Why do we love visiting Joburg?
Many people don't have much good to say about Johannesburg.
They hear all the bad press, always compare its beauty to Cape Town's (which is hardly fair, as Cape Town is one of the most beautiful places in the world, so hardly a comparison!).
But there is a lot to do here, with family and elsewhere. And Johannesburg, with it's minedumps and lush gardens, rolling hills and lakes, has so much to offer too.
We enjoy spending time with family, we also enjoy going to botanical gardens, game parks, going out for dinner (Johannesburg has some awesome restaurants!).
The people are generally friendly and welcoming.
When I have been away for a while, it's only when I chat to the passport controller at Oliver Thambo International (used to be Johannesburg International), that I say 'I am home'.
United We Stand behind Bafana Bafana
This lunch time, I, my kids and tens of thousands of other Jo'burgers took to the streets of Sandton for the United We Stand celebration in support of Bafana Bafana. It's always difficult to estimate numbers for such events - I heard news coverage of up to a quarter of a million, which seems a little on the high side, but I would be prepared to believe a number somewhere around 150,000. The main roads in Sandton were closed to traffic, and the streets were packed with throngs of supporters decked out in green and gold, sporting all manner of bizarre World Cup paraphernalia. Crowds of people were diski dancing and toyi toying, and the overall visual spectacle was amazing, but what made the strongest impression of all were the vuvuzelas, which were utterly deafening!
The Bafana Bafana team travelled the route in an open topped bus and received a rapturous reception from the assembled hoards - one might be forgiven for wryly commenting that it is customary to win something first and have the triumphal street parade afterwards, but this is Africa, and we do things our own way! In many ways, it was a celebration that after the years of preparation and cynicism about whether South Africa would be able to host such a huge event, our time has finally come, and we intend to enjoy every last moment! And as for Bafana Bafana, well, if they don't realise by now that they have the support of the nation behind them, then frankly they never will!
For our international visitors, this must have been a raucous, exuberant and good natured introduction to South African culture. Other than a brief hiccup in 1996 when South Africa won the African Cup of Nations, soccer has always been considered as a 'black' game in South Africa, with the white population favouring rugby and cricket. Sandton is the business and financial hub of Johannesburg, and it was highly entertaining to watch conservative bankers who probably don't have the foggiest understanding of soccer, decked out in their Bafana Bafana kit and blowing their vuvuzelas as though their lives depended on it!
Let the games begin!
This is a nice shopping centre as it is part of Rosebank Mall. There is alot of nice designer stores here as well. The 1st time I was in Johannesburg we asked the lady at the hotel where I could buy suverniors and everyone seems to point out Rosebank Mall.
Well If you into arts and crafts then its a good place to go. I rather prefer to go the flea market there as they have better and nicer arts and crafts at better prices.
I think the flea market is only open on the weekends. You have a variety. Everything has a set price accept for the arts and craft stall and the flea market where you can negoitate the price.
Mind out for robots on our roads!
One of the most bewildering pieces of Sarth Efrikan English is the use of the term 'robots' for traffic lights!
I first encountered the term when I first arrived in Jo'burg and was asking for directions. At the time, I was too taken aback to question what the term might be, and ventured forth with great trepidation, half-expecting to encounter a Dalek or a Transformer at the next junction!
Even after all these years (and having come to routinely use the term myself), it still makes me smile!
There are, however, other aspects of our robots that will make you snarl rather than smirk. In recent years, it has become an almost everyday occurrence to encounter robots which are out of order, and it can take days - and quite often even weeks - for them to be fixed, during which time busy intersections revert to being 4 way stops and clog up like the arteries of a cholesterol junkie (see my transport tips elsewhere).
I accept that certain causes of robot malfunction are beyond the control of the traffic authorities: for example, 'load shedding' (another glorious South African euphemism for what the rest of the world would call a 'power cut') and cable theft (where thieves steal the cable, strip it down and sell the copper to unscrupulous metal merchants for its salvage value - one of the few aspects of recycling of which I thoroughly disapprove!).
However, what really sets my blood pressure racing is the fact that dozens of robots across the city malfunction as soon as it rains - and we're not talking about needing biblical deluges to trigger this either, as even a light drizzle seems to be enough in many instances. How hard can it be to design robots with effective waterproof insulation??? Perhaps we should consider re-importing one or two former South Africans now domiciled in New Zealand to assist us with the technology, as I didn't see a single malfunctioning traffic light during my entire visit, and it rains there practically all the time! ;)
Magical food in a glorious setting
I have stayed at Kloofzicht several times and have yet to have even an average (let alone bad) meal there. It is also open to non-residents, but I would strongly recommend booking in advance.
Kloofzicht is a popular venue for Sunday lunch and I would recommend that you consider eating here rather than at the Maropeng Centre if you're visiting the Cradle of Humankind.
The hotel is set in a small private game reserve on the edge of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, and has an idyllic location. The restaurant looks out over trout dams to two koppies (small, isolated hills) and has a broad terrace that is ideal for pre-prandial sundowners. Everything!
The breakfast buffet is divine and caters for every imaginable palate, as does the lunch buffet. Unlike so many other hotel buffets, the selection always feels fresh.
The evening meals are imaginative but not pretentious, with excellent use of ingredients and a well balanced choice from a small menu that changes nightly.