I am writing from Jozi and today I have been thinking about time! Time, where does it fly? It feels just like yesterday when I wrote ‘Its Been More Than 48 Hours In Johannesburg‘ and now I am already rejoicing about the two thrilling weeks that swayed away right in front of my nose. ‘Day 15’ is already gone! But I a glad that everyday has been different. I have been keenly exploring and learning about the country that recognizes 11 official languages, has six colors in its flag (the only one in the world) and celebrates a national braai day! Hope you have been keeping a tab on my daily feed supported by the hashtag #ChaloSouthAfrica where I have been talking about it!
This post is meant for two reasons. First, I want to maintain a list of everything that I have done in the first two weeks to help me write my elaborate blog posts later. Second, this will definitely be helpful to everyone who is planning a trip to this part of the world. South Africa is a dream destination for many. I know I am not a conventional traveler who can give you a tried and tested itinerary for a fixed number of days but then I am sure you can pick your type of things from my adventures. As far as my traveling style goes, its different from others. I am not used to behaving like a tourist. I am a travel blogger who also happens to be a consultant’s wife. So while my husband travels on work, I make the best of all opportunities to catch up with him in all parts of the world. And its a double whammy when I get paid to learn, share and do writing assignments about the country. Right now, Johannesburg happens to be the place for us!
Its already time to do the list. I think I will sum it in fifteen points….
So it began from the airport. I landed at O. R. Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa, near the city of Johannesburg. My husband drove me to Sandton and ever since I have spent most of my time here than any other place in Johannesburg.
2. Sandton city shopping center
I am glad Sandton city is close-by. It ranks among the largest shopping centers in Africa and therefore it makes our favorite hang-out place. In the evenings, it is a quite a buzzing place. I love going there for two things ‘Nelson Mandela Square’ and ‘Woolworths’ (the supermarket where we buy our fruits and breads from)
Inside the shopping mall, I dined at the famous Bukhara, an upmarket restaurant that specializes in North Indian cuisine. Now that I am through with a dinner experience, I can easily give my two cents. If you are craving freshly made chutney, roasted papad, Mirchi Naan, Pudina paranthas, Dum Biryani, Fish tikkas and Kali Mirch Chicken, just go for it. Stay away if you are a vegetarian and do not order Mutton Roganjosh in any case. Remember, it a plush restaurant and therefore the prices are high. Overall, I would give it a 3 on 5. I am told the restaurant is no more in its heydays but I will mention that I was surprised to see the locals enjoying rich North Indian food. Yes, it was a packed house on a Wednesday evening and there were hardly any Indians except us.
4. Fourways Farmers Market
On the first Sunday, we went to the Fourways Farmers Market and the day was further utilized to explore the nearby places in Fourways. I quite liked this outdoor Sunday market idea. The presence of music, food, friends, family and conversations under the sun made it click with me almost immediately. I brought back lots of pictures from there and you must read a whole post dedicated to it.
5. Monte Casino
This one happens to be one of the favorite Casino in Jo’burg. It definitely has a charm of its own. Its colorful and has a fantastic set of restaurants. One has lots of things to do here, like watching theaters/movies, drinking coffee, shopping, sports watching or having a bottle of wine on the terrace. I think I will have to return to explore it better.
6. Monte Casino Birds Garden
Inside the premises of Monte Casino, there stands Monte Casino Birds Garden was a real treat. I am told its one of of its kind in Africa. Along with 142 species of birds , it also boasts of rehabilitated or rescued birds. It is also known for its collection of African cycads in the world with over 33 different species. ‘Flight of fantasy’, the bird show was definitely a first time for me and I quite enjoyed the interaction with the birds. I must say the bird garden is being maintained with love and care. It was beautiful, clean and neatly fenced.
7. The Mexican stuff- Perrons!
Lets talk about food again. So while I love to explore the length and breadth, history, geography of every new place that I visit, I am equally keen on exploring its gastronomical delights. We visited Perrons at Illovo Junction, Johannesburg with friends and trust me this Mexican restaurant turned out to be a great find. We were really impressed with its burritos, tacos and quesadillas.
8. Fordsburg square
Indian community is usually fond of taste of Asia (Indian/Pakistani/Afghani/Bangladesi street food). In Jozi, this is the place where you can actually find grilled food, jalebis, samosas, panipuri, bombay crush, shawarma and more. I visited Fordsburg on a Saturday’s morning and found it quite a lively place. I was surprised and thrilled to find people talking in Hindi. There is lot of fresh vegetables and fruits to take back home. Apart from food and veggies, one can find spices, cheap DVDs, clothes, accessories and toys as well. And do not forget to bargain for sure!
9. South Indian Restuarants- We have explored two already!
South Indian food is definitely hit all across the world. I am sure it makes a great comfort food for vegetarians. After eating at Saravana Bhawan at Rivonia Rd, Sandton during the first week. I was glad to be introduced to Dosa Hut at Fordburg Square. It is a small and comfortable place to eat the South Indian delights.
10. Nelson Mandela Bridge
Nelson Mandela was the first black President of South Africa and he was actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement in his 20s . I was definitely excited to visit this bridge name after him. Nelson Mandela Bridge is the largest cable-stayed bridge in southern Africa. On our way to Fordsburg, I got a chance to make a video while crossing the bridge. This engineering landmark connects two main business areas of Braamfontein and Newtown. The bridge was inaugurated by Mr. Mandela himself in 2003. This most interesting feature about this 284-metre-long bridge is that it runs over 46 operational railway lines. I would want to go here in the night to take some more pictures.
11. Sterkfontein and Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. What really got me curious were the caves containing primate fossils. And I was excited to go cave exploring 60 meters below the surface of the Earth. This was one thrilling experience for sure. A visit to Cradle of Humankind immediately puts you closer to our ancestors. There is an urge to know who we are, where we come from and where we are going to be in the future. One of the theory says, humankind originated here at this place. Sterkfontein caves are also world famous because “Mrs Ples”, and an almost complete hominid skeleton called “Little Foot”, dated 2.3 and 4.17 million years old respectively were discovered here.
I was absolutely keen to visit the biggest monument in Africa. It was erected in honor of and to commemorate the ‘Big migration’ or ‘Great Trek’ of the Voortrekkers who left the cape colony in search of independence and freedom. I must confess that before visiting this one I had no clue about the African eastward and north-eastward migration away from British control. Visit to this monument opened up new pages of history for me. I loved its architecture and the circle of 64 wagons protecting it on all sides.
13. The people of Johannesburg use freeways for transport around the city due to its location 1,500 metres above sea level. The Johannesburg Ring Road is quite a famous one in Africa. Roads in Jo’burg are beautiful and very conveniently constructed. I love the road drives here. It was a Sunday and our friends in Jo’burg had promised to take us around. I was happy because for a change my itinerary was decided by someone else. Trust me, it was a great help. It was with them that we did the Voortrekker monument first and later they took us around a lit bit of Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria and the Centurion Mall. I quite enjoyed exploring the neighborhoods of Sandton. They also took a detour to show us the Wanderers Cricket Stadium (the legend of South African cricket).
14. Irene Dairy Farm
This was planned for our Sunday lunch. There are two restaurants here- The Barn and The Deck. While one was serving buffet and second had a long waiting time, we had to give upon the idea of having lunch here but we bought fresh milk from the farm. As far as a walk around the farm is done, its a must do. There are little things which will make you happy. There are ducks in the pond, cows, goats and chickens in their designated areas tractors to climb upon and scenic corners to pose for your pre-wedding shoots. Overall, it makes a nice setting for a picnic or a Sunday brunch. The Irene Dairy Farm, established in 1895, is situated between Pretoria and Johannesburg.
15. Simply Asia
We tried this place on our friend’s recommendation. The service was quick and the food was good. My husband ordered for a tofu dish with rice and found is good too. Maybe I was hungry or could be the chef was in a great mood that day, I would give a 7.5 on 10 to my dish. I ordered chicken basil rice and the platter that arrived was absolutely wholesome. If you love thai or chinese, this makes a budget friendly place in Jozi. The decor, menu and the open kitchen spoke of Asian Passion, true to its name. We had gone for an early dinner here.
This has been a really long post but I am glad you enjoyed it till the end. This South African adventure will not end here. I have three more weeks to explore and I will keep sharing my stories. Follow my hashtag #ChaloSouthAfrica for the daily adventure.
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