Only by saying its name, “Johannesburg”, ladies are suddenly keeping their handbags closer and men have a growing desire to feel their cell phone through their trouser pocket.
There’s no denying, this town suffers from bad reputation.
And one more time, imagination and ignorance maintain this everlasting fear and lousy image.
On the other hand, saying that Jo’burg is the city of Care Bears is also untrue. Between these two extreme facts, rising in the heart of South Africa at 1800m, the one we call eGoli in Zulu (Place of Gold) is also a young and enthusiastic hub, where creative energy, personal enterprises, social and cultural developments thrive, giving Jo’burg its true nature.
At first glance, the city can be somehow intimidating. Numerous skyscrapers rule up above the 4 million South Africans living there. National highways coming from Durban, Pretoria and even from the Kruger are spewing an endless stream of vehicles that will scare the casual tourist.
But quickly you realize that Jo’burg isn’t the Bronx from the old days before Giuliani’s era. The former mayor of New York has in fact worked with local authorities on their CCTV policies and neighborhood security. Often pedestrian friendly, the city is also characterized by no less than 6000 trees spread along the streets and among the various parks.
If the suburbs of Alexandra and Hillbrow are for those willing to take unnecessary risks, it is more on the side of Sandton, Melrose, Braamfontein and Newtown that one has to seek originality.
The 2 first are a real haven for African luxury, shopping, coffee shops terraces, trendy restaurants, art galleries and hotels of high standards. You’ll find there the most famous brands and the creations of local designers. Take some good time, visit some galleries and prepare to be delighted.
But it is through the second life of Maboneng and Braamfonein that Jo’burg truly deserves its honors. Young and trendy, this neighborhood is made for those who love fashion, art deco and anything a free open mind can appreciate.
This is a “hip & happening” facet of Jo’burg. Music and books are revealing their full creative potential. I suggest you start by visiting The Grove and wander on down Julia Street. Lunch at Narina Trogon and for you ladies, a shopping session at Me & You.
The Neighbourhood Market especially is not to be missed…
Finally, Newtown is a dish for gourmets. The historic district, a melting post from the past, has evolved into a vibrant artistic and cultural center for passionate minds. Renowned for its jazz bars like Bassline, Newtown is also about museums, theaters, markets.
Many buildings are still depicting the days of old while others reveal the talents of street artists, poets, clothes and furniture designers and fragrant cuisine.
You will also find the Mandela and Gandhi’s offices, a beautiful brewery… exhibitions and original galleries.
In short, this is where our guides will be pleased to take you. Without fear or regret.
By Sébastien Charrieras
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