In full Joburg City Festival mode we took to the streets of Braamfontein on Friday night, a pack of travel and food bloggers – among us @mzansigirl, @2summers2010, @hasmita, @wisaal, @hitekani_m, @SarahDuff and others – in search of a night out. Around 5.30 pm you could find us at The Grove, the piazza in front of Braamfontein’s Easy Hotel, formerly Hotel Lamunu, sampling craft beer. Truly. beer is not something I usually consider a beverage although I would be lying if I said I have never cast an envious look at people who drink the stuff on a hot day. But the taste usually never lives up to the image. My brew of choice was the Dragon Fiery Ginger Beer, from the Dragon Brewing Co one of many new craft beer companies that have popped up from Joburg to Cape Town. I think I might be a convert. Continue reading
Every day thousands of hands stretch out along commuter routes across Gauteng speaking a silent language of taxi hand signs. The upraised index finger, indicating you are headed to town and the hand turned palm-side up, the fingers grasping an invisible fruit to signify your destination is Orange Farm, are read by minibus taxi drivers all the time and are the framework for a complex system of transport routes. Developed from necessity, and with ingenuity, this silent exchange of signs is the fundamental unit of communication for millions of minibus taxi commuters. Continue reading
“If cities had profiles on a dating website, Joburg would be the one with the really great personality,” says Josef Talotta. “That’s opposed to Cape Town – the gorgeous blonde wearing a bikini”.
Talotta is the head of precinct development for South Point Properties in Braamfontein, one of the city’s thriving neighbourhoods. The company’s portfolio includes Hotel Lamunu, 5000 student accommodation units and Randlords, a spectacular party venue perched atop a 22-storey office block. It was Randlords that the Joburg City Tourism Association, an alliance of hotel owners, property developers and other key people who make the city’s social and cultural heart beat, chose for their recent launch, where plans were announced for creating a united front to market the inner city as a tourist destination.
Democracy was unkind to the inner city. Continue reading
Sunday morning in Maboneng – Joburg’s hipster haven on the east side of the city. Urban regeneration comes in the form of a peanut, banana, date and soya milk smoothie. Maboneng has arrived. What could have been a fantasy is now a high-priced and much in demand reality.
And outside Uncle Merv’s shake shack our little crew is getting bigger. It could be the start of a joke… One editor, one photographer, one blogger and two tour guides meet over a smoothie to wait for Rasty…
Artist Hermann Niebuhr’s Johannesburg is many cities. All of them familiar, but each distinctive in its difference.
At his Fordsburg studio, the more than 30 versions hang in one room, a dizzying display of colour and light. There are cityscapes, and the traces of cityscapes, geometric lines that compose Johannesburg’s most famous landmarks and that, on closer inspection, fracture and break apart. In each the sky and city are entangled, the light washing over the buildings warming the city or darkening it, making it appear in turns welcoming, and then coldly foreboding, making it appear real.
For Johannesburg is in some ways an unknowable city, a city of concealment, and of surprises, where hipsters rub shoulders with church prophets and you can find a sheep’s head as easily as you can a pair of Italian brogues. Surfaces are only to be taken for the whole at your own peril.
It’s taken 11 days but I am officially ready to start 2012. It’s a Joburg thing – from December to January the city’s heartbeat slows, in preparation for the crazy pace that will follow for the next 11 months. (If we are going to end the year by throwing fridges out of high-rises some contemplative time will be necessary)
This year will be no different (talking pace here). I have been hearing some interesting plans for the city, talk of a Museum of African Design, whispers about another of African Art (housing an extensive private collection) and the one I am more familiar with, the Wits Art Museum. WAM is a 10-year work in progress that once completed will not only add another notch to Braamfontein’s visitor belt it will transform the art landscape of the city.
Taking a walk to see Joburg’s public art would be incomplete without a few stops, so here’s my favourite 4 snack stops in the city.
1. Velo (photo from Yaela’s Stage blog)
Where: The Grove, Melle Street, Braamfontein
What it is: A gallery/coffee shop/hangout/with free wifi/fresh food/great coffee. The kind of place you can stay for an hour/or a day. Continue reading
Taking a walk in Joburg’s inner-city city may just surprise you for all the right reasons… [The brilliant photos are by Wesley Poon]
Ask anyone who lives here to describe the city of Joburg and they rarely extol its beauty. Mostly they point out it’s a city without a sea and until the Nelson Mandela Bridge it was a city without any remarkable landmarks that aren’t communication towers or apartment blocks. And those are the polite remarks.
Over the past five years, it’s a little known fact that the city has installed an impressive and growing number of public artworks – at last count at more than 50 sites. In 2006 a strategy was put in place to use public art as a way of fulfilling a range of Joburg’s developing needs. It called for a public art levy, a common global practice, that would devote up to one percent of the construction budget on major city building projects to this end. This was implemented by the Johannesburg Development Agency at a time when the city has been undergoing something of a boom, and it will continue.
I’m calling it. All that energy and moolah invested in Braamfontein got a little closer to paying off this morning with the opening of Cape Town’s favourite Neighbourgoods Market in Braamfontein. But before I talk about that let’s rewind… The week stared with an invitation from Southpoint Hospitality for an overnight stay at its Hotel Lamunu in Braamfontein. The plan was to spend the night at the hotel, with drinks at the bar, dinner at Ramen, breakfast at the hotel followed by coffee at Velo in The Grove Square (on Melle Street) opposite the hotel and finally… a visit to opening day of the Neighbourgoods market (one of my favourite Cape Town haunts).
Thursday night I spent surrounded by Joburg’s fashion set at the Marie Claire Prix D’Excellence del la Mode 2011, which if my French serves me (until now I could say goodbye, cat, French Revolution, let them eat cake! and enjoy your meal) means Marie Claire’s prize for supremely excellent fashion and all things fashionable.
The fashion set are an interesting crew – with flamboyant titles that match their taste in accessories. Among the judges were a “fashion architect” and a “fashion council member”. No fashion grand wizard or fashion supreme leader but that’s probably coming next year. As for me – I am a “fashion user”, committed to getting the occasional rush.