Hello from Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s summer here, but the temperature is quite bearable. I was terrified the first day as l thought we brought rain with us. It had been raining all week before we left Seville. We got to Rome and it rained for a while before clearing up. Imagine my surprise when we landed in Johannesburg to wonderful weather only to have it turn into an ear-splitting thunderous rainstorm within an hour of arrival and stayed that way for the rest of the day and night :-( . Thankfully, it cleared by the next morning and it’s been perfect since then. Here is a quick post of our first impressions of this absolutely amazing city.
I can’t wait to share our week here with you when we return. It’s been an amazing and emotional trip. The city is a huge and sprawling metropolis. The downtown area reminds me of downtown Boston, San Francisco or Houston, with the big buildings and skyscrapers. I hadn’t pictured it like that. The suburbs in turn have huge plots, houses and swanky cars, all very modern. We are staying in Sandton, a very affluent area where every other car is a BMW, Benz, Porsche etc. There’s even a Bentley dealership down the road. Don’t worry though, we’re staying at the step-child of hotels :-).
I had expected Johannesburg to remind me of Nigeria a lot. In some ways it does, especially in the poorer areas like Soweto with the tin houses and deplorable conditions and obvious poverty, complete with illegal tapping into the city electricity :-). We saw that in India too. The startling difference to me is the “sound” or better yet, the lack of sound. In Lagos, you are bombarded with sound everywhere. The honking of cars, the loud voices, the generators, and especially the music blasting from everywhere. Rhythmic sounds filling the air, African drums mixed with Hawaiian guitars and tribal singing. Chaos that is electrifying and irresistible no matter how much you try to ignore it. Here everything is orderly and clean for the most part., even the honking seem to be subdued to me. In heavy traffic, there is no sound save for a car or two with the radio a bit loud. I prefer the chaos of Lagos and l have a feeling that is one of the reasons people continue to stay there as opposed to moving to the new capital of the country which is Abuja.
That being said, we really both like the city and are already plotting to come back for another visit so that we could stay longer and explore more areas. You know it’s serious when l’m already looking up short term flat rental costs. I already know we can’t afford Sandton prices though ;-). I have been interviewing all the Uber drivers (Uber is quite popular here. I’ve seen very few taxis) trying to find a cheaper alternative to Sandton. It would be awesome to do another safari as we enjoyed the last one.
Have you ever been to South Africa? If yes, did you like it? If not, is it a place you’d like to visit?