City Sightseeing bus launches in Joburg

So there I was travelling the highways and byways of the city in a big red open-top double decker bus, making good on Alain de Boton’s declaration that “The pleasure we derive from journeys is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.” I felt like a tourist, even without the uniform of sandals-and-socks and a giant Nikon camera, or its modern incarnation that involves pointing an iPad at some unfortunate local.

City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus launches in Johannesburg

City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus launches in Johannesburg

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Joburg to Hatfield by Gautrain

“This is Mr Matthews your train driver. Sit back and relax. The weather is sunny, the ride is sweet and everything is Ayyyyyyobbbbba (Drawn-out World Cup speak for “just great”).”
I am a fan of the Gautrain #justsaying. In fact I am a fan of any mode of transport that doesn’t involve surgical gloves, hard stares and taking your shoes off. That’s any mode of transport that doesn’t presuppose I am a mad bomber hellbent on the world’s destruction. I’m more like a one-person economic recovery plan, committed to single-handedly rescuing cities from the economic downturn by spending some hard-earned cashola.

"I made my favourite thing for dinner - a reservation" - Entrance to Papa's, Duncan Yard

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Winnie Mandela and Pretoria’s other opera secret

Pretoria. Just 35 minutes away, and yet the capital might as well be on a different planet for the number of times I venture there. A few weekends ago it was for an audience with South Africa’s struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and some fine Italian food. Continue reading

Get me that Gautrain

#179. Celebrate the coming of the Gautrain.

The Gautrain at OR Tambo International Airport

On a good day – when the monsoon season is not in full swing, and it has been for three weeks – Joburg’s roads resemble the face of a pockmarked acne-ridden teenager. Crevices and dongas, all flaring and angry. The robots don’t work and if they do the roadworks mock them. I have spent the past few days in the car — not waving but drowning, not really driving but sitting. I have been gridlocked in Braamfontein and Rivonia, Bryanston and Rosebank. I have tried the radio and think I have started to master Sepedi – and listened to an audiobook in record time (an 8-hour one). I have made more calls to my mother than I ever should and been offered everything from cellphone chargers to peaches, badly-spelled werld maps to feather dusters. I have debated the merits of fong-kong school shoes with a street kid Continue reading

The documentary that caused all the trouble

#114. Laugh it Off. Last night we joined close on 4000 people for the Heavyweight Comedy jam at Emperor’s Palace.  The mood was good, the audience all warmed up. The jokes kept coming. “We used to drive on the left side of the road, now we drive on what’s left of the road”, said Al Prodgers.

“The Gautrain will have 200 people in each carriage and go 160km an hour. Do you think taxi drivers are worried about that?” And then there were the jokes about South African politics – from Helen Zille and her concubines to David Kau’s riff on Julius Malema’s woodwork grade. Judging by the laughter just saying the name Julius Malema is a punchline in this town. Continue reading

I can hear those vuvuzelas now

#79. Count down to the Soccer World Cup in 2010. With only 498 days left until the Fifa Soccer World Cup, I am  noticing signs of soccer life stirring. Months ago Fifa President Sepp Blatter visited and brought to everyone’s attention that there was little to suggest this country was close to putting on the greatest show on earth (or is that the Olympics?). I too was concerned but decided not to go to the press with it.

Germany apparently promoted their World Cup for a full three years which led me to wonder whether we are a nation with a short attention span or one that just likes to leave things to the last minute?

Mostly the signs of life are coming from sponsors and their ad agencies who are starting to promote what many hope will be South Africa’s greatest moment on the world stage since Nelson Mandela had his debut. Until now it’s been background stuff — just the occasional shudder in Rosebank as the Gautrain builders blast their way to Pretoria, Continue reading

Drinking in Mbeki's folly and Zuma's triumph at The Rosebank hotel

#37. Have a drink at The Rosebank hotel’s Circle Bar. With conversation across the land being dominated by whether SA President Thabo Mbeki should be forced to “fall on his sword” — after a high court ruling that was meant to decide the fate of his greatest political foe, Jacob Zuma, instead put the failure of the Mbeki presidency back in the uncomfortable glare of the spotlight — it may be time to start drinking.

The Circle Bar at The Rosebank, Thys Dullart

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