2018: A Year of Here

So even though I’ve just spent the last six hours (don’t judge!) trying to figure out if we can go to Thailand for my husband’s birthday, our travel plans for this year really just include a whole bunch of exploring around home. Luckily we live in Nelson Mandela Bay and there is plenty of exploring to be done right here which means I’m not too worried about being a dissatisfied adventurer. But you know how it is: sometimes those planes call us so hard!

Alas, no! No planes! In 2018 Nadine needs to stay in just this one country. Unless, you know, she doesn’t…

To be honest though guys: somewhere along the line the mom and the dad need to get away a bit. Raising kids works out better when you take a break. (as an aside: does anyone want my kids?)

Of course a good old fashioned roadtrip or two will be thrown in for the fun (and necessity) of it. Depending on the budget which is currently at zero but will hopefully climb up as the year goes along. I should sell some things. (aside: does anyone want my things?)

For now we’ll just throw around a couple of ideas perhaps and do a far better job than we usually do of observing our own surroundings. I’m the biggest culprit of observing a Home is Where We Hibernate lifestyle…so I fully admit that the challenge will be me.

Am I capable of change? Probably no, but I’m going to try.

Kragga Kamma and Addo Elephant Park: The Perfect Share the Bay Combo

So I asked you all last week about how you go about sharing the bay with your guests and Sarah from Chasing the Rainbow had some awesome suggestions but at the writing of this post the rest of you failed me miserably with your silence. *raises questioning eyebrow*

I discovered, however, that when it comes to international guests especially (and shame probably those poor Cape Townian plebes who only have mountains to look at but no elephants) that right here in the bay we have the absolute perfect combination of exquisite pleasure for your eyes.

Of course I did technically already know this… But I didn’t know that I knew it. You know?

You see…. This is what happens. Addo is incredible. There is only a tiny chance of you going to Addo and not finding any elephants. On the odd occasions, I have heard, that the giants disappear and no one can find them (so mysterious!) but for the most part there is a high likelihood of you spotting the beasts and being completely awed by them. So of course, this is a brilliant place to take guests. Especially when they are British and all the animals they know are livestock and squirrels.

While at Addo your guests might well even see lions and all sorts of other treasures like dungbeetles and spring hares. How awesome, right?

Addo, however, has no giraffe. There are no tall trees in Addo for giraffe to feed off of.  And what is a trip to Africa if you don’t see a giraffe? An abomination! And this is why, Bayers, after you have taken your guests to Addo you MUST take them to Kragga Kamma Game Park. Because Kragga Kamma has giraffe. And they have cheetahs. And buffalo and those glorious beautiful fat unicorns (who have babies!) that we all love so damn much.

Together, Addo and Kragga Kamma make up the perfect gaming experience for anyone who has a little time to spend in our bay. So if you don’t know where to start, start there.

And after that? Well of course there is still so much more…

How do you #sharethebay with your guests?

So I’m a huge fan of the #sharethebay initiative that Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism has been running in our bay for the last couple of years and of course you know that I’m a huge fan of travel (this is a travel blog, after all, even if it didn’t start out that way!) but I have to admit a dirty little secret:

I don’t know what to do with guests when they visit…

My cousin and her husband and brand new bouncy boy are arriving a little later today and once again (actually for the third time in the last month) I find myself wondering what to do with guests when they visit. These particular cousins are from the UK so honestly all I really need to do is show them what colour the sky is when there are no clouds, but I’d like to do more.

I feel like I should have like a go-to #sharethebay routine that I use for first-time visitors to the city. Is that dumb? I mean… I know there are plenty of lovely places and I’ll show them a few of those places in the short time that they will be here, but a big part of me kind of wants to sit down sometime and do a kind of set itinerary. Like have a list of things to do if you have half a day, or a day, or three days. That sort of thing.

So what I want to know is what do you do when out-of-towners visit you? How do you go about your #sharethebay when your time is limited? What are your must-sees and can’t-misses? And don’t tell me there’s so much to do – because of course there is! (actually that might be part of the problem)

Tell me. Specifically.

What do you do?

Introvert About Town

I made a deal with myself that this year I’d be a better tourist in my own town and that there’d be no international travel on the cards for a while. Well you already know that I failed on the international front, but I must admit I’m not doing quite as well as I’d like on the hometown touristing front either.

Well, I did go to Kragga Kamma and had a wonderful time in January, but since then I’ve been hibernating a little. It happens sometimes, and when it does it becomes  a little tough to snap out of it.

On Friday night my favourite artists, The Four Blind Mice, had an exhibition at ArtEC which I felt to go to out of love for the boys. Then, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism invited me out to The People’s Port Festival on Saturday. And then I spotted that the Colours of You team were hosting an Instameet at the festival as well. I finally broke my hibernation and ventured outside.

And, as always, I learned the lesson that wonderful things happen when you go outside!

The Instameet started before the NMBT event so at 9:30, before the festival opened we were all in the parking lot with our cameras. Gerard (seriously how much do we love that guy?) informed us all that we’d be going on a tugboat ride. Here I was just keen to hang out with some cool peeps and I scored a ride in a boat. No complaints here!

Then, windswept and happy, and emotionally recovering from an incident where my husband had to duck under my skirt to retrieve the slip that had somehow retreated to above my thighs (thanks PE wind!) we popped in at The Dockside where we were wined and dined by the ever fabulous Reuann from Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, just as a thanks for being lovers of the Bay.

I ended up going back to the festival on Sunday because I didn’t feel like I’d experienced it enough and because I wanted to take Noah. And I must say: well done to all of those involved. It was a great event!

This little dorp of ours is awesome, hey? And this year I officially become someone who has lived longer in Port Elizabeth than she has lived anywhere else. This makes me weirdly happy. I’m officially Port Elizabethan.

I love here. Which is why I never fail to #sharethebay when I do venture out of my introverted little cocoon. And why I’m never disappointed when I do.


Things to do: Visit Geek World

I’m on a mission this year to write about the fun things you can do around this little city of ours, and a visit to Geek World has been at the top of my list for quite some time now. I’ve just been a little slow on finding my words.

Forgive my bias if you don’t mind, but the owners of Geek World, Leon and Tersia Muston, are friends of mine so I might get a little over-gushy in my enthusiasm for their little store. You see, I’m a massive fan of the little guy and when the little guy does something like quit his job to open up a store that celebrates fandoms, well then I get kind of silly and mushy.

When I happen to be friends with said little guy then I get even mushier.

Leon and Tersia opened up their little piece of Geek Heaven in October last year and my little Harry Potter loving heart just pops every time I go in there. Not only can you find a ton of cool fandom stuff there, from cute trinkets to wear on your person to awesome figurines to adorn your home, but you very quickly come to realise that Tersia and Leon have also taken the time to stock their little store with items sourced from other little business owners around town. From cosplay outfits designed and made locally to crazy beanies that have been crocheted by a retired couple just trying to get by, to books by local authors (me!) and crazy coloured hair dyes from a local entrepreneur, it’s not hard to see that the Mustons care not only about supplying their customers with fun stuff, but also about supporting a lot of the other little guys around town.

I can’t help but love that.

I never thought I’d write about a store where you can buy Ravenclaw scarves and diadems (oh my gosh I totally have one!) on my travel blog, but Passing the Open Windows is all about holding on to those things and experiences that keep you smiling, and Geek World certainly qualifies as one of those things.

Thanks Leon and Tersia for opening up this little spot for us. My little heart that I’ve lost to too many fandoms over the years does a leap every time I peruse your shelves.

And I know I’m not the only one!

More pics: #nayeslovesgeekworld

Travel Resolution: Stay Home

So I told you last week (ok it might have been the week before…what happened to last week anyway?)  that I have a resolution to do a few staycations around town with my husband this year. Well, aside from sleeping in hotels in a town where I already have a bed, I also want to tour the town where I already live.

A recurring thought to me these days has been this:

Wherever you are is somewhere.

Now I get that sounds a bit obvious, but here’s the thing. To me, Wanderlust is a bug that bites and then contaminates your blood so that you can barely consider life without being immersed in either planning or executing the latest adventure. I do recognise that for others, it might be different, but for me I’m quite enjoying living life between travel plans.

But what happens when there are no travel plans?

One of the most delightful side effects of the exploring that I have done over the last couple of years is that it has really made me find it possible to love wherever I am. And that is such a great thing.

I have gone from:

Oh my gosh America is amazing.

Oh my gosh England is amazing.

Oh my gosh Spain is amazing.

Oh my gosh Thailand is amazing.

Oh my gosh India is amazing.

Oh my gosh Zanzibar is amazing.


Oh my gosh earth is amazing.

So I’m exploring earth. And right now Port Elizabeth occupies the little bit of earth that I’m situated on so I’m going to explore her flat.

She deserves it.

Because she is amazing too.

Things to Do: Food Truck Friday

Our little seaside city is undoubtedly becoming quite the foodie mecca these days and it seems that one of our more quirky foodie events is here to stay. The first Food Truck Friday happened back in November and was so popular that the event pretty much ran out of food. Of course, now it’s running a little more smoothly and more trucks and entertainment have been added. It seems that the tasty extravaganza is here to stay.

The next one is being held on Friday the 20th, and this month they’re running a competition where you can win a whole bunch of yumminess as well as two Nelson Mandela Bay Passes (those things are the bomb, you guys!) so you should probably pop over to Facebook and enter that.

The cool thing about Food Truck Friday is that meal costs are capped at R45 so you can tickle your tastebuds without breaking the bank too much. Seriously: for foodie food this is actually ok. I once paid R70 for a foodie food pork skewer that had like three pieces of pork on it. It was amazing but the only reason I could afford it was because someone else paid for it!

Just a tip though: if it’s possible get there early before the crowds arrive. That way you get to skip the queues and just chill and take in the good vibes.

Listening to Untold Stories on a Township Tour

Have you ever been so impressed by something that you don’t actually know how to start talking about it? I’ve wanted to share my experience with the Untold Stories Tour that I took through Calabash Tours a couple of weeks ago ever since I said goodbye to our tour guide, Xholani. I’ve gushily spilled my enthusiasm over my family members, had lengthy discussions about it with my husband, and spent many hours contemplating the brilliant simplicity of it all.

And yet here I sit feeling like I am at a loss for the right words.

So, I’m going to put it to you simply, and hope that my message comes across regardless.

The Untold Stories Tour is one of the most important tours I have ever been on, and it excites me that this is something that is being offered to tourists in our city. Basically, we went on a township tour, which in itself is exceptionally enlightening and filled with important history that all South Africans should be aware of. But, most importantly, the tour included having dinner in the home of Mamma Gwen. Mamma Gwen prepared a very South African (and delicious) meal for us, and while we ate, she told us about her life.

I have to admit this was one of the most enlightening experiences of my life. I’ve always sort of thought that “tourism” is not a particularly authentic way of getting to know different parts of the world. Oftentimes it isn’t. Often tours kind of show you the fancy sugar-coated parts of whichever part of the world you find yourself in. That’s ok, of course. Because it’s fun regardless. But unless you actually move somewhere for a couple of months, it’s kind of hard to get a real glimpse into the lives of the people who live there. This Untold Stories Tour, however, gives you such a real experience.

Forgive my over-enthusiasm, but I do highly recommend doing this. Even if you already live here. Possibly I recommend it especially if you already live here.

I know some people might find the idea of a township tour to be distasteful. I have felt this way myself. In fact the only reason I even went on a township tour in the first place (I’ve now been on two – both were great) is because I wanted to formulate a more informed opinion on the practice. The thing is, though, that a better understanding of the experiences of our fellow citizens is so exceptionally important. Mama Gwen’s stories are so important! And so I have come to believe that these township tours can be quite significant.

So I’d like to say thank you to Calabash Tours for this experience. Thank you for bringing tourism opportunities to people who might not otherwise think to find their place here. Thank you for showing how important they are to this industry! I truly hope that this endeavour is supported and that it grows to include even more beautiful people like Mama Gwen.

Do yourself a favour and check out this tour. You won’t regret it.

Thinking about tourism…

As it turns out I am currently sitting on a bed in a hotel room in George thinking about tourism. Probably I should be out there exploring a bit, but instead I am sitting here feeling zen and contemplative. And what am I contemplating? Not even George tourism and what I might manage to get up to while I am here, but Port Elizabeth tourism and how I might manage to play a small (or big!) role in moving the industry forward.

shark rock pier

Lately I’ve been asking myself what I personally think is a really important question:

What makes people come to visit Port Elizabeth? (and by extension, the Eastern Cape)

img_5270I was visiting Hlosi Game Lodge when this question first occurred to me. Of course we won our weekend there, otherwise we would never have had the experience. These game farm experiences – and they are experiences – can be quite costly. Worth it, most definitely, but that doesn’t quite change the fact that I can’t afford them! Anyway… Of course when we were visiting Hlosi, we were the only South African visitors there. The rest of our fellow guests were from all over the world. England, of course, but also Germany and Sweden if I remember correctly. So as I observed these guys (who got really excited seeing giraffe in the far distance) I could not help but wonder: how did they end up here? (more…)

Sharing the Bay by Being a Hometown Tourist

img_36002016 has been an incredible year for me. I feel almost guilty saying that because in the grander scheme of things it has been a pretty scary year. Especially that part where the Apocalypse is coming and The Hunger Games are probably going to be a real thing now. And even more especially that part where too many folks seem to be on board with this madness.

I digress. We accidentally got spoilt this year. I somehow found myself overseas twice, exploring places vastly different from home, and I began to fall more and more in love with the idea of somehow getting it right to balance my homebody self with my adventurous self. This year kind of showed me that out-of-the-ordinary things are possible in even the most ordinary of lives.

Of course going overseas twice in one year plus getting a little over-enthusiastic on the roadtrip front has inevitably lead to a little more credit card debt than I am comfortable with, and of course the husband has over-extend his available leave, which means that next year is looking a little travel-skint for this wayfaring duo. Perhaps it may have been a little wiser to spread things out a little bit more. Oh well, too late for that.

img_3316But you know what? I’m kind of excited regardless. All this exploring in faraway places has kind of drawn me home a bit and inspired me to explore around here in a more intense way. I am determined to spend 2017 sharing the bay while I discover all the secrets our beautiful city has to offer. I can’t wait to start, so I’ll probably be sharing some of my favourite things about around here over the next couple of weeks. But I’m most excited about going out there and treating Port Elizabeth as a foreign place that I have the added bonus of oodles of time to explore.

I’m a Port Elizabethan Blogger, folks! I should have been doing this ages ago!

(First order of business: figure out how to take a really cool picture of the pier…)

Why is there a monkey in my tree?

img_4920I’ve lived in Jutland Crescent, overlooking Baakens Valley, for going on twelve years now, and not once have I ever seen a monkey here. Yes, we’re overlooking the valley, and it almost even makes sense that monkeys might make their way here. I suppose you could call our little hill an extension of Settlers Park if you wanted. So yeah. There’s plenty of wildlife here. We’ve had dassies, guinea fowl, grouse, mongooses, tortoises, genets, way too many snakes for my liking, and even a couple of duiker in our yards before (when I say “our” I mean my yard and my mom’s yard – we live next to each other) but never ever have I seen a monkey.

And yet there she was: eating a locust in my tree.

So, I have to ask the question. Why is she here? Why is there a monkey bouncing though the trees in my yard? And why does she seem so impossibly terrified every time she sees me point my camera at her? And why is she, a vervet monkey, alone? Vervet monkeys are social creatures that travel in tribes.

She’s lost.

And she’s really scared of my camera.

Is it silly for me to wonder if she’s been shot at? It seems to be a logical conclusion. I’ve never seen a vervet monkey who was more afraid than curious. They usually just kind of look at you when you look at them. They’re usually cheeky as hell. So maybe somebody shot at her and her family members. Maybe that’s why she’s lost and so far from home.

And there I was pointing a “gun” at her. Luckily by the time I sort of figured out that the gun was making her scared, she also seemed to realise that I wasn’t shooting at her. So she calmed down a bit. Ate a locust. And then vanished into the valley.

I never did manage to get a decent pic of her. But I hope she finds her people soon.

My Favourite Things to Do in the Friendly City

Cheapflights Nelson Mandela Bay BlogathonThrilled to be part of the Cheapflights Blogathon that seeks to explore a bit of the friendly city of Port Elizabeth (with the ever fabulous folk at Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, of course) I’ve been thinking about all the reasons I love my home over the last couple of days. I can’t seem to stop thinking of the review that Madonna gave of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. 

“The Alchemist is a book about magic, dreams and the treasures we seek elsewhere and then find on our own doorstep.”

When I first read the book (about 10 years ago) I thought that this review of Madonna’s was an inaccurate assessment and it kind of irritated me quite a bit. In a way, I still sort of do disagree with it, but at the same time I’m coming around to her thinking. You see, to me the book was saying that even though everything you need can be found at home, you should still brave the unknown and seek your fortunes (not necessarily monetary fortune) elsewhere. Of course this plays right into the psyche of those of us who love to travel. But I’m kind of liking the idea that maybe both of our assessments were right. Maybe the story teaches us that adventure out there is important, but also that what your soul needs can be found at home too. In the last year I have certainly come to understand that the most wonderful of adventures in faraway places have this magical way of making you love home even more.

And so I have decided to share my favourite things to do here in this friendly city of ours. Port Elizabeth has so much to offer, from temperate weather to blue flag beaches to adventure and tons of touristy fun stuff, but I have to admit that my favourites are more of the understated kind. These are the things that I try to indulge in regularly, or wish that I could indulge in more regularly. Please do feel free to share some of yours!

dscn1841-version-21.) SAMREC Penguin Releases

Hands down this is one of the most awww bless things to do in Port Elizabeth. If you follow SAMREC’s Facebook Page you should be able to figure out when the next one is. Or just contact them. Penguin releases happen pretty regularly and if watching those little critters run down the beach and jump into the sea doesn’t melt your heart, nothing will.

2.) A Coffee Milkshake from Something Good

Can I confess something weird? I’ve never been inside Something Good. This is one of the most popular places to eat in our city, but I gotta tell you, there’s very little chance I’ll ever go inside. Why? Not because they aren’t great. I’m sure they are. It’s because grabbing something from their take-away menu (roadhouse style) and then sitting in my car to consume it while watching the sea is one of my absolute I’m-not-even-nearly-kidding favourite things to do. So if I’m ever in that area this will be my entertainment choice. I speak purely for myself of course, but this is like the perfect date! Grab a milkshake. Park with your car facing the beach. And just sit there. It’s heaven. There are of course other great spots from which to sit and watch the waves (I did already mention that PE is awesome) but this particular piece of our shoreline just does it for me.

Noah at ArtEC

3.) Check out an Exhibition at ArtEC

If you love initiatives that are all about giving back to the community, then do pop in to ArtEC when you’re in town. I love most of our art galleries by default, but this is hands down the best one we have as far as I’m concerned. These guys are constantly putting on the most exciting of events and bringing the most diverse collection of artists to our attention. And they do this so humbly. It is a beautiful thing to behold. (pics: #nayesexploresartec)

4.) The Cape Recife Lighthouse

I’m not sure how we regular folk are supposed to manage to get up there without going on an actual tour that includes a bunch of other stuff, but I imagine if you contact SAMREC someone might be able to help you. In July(ish) this year, my husband and I used our Nelson Mandela Bay Pass and went on a tour with Alan Tours. This tour included a trip up the Cape Recife Lighthouse. Wow. The photo opportunities. The views. The everything. Go there. (pics: #nayesexploresthecaperecifelighthouse)

5.) The Redhouse Flamingoes

If you leave the city and drive towards Redhouse you will eventually come across a whole bunch of salt pans on your left. These salt pans are filled with gorgeous pink flamingoes. I love taking a drive out that way with my camera and taking a hundred terrible photographs of those birds. One day I’ll have a lens that can handle them at a distance that doesn’t make them fly away, but for now I don’t mind failing in my attempts to capture their gorgeousness. Just watching them is enough.


I really would love to hear what quirky things you love to do around our city. Feel free to share them with me and I might even be inclined to give them a try!

*disclaimer* While this post was sponsored by the good folks at Cheapflights in association with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism, the content and opinions found here are entirely my own.