Tuesday, 21 April 2009

South Africa 2009: Johannesburg

Well, it is almost two weeks since we got back from our short South African holiday and it already seems a distant memory.  We had a lovely, low-key time and I spent nearly every day sun tanning and we visited friends and family in the evenings. Unfortunately, I inherited my Dad’s English Rose complexion and I don’t even have tan lines to show for my time in the sun!  I took loads and loads of photos in SA but had to delete most of them at the wedding – my camera ran out of memory at the moment the bride arrived!!!  So this is a bit of a compacted version of our week.

Friday / Saturday

We arrived in OR Tambo International airport after a pleasant Air France flight in which I managed a whopping 5 hours of sleep.  I was very pleased with that.  The hosts on the flight were predominantly male and good looking, which I was quite satisfied with and the food was really good!  We left from London City Airport which is totally convenient to get to from our house (only 25 minutes) and I just caught the DLR straight from work.  The only downside was that we had a very short stopover in CDG in Paris and they made us go through security again and wait in lines! 

We arrived in South Africa to unseasonably warm 25°c weather which is about 80°c.  I was silly enough to fall asleep that afternoon and only woke up at 11pm that night!!  I couldn’t get back to sleep and so managed to get jet lag even though there is only a 1 – 2 hour time difference (depending on daylight savings).

Sunday

On Sunday, we had the most awesome day as all of our friends and family came over for a braai (pronounced like rye with a ‘b’).  This is a barbeque but differs from the UK and Australian versions because we heat up the wood and charcoal fire until it is white hot and then we cook as it cools down.  I was so happy to be seeing my friends and family that I didn’t take any photos at all.  I wish I had but then again, it was such an awesome day that I don’t mind.

The best thing about the day was that we asked everyone to bring there babies so I got to see my 13-year-old godchild Kayla as well as many babies we hadn’t even met yet!  I last saw our niece when she was only 5 months old.

Monday

Being the complete girl that I am, the first thing I did was head off to the salon for some of the treatments I can’t afford or find in London.  We also went shoe shopping and had a full English breakfast at Wimpy.  Wimpy in SA used to serve really good breakfasts but we were disappointed with this breakfast and we were scandalised that it cost R170 for three of us!!  That is only approximately £4 per person but still – it was expensive for South Africa.

Monday night I went to my friend Vanessa and her family for a lovely dinner.  It was great seeing them!

Tuesday

We spent most of Tuesday snoozing and tanning and went for dinner at Stephen’s brother Donald and our sister-in-law Sandra.  Our niece was so cute and it was nice spending time with them. Sandra is pregnant and the baby is due in mid-May.

Wednesday

On Wednesday we went to the World Wear Centre which is a “lifestyle fashion centre” near our old house in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.  It took me so long to get used to fashions in the UK but when I went back, I found that I no longer liked SA clothing styles!  I had intended to buy my summer wardrobe in SA but apart from not liking the clothes, all of the shops were starting to stock winter clothes and so I bought nothing!  I did come home with 5 pairs of sandals and a pair of sunglasses though!  Clothes and shoes are a fraction of the price over there.

We went to Seemann's for breakfast and had a full German breakfast for R30 each which is more like it! That is about £2 each for a massive breakfast! 

This is typical of restaurants in Johannesburg.  They are often spread out over large areas in the open air, with umbrellas to keep out give shade from the sun and large gas heaters for the winter.  South Africans love sitting outside and do so all year round.  During the day in the winter the sun bakes down and the temperatures rise to an average of 15°c or 60°f but it can get quite chilly at night but you will still find brave people outside sitting by those huge gas heaters.

That evening we met with my best friend Heather and we went out to a new shopping centre called Cedar Square in the upmarket area of Fourways.  This was a very pretty shopping centre and we went to Cubaña Restaurant.

The food and drinks were awesome at Cubaña but the prices were mindblowing! Still, compared to UK prices, the avergae tourist is still going to find the prices a lot less and the portions a lot bigger than the UK. Thank goodness I was budgeting in pounds!

The shopping centre was really lovely and Sara and Donovan were really interested in the design as that is the type of thing they used to design as architectural technicians in South Africa.  Here is an article on the design.  Sara used to work for Bentel in fact.

Thursday

After sleeping extremely well on Wednesday night, we relaxed and tanned most of Thursday.  That evening we visited our friends Steven and Kim who bought our house from us when we left SA.  I thought it rude to snap off too many photos but I manage one of the pool area.  I used their gorgeous, friendly puppy dog as an excuse!

We went out to the Eat Bistro in Northcliff which is one of the best restaurants in Jo’burg in my not-so-humble opinion.  I have no idea why they don’t have their own website because they seriously rock.

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I had calamari with rice in lemon butter sauce.  I have to admit that the highlight of the meal was the rice!  English rice tastes so yucky to us that today, I finally gave in and spent £5 on 1kg of Tastic rice at the South African shop at London Bridge station!! (Yes, we were ripped off and yes, it was worth it).

Well, that bought the first week of our South African venture to a close!  The next couple of days saw a cuteness overload, another plane journey and a beach wedding.

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18 comments

  1. Great Emm nice to follow your SA adventure. You and Stephen certainly like your braekfasts9Too long in the UK).

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  2. @ Mike: Ha ha! No - we've always loved our breakfasts. That and going to movies was the hallmark of our relationship for years!

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  3. The story is like a fairy tale for people like me who are doomed to die in just one country. Have a gret time!!!! And Please be as great hearted to share the joy with us.

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  4. Wow, what a great post! The picture of your niece is so cute. I'm glad that you had a wonderful time. By the way, I was wondering if you spoke Afrikaans. It's one of the languages I have a love affair with!

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  5. @ Joe: Of course I will share it with you! Do you really think you would never travel anywhere but India? I think it is safe to at least dream of better things.

    @ Xoán-Wahn: I am glad you liked it! Ja, ek praat Afrikaans as ons moes Afrikaans leer voerdat ons skool kan voltooi. Dit was baie moeilik as ek was al in Engeland totdat ek nege-jaar-oud was en dan moet ek die hele taal leer en ek moes Afrikaans slaag by die einde van die volgende jaar.

    Do you want a translation?

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  6. That sounds like a wonderful trip! So sad you had to delete your first pics... Still, your narrative is so descriptive. Plus you made it up in food photos, so you're forgiven ;-)

    I love going out for breakfast! I had a few friends back in Texas who would brave the early mornings with me, but usually my friends were more Ladies who Lunch, which is fun too.

    Can't wait to hear about the beach wedding.

    PS Was it weird to go to your old house?

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  7. @ JaPRA: I know! I thought I would get more pictures of our niece and Ste's parents' house and the blue skies but I never did!

    Lol @ "ladies who lunch"! We used to do many more lunches in SA when we had cars to get around to each other and could wangle a 90 minute lunch hour on the occassional Friday.

    It was strange going to our old house - For a very fleeting moment I felt the sense of loss and felt everything we had given up to go to the UK. I think that is a material reaction because yes, we gave up a nice big house etc, but mostly I feel a sesne of gain as to everything I love about being here.

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  8. Sounds & looks wonderful! I wish Europe was still cheaper than U.S. so I could make more trips home :o)

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  9. @ Ivanhoe: Well, there aren't many places that are more expensive than London, that's for sure! It is very expensive getting there though. We got great deals on our tickets and paid about £400 each but that is still a lot of money. then again, my ticket to New York in June cost £300.

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  10. What a trip! I'm curious if you'll make a return trip next year. How strange to return to your old home.

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  11. Blimey Emm, you certainly enjoyed yourself there. The food and environment a refreshing time for you both.

    A great diary of event and waited eagerly for part two.

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  12. @ DL: No - it'll be a while before we go "home" again. Unless we go for a wedding or funeral (the second expat curse, the first being having to move again just when you've settled down!)

    @ Martin: Hiya! Yes, we did have some good time and managed to spend quality time with each of my good friends and family. It was a really hard time too because there was a lot of drama and arguing too, but I will always remember the sunshine and the good times. That is the benefit of this blog, it helps me to only remember the good times!

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  13. I just love when you take us all on your vacations or even through your own home town, it's all so beautiful. Thank you Emm. God bless.

    Jodi

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  14. Did you manage to go to Melrose Arch Emm? I must agree with you about prices, they rediculously expensive in South African standards. I hope you enjoyed.

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  15. Thanks for sharing this with us. It's really fun.

    I HATE that your camera ran out of memory. We had that happen on our recent hike. The memory stick claimed it was full. It is such a liar. I think we should all have multiple memory sticks, but they're so darned spendy. Grr!

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  16. @ Jodi: Thank you! I am so glad you like the posts because I love sharing my world with people!

    @ Gauteng: No unfortunately! I never managed to make it to Melrose Arch at all! The trip was just too short, that's for sure.

    @ Forrest: Haven't we become spoiled though? Ten years ago I certainly didn't have a digial camera and when we lost our photos after our Australi trip, they were gone!!! All 150 of them!

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  17. Strange! I returned to my our old house in SA and found it had been turned into a Video shop.Theres a pic on my blog.

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  18. @ Travellin'van: Ha ha. I think any house on a main or busy road has been made into a business now.

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