Oh Coney Island

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Yesterday I went with some friends to Coney Island and what a wonderful day it was. At age 26 I rode my first ever rollercoaster (an 85 year-old relic from the past named the Cyclone) and challenged my fear of heights. It is also a photographer’s dream out there. Definitely recommend a day trip for anyone coming to New York when the weather is still good. It is amazing to think about all the memories that other people have made there for decades before you – all the people who were terrified riding the Cyclone, or the couples who walked hand-in-hand on the boardwalk….

Coney Island – Death Cab for Cutie

Sitting on a carousel ride without any music or light.
Everything was closed at coney island, and i could not help from smiling.

I can hear the atlantic echo back roller coaster screams from summers past.
And everything was closed at coney island, and i could not help from smiling.
Brooklyn will fill in the beach eventually and everyone will go except me.

This is the city for making friends

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I always go on and on that the one thing that really sets Johannesburg apart from other South African cities (and from what I hear global too) is how easy it is to make friends here.

One of the things you quickly learn when you leave University is that making new friends – especially of the same sex as you – is not easy. Men have sport which creates the perfect bonding opportunity – women don’t really have an equivalent. I sometimes joke that you have to go on friend-dates, just like you would with a girl or guy you like.

But living in Johannesburg I have made more friends than ever before in my life – warm, genuine, open, intelligent and interesting people. This week I was invited to two dinner parties – where most of the other guests I either didn’t know or have known less than 6 months…you would imagine there might be a bit of stiffness and lots of dull conversation about “what you do” – as there often is at these kinds of things. Instead there was laughter and the joy of feeling like you belong in this world, that there are plenty of other people who see the world as you do.

Thank you Jozi for making me feel like I have a home for my soul.

The ultimate road trip ingredient – the music

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On Saturday, Mandy, Natalie and I set off to Hartebeespoort Dam for a day. The sun was shining and we were really excited to be getting out for a bit, and we set off with the ultimate road trip CD made by Mandy. The mood was slightly dampened by the fact that the keys for the house in Harties were accidentally left behind and we had to turn around…but this meant more time to listen to our CD.

Here’s the playlist:

Fun – We are young
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros – Home
Mumford & Sons – Little Lion Man
The Cure – Close to me
Metronomy – Corinne
Grouplove – Colours
Isochronous – Destiny
The Cure – Love Cats
The Black Keys – Lonely Boy
Hot Chip – Over and Over
M83 – Midnight City
Lykke Li – I follow rivers
Little Dragon – Feather
Yelle – Safari Disco
SBTRKT – Wildfire
Kay B – On a mission
Lana Del Ray – Blue Jeans (RAC remix)
Gotye – Somebody I used to know

Also had to share some of the amusing shots from this weekend…it’s a strange world out there north of Johannesburg. If you’re feeling down I recommend a trip to the Spar in Harties.
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Party in Pretoria in the park…

I have been working in what some would call South Africa’s rather ‘uninspiring’ capital city – Pretoria – for more than 4 years now. My general attitude has always been to get into my car and get out of here as quickly as possible when the work day in done.

I have never had anything nice to say about Pretoria until one of my best friends, Mandy, introduced me to Park Acoustics last year. It is an out-door concert that takes places at a very old military fort (Fort Schanskop) as you enter Pretoria, near the Voortrekker Monument. Yesterday was my second time there, and even though I did not know any of the acts who were performing, it was the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon, sipping wine, enjoying great company and the perfect weather.

One of my favourite thing about Park Acoustics, in comparison to other out-door concerts, is that they have proper, clean and large bathrooms – so no queing at those horrible plastic contraptions. There is also a great view of the whole of Pretoria from the hill.

The Park Acoustics concerts take place every month or so. Join their Facebook page to keep up to date and give the capital city a chance next time around.

This is the main area where people sit to listen to the bands, but we usually sit higher up where the music isn't as loud.

Nothing beats an afternoon of good weather, music, food and friends.

A rather average photo of the great view of Pretoria from Fort Schanskop

It’s been four years already?

I can’t compare the energy of Johannesburg with any other city in South Africa.
I cannot remember the exact date of the day that I packed my poor Toyota Corolla to the brim and drove off to begin my life in Johannesburg, but it was somewhere around this time four years ago. It was definitely the day after the Elton John concert in Durban.
 
I fell in love with Johannesburg before I even moved here and it is one decision in my life that I will never look back on. I am not an impulsive person but the decision to come here was in a way (at least for me) – I found a post-grad course at Wits that I liked, phoned my mom and told her I wanted to leave Rhodes at the end of the year, came up during the holidays to look for an apartment, moved in with someone I barely knew at that stage and almost cried when I saw the GPS was taking me straight past Ponte upon my arrival.
 
 There is an energy here in Johannesburg that you will struggle to find anywhere else in South Africa; people aren’t just friendly, they are open. People come here to live out their dreams, to kickstart their careers, or because they believe in some way or another, this is a promised land. And you can feel it…
 
What I am most grateful for is the constant opportunity to meet people from completely different walks of life. I thrive on these people, sucking up their stories like those yellow Handy Andy kitchen cloths (according to my mom the Handy Andy ones are far more absorbent than the others). I believe I am a better person because of this – my ideas are constantly challenged or expanded and it becomes impossible to stereotype people.
 
Of course there is a flipside to all this – it means that Johannesburg is also the place where dreams are shattered and where the ruthless ambition of one leads to the downfall of another. It is a place of stress, exhaustion, burn-out, haste and anger.
 
But you get out what you put in – you need to be open to the experience, to meeting people outside your existing circle of friends, to going to new places, to starting the conversations that start frienships. If you’re not then I am afraid that you will struggle to see beyond the traffic jams, the lack of beach, the never-ending supply of personalised number plates like LORD OF*GP or YUR NO 1*GP, and the very questionable architecture of the Northern Suburbs…
 
(Oh and those number plates are for real – I have photographs to prove it)