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

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.

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.

dscn4673

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.

 

 

Thinking about things to do in the friendly city of Port Elizabeth

Cheapflights Nelson Mandela Bay BlogathonConsidering I’ve just come back from Zanzibar, it seems a little weird that I’m now writing a post about things to do in Port Elizabeth. Because I have Zanzibar to write about first, surely. The problem is: I don’t want to! And I feel a little brattish about it but the truth is that I was so relieved to arrive home in Nelson Mandela Bay after our latest little adventure that I find myself needing a little bit of breathing space between myself and the last three weeks.

Besides, being glad to be home is truly quite an exquisite feeling. Isn’t it? We should take advantage of all those good vibes!

You see, I’ve been finding that the the more I explore outside of my city, the more I find myself wanting to properly explore inside of my city. Port Elizabeth has just as many wonderful nooks and crannies to discover as anywhere else. And why shouldn’t I approach my home town with the same curiosity that I employ when exploring places that I need a plane to take me to? In fact, for a while now I have settled on the idea that perhaps my goals for 2017 should be to become the absolute very best hometown tourist that I can be.

So, in the wake of making such a resolution, it seemed quite fortuitous to be asked by Cheapflights to be part of their Port Elizabeth Blogathon with Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism. And forgive me for gushing, but when the makers of your #1 favourite app on your phone ask you to do a campaign with them you say YES as loudly as you possibly can. And then you make a fool of yourself by admitting that their app legitimately changed your life for the better. Because you’re too old to be coy about these things.

I do hope you enjoy the upcoming things to do ideas for our little corner of the world. Give me a shout if you think you’ve got some alternative ideas. We like playing with the slightly odder things around here!