Johannesburg

The Romance of Rail in South Africa

South Africa offers romantic rail journeys for any budget. Taking the road less travelled always has its advantages and exploring South Africa by rail could open your eyes to some amazing and unique experiences. A journey by rail across the South African countryside provides the traveller with luxurious, elegant surroundings while taking in the scenic beauty just outside the window. Add to this, exceptional dining cars, pampering and the kind of exceptional service normally reserved for royalty and you have a recipe for a truly unforgettable experience!

Each train, and their range of routes, is different. Rovos Rail, for instance, is pure nostalgic elegance harking back to the 1930’s. Royal Suites take up half the carriages, and are named after famous money-men of the British Colonial era. A 3 day safari from Pretoria to Durban will set you back $1,675 – this includes accommodation, meals and excursions as well as all beverages, including alcohol, while on board. Tuck yourself away in your small but comfortable apartment, or sit in the observation car at the back of the train and take high tea or sip a glass of bubbly as lovely scenery unfolds outside the big windows.

Rovos RailImage source: Rovos Rail

The Shongololo Express is marketed as a ‘fully serviced travelling hotel’ and offers Economy and Deluxe Sleeper packages to suit all budgets. The Shongololo Express offers a range of amazing experiences – from battlefield tours to hot-air ballooning and a score of other exotic adventures in between! The Good Hope Tour is  a 13 day journey offering guests a comprehensive view of South Africa and incorporates virtually every internationally regarded ‘must see’ sight and highlight, with prices starting from $4,280 pp.

The Shongololo Express

Image source: The Luxury Train Club

The Premier Classe Trains are another affordable, but luxurious option available to travellers. Premiere Classe offers all the deluxe trimmings offered on luxury trains and is popular with budget-conscious travellers.  The Cape Town and Johannesburg weekly train ride is $295 and includes exclusive use of a cosy private sleeper and all meals and afternoon tea in the elegant restaurant car as you pass the fabulous South African scenery.  The trains also run to other popular South African cities including Durban and Port Elizabeth. A truly unique way to travel and experience South Africa.

The Blue Train is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious trains in the world, and when you meet your personal on-board butler, experience the fine dining and superb service, you’ll know you’ve died and gone to Romantic Holiday Heaven! During peak season the day and a half trip from Cape Town to Pretoria can cost around $1,800!

Blue Train

Blue Train SuiteImage source: The Blue Train

When travelling by rail in South Africa, a must-see is the town of Matjiesfontein a beautifully preserved Victorian village which sits on the fringe of the Great Karoo and which has been preserved as a National Heritage Site. Visitors wander around the museum, visit the historic Lord Milner Hotel and the coffee shops of this quaint little Victorian railway village in the desert. One of the many romantic stops on the rail journeys of South Africa, it’s a must-see.

Have we inspired you to take the road less travelled?

Who to contact?

Rovos Rail

Tel: +27 (0) 12 315 8242
Email: reservations@rovos.co.za
Website: http://www.rovos.com/

The Shongololo Express
Tel: +27 (11) 486 4357
Website: http://www.shongololo.com/

The Premier Classe Trains
Tel: +27 (0) 87 802 6674
Email: mai123@southafricanrailways.co.za
Website: http://southafricanrailways.co.za/premier_classe.html

The Blue Train
Tel: +27 21 449 2672
Email: info@bluetrain.co.za
Website: http://www.bluetrain.co.za/

The Romance of Rail in South Africa

South Africa offers romantic rail journeys for any budget. Taking the road less travelled always has its advantages and exploring South Africa by rail could open your eyes to some amazing and unique experiences. A journey by rail across the South African countryside provides the traveller with luxurious, elegant surroundings while taking in the scenic beauty just outside the window. Add to this, exceptional dining cars, pampering and the kind of exceptional service normally reserved for royalty and you have a recipe for a truly unforgettable experience!

Each train, and their range of routes, is different. Rovos Rail, for instance, is pure nostalgic elegance harking back to the 1930’s. Royal Suites take up half the carriages, and are named after famous money-men of the British Colonial era. A 3 day safari from Pretoria to Durban will set you back $1,675 – this includes accommodation, meals and excursions as well as all beverages, including alcohol, while on board. Tuck yourself away in your small but comfortable apartment, or sit in the observation car at the back of the train and take high tea or sip a glass of bubbly as lovely scenery unfolds outside the big windows.

Rovos RailImage source: Rovos Rail

The Shongololo Express is marketed as a ‘fully serviced travelling hotel’ and offers Economy and Deluxe Sleeper packages to suit all budgets. The Shongololo Express offers a range of amazing experiences – from battlefield tours to hot-air ballooning and a score of other exotic adventures in between! The Good Hope Tour is  a 13 day journey offering guests a comprehensive view of South Africa and incorporates virtually every internationally regarded ‘must see’ sight and highlight, with prices starting from $4,280 pp.

The Shongololo Express

Image source: The Luxury Train Club

The Premier Classe Trains are another affordable, but luxurious option available to travellers. Premiere Classe offers all the deluxe trimmings offered on luxury trains and is popular with budget-conscious travellers.  The Cape Town and Johannesburg weekly train ride is $295 and includes exclusive use of a cosy private sleeper and all meals and afternoon tea in the elegant restaurant car as you pass the fabulous South African scenery.  The trains also run to other popular South African cities including Durban and Port Elizabeth. A truly unique way to travel and experience South Africa.

The Blue Train is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious trains in the world, and when you meet your personal on-board butler, experience the fine dining and superb service, you’ll know you’ve died and gone to Romantic Holiday Heaven! During peak season the day and a half trip from Cape Town to Pretoria can cost around $1,800!

Blue Train

Blue Train SuiteImage source: The Blue Train

When travelling by rail in South Africa, a must-see is the town of Matjiesfontein a beautifully preserved Victorian village which sits on the fringe of the Great Karoo and which has been preserved as a National Heritage Site. Visitors wander around the museum, visit the historic Lord Milner Hotel and the coffee shops of this quaint little Victorian railway village in the desert. One of the many romantic stops on the rail journeys of South Africa, it’s a must-see.

Have we inspired you to take the road less travelled?

Who to contact?

Rovos Rail

Tel: +27 (0) 12 315 8242
Email: reservations@rovos.co.za
Website: http://www.rovos.com/

The Shongololo Express
Tel: +27 (11) 486 4357
Website: http://www.shongololo.com/

The Premier Classe Trains
Tel: +27 (0) 87 802 6674
Email: mai123@southafricanrailways.co.za
Website: http://southafricanrailways.co.za/premier_classe.html

The Blue Train
Tel: +27 21 449 2672
Email: info@bluetrain.co.za
Website: http://www.bluetrain.co.za/

South Africa’s best markets to snag a bargain!

Markets in South Africa are a visual and sensory feast. There are handmade crafts and art, home-baked food, unique gift ideas and lots more suited for all budgets. It’s a great way to take a little bit of South Africa back home with you whilst supporting the local community!

The Greenmarket Square Market in the heart of Cape Town’s business district is one of South Africa’s most vibrant markets. Vendors from all over Africa come to show off their hand-painted fabric, clothing. footwear and African crafts.

A trip to Greenmarket Square is a feast for the senses with a number of local performers entertaining shoppers making for a great day out.

Surrounding the marketplace are a wonderful selection of coffee shops and restaurants whose pavement tables are a great place to soak up the atmosphere!

The Greenmarket Square market is open Monday to Saturday 9am – 4pm but the best time to visit is on Saturday morning when the vibe is unbeatable!

Greenmarket Square

The Bay Harbour Markets are located just outside of Cape Town in Hout Bay, a historic and functioning fishing village. Hout Bay has long been a popular tourist attraction among both local and international visitors because of its great surfing (Hout Bay is recognised as one of sixteen ‘big wave spots’ around the globe), local colour and beautiful scenery.

The markets are in a functioning fish factory and take place every Friday evening and on weekends.

Their mission is to celebrate the vibrancy, spirit and diversity of creativity and culture that make South Africa such a unique country, whilst developing the creative and business skills of the vendors to build an uplifted community.

Shoppers can focus on the art, craft and fashion stalls or can sample the fresh local produce and pre-made meals all whilst listening to amazing local musicians live on stage each evening.

There are also more informal local markets near the beach in Hout Bay where you will find fantastic handmade South African arts and crafts. At these informal markets, you can often bargain with the seller about the price of the items you are buying.

Hout Bay vendor

Sellers with their crafts in Hout Bay. Image courtesy of Khaled AL-Ajmi, aka Khaled100

Food lovers in Johannesburg are spoiled for choice when it comes to delicious local and organic food markets. The Jozi Food Market  offers a smorgasbord of quality products, handmade with care in the local community.  The markets are open every Saturday morning in the lovely suburb of Parkhurst

Expect to find everything from raw honey and flavourful, homemade sausages, decadent sweet treats and heavenly fresh-from-the-oven breads.

Jozi Food Market

Photo courtesy of fiverlocker

The Neighbourgoods Market in Johannesburg is another option to excite your taste-buds. Housed in a modernist building that has a spectacular 15-storey wall mural by the famed artist Eduardo Villa, the market has a great vibe and offers tasty food, including paella, bunny chow (hollowed-out half-loaves of bread filled with curry), Balkan burgers, oysters, gelato and massive pancakes . This market takes place every Saturday from 9am in a parking garage; it closes at 3pm and can get quite full on warm days. There is also a rooftop seating area and vintage clothing stores.

For a taste of what you will find at the Neighbourgoods Market check out this amazing video…

For something a little different, visitors to Durban should check out the Victoria Street Market which celebrates Durban’s long history with India (Durban has the highest population of Indians outside of Asia).  Built to resemble a Maharajah’s palace, the Victoria Street Market is essential for those who want to experience Durban’s relaxed Afro-Indian atmosphere and pick up some great bargains.

A great way to experience the Victoria Street Market and the nearby Zulu Muti (traditional African medicine) Market is to take a guided walking tour which explores Durban’s Indian community and ends up at the Victoria Street Market.  Here you will find dealers of traditional kurtas and saris as well as ornately embroidered fabrics, and barrels of aromatic spices.

Victoria Street Market

The popular Victoria Street Market
© Image courtesy Niall McNulty

No matter which market you choose, the beauty of South Africa has long been a source of inspiration to the country’s artists and craftsmen and women, who are well known for the beautiful work they produce in both the cities and the rural areas, working with diverse and creative materials to produce both traditional and contemporary artworks.

South Africa’s best markets to snag a bargain!

Markets in South Africa are a visual and sensory feast. There are handmade crafts and art, home-baked food, unique gift ideas and lots more suited for all budgets. It’s a great way to take a little bit of South Africa back home with you whilst supporting the local community!

The Greenmarket Square Market in the heart of Cape Town’s business district is one of South Africa’s most vibrant markets. Vendors from all over Africa come to show off their hand-painted fabric, clothing. footwear and African crafts.

A trip to Greenmarket Square is a feast for the senses with a number of local performers entertaining shoppers making for a great day out.

Surrounding the marketplace are a wonderful selection of coffee shops and restaurants whose pavement tables are a great place to soak up the atmosphere!

The Greenmarket Square market is open Monday to Saturday 9am – 4pm but the best time to visit is on Saturday morning when the vibe is unbeatable!

Greenmarket Square

The Bay Harbour Markets are located just outside of Cape Town in Hout Bay, a historic and functioning fishing village. Hout Bay has long been a popular tourist attraction among both local and international visitors because of its great surfing (Hout Bay is recognised as one of sixteen ‘big wave spots’ around the globe), local colour and beautiful scenery.

The markets are in a functioning fish factory and take place every Friday evening and on weekends.

Their mission is to celebrate the vibrancy, spirit and diversity of creativity and culture that make South Africa such a unique country, whilst developing the creative and business skills of the vendors to build an uplifted community.

Shoppers can focus on the art, craft and fashion stalls or can sample the fresh local produce and pre-made meals all whilst listening to amazing local musicians live on stage each evening.

There are also more informal local markets near the beach in Hout Bay where you will find fantastic handmade South African arts and crafts. At these informal markets, you can often bargain with the seller about the price of the items you are buying.

Hout Bay vendor

Sellers with their crafts in Hout Bay. Image courtesy of Khaled AL-Ajmi, aka Khaled100

Food lovers in Johannesburg are spoiled for choice when it comes to delicious local and organic food markets. The Jozi Food Market  offers a smorgasbord of quality products, handmade with care in the local community.  The markets are open every Saturday morning in the lovely suburb of Parkhurst

Expect to find everything from raw honey and flavourful, homemade sausages, decadent sweet treats and heavenly fresh-from-the-oven breads.

Jozi Food Market

Photo courtesy of fiverlocker

The Neighbourgoods Market in Johannesburg is another option to excite your taste-buds. Housed in a modernist building that has a spectacular 15-storey wall mural by the famed artist Eduardo Villa, the market has a great vibe and offers tasty food, including paella, bunny chow (hollowed-out half-loaves of bread filled with curry), Balkan burgers, oysters, gelato and massive pancakes . This market takes place every Saturday from 9am in a parking garage; it closes at 3pm and can get quite full on warm days. There is also a rooftop seating area and vintage clothing stores.

For a taste of what you will find at the Neighbourgoods Market check out this amazing video…

For something a little different, visitors to Durban should check out the Victoria Street Market which celebrates Durban’s long history with India (Durban has the highest population of Indians outside of Asia).  Built to resemble a Maharajah’s palace, the Victoria Street Market is essential for those who want to experience Durban’s relaxed Afro-Indian atmosphere and pick up some great bargains.

A great way to experience the Victoria Street Market and the nearby Zulu Muti (traditional African medicine) Market is to take a guided walking tour which explores Durban’s Indian community and ends up at the Victoria Street Market.  Here you will find dealers of traditional kurtas and saris as well as ornately embroidered fabrics, and barrels of aromatic spices.

Victoria Street Market

The popular Victoria Street Market
© Image courtesy Niall McNulty

No matter which market you choose, the beauty of South Africa has long been a source of inspiration to the country’s artists and craftsmen and women, who are well known for the beautiful work they produce in both the cities and the rural areas, working with diverse and creative materials to produce both traditional and contemporary artworks.

Getaway in South Africa

Catriona from Getaway recently joined Scenic Tours on an 18 day luxury all-inclusive South Africa and Garden Route tour which formed a three-part special on Southern African adventures.

Check out the start of their journey here:

Getaway to Africa with Catriona Rowntree & Scenic Tours Episode 1 of 3 from Scenic Tours on Vimeo.

The trip began in Sabi Sands, a group of game reserves next to the Kruger National Park where they set off to meet the Big 5.

Touring in a private reserve had benefits for the Getaway team. Private reserves have fewer people so it gave them the opportunity to get closer to the animals.  In addition, they were able to drive off-road for special sightings.

CatrionaSabiSandsCatriona stayed at the luxurious Lion Sands River Lodge  which is located on the banks of the Sabie River, one of the most biologically diverse rivers in South Africa and home to Africa’s highest density of leopards.

The next destination involved some myth busting. Once notorious, Johannesburg is transforming into a tourist hot spot.

The team visited the Maboneng district – a neighbourhood on the east side of Johannesburg’s CBD which has been transformed into a bustling entertainment hub with vibrant restaurants and coffee shops alongside galleries, theatres, shopping and walking tours.

Whilst in Johannesburg the Getaway team visited Soweto and chatted to locals to discover the new South Africa after 20 years of democracy.

There is a huge amount of pride from Soweto residents for their hometown which includes two noble laureates – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu – from the same street!

Not only that, but in Soweto people claim they have the best barbecues, known as braai, ‘this side of the Indian Ocean’.  At Chaf Pozi  under the iconic Soweto chimney stacks, customers choose their meat from the counter, which is then cooked to perfection for them!  ChafPozi

The Details
The Getaway team did an 18 day luxury journey of South Africa and the Garden Route from Cape Town to Johannesburg with Scenic Tours.

To celebrate Getaway’s visit, Scenic tours are offering  up to $200 off selected Africa tours. Offer valid until December 31, 2014.  Click here for more information,

To book, request a free brochure or to attend a free information session, visit www.scenictours.com.au or call 1300 723 642.

Getaway in South Africa

Catriona from Getaway recently joined Scenic Tours on an 18 day luxury all-inclusive South Africa and Garden Route tour which formed a three-part special on Southern African adventures.

Check out the start of their journey here:

Getaway to Africa with Catriona Rowntree & Scenic Tours Episode 1 of 3 from Scenic Tours on Vimeo.

The trip began in Sabi Sands, a group of game reserves next to the Kruger National Park where they set off to meet the Big 5.

Touring in a private reserve had benefits for the Getaway team. Private reserves have fewer people so it gave them the opportunity to get closer to the animals.  In addition, they were able to drive off-road for special sightings.

CatrionaSabiSandsCatriona stayed at the luxurious Lion Sands River Lodge  which is located on the banks of the Sabie River, one of the most biologically diverse rivers in South Africa and home to Africa’s highest density of leopards.

The next destination involved some myth busting. Once notorious, Johannesburg is transforming into a tourist hot spot.

The team visited the Maboneng district – a neighbourhood on the east side of Johannesburg’s CBD which has been transformed into a bustling entertainment hub with vibrant restaurants and coffee shops alongside galleries, theatres, shopping and walking tours.

Whilst in Johannesburg the Getaway team visited Soweto and chatted to locals to discover the new South Africa after 20 years of democracy.

There is a huge amount of pride from Soweto residents for their hometown which includes two noble laureates – Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu – from the same street!

Not only that, but in Soweto people claim they have the best barbecues, known as braai, ‘this side of the Indian Ocean’.  At Chaf Pozi  under the iconic Soweto chimney stacks, customers choose their meat from the counter, which is then cooked to perfection for them!  ChafPozi

The Details
The Getaway team did an 18 day luxury journey of South Africa and the Garden Route from Cape Town to Johannesburg with Scenic Tours.

To celebrate Getaway’s visit, Scenic tours are offering  up to $200 off selected Africa tours. Offer valid until December 31, 2014.  Click here for more information,

To book, request a free brochure or to attend a free information session, visit www.scenictours.com.au or call 1300 723 642.

Four Friends, Ten Days and Twenty Unforgettable Experiences – Part 1

Just who are the four lovely faces you’ve been seeing in our recent pictures and videos? More →

Four Friends, Ten Days and Twenty Unforgettable Experiences – Part 1

Just who are the four lovely faces you’ve been seeing in our recent pictures and videos? More →

Best of South Africa after dark

From dazzling Johannesburg, to the style and sophistication of Cape Town, and cosy fireside dining in Camps Bay, South Africa takes the phrase “big night out” very seriously.

Read on for the best South Africa has to offer when the sun goes down.

More →

Best of South Africa after dark

From dazzling Johannesburg, to the style and sophistication of Cape Town, and cosy fireside dining in Camps Bay, South Africa takes the phrase “big night out” very seriously.

Read on for the best South Africa has to offer when the sun goes down.

More →

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

One thing I absolutely love about travelling is when I get to have experiences that totally challenge or change the perceptions of a place that I had before I visited it for myself.

Today was definitely one of those experiences.

While I know things have changed among the Townships of South Africa, I definitely didn’t expect to do a tour of Soweto by push-bike! Nor did I expect to be welcomed with endless warm-smiles by just about every local I came across.

I didn’t expect to be grooving on the street to a band of marimba-players, or have a djembe jam on Vilikazi Street and I definitely did not expect to go Bungee Jumping in Soweto!

Needless to say, I learned a lot about the New face of South Africa today and that the infamous Jo’burg townships are far from the scary and dangerous slum-areas that many of us who have never actually experi

enced them might perceive them to be.

 

Knysna Elephant

Knysna Elephant

Knysna Elephant

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

One thing I absolutely love about travelling is when I get to have experiences that totally challenge or change the perceptions of a place that I had before I visited it for myself.

Today was definitely one of those experiences.

While I know things have changed among the Townships of South Africa, I definitely didn’t expect to do a tour of Soweto by push-bike! Nor did I expect to be welcomed with endless warm-smiles by just about every local I came across.

I didn’t expect to be grooving on the street to a band of marimba-players, or have a djembe jam on Vilikazi Street and I definitely did not expect to go Bungee Jumping in Soweto!

Needless to say, I learned a lot about the New face of South Africa today and that the infamous Jo’burg townships are far from the scary and dangerous slum-areas that many of us who have never actually experi

enced them might perceive them to be.

 

Knysna Elephant

Knysna Elephant

Knysna Elephant

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

Tim Charody and his Johannesburg Experiences

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 →

Hotel: Monarch, Johannesburg
Pastedgraphic-1
The Monarch will surprise you – a boutique hotel presenting a juxtaposition of classical European elegance and important works of South African contemporary art.
Pastedgraphic-3
I was lucky enough to sample Chef Keith Fisely’s 7 course tasting menu – it was beautifully architected food both visually and in taste and managed to not become overly filling – definitely worth a splurge.
The 12 suites are all unique and have separate lounges and dining rooms, making meeting and entertaining much easier.  My shower is completely over the top with no less than 6 heads – brilliant.
Pastedgraphic-2
Hot tip: The 40 person cocktail / cigar lounge is the place to rub shoulders with Johannesburg’s hip crowd towards the end of the week.

 

Some more information:

 

T +27 11 341 2000   E info@monarchhotels.co.za

 


View Larger Map

Hotel: Monarch, Johannesburg

Pastedgraphic-1
The Monarch will surprise you – a boutique hotel presenting a juxtaposition of classical European elegance and important works of South African contemporary art.
Pastedgraphic-3
I was lucky enough to sample Chef Keith Fisely’s 7 course tasting menu – it was beautifully architected food both visually and in taste and managed to not become overly filling – definitely worth a splurge.
The 12 suites are all unique and have separate lounges and dining rooms, making meeting and entertaining much easier.  My shower is completely over the top with no less than 6 heads – brilliant.
Pastedgraphic-2
Hot tip: The 40 person cocktail / cigar lounge is the place to rub shoulders with Johannesburg’s hip crowd towards the end of the week.

 

Some more information:

 

T +27 11 341 2000   E info@monarchhotels.co.za

 


View Larger Map

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/

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