Some industries in our fair city just don’t close over the December holidays. Remember, people must eat, drink and be merry. Lets give a random example. Cows dont have a holiday. They need to be milked and that milk needs to be processes. So, why don’t you think of an industry the has to keep on working to supply the masses.
But I digress. As i was one of those who worked over the festive period there was no time to do the holiday thing. So we decided that on the weekends, new year we would become tourists in our own city and see what we miss out on and what attractions draw the Gautengers to our shores.
First stop, Kragga Kamma game park.
Now this little jewel right on the outskirts of our city is a real pleasure to visit. The staff were very friendly and very professional. The game was very visible and up close. Rhino, giraffe, buffalo and one very large and (I own the road) tortoise. Believe me its no Kruger park for it size but well worth visit and affordable. It is a real full day outing and deserves a four out of five star rating.
Next was a trip to Open Sky. With its pool, birds, very challenging putt putt, paintball, kiddies rides and wonderful restaurant it was a great outing. And the cherry on top was the live Sunday afternoon music. The eisbein was cooked to perfection, the music was good and the draught was cold. A good place to take a picnic basket, sit under the trees and let the kids have a ball. Also four star.
Then it was a country trip to African dawn via the newly resurfaced Van Stadens pass. After a quick stop for a photo shoot at the bottom and a leisurely drive through Thornhill it was on to the bird park. It was a very hot day so lots of water was drank. The first drawback was there is no card machine. I don’t know if you are like me but I just don’t do the cash thing any more. Luckily we had enough cash and in we went. Second drawback is it is very easy for anyone just to walk in without paying. The facilities are well kept and neat. Also a very very nice place to spend a day having a picnic or braai. But for a family of four could be quite pricey. There are some really spectacular birds to see as well as cheetah and crocodile. Overall impression is that it is well looked after even with the few misgivings. Two and a half star.
After leaving the bird sanctuary we decided to look for a place for lunch. At lady slipper there was a sign that said Falcon rock. its a short drive down a bumpy gravel road to the little piece of paradise under the mountain of lady slipper. Camping sites, picnic spots, hiking, biking, swimming pool and the most quaint country pub and restaurant. Our host was very friendly and free with information and our waitress, although very stretched was sweet and very apologetic for the longish wait to take our order. But once the order was taken the food was very quickly done. And the portions were very generous. The burger reminded me of the Something good burgers years ago. Massive. I will most definitely go back. Four and a half stars for Falcon Rock.
Our last outing was an inner city excursion to the Oceanarium, museum, Snake Park complex and a trip to the Donkin Reserve. What that old saying. Save the best for last. Its now a new saying. Save the worst for last. Now in all fairness I haven’t been to any of these attraction in the past ten years. First was the oceanarium. Now that’s a contradiction in terms. There were less than twenty small fish tanks to look at and took about 5 to 10 minutes to see it all. Then there were three small pools, two with seals and one with penguins. Now I understand about the dolphins but if memory serves me correctly there used to be a large tank with sharks etc. Where has that gone? And why not do something with the old dolphin pool. A real eyesore. So now with my spirits down it was off the the museum. Its a good museum it really is, for the first time visitor. But nothing, I mean nothing has changed since I was last there. Oh wait, I forgot, there is direct access to the snake park from within the museum now. But the snake park is also very much the same except for a few moving dinosaurs. They should go get lessons from the reptile park at Addo. Then off to Donkin reserve. This once shining light of our city is now but a dull glow. We felt unsafe, litter all around, the smell of urine and the damage to property was to say the least shocking. What more can one say. Out of five our once proud facilities earn a mere half star only because the museum is in such good shape.
So people of Port Elizabeth. Be a tourist in your own city and surrounds. You will be pleasantly surprised.
Author: Tim Emmerson
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