This has not been my first time in South Africa.. It is like the third and I quite like it here. It is a nice place, full of history and great people. The food is amazing and I was lucky enough to come at spring time.. and I am a flower lover.. so you have a happy me!.. Let me share with you the highlights of this trip and hopefully it inspires you to go and visit.
Probably you will be reaching South Africa from here. Sandton area is a must, you have the huge Mandela monument and the mall, with a theatre and plenty of restaurants and shops. There you have one of the Butchers -if you are from Dubai, you will know which one I mean.
Also there is a quite nice Library almost in front of the theatre.. I had to work and I am a bookworm, so my husband took me there and I spend good two hours roaming around getting excited about some findings.
Johannesburg is quite big, very spread city.. there are not many skyscrapers and I guess that is why it takes forever to cross.. you have a lot of 1 or 2 floor housing with a garden-something very british, I find. Johannesburg has a botanical garden and it is beautiful. I know it is not going to be in your tour guides but I quite enjoyed it. It has a huge pond- with ducks and guys kayaking – and areas to picnic. There is a Shakespeare garden and plenty of gorgeous trees, now in bloom.
You have to love Nature.. I do and I miss it very much in Dubai- at least until they finish whatever crime they are doing to Safa Park.
Here you have some pics
To go out and dine there are some cool options. You have Melrose Arch area- where one Mojo is located- I tell you more about it later, you have also a Mall called Montecasino and another area called Melville. Let´s review one by one..
Melrose Arch is a mix of commercial and residential within one compound. There are restaurants and bars and one big screen in a kind of square to watch the Springboks play ( Rugby is huge in SA!). With the security issue I won’t recommend you just to roam around freely in Jozi (nickname of Johannesburg). If the locals don’t do it, I won’t do it either but I must say, nothing ever happened to me here, I am just cautious.
Mojo is a one of a kind restaurant- high end african cuisine with great decor and service. Every single time I have been in South Africa I came to dine there…
Montecasino Mall is similar to Ibn Batuta in Dubai.. a Mall that has a sky painted ceiling and decorated like somewhere else.. In the case of Montecasino like old Italy.. It is very nice, has a casino- there you have the name- and they change the sky.. making it full daylight or starry night. There are many shops, a cinema and a hotel part of teh complex. There is a resturant there you shouldnt miss.. It is called Beira.. It is a portuguese ( or Mozambican) restaurant and the food there it is just glorious. Try whatever dish with Prawns and you will thank me later.
In Montecasino you can also buy crafts, there is a very cute store that sells pretty african crafts and not the customary “Made-in-China”, saying “Welcome to New York”.
Another place where you can buy pretty arts and crafts is at the Rosebank Mall.. There is an entrance to the specific area for crafts and arts and there you have so much choice.. For crocodile bags to african textiles, to Ostrich carved eggs to handpainted wood trays.. all there is beautiful and you will want it all. One rule though.. always negotiate with the vendors. We have a huge neon message in our foreheads saying “Tourist” and they will charge you more just because. Basically.. do and buy as if you were in the Souk.
The last two places I want to tell you about in Johannesburg are a bit hippie, rundown, uptown.. Melville and Millpark. Melville is today full of pretty restaurants and houses, it has a flavour of boho chic, you can tell the restaurants there have had a facelift but kept the hippie soul. I love it there! You have also some shops with books and antiques and african fashion.They say it is the gay quarter, well, we have Chueca in Madrid and I love it too.
Millpark looks like it was some sort of industrial center just few years ago and it would have been reconverted into a pleasant patio where shops and restaurants offer their best products. I has amazing decor shops but the entire thing is like a spotless cute little stage. The food was great and the strolling through the passageways deliciously pleasant. The weather was with us in this trip indeed.
There is also something you don’t want to miss.. and it is culture. The theatre freak in me wanted to go and see what was on offer and I couldn’t make up my mind between two venues.. One, called Raising Mandela in the little theatre in Sandton Square, the other a musical called Burn the Floor that seemed to be doing really good between the locals.
The dancing one won the bet and off we went. The Joburg Theatre is pretty cool, has different sections for youth development, 2 stages and one restaurant. The show was really good with music and voices live. The dancing was spectacular with latino rhythms and english songs and with a pretty good looking singer (I think he was italian). The music was so good I was moving my feet and my hands “playing drums” in the air.. If I can make a suggestion for this kind of musicals, please allow one area where people can stand and dance if they can not hold it. To look too much civilized when you are not, it is so hard! lol
Any ways, There are more things to do in Johannesburg. But It will be in another post, because this one it so long already!.
One Love from SA!