Mention the word Johannesburg and you get a myriad of responses, most of them negative and with the most popular ones being “don’t bother, there is nothing there”, closely followed by “it’s too dangerous”. The first statement is completely inaccurate and while the second has elements of truth to it, it should not deter you from visiting this great city. Tourist in any country need to take precautions and Jo’burg is no exception.
Johannesburg, Jo’burg, Jozi or Egoli, whichever name you give it, this city has so much to offer the tourist that four days here is probably not enough. I started the day with a great cup of hot chocolate at the Zone in Rosebank while waiting to jump on the Hop-on, Hop-off bus for a tour. This is a great way for all tourists to see what is on offer in this town. I started off on the green line which toured the leafy suburbs surrounding Jo’burg and the first thing that you notice is the trees, there are millions of them making this city the largest man made forest in the world. The bus makes a number of stops on the way from Rosebank to Constitution Hill and if you are a military buff, then the Military Museum next to the zoo is the place for you.
Today I wanted to visit Constitution Hill, originally a prison, built in 1893 and operational until 1983 and now home to the Constitutional Court of South Africa. There are a number of daily walking tours of the site and I opted for the two hour full tour which explores it’s history, the different mutations through time and why the site is so meaningful today. The tour was informative and our guide gave us a real sense of what this place was like and it was not a pretty picture. After the tour I changed over to the red line to continue my tour of down town Jo’burg and the south of the city.
Jo’burg started to fall on hard times many years ago when major businesses relocated to other suburbs and buildings were taken over by squatters or just left to fall into disrepair. This is now changing and a number of rejuvenation projects have been undertaken and Jo’burg is turning into a very happening place. I was pleasantly surprised how clean the streets were and how vibrant the city is looking. I stopped off at the Carlton Centre which at 50 stories high is the tallest building in Jo’burg and went to the observation deck for stunning views of the city and surrounds. The red line bus goes on to the Apartheid Museum and Soweto but I have left them for another day as I had something else to do in this city.
I found an enterprising lady offering classes in jewellery making using traditional Shweshwe material and working out of a local cafe in downtown Jo’burg. How could I resist that. I found myself with another traveller sitting making jewellery under the guidance of Thandie and the next 90 minutes flew by. I now have two pieces of jewellery to remind me of Jo’burg.
Nothing to do in Jo’burg…. I don’t think so