sincerity, dedication, and friendliness of one of South Africa’s finest.

Today, thanks to Stanley, I am proud to be South African. Today, I am a very happy tourist!


25 Days a Tourist – My own personal challenge

I have just returned from an amazing two weeks in England – London and Liverpool in the Spring, and a day in Germany.  It was spectacular!DSCN4323

But walking the streets of Germany on my own caused me to get a little more reflective than usual: I find it so easy to see beauty in other places, but not so much in the place I live.  Every corner I turned in Europe led me to another scene to marvel at.  And each new marvel was subsequently compared in my head to something that I then deemed “substandard” from South Africa.

How sad.

How pathetic.

How very blind and naive!

I thought through this revelation on my flight home and decided I wanted to set myself a challenge to see my own home as a tourist might.  To look at my world through new eyes and learn to appreciate what so many will never get to see.

And while I was still trying to decide if I should really follow through, my best friend sent me the following, after doing some “touristing” herself:

“…we need to do more touristing in our home towns”…

Ok, ok.  I can take a hint.

So today marks my promise to be a tourist for 25 days.DSCN4426

I’m going to take my camera everywhere.  No tourist goes anywhere without a camera!  I know for a fact my photography is terrible – at best I can give you a picture that’s in focus and has vaguely decent composition.  At worst, there will be no photo at all.  But I’ll try.

I’m going to look for things that are different or special.

I will not spend any extra money.  This is a hard one because it means not going to the tourist attractions and looking for things other tourists might see.  But I know that simply walking down the streets of London was incredible to me – why should the streets of Jozi be any different?  On that note, however, I will try to be more open-handed.  It’s weird thinking about how much money tourists are willing to part with simply because they’re tourists…

Each day I will put up a new post with my discovery for the day.

So there it is.  10 May 2015 will be day 1 of 25 Days a Tourist. Watch this space!