I took a hop on/hop off open air bus tour around the city, covering the zoo, Apartheid Museum, downtown area, Mandela Bridge, and saw everything from mansions in the north to the “projects” and slums of Hillbrow (don’t go there without a qualified, reliable guide. Better yet, don’t go) by Constitution Hill, the prison where Nelson Mandela and many others were jailed for nearly 30 years in horrific conditions. (Learn more here: https://www.constitutionhill.org.za/pages/history)
Fun facts about Johannesburg/Joburg/Jozi:
-Encompasses the area from Soweto to Pretoria
-Is the largest and richest city in S. Africa
-Drives 10% of the economy for the entire African continent
-Is 1700m (5577 ft) above sea level
-Doesn’t have its own water supply (is transported 360 mi from mountains in the south)
-Boasts biggest man made city forest (so many trees and plants for a city!)
-Biggest city in the world not on a water body
-Has deepest gold mine in the world at 4km and takes 1 hr to descend; the rock at bottom is rock 60°C (140°F); thousands of migrant workers work in this mine
An outdoor Turkish restaurant called to me for lunch, featuring an enormous and delectable plate of falafel and mezes (little appetizers) for the equivalent of $14, Turkish music, and attentive staff who couldn’t believe I wanted to sit in the SUN. No fewer than six staff invited me to the shade, to move an umbrella closer, etc. I kept explaining that it was winter at home and the sun felt GOOD. Sunny and gloriously warm at 82° I soaked it all in.
All around were tropical birds warbling their songs, art galleries and shops, and everything moving at a slower pace in every way from speech to walking. People are incredibly friendly, saying hello in passing on the street, many thank yous if doing a transaction.
This city smells like Paraguay but cleaner. Perhaps it’s the tropical summer weather but wow it brings back memories of living in the southern hemisphere! (If you are new here, check out my blog from my Peace Corps service: http://www.somewhereinparaguay.com)
By 1pm clouds formed and a fierce wind picked up enough that I need to hold onto my sombrero while awaiting the bus to finish the tour, Eucalyptus trees performing the air from a nearby park. Thunderstorms are sudden, intense, and quick, seeming to come from nowhere but I was lucky today that nothing materialized.
Ok, now…perhaps you’ve been wondering what I am doing here in South Africa besides blogging about foreign cities and travel tips? I’m heading to my first safari tomorrow!
Tonight was a meet and greet with my two fellow travelers (yes, just the three of us- a sweet, young couple from Sidney, Australia) and our three crew. I adore them all and think we’ll have a great time over the next 15 days as we travel together through South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana.
Tomorrow we leave early for Kruger National Park and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
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Have you been on a safari? Share in the Comments when and where you went. And if it’s still a dream on your bucket list, where and when do you hope to go?
“It always seems impossible until it is done”
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