Gauteng

Hakuna Matata on the long road to Joburg – Tony Park in South Africa

Meerkats_003_1_1

Hakuna Matata, the painfully memorable song from Disney’s The Lion King, sung by Timon the meerkat and Pumba the warthog is Swahili for ‘no worries’ or something like that.

You won’t hear Swahili spoken in South Africa, but you will see lots of references to the movie, even on the long and (dare I say it) boring road from Upington to Johannesburg.

As an Australian I like to think I’m used to travelling long distances.  We Aussies zip around the UK and cross borders in Europe with about as much angst and driver fatigue as a quick trip to Aunty Dot’s place in Umina for a Sunday barbie. More →

12 Decades Hotel Johannesburg

The 12 decades of Johannesburg’s existence are reflected in the 12 rooms making up a new boutique hotel at Main Street Life, one of Joburg’s newest places to be seen, and the brainchild of the same developer who brought the successful Arts on Main to the inner city.

The 1960s was the decade the miniskirt hit the world; a man stepped on the moon; Sharpeville happened and Nelson Mandela was jailed. In Joburg, smoking in cinemas was banned, while bikinis were forbidden at swimming pools. And the Carlton Centre was opened.

That spectacular building is the theme of one of the 12 specially decorated rooms in the 12 Decades Art Hotel at Main Street Life in Johannesburg’s CBD. The room is referred to as 50 Storeys, and was put together by clothing designer Colleen Alborough.

More →

Tony Park is in the City of Gold

It’s what’s in the air, rather than under the ground that really stakes Johannesburg’s claim to be the city of gold.

 It’s dust, smoke, and pollution that turns the late afternoon sky the colour of molten precious metal as the sun slides into this hazy band, but there’s something else that’s giving this country a warm glow these days.

Less tangible, but potentially more impressive than the new sports stadiums and other infrastructure dotted around South Africa is another legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – hope.

When I was last here, in March, three months before the World Cup, hopes weren’t high.  International ticket bookings looked like they were falling short; traffic was at a standstill because the entire city was a construction zone; construction schedules looked iffy; and the word on the streets was that the cup organisers just couldn’t pull it off.

It’s fair to say that plenty of the locals I talked to back then had nothing but bad things to say about the debacle, as they saw it, that was due to bring South Africa nothing but international shame and ridicule.

I wasn’t here for the World Cup, and, to tell you the truth, didn’t pay much attention to it on the TV as I’m not a football fan.  However, my lingering impression of the coverage was that the doomsayers were wrong and it all went pretty well – very well, in fact.

I was interested to find out what locals really thought of the world cup now that it was over – particularly those people who predicted it would be a flop.

“It was fantastic,” said one of my friends, who’d been less than enthusiastic during the chaos of construction.  “The roads worked, the trains worked, everyone was really positive and there was a great vibe.”

In a pub at Fourways, over lunch today, I heard a young white woman talking to her father, who was from Durban, about the Gautrain – the new railway link between OR Tambo Airport and Sandton City.  “I love that train!” she gushed.  “I’m telling you, ten minutes it took me to get to Sandton.”

Ja,” said her father, folding his arms, “and I bet you needed to take your AK 47 with you.”

She shook her head.  “No!  It was safe, and it was clean and when it starts running to Pretoria I’m going to catch it from there to the airport to work every day.”

OK, so the train wasn’t quite finished on time – the Pretoria link should have been ready in time for the World Cup and wasn’t – but, like the Cup, it wasn’t a flop.  People liked it – even the people who thought they weren’t going to like it.

Another friend of mine was telling me about community programs exhorting South Africans to keep feeling the World Cup love.  Citizens are encouraged to fly the flag on Fridays, and to take time at least once a week to say or do something nice to a stranger.  I thought she was going to follow that explanation with a cynical rebuttal of this social engineering, but she didn’t.

The news yesterday was that crime was down – and the drop’s the biggest in fifteen years.  A politician on TV last night said there was still a way to go, but “there’s light at the end of the tunnel”.

I’d be lying if I told you Johannesburg was my favourite city in the world, but I’ve got a lot of friends here and for the first time in a long time they’re talking about what’s good in their city and not what’s bad. 

That’s gold.

Visit http://www.tonypark.net/

Create your own South African adventure at http://www.southafrica.net

Gautrain http://www.gautrain.co.za/

 

TONY PARK

Tony Park was born in 1964 and grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has worked as a newspaper reporter in Australia and England, a government press secretary, a public relations consultant, and a freelance writer.

He is also a major in the Australian Army Reserve and served six months in Afghanistan in 2002 as the public affairs officer for the Australian ground forces.

 

He and his wife, Nicola, divide their time between their home in Sydney, and southern Africa, where they own a tent and a Series III Land Rover.

He is the author of Far Horizon, Zambezi, AFrican Sky, Safari, Silent Predator, Ivory and The Delta.

Web Site: http://www.tonypark.net/

Tony Park is in the City of Gold

It’s what’s in the air, rather than under the ground that really stakes Johannesburg’s claim to be the city of gold.

 It’s dust, smoke, and pollution that turns the late afternoon sky the colour of molten precious metal as the sun slides into this hazy band, but there’s something else that’s giving this country a warm glow these days.

Less tangible, but potentially more impressive than the new sports stadiums and other infrastructure dotted around South Africa is another legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup – hope.

When I was last here, in March, three months before the World Cup, hopes weren’t high.  International ticket bookings looked like they were falling short; traffic was at a standstill because the entire city was a construction zone; construction schedules looked iffy; and the word on the streets was that the cup organisers just couldn’t pull it off.

It’s fair to say that plenty of the locals I talked to back then had nothing but bad things to say about the debacle, as they saw it, that was due to bring South Africa nothing but international shame and ridicule.

I wasn’t here for the World Cup, and, to tell you the truth, didn’t pay much attention to it on the TV as I’m not a football fan.  However, my lingering impression of the coverage was that the doomsayers were wrong and it all went pretty well – very well, in fact.

I was interested to find out what locals really thought of the world cup now that it was over – particularly those people who predicted it would be a flop.

“It was fantastic,” said one of my friends, who’d been less than enthusiastic during the chaos of construction.  “The roads worked, the trains worked, everyone was really positive and there was a great vibe.”

In a pub at Fourways, over lunch today, I heard a young white woman talking to her father, who was from Durban, about the Gautrain – the new railway link between OR Tambo Airport and Sandton City.  “I love that train!” she gushed.  “I’m telling you, ten minutes it took me to get to Sandton.”

Ja,” said her father, folding his arms, “and I bet you needed to take your AK 47 with you.”

She shook her head.  “No!  It was safe, and it was clean and when it starts running to Pretoria I’m going to catch it from there to the airport to work every day.”

OK, so the train wasn’t quite finished on time – the Pretoria link should have been ready in time for the World Cup and wasn’t – but, like the Cup, it wasn’t a flop.  People liked it – even the people who thought they weren’t going to like it.

Another friend of mine was telling me about community programs exhorting South Africans to keep feeling the World Cup love.  Citizens are encouraged to fly the flag on Fridays, and to take time at least once a week to say or do something nice to a stranger.  I thought she was going to follow that explanation with a cynical rebuttal of this social engineering, but she didn’t.

The news yesterday was that crime was down – and the drop’s the biggest in fifteen years.  A politician on TV last night said there was still a way to go, but “there’s light at the end of the tunnel”.

I’d be lying if I told you Johannesburg was my favourite city in the world, but I’ve got a lot of friends here and for the first time in a long time they’re talking about what’s good in their city and not what’s bad. 

That’s gold.

Visit http://www.tonypark.net/

Create your own South African adventure at http://www.southafrica.net

Gautrain http://www.gautrain.co.za/

 

TONY PARK

Tony Park was born in 1964 and grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney. He has worked as a newspaper reporter in Australia and England, a government press secretary, a public relations consultant, and a freelance writer.

He is also a major in the Australian Army Reserve and served six months in Afghanistan in 2002 as the public affairs officer for the Australian ground forces.

 

He and his wife, Nicola, divide their time between their home in Sydney, and southern Africa, where they own a tent and a Series III Land Rover.

He is the author of Far Horizon, Zambezi, AFrican Sky, Safari, Silent Predator, Ivory and The Delta.

Web Site: http://www.tonypark.net/

Rachel’s adventures in South Africa – day 1

Friday 27th August 2010
I have just walked into luxury heaven. It’s called ‘The Westcliffe’ and is one of the Orient Express hotels. It is just gorgeous. My room has blue and cream French wall paper, the most comfy looking bed, and a bathroom big enough to hold a party in. I was not expecting this.

It’s built on the side of a cliff so I was shuttled to my room. I am sitting on my balcony as twilight falls, over looking trees and the zoo, with the city to my right and I am reminded how much I love Africa.

Westcliff

http://www.stay-westcliff.co.za/?gclid=CMzm3IWD2qMCFZcz3godJBKP8Q

I lived in Cape Town for a total of 12 months spread over a couple of years. So far Africa is my favourite continent. I have visited Namibia, Botswana (3 times), a little of Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, Egypt and Morocco. I just love the way the light falls here, the sky is vast, and the wind blows like it is talking. Sure South Africa has had a difficult past but the country is trying to put that behind them and find a way forward together, in unity. Saturday 28th August 2010 I met most of the team last night. Ben L’s flight was delayed but we ended up having a lovely dinner and a good laugh. This morning we are meeting the rest of the team and flying to Port Elizabeth. We are staying at Shamwari Game Reserve which is supposed to be absolutely awesome. I will get back to you once we arrive

Create your own South Africa adventure at www.southafrica.net

Rachel’s adventures in South Africa – day 1

Friday 27th August 2010
I have just walked into luxury heaven. It’s called ‘The Westcliffe’ and is one of the Orient Express hotels. It is just gorgeous. My room has blue and cream French wall paper, the most comfy looking bed, and a bathroom big enough to hold a party in. I was not expecting this.

It’s built on the side of a cliff so I was shuttled to my room. I am sitting on my balcony as twilight falls, over looking trees and the zoo, with the city to my right and I am reminded how much I love Africa.

Westcliff

http://www.stay-westcliff.co.za/?gclid=CMzm3IWD2qMCFZcz3godJBKP8Q

I lived in Cape Town for a total of 12 months spread over a couple of years. So far Africa is my favourite continent. I have visited Namibia, Botswana (3 times), a little of Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, Egypt and Morocco. I just love the way the light falls here, the sky is vast, and the wind blows like it is talking. Sure South Africa has had a difficult past but the country is trying to put that behind them and find a way forward together, in unity. Saturday 28th August 2010 I met most of the team last night. Ben L’s flight was delayed but we ended up having a lovely dinner and a good laugh. This morning we are meeting the rest of the team and flying to Port Elizabeth. We are staying at Shamwari Game Reserve which is supposed to be absolutely awesome. I will get back to you once we arrive

Create your own South Africa adventure at www.southafrica.net

Quirky shopping at Johannesburg’s 44 Stanley

When you’re next in Johannesburg make sure you visit to 44 Stanley, a quirky alternative to standard shopping malls, where you’ll find contemporary fashion and art as well as restaurants and cafes.

Built in a complex of former industrial buildings near the city gasworks, 44 Stanley is now home to 25 boutiques, restaurants and creative studios set around connecting courtyards. The centre of an interesting urban regeneration project and well worth a visit. Perfect for a long lunch or leisurely coffee to rest tired feet after a day of shopping.

 

 

Web Site: www.44stanley.co.za

 

 

Quirky shopping at Johannesburg’s 44 Stanley

When you’re next in Johannesburg make sure you visit to 44 Stanley, a quirky alternative to standard shopping malls, where you’ll find contemporary fashion and art as well as restaurants and cafes.

Built in a complex of former industrial buildings near the city gasworks, 44 Stanley is now home to 25 boutiques, restaurants and creative studios set around connecting courtyards. The centre of an interesting urban regeneration project and well worth a visit. Perfect for a long lunch or leisurely coffee to rest tired feet after a day of shopping.

 

 

Web Site: www.44stanley.co.za