WHAT I LOVE ABOUT…
JOBURG- I love Johannesburg. I visit often, and simply put, it’s one of the most fascinating cities in the world, so it’s no wonder I’m frankly tired of the disapproving looks and quotes of incorrect statistics I get from so many when say its name. My first visit changed my life, and any trip to South Africa with an intentional Joburg bypass means missing out on this intriguing nation’s soul.
-MY MUST- DO’S
1. A cultural tour through Joburg is a must- when properly done, it really frames the history of the nation and shows a clear pathway towards what the future may hold. There are so many significant points in the city to explore that are so emotionally overwhelming that they’ll make a lasting impact, such as the Hector Pieterson Museum in Soweto or the chilling Apartheid Museum. Get out and explore here, soak in the culture and your visit overall will have a great deal more meaning.
2. Go to a rugby match- here in the Joburg area you’ve got your choice of the Lions in the city or the nearby Bulls in Pretoria. Hustle, bustle, crazily enthusiastic fans, great stadium grub and beer, and a slice of life like none other. Well worth it even if you don’t understand the rules, always good fun.
3. Look at a top hotel, splurge if you can. Johannesburg has a ton of fabulous 4 and 5 star hotels with absolutely stellar service, incredible locations and some of the most eclectic décor and cuisine to rival any other hotel in this category around the world. Best of all, you’ll find the pricing a great deal more attractive here so the value for your dollar goes a great deal further. With so many fantastic places to stay, open up your field of view even if you’re on a budget- you’ll be surprised what type of great accommodation you can secure for less money than you may have thought.
-BST HIDDEN GEM
You’ve got to do a day trip to Soweto. Bottom line- it’s not so hidden but it’s a place often overlooked by tourists. This is a huge suburb that over 1.3 million South Africans call home; it began as a settlement where people of color were forced into Apartheid. Today, it’s made up of so many different microcosms ranging from absolutely unsettling poverty to an emerging middle class where small homes are being purchased and new schools are popping up. Here, you can have tea in an elderly resident’s home and hear about his life and struggles; you can walk through the open air market and be treated to amazing scents, sights and sounds; and you’ll see children brightly smiling and jubilantly playing a game of soccer with nothing more than a few wooden posts and a tattered ball that somehow still rolls. And they’re happy. That’s what’s fascinating about this area, and this country as well — so many have so little and have endured so much, yet there’s an unfailing spirit and a warm sense of peace, regardless of the odds they face. If you can, try to have lunch at Wandie’s Place, serving up all manner of South African comfort food and down-home specialties.
-WHERE TO EAT
I love, love, love Moyo — located in a hip area called Melrose Arch. This is more of an experience than a standard restaurant, and it’s got a vibe like no other. Enter, wander up the stairs through the multiple levels and you’ll notice each has its own drumbeat and décor, and you almost don’t want to commit to a location because there’s too much to take in. Begin with a traditional African hand washing ceremony before dinner…and be forewarned, this will be an energetic meal, with a selection of gorgeous traditional dishes from different countries on the continent. During your stay, you’ll likely be invited to take part in a vigorous drum lesson which is fantastic…your face will be painted by a skillful artist who somehow channels your inner spirit and finds the decorative pattern that suits you best…and of course no visit is complete without the tableside serenade by Moyo’s famous Wishy Washy ladies — dressed straight out of the 70’s and raring to go with beautiful rhythmic tones and an energy all their own. Moyo is a celebration of life, art, culture, food and fortune
The most important thing one needs to remember, above all about Joburg, is to actually GO there and get out versus hiding behind the walls of a hotel in the midst of a stopover. If you don’t, and just opt to pass Joburg at lightning speed like so many others do, then guess what? You’ve just missed about 90 percent of what South Africa is all about, and the rich intriguing story it has to tell. This is one of the most vibrant, diverse and possibly misunderstood cities I have ever visited and I return again and again, each time experiencing something different and incredible. One of the most poignant things one can do, and a huge key to understanding the history of the country is to visit the Apartheid Museum. Difficult, and at times emotional, this will impact a traveler in a way that I cannot explain and will likely have you walking away with a very different perspective on life and freedom.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT…by Kendra Thornton, guest post
Sporting Activities in Las Vegas
One of the best parts of being married is that I have a travel companion with my husband. An excellent city that we always enjoy to visit is Las Vegas. As a couple that loves to stay active, here are four activities that we do as a couple.
Professional Golf Instruction
The two of us always like to hit the links. The last time we visited the city, we signed up for the Butch Harmon School of Golf. Mr. Harmon once was the swing coach for Tiger Woods. This school, which is located in the Rio Secco Golf Club, offers golfing tips that can help us get better as golfers. Although Butch Harmon has not taught us, we do like the fact that his staff is professional and helpful.
Mini Golf Fun
After our instruction, we like to have fun with mini golf. One great place to go is Monster Mini Golf. This course has a KISS theme. There are guitars and other items that feature this unique American band. With 18 holes of KISS highlights, we have entertainment all the way through the course. My favorite hole is where I get to hit the golf ball into a huge head of Gene Simmons.
Swimming With Sharks
My husband loves a thrill that can be scary and adventuresome. Therefore, he took me to the Mandalay Bay in order to swim with sharks. I have to admit that I felt nervous as I put on an anti-shark suit, but I felt safe with my husband. It was thrilling to be in the water with these fascinating creatures. Our 45 minutes of swimming with the sharks was quite a rush.
One of the things that we like about museums is that we can view unique art and walk around at the same time. We liked the Neon Museum, which features an outdoor exhibit. To some, it may seem like a lot of junk, but the art is really intriguing. The museum does a wonderful job highlighting the neon legacy of the city. We are planning to go back to see this museum once again.
Las Vegas is a tremendous place to be physically active by trying new and exciting things and staying in the wonderful hotels. We certainly have enjoyed our time in Las Vegas, and we look to future trips to this incredible city. I recommend this place to all who like intrigue and excitement.