Giving Back in Joburg: Knit-A-Square

Spencer has been away this week on a class trip, so I have been looking for new activities and ways to get involved around Joburg. Through a new friend, I was introduced to the charity knit-a-square, and immediately loved the idea.

Snip20160109_7.png
Source: KAS Snippets

The concept of knit-a-square is to have people from all over the world send in 8×8 inch (20cm) squares, which are then sewn together, 35 at a time, to make blankets. These blankets, along with hats and hand-warmers and cuddly toys that the generous knitters send over, are distributed to street children, AIDs orphans, and other vulnerable children around the city.

Continue reading “Giving Back in Joburg: Knit-A-Square”

Dog & Fig Brewery

Cici and I worked up quite a thirst navigating our way down the Vaal River. Conveniently for us, the Dog & Fig Brewery is just a few hundred meters away from Earth Adventures along Kopjeskraal Road in Parys. The brewery is set atop a broad grassy hill with stunning views of the Vredefort dome mountains to the northwest.  From the parking lot, a large but simple industrial structure gives way to an eclectic indoor/outdoor drinking and dining area in the back.

20160326_142955

Continue reading “Dog & Fig Brewery”

Vredefort Dome: A Johnson Family Adventure

 

IMG_4855.jpg

Growing up, my family had a tendency to get into exciting situations on our travels. We would find ourselves in scenarios that we really shouldn’t have been in, with no clear escape route. Like during a family vacation to South Africa almost 20 years ago, when we managed to get lost, at night, deep in a township. Or later on the same trip, when we parked our safari car a little too close to an angry African elephant, causing him to uproot a tree and come after us with it full force.

My parents always did a pretty good job of downplaying the true extent of the physical danger we faced until after the fact, by which time the euphemistically named “Hoffman Family Adventures” had become the stuff of family legend.

This knack for getting into perilous situations (adventures!) has clearly been passed down to me, because Spencer and I walked right into our own “Johnson Family Adventure” this weekend.

Continue reading “Vredefort Dome: A Johnson Family Adventure”

Johannesburg Botanical Gardens

The company that collects trash in Johannesburg –  the superbly named Pikitup – has been on strike for four weeks now. The workers that are part of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) are demanding salary increases and a change of leadership. The striking is illegal and has been quite contentious, and negotiations don’t yet seem to be reaching any kind of conclusion. Scabs have been working through the night to pick up the backlog of rubbish, but have apparently been facing intimidation and even violent threats.

 

pic-6-1140x600
The effects of a month of strikin by trash collection workers. Source: connect.citizen.co.za

The striking Pikitup workers have been hitting the streets downtown, overturning trash cans throughout the Central Business District. The growing piles of trash and the scattered litter through the streets was enough reason for us to look for somewhere a little less urban to spend our Saturday.

Continue reading “Johannesburg Botanical Gardens”

Sonoma: Throwback to California Wine Country

IMG_2836.jpg

While soaking in the glorious surroundings of Stellenbosch last week, it was impossible not to notice the similarities to another region, 10,000 miles away, that is also famous for its wine. So in a first #tbt post, I’ll share with you some of the highlights of a trip we took last year to Sonoma Valley, California.

Continue reading “Sonoma: Throwback to California Wine Country”

Stellenbosch: 2 Days in South African Wine Country

IMG_4632.jpg

After our exciting train ride from Joburg to Cape Town, we disembarked and headed north for the mountains. This area is called the Bolands, which means ‘up-lands’, and it has just the right climate and soil to be a world-class wine making region. And seeing how I love wine, and Spencer loves mountains, it was the perfect place for us to spend a weekend.

Continue reading “Stellenbosch: 2 Days in South African Wine Country”

Midnight Train to Cape Town

IMG_4434

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Never has that quote rung more true than when we took an overnight train from Johannesburg to Cape Town. It was certainly not the quickest, nor most convenient way to travel; a flight would have arrived in just two hours instead of 26 by train. I loved it anyway, because it was one of the few times in life when the travel was as much of an experience as the destination.

Continue reading “Midnight Train to Cape Town”

Wildlife of Joburg

South Africa is known for its beautiful landscapes, delicious wine, and fascinating history. Primarily, though, it’s known for its animals: the elephants, giraffes, lions, and zebras. As of this week, we have been here for 2 months (!), but thus far, we have not really seen much of the fauna that South Africa is famous for. Aside from a playful monkey and some gentle cheetahs, we have not yet encountered most of the species this country has to offer. There are only four main varieties of wildlife that occupy Joburg. I’ll break them down for you.

Continue reading “Wildlife of Joburg”