For many South Africans, business travel means flying to Joburg – the country’s business hub. While many of those visits involve heading to and from the City of Gold in one day, residents know that it has some unusual attractions which reward travellers with a bit of time on their hands.
Shaun Pozyn, Head of Marketing for British Airways says the city has a lot more going for it than massive malls, urban sprawl and teeming highways. He suggests the following:
- The Maboneng Precinct has in a few years come to be regarded as a beacon of urban regeneration, providing space for accommodation, retail, art and live performances. Weekends see braais on the rooftops and jazz sessions. The food and drink on offer is eclectic and rewards the adventurous, but Pozyn suggests Firebird Coffee and Eksé fast food billed as “township cuisine with a twist”. Carnivores have hailed the steaks at the Che Argentine Grill, which also has surprisingly good vegetarian options.
- If you like to have your pulse quickened by more than caffeine, try a 100-metre bungee-jump or swing from the Orlando Towers, the iconic cooling-towers which offer commanding views of Soweto. The towers have become an epicentre of adventure sports, offering base-jumping, climbing, paintball games, abseiling and the world’s highest SCAD (Suspended Catch Air Device) free-fall. The latter entails free-falling into a net suspended above the ground.
THE RADIUM BEER HALL
- Joburg has no shortage of fine eateries. For some nostalgia and excellent Portuguese food, try the Radium Beer Hall in Orange Grove. A bit of history: “the Radium” as it’s known to its many long-time patrons, was a tea-room that led a double life as a shebeen, before securing a liquor-licence and an enduring, down-at-heel appeal.
The lovingly preserved bar-counter was rescued from the Ferreirastown Hotel, where it had once played a supporting role in a revolt. Pozyn explains: during the 1922 Miners’ Rebellion, a firebrand nicknamed Pick Handle Mary, would stand on the counter and deliver rousing speeches to the miners. She was Irish-born Mary Fitzgerald, considered South Africa’s first female trade unionist, and after whom Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown is named, These days there’s less rabble-rousing and more espetada, trinchado and peri-peri chicken, and plenty of beer.
- If you’re a little more discerning about your tipple, visit Whisky Brother at Hyde Park Corner. Calling it a liquor-store is a bit like calling Michelangelo a Florentine doodler as the place is a shrine to whisky, with a vast selection of Scotch, as well as Irish, American, South African, Japanese and Taiwanese brands, and collectibles. If you’re feeling flush, you can take home the Jameson 1994 Vintage for R22 000, but there are plenty of fine, more affordable bottles. They have regular whisky tastings too.
- Explore the rich history and diversity of the city with one of the walking-tours offered by outfits like Past Experiences. Examples include the Spicy Fordsburg tour, which takes in the culinary heritage of the suburb, and the Creative Jozi Public Art Tour of the inner city.