The world below seems a much more orderly place when you are 2100 feet in the air, floating above it all in a wicker basket, with the only sounds the occasional roar of the propane flame that sends the balloon higher still. It’s a feeling similar to the one you get when you lie on your back in a swimming pool, allowing yourself to be carried upward, momentarily weightless, your gaze scanning the sky as if it’s all that exists. Continue reading
This was really an unforgettable performance. As part of the #JoburgCity media weekend the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra popped up outside the Rand Club and then in front of the Gold Mine Cafe at The Reef Hotel (Anderson Street, Marshalltown). Love this video posted by @Darlinglama
If you missed it you can read more about the weekend at Joburg gets an inner city festival
To launch Joburg’s inner-city festival coming up in August, the Joburg City Tourism Association threw a three-day party for 60 journalists. I was lucky enough to be on that list and to spend the weekend hanging out at some of the coolest places…. Friday night in Joburg city centre and what could have been a regular few blocks walk between Market and Loveday Streets on a chill Autumn night turned into something extraordinary. On the pavement outside the impressive Edwardian-style entrance to the Rand Club, the city’s grandest landmark, thirty four members of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra were arrayed, flash-mob style – playing classical and popular pieces. Continue reading
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.
“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
Nothing to do but punt the app (available for all your Apple and Android devices so download it now) created for Gauteng Tourism by the uber-talented super smart, and my most favourite, T-Shirt designer Bradley Kirshenbaum of Love Jozi (and co-creator of one of the city’s other best inventions market on main). Yesterday on the auspicious date of 11/11/11 I got my chance to put my home town Benoni (also the inspiration for this blog) back on the tourist map. For everyone else who is “Straight out of Benoni” this one’s for you.
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).
Saturday morning we joined a walking tour of Joburg’s inner city. “Through the lens: 125 years of Johannesburg photography” was a fascinating trip through the city’s history using collected photographs as a guide. A city walk takes on new meaning when you take its history along with you, making comparisons between its past and present on every block. It’s an interesting way to track a city’s progress or the lack of it, to get back to what the planners intended or how they got it all so wrong.
Using historical photos as a guide also creates anticipation – Was that beautiful building replaced by a parking lot or now a derelict burnt-out shell or will it have been appreciated and better yet, restored? Joburg is not fond of history. And for much of this mining camp’s life it has spent more time taking things down than shoring them up. It’s a place often lacking in nostalgia.
Until a few Sundays ago the biggest find in Culllinan was the 3106 carat diamond discovered there in 1905. No doubt much has happened since but I have no idea what it is. On a sunny winter’s morning we made our way to the area north-east of Pretoria now known as Dinokeng, chasing a tale about brilliant Greek food. There is no limit to how far I will travel for a great meal. Add to that – on a winter’s day Pretoria and its surrounds are even more attractive, with weather that’s always a few degrees warmer.
The signs are plastered all over this part of the city. They have the look of the Roneo machine – hand-operated printing with its faded purple and blue inks that reminds me of geometry tests. Except these have no questions, just statements. “Penis enlargement”, “Lost lover back in 3 days”. Around us Joburg’s Saturday morning traffic – human and vehicular – jostles with hawker stands selling cellphone chargers, fake branded soccer merchandise and plates of potatoes. A large church group, all dressed in pristine white robes with deep blue sashes gather on the corner for a meeting. They fit in. Most thing do here. I realised that when driving through Joubert Park taxi rank one Saturday morning, trapped in gridlock, watching a man wheel a shopping trolley past my window with a bull’s head in it, it’s eye seemingly fixed on me, it’s tongue hanging out the side of it’s mouth, looking more at home than me.