For many South Africans, business travel means flying to Joburg, the country’s business hub. While many of those visits involve heading to and from the City of Gold in one day, residents know that that it has some unusual attractions which reward travellers with a bit of time on their hands.
Shaun Pozyn, Head of Marketing for British Airways (operated by Comair) says the city has a lot more going for it than massive malls, urban sprawl and teeming highways. He suggests the following:
- Maboneng Precinct
In a few short years, Maboneng Precinct has come to be regarded as a beacon of urban regeneration, providing space for accommodation, retail, art and live performances. Weekends see braais on the rooftops and jazz sessions. The food and drink on offer are eclectic and reward the adventurous, but Pozyn suggests Firebird Coffee and Eksé fast food, billed as “township cuisine with a twist”. Carnivores have hailed the steaks at the Che Argentine Grill, which also has surprisingly good vegetarian options.
- Orlando Towers
If you like to have your pulse quickened by more than caffeine, try a 100-metre bungee jump or swing from the Orlando Towers, the iconic cooling towers that offer commanding views of Soweto. The towers have become an epicentre of adventure sports, offering base jumping, climbing, paintball games, abseiling and the world’s highest SCAD (Suspended Catch Air Device) free fall. The latter entails free falling into a net suspended above the ground.
- Radium Beerhall
Joburg has no shortage of fine eateries, but for some nostalgia and excellent Portuguese food, try the Radium Beerhall in Orange Grove. The Radium was a tearoom that doubled as a shebeen before securing a liquor licence and has down-at-heel appeal. The lovingly preserved bar counter was rescued from the Ferreirastown Hotel, where it had once played a supporting role in a revolt. Pozyn explains: “During the 1922 Miners’ Rebellion, a firebrand nicknamed Pick Handle Mary would stand on the counter and deliver rousing speeches to the miners. She was Irish-born Mary Fitzgerald, considered South Africa’s first female trade unionist and after whom Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown is named.” These days there’s less rabble-rousing and more espetada, trinchado and peri-peri chicken, and plenty of beer.
- Whisky Brother
If you’re a little more discerning about your tipple, visit Whisky Brother at Hyde Park Corner. Calling it a liquor store is a bit like calling Michelangelo a Florentine doodler, as it’s a shrine to whisky and whiskey, with a vast selection of Scotch, as well as Irish, American, South African, Japanese and Taiwanese brands, and collectibles. If you’re feeling flush, you can take home the Jameson 1994 Vintage for R22k, but there are plenty of fine, more affordable bottles, as well as regular whiskey tastings.
- Walking tours
Explore the rich history and diversity of the city with one of the walking tours offered by outfits like Past Experiences. Examples include the Spicy Fordsburg tour, which takes in the culinary heritage of the suburb, and the Creative Jozi Public Art Tour of the inner city.
- The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site at Maropeng
Maropeng and The Cradle offer fascinating insights into the evolution of humankind. Our ancestors first inhabited the area more than three million years ago and the facility’s highly interactive multimedia exhibitions trace that journey in ways that continue to draw international acclaim, including a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. The Sterkfontein Caves are nearby and the area also offers horse trails and adventure sports.
Source: Meropa. Image: trover.com