Weekend getaway: Johannesburg to Parys

Inside the Plum Tree cafe, Parys


We have a house rule. The best weekend getaways are less than two hours away and involve no cellphone reception (it’s the one time I thank the networks for a job not well done – that doesn’t excuse the dead spots in Joburg’s “under-resourced suburbs” like Sandhurst, Dunkeld and Parkhurst where for around two to R20-million you can get a house but not an uninterrupted phone call. Funny that.) Okay, they also involve crisp white linen, large bath towels, warm weather, a natural wonder (in this case a World Heritage Site), a smidge of shopping, delicious food and great company (these all necessary, in no particular order).
Human Right’s Day weekend in Parys checked all the boxes.
Parys lies just over a 100km south-west of the city in the Free State, where the sky lets you know how vast it is. Continue reading

Joburg's tourist industry needs … a mountain?

#163. Read David Smith in The Guardian on “Johannesburg’s main tourist attraction? Its shameful and violent past”. It’s an interesting piece on how the city, in the absence of any natural or architectural wonders  has developed a tourist industry out of its Apartheid past.

“Go to Cape Town for the waterfront, for Table Mountain and for the wine country. Go to Johannesburg for … what, exactly?

Among tourists, the debate is usually a one-sided affair: in Cape Town, we’ll relax with sunshine and chardonnay in one of the world’s great holiday destinations; In Johannesburg, we’ll probably get mugged,” writes Smith. Continue reading