Open Pretoria

copyright Elna Schutz
I’ve been back in my hometown of Pretoria for a while now and am finally getting more involved with all those interesting things I always knew must have been hidden somewhere. I’m hoping to do a lot more writing about awesome things in the capital, so keep an eye on the blog.

In my personal opinion just too many of the culture and event websites in South Africa have an extremely cynical tone, as if something can only be remotely enjoyable if it’s the most ground-breaking and underground thing to have ever been made, preferably by equally cynical people with beards.

That’s not the kind of stuff I write. I happen to believe you don’t make stuff cooler by putting down everything else. In the wise words of The1Janitor:

you're allowed to like stuff

To kick off all things Pretoria, I recently went on a walking tour of the CBD hosted by  Capital Collective as part of Cool Capital 2014, who are both doing some great things for the city.

Led by local architect Andries Adriaan Louw, we  trekked through arcades and hidden side streets. From the half-built Rapid Transport System bus stops to the abandoned synagogue where the Rivonia trial took place, we went into some pretty awesome hidden corners. While similar photowalks and Instameets are popular Pta, it was lovely to see a mixed group, with some sketching or just along for the heck of it.

copyright Elna Schutz

I almost wish these kind of events would be superfluous. In a perfect world Pretorians would know and love their inner city and all its history as much as the locals of Barcelona or Rome. I know we’re far away from that, but it really is time get out from behind the hijack-proof car windows and explore our home beyond cushy shopping malls.

copyright Elna Schutz

Among my favourite childhood memories are school holiday trips into the CBD. Back when using public transport was dodgy at best and there was nothing rapid about it, my mom would take us into town with the bus. We’d feed the pigeons at Oom Paul square, visit museums and spend hours in the huge public library. For a European child this would be nothing out of the ordinary, but in my  insular world of security fences and carpooling this was an adventure like few others.

My mom’s insistence that her children wouldn’t be scared of their hometown seemed strange then, but crucial to me now. That pride and belief that Pretoria is a beautiful old city stuck and is now probably what’s making me so eager to be part of the drive to get people engaged.

copyright Elna Schutz

There’s definitely a revival brewing, and this is the time to not only get on the bandwagon but help shape it. Areas like Joburg’s Braamfontein and Maboneng should show us what’s possible as much as what we can do different. You don’t have to be one of those ‘arty creative types’  with purple hair to fit in either if that’s not your vibe. If there’s one thing about the capital that’s always been cool, it’s the authenticity of the people. Come in your tekkies and have a jol, even if you don’t care that the beer is craft and the coffee is single-origin.

copyright Elna SchutzConsidering that for the longest time couldn’t imagine living here full time again, I’m getting so excited about the possibilities and can’t wait to see what Pretoria looks like in five years.
Maybe I’ve seen the light, or just eaten one too many koeksisters.

pretoria-city-tour

What would you love to see happen in the capital? 
Drop me a comment. 

**Photos copyrighted to Elna Schütz. Don’t use without permission. It’s not nice.*

Liebster Award – Elna travels

Now that I’ve finished my challenge of blogging my whole #Elnaineurope trip, it’s the perfect time to accept my Liebster Award. This fun pass-it-on thing is a great way to give smaller blogs like mine some loving.
Lovely blogger lady Nadia Moore, who nominated me all the way from Korea, explains more about it, but basically you answer your nominator’s questions and make some up for your nominees. Thanks Nadia-friend!

Here we go.

#1 Why did you decide to use blogging as a way of capturing your adventures? Why not Facebook, Twitter etc?
I love Twitter and getting my info quick and fuss-less as much as any journalist with a smartphone glued to their hand, don’t get me wrong. But, I’m old-school with content that’s important to me and believe it should have all the space and depth it needs, regardless of how impatient (or non-existent?) my readers may be.

Then there’s the purely legal aspect of wanting to avoid Facebook and Twitter’s dodgy right to using your photography. Not cool.

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#2 What was the scariest thing about leaving your country?

When I moved to Germany in 2009 it was mostly with adventurous excitement. While I loved it incredibly, it was hard to deal with it far away from my family when those really tough times came knocking. Still, those things made me grow up fast and I’m thankful for that.

On a lighter note, there’s the confusion that comes from not knowing the conventions of a country. This is made even more awkward when you speak the language fluently but act like an idiot. Asking a cashier for the receipt but accidentally using the slang for panties comes to mind. Eek.

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#3 I am a student leaving University. Tell me why I should travel?

I am not usually for one-size-fits-all answers, but have you ever met anyone who went traveling and came back unchanged, uninspired and underwhelmed? Have you? No. Because traveling is awesome.

Seriously though, if at all appealing and possible to you, I would highly suggest it for almost anybody. Whatever amount of fear and doubt you may feel about it now, I promise you that once you get going, that will be overshadowed by adventure and joy and wonder very soon. You see, when you travel you’re not just exploring new parts of the world, but of yourself. In every beautiful place, amazing person and courageous experience, you will discover an aspect of yourself that you’ll never know is there if you stay in your hometown doing hometown things.

wine

#4 Describe a food (make my mouth water!) you have had on your travels that    made your eyes water from happiness (or possibly too much spice!)?
Italy is a food group.

I’ve reminisced about this extensively in my Italy posts, but pretty much anything I ate I loved. As for eyes watering, that’s got to be the black squid spaghetti from Venice. Honestly, that is the most squishy and fishy thing to ever be found outside of the water. It was delicious with all its black ink goodness, but also thoroughly strange. Fantastic experience, but I can still remember that smell it was so strong.

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#5   Describe the moment when you knew you had made the right choice to travel?
 When I left my parents and walked through airport security I got the most alive, excited feeling. There I was, 18 and alone, and instead of scaring me, it made me an explosive kind of happy, like anything could happen. Of course every traveler has those horrible ‘it’s all falling apart’ days, but most of the time I’ve been driven by a version of my special airport feeling.

#6 Solo travel or group travel? Why?

There are plenty of reasons for group travel, the main one being that you already have someone in mind that you think you’ll have a ball with (without wanting to leave them and their grumpiness by the side of the road).  Certain places or occasions would have been much emptier alone, like my pilgrimage through Israel, or this roadtrip with my bestie.

Regardless, I wouldn’t want to trade a second of my solo travels. They’ve shown me that independence and adventure are really important to me, not as an act of rebellion, but out of freedom and being true to myself. You learn to be courageous, but also to be truly present, because there’s no one to distract or influence you. Besides, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to make friends!
The only big negative is trying to find cheap single rooms. Oh, and having to take selfies, which I’m not very good at.

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#7 How have you dealt with challenging cultural differences?

In the case of forward Italian men, I ran. (Just kidding, sort of…)

Since my faith is a big factor for me, I usually can find a group of at least somewhat like-minded people that make me feel at home and can help if need arises. There’s a pastor just outside Geneva that once pushed and jump-started the car of a stranger (me) mere minutes before his sermon, wearing his Sunday best. There’s a good reason why us Christians keep using words like ‘family’ and I’ve experienced it globally.

That was off the point, but I love that story.

Now to the next order of business. I’ve chosen some great lady bloggers, most of whom blog about (or using) beautiful things.
And the nominees aaaare…

*Dale – The TrinketSpotter
*Amy – Art Aims
*Michelle – AsOfYetUntitled
*Hannah – Pink Chucks to Prom
*Bettina – This Is Alboniko

#1 If I’m new to your blog, what’s the one post that I should read, that you’re most proud of?
#2 Which blogger or artist has influenced or inspired your work?
#3 Do you have a specific place or ritual that gets your creative juices flowing?
#4 Is there a creative project or blog post you’re dying to do?
#5  Share something beautiful from your life with us. Please?

Elna in Europe – Musbach


kleidWhat better way to end this wonderful, crazy trip than with a big celebration!

My very last stop was with a friend I used to live with in Wörnersberg and as if the reunion wasn’t enough cause for happiness, she was getting married. Cue jumping up and down like excited teenagers.

claudi daniel

The couple’s love story had been one of patience and quiet growth and it was thus very special for me to be able to be a part of their YES to each other. I was just extremely happy for them and for being there and besides, who doesn’t love a wedding. Who?!

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Together with the other international guests, a lovely couple from India, we meandered around nearby Tübingen for a break before the wedding busyness. It’s pretty and eccentric, like the best student towns should be, complete with poignant graffiti and sarcastic signs.

hier kotze goether

This one, for instance, saying that the famous writer Goethe puked here, makes fun of the German practice of commemorating even insignificant stays of significant historical figures.

zara scultpure2

After the wedding (beautiful and special, you get the point), it was only a wink of sleep before I was on a train on the way to Munich. I crammed as much chocolate as was possible into my baggage and had dinner with friends at a little Indian restaurant we’d discovered on my previous last night in Germany, four years earlier.

gespraech

Lots of hugs, kilometres and ‘chicken or beef’s later, I was back on SA soil and my post-graduation trip was over. That was three months ago now, and since then I’ve done more local travelling and lots of job hunting (but that’s a blog for another day). Now that it’s all done, I’m so happy I kept with the blogging, despite it being long overdue. Though I struggled with putting my crazy beautiful memories into words, at least my photographs can do some of the talking.

Over and out.
#elnaineurope

**Copyright Elna Schütz 2014**

Elna in Europe – Wörnersberg


anker wald- copyright elna schutz

I visited the place that used to be my home and did a lot of walking and thinking. I was again surprised by the unbelievably immersing power of the past, no matter how satisfying our present.
Rather than try explain my thoughts to the internet, I give you this; take a walk with me.
This little trail going just out of the tiny village and back into it has seen the footsteps of every inhabitant and visitor, from a couple’s stolen moment to kids on skateboards. I’ve walked, conversed, cried, prayed, run, laughed and thoughtfully paced that path myself many times.
What I’m trying to get at is the special, intangible nature of places, even a short concrete path circling above an ocean of trees. The past may have its monsters and memories, but here is something to put your feet on.

 

panoweg

 

**copyright Elna Schütz 2014**

For more pictures of the Forest, check this out.

 

 

Elna in Europe – St Georgen

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With only a week or so left in Europe, it was off to one of my favourite places on earth – the Black Forest. It had been four years, but those millions of fluffy-toothpick trees still felt like my second, magical home within minutes.

tabea bw

I had a few days to reunite with my beautiful and courageous friend, Tabea. There were long talks, longer walks and a lot of time just to enjoy each other’s company. I can’t say enough how blessed I am with truly kickass people in my life.

walkway

magnolia flowe

There was a lovely day at the Bodensee (Lake Constance), where my favourite tree and flower was blooming all over. A picnic in the vineyard above the lake, lots of adventuring and a dinner overlooking the sunset. These kinds of days feel like a real holiday.

lake

Consider me thankful.

sunset tree

**copyright Elna Schütz 2014**