FUN-travel: South Africa – Johannesburg

October 18, 2010 by  

The ABC’s of Africa

A = Awesome
B = Bummer
C = Celebration
AA = Awesome Adventure
BB = Big Bummer
RBB = Really Big Bummer
TA = Totally Awesome
VG = Very Good

Day 15 – Friday, September 17 – Morning Game Drive & Johannesburg – cloudy, overcast, cooler, 70’s


  • A – arrive Joburg 1:40 pm & bags not ransacked (however, man on flight left his carryon on tarmac, too big for overhead, and went back to retrieve an item before takeoff – did not have lock on and items stolen that fast)
  • A – City Lodge hotel is only 20 minutes & free afternoon so we can do email & downloads
  • BB – internet charge is $40 for 12 hours (we have had free internet till now)
  • A – dinner next door at The White Boy Shebeen – more great wine

Day 16 – Saturday, September 18 – Johannesburg full day – sunny, 70’s

  • B – no hot water – front desk says 20 minutes
  • A – have great hot coffee then hot shower
  • A – nice spread of hot & cold food
  • A – pick up 9:00 to tour downtown


  • 1st stop Apartheid Museum – incredibly well done – stark exterior gives feeling of detention, oppression and division – inside the feeling is a prison using horizontal and vertical metal bars to hang pictures, video screens and create division throughout the museum – leave with a feeling of hope, very emotional
  • 2nd stop Soweto (SOuth WEstern TOwnship), largest black residential area – 3 million people in 35 suburbs ranging from shanties, to middle class homes, and very expensive modern homes, (they choose to stay and build then relocate to wealthier neighborhoods to set an example)
  • 3rd stop Nelson Mandela’s former home & Desmond Tutu’s current home
  • 4th stop Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum (first black killed, 13, during peace march against apartheid
  • 5th drive by (not allowed to stop) – Nelson Mandela’s current residence in very exclusive neighborhood of walled & gated homes
  • 6th stop Melrose Arch – new, upscale neighborhood with restaurants & shops – have lunch

Soweto Street Stall

  • 7th stop Mandela Square – shopping area with 50’ bronze statue of him in center (he is truly larger than life her and so well respected)
  • A – dinner reservations at Moyo in Melrose Arch (5 km from hotel)
  • B – call taxi, no meter, don’t negotiate price, told $12 US (should be $9)
  • A – ambience a 10! food 7 – 4 afro adorned ladies wearing red gloves serenade each table with African songs, another women offers face painting – really creates a FUN & festive atmosphere
  • BB – ask for taxi home, told $18 US, turn to walk away, price drops to $15, say “no way” – taxi decides $12 is better than nothing – lesson remembered: always know price up front when no meter in cab

Khuliso & Me

FF – FUN Facts – Johannesburg is called Joburg, Jozi & ‘E’Goli’ by the locals, meaning the City of Gold

Day 17 – Sunday, September 19 – Pretoria & Johannesburg full day – sunny, 80’s

  • 9:00 am drive to Pretoria (36 miles) capitol city of SA
  • 1st stop Paul Kruger house & museum – first president from 1883 to 1900, then British seized power
  • 2nd stop Paul Kruger Square in center of town surrounded by beautifully restored buildings from 1800’s including Palace of Justice – walk through downtown – hear thunderous singing, turns out to be our guide Khuliso’s church (Tower of Grace) on 2nd floor of building filled to the brim (1000 people) – Heritage Day is annual holiday being celebrated with Zulu War Dancers – get front row seat, great pictures & video, Chris gets brought up on stage to dance with them – look for it on YouTube when we get back
  • 3rd stop Freedom Park – memorial celebrating national humanity & freedom achievement – Wall of Names – heroes who died fighting in one of 8 wars
  • 4th stop Rosebank Craft Market – lots of stalls selling art, jewelry, carvings, fabrics, etc – festive ambience, lots of people, walk out to find the Soweto Marimba Youth League, 29 piece band ranging from 6 to 20 – then tribal dancers – eat great pizza

Day 18 – Monday, September 20 – Johannesburg  to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

  • Depart hotel at 7:45 am for 10:55 am flight – arrive 8:10 to check in –
  • BB – finally got caught on 6th SAA flight that Chris’s reservation name does not match his passport – I realized the mistake in Cape Town – another lesson learned, don’t make assumptions (we have different last names) and I will always make sure that I use last names first when filling out forms (until I change my name when my passport expires) Cost of ticket is $325. Don’t realize until boarding the plane we were charged for 2 tickets instead of one.
  • A – get first class seats, have United gold card (love flying their Star Alliance carriers)

Chris Gets Religion

Johannesburg Recap: I have to be honest, I didn’t want to come here and Stephen said we really should to understand the history. He was right on again. Hotel was decent but still a 3 star hotel. Got spoiled at the guest houses. We like to get the most bang for the buck and can’t justify spending money for a hotel room where we just sleep. We want a clean room (no cucarachas), king size bed, hot water, AC & free internet access. Having breakfast included is the norm outside the US. I’m not a big eater in the morning so I make a sandwich to take with me & half the time I never eat lunch.