Ten ways to be a tourist in your own city
1. Brush up on some literature
Give yourself a quick history lesson and take to the streets with new eyes. When was the last time you visited your city’s website? Delve into some tourist books, like Lonely Planet, or try out a more philosophical look at your city, like Ivan Vladislavic’s Portrait of Keys, in which he explores Johannesburg. Choose an interesting angle and look at your city with things like art, culture, points of interest and walking routes in mind.
2. Show friends and family around
If you’re the type whose friends and family are always visiting, take them around your city and see it through their eyes. Go to places you have branded as ‘too touristy’ and actually enjoy experiencing things that you usually turn a blind eye to. If you live in Cape Town, head to the V&A Waterfront, go down to Ushaka Marine World in Durban, or Gold Reef City in Johannesburg There is always somewhere to visit again.
3. Take a different mode of transport
To be a tourist you need to become helpless and rely on transport other than your usual kind. Cape Town has a great Metrorail and bus system, MyCiTi; Durban beachfront’s golden mile is a mecca for cycling. Hire bikes and cycle along the newly renovated green corridor. Talk to people you encounter, find out about the area and their life.
4. Go on a treasure hunt
Gather some friends and try geocaching, a worldwide treasure hunt where ‘treasure’ can literally be found in your back yard (or you choose to hide your own). Follow clues on a website and discover the hidden side of your city.
5. Take an inner-city tour
Most cities offer tours that show off the diversity of the city. In Durban take an open bus tour, or try Street Scene Tours; and in Cape Town, take a taxi tour through Khayelitsha. It will open up a new appreciation of your home town.
6. Taste new things
Step outside your bubble of suburbia and go on a taste adventure. Create a list of coffee shops and restaurants that aren’t your usual hangouts and go exploring. Look for spots in different suburbs with varied cuisines. Ask around to find the best places.
7. Volunteer for a worthwhile cause
Organisations like Greenpop can help expose you to a different side of your home town. Peruse CharitySA and find a charity in your area that you can help. You will get to meet new people and become more in touch with your community.
8. Be a hipster
Organise, or take part in, an instawalk. It’s basically a walk where you take photos with your smartphone. It may sound very hipster and alternative, but at its core it takes the seemingly mundane and transforms it into something completely new and different. It can be done anywhere and is relatively easy to organise. Follow Instagram on the various social networks to take part in its ‘hashtag’ competitions.
9. Attend a sports match
Take in the sights and sounds of a soccer match at FNB Stadium or a rugby match at Coca-Cola Park (Ellis Park), or even just visit the local fun run. It will be a privilege to experience a new culture.
10. There’s always more ...
There is probably something you are thinking about right now that you have always wanted to do in your home town, but felt too skaam (embarrassed) to actually do. So, as they say, just do it!
- Durban Tourism: www.durbanexperience.co.za
- Cape Town Tourism: www.capetown.travel
- Johannesburg Tourism: www.joburgtourism.com
- V&A Waterfront: www.waterfront.co.za (open 09h00 – 19h00 daily)
- UShaka Marine World: www.ushakamarineworld.co.za (open Monday to Sunday, 09h00 – 17h00)
- Gold Reef City: www.goldreefcity.co.za
- Street Scene Tours: www.streetscenetours.co.za
- Khayelitsha tours: www.openafrica.org/route/Khanyisa-Cape-Route