52 (more) things to do in Georgetown

Cos 51 things to do in Georgetown just wasn’t enough. Happy Independence, Guyana.

  1. Snap a Scarlet Ibis: Late afternoon in Georgetown, especially along the seawall, you can often spot flocks of brightly coloured Scarlet Ibis.
  2. Take the ferry to Parika – and back: Ok, technically this is leaving Georgetown, but only so you can get a great view of Georgetown harbour – including the back of Stabroek Market – as you return to the capital.
  3. Go shopping for herbs at Bourda Market: Sage, tulsi, saijan (moringa), lemongrass, turmeric, ginger… whatever you’re looking for to make your favourite tea or medicinal concoctions.
  4. Take the bus: Some life-long Georgetown residents have never taken the bus – little realising a bus journey can often be like going to a club, going on a rollercoaster or sitting in church. It’s a lucky dip – and just $100 or so (depending on how far you’re going).
  5. Play street-snack bingo: Grab a pen and paper, create a grid, and fill each box with a different favourite street snack. Copy for the number of people in your group, then head out and see how many you can ‘stamp’ in a day (or, so you don’t have a heart attack, let’s say a week). Starter suggestions include: egg ball, potato ball, cassava ball, chicken foot, channa and sour, plantain chip, pine tart, salara, honey roast nuts and fudge.
  6. See justice in action at the Magistrates Court: It is possible (correct me if I’m wrong) to sit in on open court proceedings. But speak to the guards on duty to check before waltzing in.
  7. Go jogging around Durban Park: Often empty, apart from occasional ceremonial events, Durban Park makes a good spot for a traffic-free run. And running up and down the stands is sure to burn off the bake n salt fish you’ll buy after from the stall nearby.
  8. Eat seven curry: Even if you don’t manage to crash a wedding, you can still get seven curry (seven different veggie curries served together) in GT – such as at Shanta’s on Camp Street. Though it may not come served in a leaf…
  9. Go to the Sunday fish market: This mythical market, held along the wharf and which I’ve never made it to because it seems to early and far when the day comes, is a great place to grab fresh fishy bargains. Apparently.
  10. Go on a city tour: Provotique Walking Tours do, you guessed it, walking tours around Georgetown’s top sights. I’ve not been on one yet but I hear it’s a good experience.
  11. Play draughts on Main Street: Main Street has a series of permanent tables with a drafts ‘board’ etched on top. Take your beer bottle caps along and get playing.
  12. Book a private meal at Backyard Cafe: Chef Delven Adams is doing good things at the Backyard Cafe, where he whips up everything from entire fish to sorrell cheesecakes while you sit in the peaceful seclusion of his backyard. Book in advance.
  13. Discover your inner peace at the Brahma Kumaris centre: Brahma Kumaris is a worldwide movement, begun in India, which spreads a message of peace, love and meditation through free classes and courses. Their Georgetown branch is located on Main Street.
  14. Keep hydrated with a fresh coconut waterAt many markets and street corners in Georgetown you can enjoy a fresh coconut water, sliced right there in front of you. There’s often a chilled or unchilled option, and you can ask for ‘jelly’ if you like your coconut to have a little extra flesh inside (ask the vendor to open it for you after you’ve drunk the water). Knock it back without a straw to save on the plastic. Price usually rages from $200-400.
  15. Pop a donation to the GSPCA: The GSPCA on Robb Street and Orange Walk in Bourda do their best to tackle the massive job of keeping GT’s stray dog and cat crisis in check. Give them a hand by dropping in a donation or call in advance to see if there’s anything specific they need.
  16. Go to a Toastmasters event: Guyanese love to talk, so where better to see Georgetown-ers in full flow than a toastmasters debate. Many different companies have their own private ‘toastmasters’, then there are public groups such as Cacique Toastmasters Club and Georgetown Toastmasters Club.
  17. Remember those who died in the Second World War at the Cenotaph: This war memorial, located near the Bank of Guyana and the National Library, is the sight of Guyana’s annual Remembrance Day celebrations.
  18. See the Eddy Grant sign in Plaisance: Did you know Eddy “Electric Avenue” Grant grew up in Plaisance? The sign is along the ‘line top’ just further up from the popular Guinness Bar.
  19. Go to a wine-tasting event: Winedaysgy organises regular wine-tasting events to meet the growing demand for wine in Georgetown. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.
  20. Read the writing on the wall: Outside Stabroek News’s office on Robb Street, there is a wall where the pages of that day’s paper are always posted.
  21. Buy natural hair products at Koko: Located right at the back of the brilliantly named ‘This Is It’ Mini Mall on Robb Street, Koko sells natural hair products produced locally and overseas.
  22. Stretch your brain at the Cara Quiz: Once a week, Georgetown’s finest pit their general knowledge again each other. Currently taking place at 8pm on Wednesdays at Georgetown Club on Camp Street, the Cara Quiz has a roving team of comperes – and raises money for a different charity each month.
  23. Have a coffee: Georgetown seems to be developing a taste for coffee. Guyana used to produce coffee but not many people do now (although I remember a delicious coffee from Wakapoa). There’s Oasis on Carmichael Street for socialising, Petit Four on Waterloo Street for brunch, Lily’s on Barack Street for no-wifi bliss, Coffee Bean on Church Street for the newspaper, Bistro on Middle Street for chic surroundings (and those breadfruit fries), and Cafe Bellavana also on Middle Street to watch the world go by, to name just six.
  24. Learn how to defend yourself: Martial arts teach self defence – as well as keeping you fit and introducing you to new people. Classes in GT include karate at the National Park (Tai Chi and self defence also available), capoeira and many more (I’m sure).
  25. ¿Hablas español? Practice your Spanish at the new monthly Spanglish night. It’s basically a lime but with a differenece – every 15 minutes or so the conversation switches from English to Spanish, or visa versa.  All levels (in Spanish and English) welcome.
  26. Go to a Moray House talk: Moray House is the place to go for expert talks on everything from art and architecture to oil and the environment. Follow their Facebook page to see what’s on.
  27. Learn how to write Creolese: The University of Guyana’s Guyana Languages Unit runs occasional courses and talks on writing in Guyana’s Creole language. Check the GLU website for updates and to sign up to the newsletter.
  28. Visit the home of Guyana’s National Poet: The late Martin Carter was known as ‘The Poems Man’ and was the voice of Guyana’s revolution during its turbulent transition to independence in the 1950s and 1960s. Read some of his poetry then go see the plaque outside his house on Lamaha Street in Queenstown.
  29. Get fixed up, look sharp: Umbrella broken? Sandal strap snapped? Get them fixed. Along Robb Street and Regent Streets you’ll find various traders willing to give your belongings a new lease of life.
  30. Fly a kite on the seawall: Kite flying on the seawall is usually reserved for Easter Weekend, but there’s no law saying you can’t get in a little practice beforehand…
  31. See the statue of ‘The Father of Trade Unions’: In 1919, Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow founded the first official trade union in Guyana, the British Guiana Labour Union. See his statue in the grounds of the Parliament Building, located on the corner of Brickdam and Avenue of the Republic.
  32. Visit the open-air museum at the Indian Monument Gardens: The Indian Monument Gardens (on Camp and Church Streets) honours the arrivals of Indian indentured workers in Guyana with a ship structure and a fascinating series of panels about those arrivals – who first set foot in Guyana soil in 1838. I’m not sure if it’s regularly open the the public – but definitely on significant calendar dates such as Diwali and Phagwah.
  33. Visit some famous heads: The Non-Aligned Monument – surrounded by Avenue of the Republic, Church Street and North Road – honour of four of the founders of the Non-Aligned Movement (a union of countries fighting imperialism and colonialism): Josip Broz Tito of Socialist Yugoslavia, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. I’m not sure why Sukarno of Indonesia didn’t make the cut…
  34. Drink a Banks or Malta: Banks is the locally brewed beer of Guyana, and a favourite when out liming. If you’re not a drinker, the same company does a Malta too. Remember to hand back the bottles if you buy on the street as they’re recycled.
  35. Have a fish n chips Friday: Fried fish served with plantain chips is a favourite accompaniment to a few evening beers. A few favourites include the two outlets of Nicky’s Fish Shop, White Castle Fish Shop and King Fish Shop.
  36. Plan a trip out of town: Georgetown is a good logistics base from which to plan your trip around Guyana. For more ideas, pick up a copy of Visit Guyana (available in most coffee shops) or check out Explore Guyana – as well as local tourism organisations such as Visit Rupununi.
  37. Eat ice cream: If you’re not lucky enough to have a ice-cream van come down your road, you can still cool down on the go. Try Brusters on Regent and Hinck Streets, Creme Select on Main Street, Demico by Stabroek Market, Igloo up on the East Bank (past the National Stadium), or Dairy Queen at various locations. Note: Just Creme Select, Igloo and Demico are local brands.
  38. Visit The Red House: A beautiful building on High Street, The Red House currently houses the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre. Pop in to learn more about Guyana’s former leader and the history of the country.
  39. Learn to cook: The Carnegie School of Home Economics lays claim to being “Guyana’s only Culinary school” and is the place to go to learn how to bake a cake, ice a cake and clap a roti (I’m just guessing on the last one, but surely this must be on the syllabus).
  40. Try another list: Vidyaratha Kissoon came up with this hilarious, tongue-in-cheek blog of ’51 adventurous tings to try in Georgetown if you are feeling bored..’
  41. Have an everyday Guyanese breakfast: Bake and saltfish is a classic breakfast, but who’s got time to prepare that every day? Save a little on your budget and buy a bag of tennis rolls from a local bakery, a pack of cheese, and some tea. Sorted.
  42. Look out for signs of the old railway line: Georgetown used to have a train running from the capital to Rosignol on the west bank of the Berbice River. You can still see signs of the old train stations today, such as the crumbling remains of an old train shed on the corner of Main and Lamaha Streets. [Fun fact: My great grandfather JB Sharples won the contract to build all the railway stations, bridges and stores for the line.]
  43. Bounce over the floating bridge: The Demerara Harbour Bridge is a floating bridge connecting the east and west banks of the Demerara River. According to Engineering News-Record it’s the fourth longest floating bridge in the world at 1,851 metres.
  44. Go church hopping: St George’s Cathedral may be where everybody heads, but there are other beautiful wooden churches to see in Georgetown, such as Smith Memorial Congregational Church on Brickdam and St Andrew’s Kirk on Avenue of the Republic, which dates back to 1818. According to the National Trust, Smith Memorial Congregational was named after Reverend Smith, who died in prison: “He was accused of inciting the 1823 Revolt in the colony of Demerara which is considered the largest slave revolt in the country.”
  45. Visit the Roy Geddes Steel Pan Museum: I’ve not been here but a few reviews on Tripadvisor are positive and it looks like a treat for music fans.
  46. Cool down with a snow cone: Called a shave ice back in my dad’s day, when the vendor would literally scrape ice off a giant block, a snow cone can be purchased from a mobile vendor – you can usually find one around Bourda Market, in the Botanical Gardens and around any school. In addition to a sweet syrup sauce, these days you usually get some condensed milk thrown on top for extra sweetness.
  47. Get grilled: Barbecues seem to be popping up all over town in recent times, some popular hangouts include Boneyard on Duncan Street, Fireside Grill on Garnett Street, the Grill and Fun Park in Thomas Lands, and the late-night bbq outside Waterchris Hotel on Waterloo Street.
  48. See City Hall before it crumbles: Opened in 1889, City Hall on Avenue of the Republic is a beautiful Victorian-era building that has seen better days. It still apparently houses Guyana’s Mayor and City Council, though the concert hall had to be closed for safety reasons. Today it’s a rusty shadow of its former glory, though plans are apparently under way to refurbish it.
  49. Find a bin: Rubbish is a big problem in Georgetown, but don’t copy others – find a bin or carry your rubbish until you can dispose of it properly.
  50. Visit Burnham’s Mausoleum: Inside Georgetown’s Botanical Gardens you’ll find an elaborate monument to Guyana’s former leader, Forbes Burnham. Around his mausoleum are a series of carvings depicting the man himself in various scenarios, such as engaging with workers and making a fiery speech. Look out for the nearby Seven Ponds Monument while you’re there.
  51. Join the gym: There are lots of health clubs in Guyana, ranging from the new(ish) and shiny Space Gym on Croal Street and Fitness Paradise, to Bodymaster on Albert Street and Thomas Lands and Buddy’s Gym on Sheriff Street.
  52. Buy a bike: Bicycles are still frequently used in Georgetown, often to carry gas/water bottles to and from the shop. Get on two wheels with a new ride – try Chin Chan Bicycle Shop on Robb Street, and follow the Guyana Cycling News Facebook page for tips, news and competitions relating to cycling in Guyana.
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