A Johannesburger and Chips, thanks mate
19.06.2010 - 23.06.2010
Here it is. The long awaited summary of our month in South Africa.
Our South African Odyssey began in Johannesburg just after dark.
In a small hire car. without a map.
Arriving in Joburg after dark is an adventure best undertaken in an armoured car. Or so we were told on numerous occasions in the month or so leading up to the trip. As we arrived at the height of the World Cup carnival, there was an obvious police presence - everywhere.
A couple of things made the reception a little challenging. My phone failed the global roaming test, the car rental guys were somewhat customer service challenged and I realised that I had forgotten to pack the awesome map book the my mate from work had lent me.
So there we were, half an hour later in a matchbox car (ANOTHER SILVER BULLET) flying along the ring road through down town Johannesburg. For those that don't know, it is rumoured that 'Johannesburg' means the town of car jackings, so we were a little on edge. Along the main motorway and at every set of traffic lights, the comforting blue flashes kept the car jackers (and our nerves) at bay.
We found our Guesthouse though and after a quick walk down to the corner shops and a burger we got our heads down.
The next day we took the silver bullet for a spin and checked out the Apartheid Museum. Quite an amazing place, incorporating an interactive and multimedia history of Apartheid and a moving and inspirational exhibition of Nelson Mandela. It's also conveniently located right next to the Sovereign Hill of South Africa. A giant theme park where the central theme is gold mining, though the link between a rollercoaster and gold escaped us.
Lunch at a Portugese restaurant before braving a drive-by Johannesburg style, in through the bad lands of downtown. It all looks really similar, lots of high walls and lots of razor wire.
With a little help from Hope, Faith and Freedom. (the names of 3 of our hosts). We rounded out our Johannesburg stay with a trip to Soweto. The scene of the 1976 uprising, Soweto has now become a regular stopping point on the tourist route in South Africa. Not all south African townships are as easy to visit.