Johannesburg

Goodbye Africa
Johannesburg, South Africa

 


Another day, another adventure.

Today I am cheating – so far I have travelled overland from Nairobi to Vic falls, through 6 different countries – but today I am catching my first flight, to take me down to Johannesburg.

Johannesburg has quite a reputation for its high crime rate and for being not a nice place to be. A lot of people have told me not to stay there. But I don’t really have a choice, it’s the only sensible place I could fly home from. So am here for the weekend!

At 10.30am I left to go to Livingstone airport. I was rather worried about my luggage, I’m flying a budget South African airline – I only came with 13kg, but have acquired quite a lot since then! Not too bad – only 19.5kg (allowed 20kg!) but 3 hand-baggage bags and a giraffe!!! I still got away with it!

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It is such a small world – at the airport I met back up with a girl who had been travelling with us from Nairobi to Zanzibar several weeks ago, so caught up while we waited for our flights! Then just as my flight was boarding, I heard my name being called, turned around and anther girl from my truck was on my flight! I had no idea, she had only booked it last night after I left! Nice surprise and even staying at the same place as me in Johannesburg!

As we took off there was a rain storm brewing, the clouds were fantastic! I’ve never seen clouds so huge – we went right through them! It was just a short 90 minute flight and we were landing in Johannesburg!

Country number 7 – South Africa

Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa with a population of 5 million. Immigration was very quick – about 3/4 of the plane were locals, so no queue! After collecting my (very heavy) bag, went to change some left over USD. Suddenly I started to feel really sick, it was so embarrassing, I had to sit on the floor for a while, being sick next to the Travelex counter! Then just as suddenly as I had felt ill, I felt fine. That was so odd! And so embarrassing! All the staff were very nice about it though and brought me some water!

It was only a short 10 minute drive to the hostel in Edenvale. All the houses here have high security. A remote controlled gate, brick wall topped with barbs, electric wires, bars on windows and lockable gates over doors are all standard! Apparently the road outside is perfectly safe to walk along during the day. The shops were about a 15 minute walk away – everything we needed, including a great supermarket – they even had humous!

Later that evening we went back to get some takeaway pizza – weird system where you can’t just buy one pizza, they only come in 2’s. Strange. But pretty good!

Saturday 28 January 2012

Managed to have a slight lie in today – I thought thats what is supposed to happen on holiday. Apparently not in Africa!

At 9.15am we were picked up for a day trip around Johannesburg city. We had a cool guide for the day who grew up in Soweto, he did not stop talking ALL day long. But he was full of interesting facts!

First up, a visit to the Carlton Tower. This is the tallest building in Africa, at 50 stories high and is know as the ‘Top of Africa’. You could see pretty far – apparently across to Pretoria. However, was quite a lot of smog/mist. Just looked like any other city really! We drove past Gandhi Square, a central plaza, now used as a bus station.

Next up, Soweto. Soweto stands for South Western Township. During the apartheid, this was a designated black area. Now, the area is still estimated to be 95% black. The first area we drove through was rich – very fancy and well kept houses. They wouldn’t have looked out of place in a fancy part of London. But, soon we were driving through the poorer areas. We went for a walk in the Motsoaledi area. It was a typical walk – visiting a nursery, inside someone’s house, then to play with the children! Have spent the last month doing this!

Nelson Mandela lived in the Orlando West area of Soweto. When he was released from prison in 1990, he returned to live in this house. We visited his House at 8115 Vilakazi Street (as well as driving past his ex-wife, Winnie’s current house nearby). It was fairly small – but actually much larger than a lot of the local houses we have visited in the past few weeks. The house was full of certificates and gifts to both Nelson and Winnie for their work over the years. Bullet shot holes were still visible on the outside wall.

Hector Pieterson was a thirteen year old boy and was named as the first victim of the 26 June 1976 shootings. He was part of the student protest that, although supposed to be peaceful, turned out violent and the police began to shoot. We visited the museum in Soweto which is dedicated to his story.

Last stop, the Apartheid museum. To enter, we were given a ‘white’ or ‘non-white’ ticket and had to enter through the corresponding entrance. The museum was a maze of photos and videos depicting the recent history of South Africa- leading up to and after the apartheid.

On the way back, we drove past the FNB stadium – this is the 95,000 seater stadium that was used for the 2010 world cup closing ceremony.

I had been planning on going for a swim when we returned, but sadly it started to tip down with rain, rubbish!

Sunday 29 January 2012

Today is a day of absolutely nothing. I haven’t had a day like this since England! It’s my last day in Africa.

Popped to the supermarket for some supplies – and started the brai up (South African word for a barbecue). It was a boiling hot day, so attempted to top up my ‘tan’ – I’ve been here for 5 weeks and still just as white as I started out! And went for a swim. Hard day.

The braai was great – had boerewors (a type of South African sausage) and did nothing the rest of the day!

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Monday 30 January 2012

This morning I woke up to my final morning in Africa. A lovely sunny day.

So for now, it’s goodbye Africa. The last 5 weeks have totally flown by. I will be back at some point – so much more to explore. I have total travel envy of other people who have seen so much more! I can’t even pick out highlights of the last month, I would just be repeating almost every single day.

So back to Johannesburg airport for my 1.40pm flight to Nairobi. I was only staying a 10 minute drive away. This time, no 15 hour delay – we left right on time! It took just 3.5 hours to fly the distance it has taken the last 5 weeks to drive.

Back to the beginning, as we came into land into Nairobi, skimming over Nairobi National Park, I saw my last herd of impala! I had a 5 hour wait in Nairobi airport – one of the most boring airports! I was in luck for my 9 hour flight to London – 3 whole seats to myself!

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