What was it like finding things to do for a month in one of the world’s most dangerous cities? Ah okay… Our base for the world cup was in Johannesburg and had it not been for the World Cup I probably would be lucky to spend a day or two here. But instead Joburg would be an on and off spot for 30 days, depending on where the matches were.
Apart from being pick pocketed the first night out it seemed safe enough, safer than what other places in the world I have been to. (Namely Caracas, Venezuala.) But that was probably because we were gaited up with electric fences and we had two dogs roaming around the house for protection. It partly seems to be paranoia, partly making sense. And it can leave you confused as to weather you should lower your guard or be protective. I think the reputation is for a minute part of the city.
The main problem is not the crime as a tourist it’s the public transport, which is non-existent depending on where you are. That is probably because of the crime though and the lack of trust within its people. Take Cape
Town for example the suburban train station at Lakeside, people were saying that it was their first time taking the train. Back in Joburg our last Saturday night we went to Melville reported to be the trendiest street of bars and it was pretty much dead. (Like being in the inner city of Sydney on a Tuesday night one said whilst walking back to our car.) Maybe the lack of public transport detracts social interaction?
That’s another thing that is different here to other places I have been to. Every time you park the car some guy in a fluorescent vest is looking after it to prevent it being robbed. Usually a few rand about 30-50c is handed over for his time. Also when filling up petrol it is always done by someone and you tip him too. The country seems to be over employed and it is to give people jobs and get them out of poverty I assume.
So because of the lack of nightlife and the lack of transport options - we found it hard to split up if for some reason we wanted to do something different for the day. So in the end
we only did group things in between watching most of the matches.
The home of the final and the heart of the anti apartheid movement was Soweto. Soweto has improved since its earlier days of being blocked off to the world. From tin shacks to nice brick houses it’s a mixed group of houses where the best area seems to be in the main tourist section.
The trip for us started with the Hector Peterson Monument who on the 16 June 1976 was shot dead along with others on what is now called Youth Day. Around 15000 students gathered to protest against the introduction of Afrikaans (whites language) as a medium of instruction. It is said that police confronted them and from there the carnage began. Down the road from the memorial (and the informative museum beside it,) is where Hector was shot. He was then carried down the street to where his monument is today. Hector was one of the youngest people to be killed and the photo of him being carried down the street is one of the lasting images of that day.
Where Hector was shot was on the corner of the local school
and down that road is the former homes of two Nobel Peace Prize winners. (The only street in the world to claim that.) The first is Nelson Mandela, which had a line up too big to wait for, and Desmond Tutu.
We decided to make a day of it and made it the ‘Apartheid Day’ by going to the Apartheid Museum as well. The museum is in the southern suburbs and is massive going from the early years all the way through to 10 years ago. It is an ugly past, which they try to capture with your entrance of either whites or blacks entrance. Jarod and I got the black card entrance so we had to walk up the stairs whilst the others walked up a ramp above us to the second part of the museum. It is hard to really fathom what was going on here after growing up in Australia but is a must to try and understand the country they call the rainbow nation.
West of the city near the Cradle of Mankind is the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve - This turned out to be higher than expectations. (I might have been more
impressed as it was my first look into Africa’s wildlife.) To me it seemed if you don’t have time to do a safari or all your safaris have been disappointing than this is a must. If you never got a decent photo from your safaris than this is the place. You drive around yourself on a designated path and try and find the animals yourself. They have nearly the lot. White Rhino, Lion, leopard, the rare Wild Dog, Springbok, and the Warthog. Also there is a caged version of the Jaguar plus more.
On the flipside to that was the terribly overrated Sun City. We got there on the same day as the Ghana vs. USA Round 16 and Sun City paid no interest to the game. They even made a sign to saying that there will be no tours to the main attraction during the World Cup. There was no atmospheric bar, music and a minimal amount of tables at the casino - Bitterly disappointing. Accept for the lamb curry I had there. My god that was gold!
That brings me to the food and beer in South Africa. My gosh the food here is so good
and so diverse it is up there with the best I have eaten in any trip. And it is so cheap almost 50% off compared to home. The same goes with drink; the beers are around $2 and shit all over Australia’s (Although I have never been complimentary of our beers.) I would say about 55% of my meals have been outstanding, 35% good and 10% shocking. My weight as of the day before the final I had put on 6kgs. I have never gained weight from my starting weight of any Journey at any point of any trip, until now…
I think we could have done Johannesburg better than how we did it. But if you ask the question “Well than what else should we have done?” I would have replied “Honestly I don’t know but there has got to be more about this city than what we discovered. A bit disappointing in the end.
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