Tag Archives: johannesburg

On top of Africa: Almost touching the sky

Skyscraper ~{A very tall building with many stories}

Last week for my hubby’s birthday, we decided to have breakfast in the city.  Although I have been in the Carlton Centre a few times, I have not taken any leisure time to really explore.

The Carlton Centre, with 50 stories, is the tallest building in Africa, and has been for the last 39 years. Yes, not much to brag about when you take into consideration that the tallest skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.  At over 828 metres (2,716.5 feet) and more than 160 stories, our little Carlton Centre seems minute.

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Burj Khalifa

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View of the city from my home

Anyhow…excitement ran high as we made our quick ascend to the 50th floor.  The views are spectacular!

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Western region of the city. Ghandi square is clearly visible.

Hubby visited Chicago a few weeks ago and this was the picture he took while on top of the Willis Tower.

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View from Willis Tower, Chicago.

I know, our buildings look like Mickey Mouse playhouses.  However, our city is also strong.  In the space of a century, the Johannesburg city has been rebuilt four times: first it was a tented camp, then a town of tin shanties, then of four-storey Edwardian brick buildings, then a city of modern skyscrapers. (http://www.jda.org.za/fast-facts)

A few surprising facts you didn’t know about Johannesburg:

  1. Even though Johannesburg is well over 120 years old (founded on 4 October 1886 during the gold rush), it is still one of the youngest major cities in the world.
  2. There is only one other city on the continent that is bigger than Joburg, and that is the bustling metropolis of Cairo in Egypt. Johannesburg is the second biggest city on Africa.
  3. The Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital is the largest acute hospital in the world, with 2 964 beds, is the only public hospital serving the 3.5 million people in Soweto, Johannesburg.
  4. Johannesburg is the world’s biggest man-made forest, with over 10 million trees. This number is set to grow, as City Parks launched the Greening Soweto project in 2006, with the goal of planting an extra 200 000 trees in the famous township. Not only do Joburg’s trees combat the greenhouse effect, they help reduce noise in this ‘urban jungle’.
  5. Johannesburg is the world’s largest city not built on a coastline, or on a lake or river. That’s why Joburg is also called the world’s biggest ‘dry port’. More than half of the cargo that arrives through the ports of Durban and Cape Town arrives at the container terminal at City Deep.
  6. With the rich archaeological site known as the Cradle of Humankind on the outskirts of the city, it’s not surprising that 40% of the planet’s human ancestor fossils have been discovered in the Jo’burg area.
  7.  At 269m high, the Hillbrow Tower is the tallest structure in Johannesburg. It used to have a revolving restaurant at the top, before it was closed down in 1981 for safety reasons. It is a prominent feature in the city’s beautiful skyline.
  8. The Johannesburg Zoo based in Parktown, is over 100 years old, and houses the only two polar bears in Africa – Geebee (who came from Canada) and Wang (who came from Japan).
  9. OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg – named after the famous former leader of the African National Congress – is the biggest and busiest airport on the continent of Africa. It is estimated that 28 million passengers pass through its terminals every year.
  10. While Johannesburg has a reputation as one of the most dangerous cities in the world, it takes an average of only 60 seconds for police to respond to a crime scene in the central business district (CBD). There is a CCTV system that covers every street corner and scanning vehicle licence plates.
  11. There is also a Johannesburg in California, although it only has a population of 176 people (2000 census). It was named by miners who had worked in the gold mines of Johannesburg, South Africa.
  12. It takes one-minute longer to boil an egg in Johannesburg than it does in the coastal cities of Cape Town and Durban. This is because Joburg is 2000m above sea level, and the air is not as dense.
  13. The Shaft of Terror, located at the popular amusement park of Gold Reef City, is a vertical-drop roller coaster that has the distinction of being the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Africa. It has a 47-metre drop, and a G force of over 6 Gs!
  14. Johannesburg is the home of Kwaito music, a catchy genre of African house music that was born in the 90s and has become a South African phenomenon. It is most famous for its catchy lyrics that embody post-apartheid township culture.
  15. While Johannesburg is also known as the City of Gold, or ‘eGoli’ because of its beginnings as a gold-mining town, it is known fondly to locals by the shortened ‘Joburg’, or now more popularly as ‘Jozi’.

There you go! More views of my beloved city…

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North-western view. Far at the back you can see Auckland Park and the Sentech Tower

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Antique telescope. It still has Afrikaans print on it and the old cents. It is still in working order but you do not have to pay to view…which is a bargain!

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Eastern view. In the distance you can see the area where I live.

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Rooftops

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The two most iconic buildings of the Jozi skyline. The Ponte Tower and the Telkom Tower

Besides the fact that the top floor needs an urgent revamp, this experience was so refreshing.  With that said…it was extremely clean…the decaying floors shone like diamonds.  The Carlton Centre is an understated gem.  It cost only R15,00 ($1.50).  Super cheap and unexpected.

The visiting hours are 07h00 to 19h00 everyday.

Next expedition is to go at night to get some nice pics of the skyline when the lights are on!

Go on and try it!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Urban

Urban ~ {Located in or characteristic of a city or city life}

I love this picture.  I took it while in transit in Jozi CBD.  I love the activity of the hawkers and remember seeing people braiding hair close by.  Also love the very cool earrings the girl is wearing.

As some of you might have read, I am part of a group of adventure-seeking, hungry-for-history, hikers.  We explore the city of Joburg on a bi-monthly basis.  This one I took while on one of those hikes.  It is a bucket-list wall where you can chalk down your dreams and aspirations.  These boys live in the city and this is their playground.

One of the many skyline pictures I have been taking these last few weeks.  This is my view from our new home in Kensington.

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Urban hike: A walk through Jozi city

A few Saturdays ago, I went on what I would describe as a spiritual walk through Jozi city.  It was awe-inspiring.  I haven’t enough words to describe my experience in detail.  But I have hundreds of pictures to try to explain what I went through. (don’t worry I won’t share all of it!)

Early morning meeting

We all met up at a central place before leaving for the city.

Driving into the city

Getting ready

Roy Fillis

Our hiking group is very informal.  With our first hike earlier this year, the idea was formed to do an urban hike.  Two sisters, Gillian and Nicole are fellow hikers and suggested we ask their Uncle Roy to facilitate a hike through the city.  Uncle Roy loves history and is so passionate about the city.  He grew up and schooled in the metropolis and till today lives there.  His love for Jozi extremely tangible and contagious.

He briefed us on the plan for the day and you could feel the excitement in the air.  Hurriedly we made our way through the streets of Jeppestown.  All while Uncle Roy telling us interesting stories about years gone by.

Confusion

Can be easy to get lost!

And there she was…

Ahead lies the city!

David Webster’s Memorial Park

David Webster (1945 – May 1, 1989) was a social anthropologist in South Africa who was murdered by covert forces of the Apartheid state.

Webster was shot dead outside his house by a hit squad of the Civil Cooperation Bureau, a covert government agency. The hit squad was paid R40,000 (at the time, equivalent to about US$8,000) for his murder. Ferdi Barnard, the man who pulled the trigger on the shotgun used, was later tried and found guilty in 1998; he was sentenced to two life terms plus 63 years for a number of crimes, including the murder of Webster. (source: Wikipedia)

David Webster’s home restored to its former glory

After we admired his beautiful house we headed down to Coca Cola Park, home of Ellis Park Stadium.

Interesting artwork/sculpture

After a few “Kodak”  moments…

The group

We passed through some interesting streets and sights.  Including this shop front.  It was covered with a photo of a street somewhere in Denmark.  The photo looked so real, it looked like the Jozi street vendor was part of it!

Jozi Street Vendor

Then we headed on to Joubert Park, home of the Johannesburg Art Gallery.  Uncle Roy arranged a visit to the gallery that was totally fantastic!  Here are a few pics:

Art

Out of a fire came art

Burnt postcard

Stunning gallery interior

Operating hours JAG

Be sure to visit the Gallery.  It is a definite gem and a good reason to visit the city!

By then, we had been walking almost 3 hours.  Our legs were wobbly and we were hungry! Our initial plan was to visit Hillbrow and the Mining District, but there was just too little time.

We left the Gallery and went on our way.  These were some of the sights we saw along the way:

Block of flats

Another dirty building

Mural on building

We then decided to end of this trip by visiting the Maboneng Precinct.  (I also wrote about another visit here)

Maboneng Precinct

Interesting coffee shop

Girls having fun!

Me with my friends, Melonie Karriem and Andrea Abrahams having some fun in the very funky security booth.

Graffiti in the alley

We are done!

We were literally done! We were really jaded but in awe of a great day!

This was the area we covered, more or less.

Area covered

If you want to contact Uncle Roy for a similar walk, here follows his details:

Roy Fillis

+27 83 8673158

royfillis@gmail.com

Also contact me if you want to join us for the next one!  It was truly a remarkable day.  This was just a drop in the ocean.  I still have hundreds of photo’s I haven’t showed you.  Thank you Uncle Roy, you outdid yourself!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Together ~ {In contact with each other or in proximity}

Today was a great day.  Together with a group of fellow Joburgers we did an urban hike through the city. I cannot remember when last I was this overwhelmed and excited about something.  The city has a wealth of history.  I cannot wait to write about the day…watch this space.

Together, forever

Shadows together

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Wonder

Tree by the water

I love the afternoon sun.  I love the shadows and depth it produces. It is not as sharp as the morning sun and allows me to take pics like the one above.  This one was taken while I was driving with the kids past Florida Lake in Johannesburg.  The wonder of nature.

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10 Reasons why I love Jozi

Jozi on the move

If you told me a few years ago that I would move to Johannesburg in 2010, I would have refused to believe you.  I always vowed never to trade my beloved Cape Province for another…especially not crime-ridden Gauteng.

One of my friends, Yvette lived in Jozi for close to 7 years with her husband, Ronwyn Hughes.  Each time we would visit them the discussion would come up.  For years they would pose the question: “Why don’t you guys move up to the city…it’s not as bad as they say it is.”  I couldn’t understand their obsession with this place.  Everything was so fast and literally furious.  The rat race was unbearable as well as the traffic!

However, if God has plans for you, there’s no fighting it.  So we moved to the city of gold in April 2010, completely by faith.

Having moved countless times, we have literally married the nomadic lifestyle.  Thus we naturally settled in.  It was our first move to another province and although we were sad to be away from our family, it was exciting.

New prospects…new beginnings, a new start…  so we learned to love it.  And as the Hughes’ pointed out…it is not as bad as they say.

  1. Yes, there is traffic…all the time.  It is bad and the pollution is suffocative.  However, there are six million trees in Johannesburg. On satellite pictures, the city looks like a rain forest, albeit man-made. There are 1.2 million trees within the parks and on the pavements, and 4.8 million in private gardens throughout the suburbs.

Jozi trees

  1. Joburg’s suburbs are beautiful.  The houses are palatial and the gardens are very well kept.
  1. What it lacks in a sea, it makes up in a few dams namely the Emmarentia Dam and Zoo Lake among others.
  1. My opinion is that people are more open to change that in my home province.  Please note: this is based on my personal experience.
  1. The city is magnificent!  I love the buildings and their history.  I have been doing some reading regarding.
    When gold was discovered in the area in 1886 , Johannesburg sprang up from the veld as a rowdy mining camp. The city will be 125 years old this year.
  1. Jozi raised world-players such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu amongst others.  They lived in Vilakazi Street in Soweto.

Vilakazi Street, Soweto

  1. Johannesburg houses a few cities.  The FNB Soccer City and Gold Reef city.  Soccer city was the flagship venue for the FIFA World Cup 2010.  It hosted both the opening match and the final.  Gold Reef City Theme Park, a living attraction that documents the gold rush and the birth of Jozi (Johannesburg), and the place to learn more about the city’s fascinating history of grit, glory and gold.

FNB Soccer City

  1. I love the winters here.  Temperatures sometimes go below freeze point, but the sun would be shining.  I can’t say the same for summers…I hate the thunderstorms!
  1. Surprisingly I have grown used to the street vendors.  Especially the ones that sell hand-made products.  I love their quality offering and how they encapsulate the city in their work.
  1. The city has a certain pulse and it’s addictive.  The inner city buzzes with people from all over Africa that gives it a raw energy that I like.  It truly is a melting pot of people, cultures and opinions.

Melting pot

There are many more reasons why I love Joburg, maybe even more why I should hate it.  The crime rate is probably the city’s most famous liability, the traffic is a nightmare and the road works have been dragging for years…but it has the Gautrain, Africa’s first speed train.

You see…whenever I hear of something negative about the place I now call home, I am quick to think of a positive.  I guess its part of being a nomad.  You learn to adapt and see the positive about your new home town.  It is a great survival instinct.

Oh, you want to know what I think of the new tollgate system?  Right now, I try not to think about it.  We as South African’s have amazing coping abilities.  I will drive myself by this motto: I’ll drive less, talk less, work more and try to create a better country! 😉

What do you like about your hometown or city! Please share!


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My love affair…

Chelsea at the beach

Kirsten at the beach

These pictures give new meaning to the words “beach bums”.  I always try to get posterior pics of the girls when they pick up shells at the beach.  Aren’t they cute?

It’s holiday’s like these that I miss home and the beach the most.  Johannesburg is 588 km’s from the closest beach which is in Durban.  That is sad, taking into account that I used to be 45 minutes away from the beach when I stayed in Paarl, in the Western Cape.

Sometimes I feel I have nothing in common with this city.  Then there are days when I love it.  I guess I have a stormy love affair with the city of gold.  Ah well…I can always try the dams of Joburg?  I have been to Emmerentia Dam, Florida lake and then the big one…Hartebeespoortdam, which technically is not part of Joburg but situated in the North West Province.

I know for sure…you can’t compare the two cities to each other.  They are so different. The one is temperamental with 4 seasons in a day.  The other is fierce and fiery with thunderstorms that make you shiver.  The one is calm and easy…the other is fast-paced and driven.  I guess I am fortunate to have the best of both worlds.  I love my South Africa!

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