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There's something special about Johannesburg during the festive season. For one thing, it's peaceful - most families are packing up and heading down to the coast - which means that popular holiday destinations such as Cape Town and Durban will be experiencing an influx of 'Vaalies' (people from the Transvaal Province - now called Gauteng). Gauteng number-plates are seen far and wide. Sure, it's great to get away - but there are downsides to leaving the city. Just think toll gates, queues, fighting for umbrella space on the beach. . .
A typical afternoon thundershower in the Joburg summertime
This is where Joburg comes into its own as a holiday destination. There is still so much to do and see, without having to compete with mad crowds. Once the Christmas gift rush is over, and the corporates have taken their leave, one can take a quiet drive at any time, day or night. Sights include amazing Christmas tree displays at Cosmopolitan shopping malls such as Sandton City; smells include delicious breads at one of the many continental bakeries, and let's not forget summer braais and the aroma of braaivleis. Sounds include children jumping into swimming pools, followed by late afternoon Highveld thunderstorms. The atmosphere is simply magical with the display of bright lights flashing in silence. It's untouched.
It is possible to find parking, and sip on a cooldrink at a pavement café in solitude. Experience the sounds of nature at one
of Joburg's many beautiful parks, dams and botanical gardens. There is no beach - but why not head to Sun City and The Valley of Waves for the day? Or just lounge around the swimming pool? What about the night-life? One word - world-class. Go mingle with the fellow Joburgers at one of Jozi's many popular nightspots. The party doesn't stop - fellow city
slickers make the most out of their time off work as well as the freedom to come and go as they choose. There are ample opportunities to meet tourists at places such as the Rosebank Craft Market and Nelson Mandela Square. So, if you are going to be spending your Christmas in Joburg, prepare for a quiet, yet fun-filled time. No rush; no pressure - just good times.
Have a joyous festive season and remember to keep safe - this is a Jozi Christmas!
The Valley of the Waves at Sun City - about 1 1/2 hour from Joburg
This is when Jacaranda trees come into their own! Take a walk through the streets of Pretoria (The Jacaranda City) and Johannesburg during spring time - stop and take a proper look at these beautiful, rich purple floral marvels. See how they create a canopy throughout the towns and take in the fragrance and splendour of this species. From a distance and at an aerial view, one may see these as an expanse of blue and purple.
According to Wikipedia, Jacarandas start to bloom during 'exam time' at Pretoria University, and, legend has it, that should a Jacaranda flower drop on your head, you will pass all of your exams.
So, next time you are in Joburg or Pretoria in October, appreciate the Jacaranda trees, and welcome them as a sign of a new Summer on its way!
THE SOUNDS OF JOBURG
I am woken by the sound of a flock of hadedas, those large brown birds that are notorious for their apt cry of 'haah-de-dah'. Far from a mere chirp - this echoing call is what I would call 'nature's alarm clock'.
When one departs the quiet suburbs, Joburg possesses a 'white noise' of sorts - penetrating from the highways in the distance. Meanwhile, just a short distance away, is the Melville Koppies Nature Reserve, tucked in the heart of Joburg .Guinea fowls are one of the many birds that inhabit this space. In the earliest hours of the morning, before the day begins, these white-spotted creatures commence with their calls of 'ah, ah, ah, ah' under the rising sun.
As I get into my car, and join the other commuters, I hear the sounds of radios blasting in the midst of morning traffic. During lunch time, I take a walk through the economic hub of the Sandton CBD, where the fast-paced footsteps of business men and women are heard; amidst the mad rush, the 'clip clop' becomes increasingly louder, with a flurry of fancy shoes and high heels hitting the pavement.
While I drive back home through the suburbs, I hear the sound of jacarandas popping under my tyres, running shoes thumping against the tar, dogs barking in the quiet streets, and the wind howling through the trees. Once I arrive home, a storm begins to brew. Ah, a typical summer thunderstorm, which Joburg happens to be renowned for. The heat of the day dissipates; the white clouds turn to grey. I hear the gentle pitter-patter of drizzle on tin roofs, which eventually builds up to a heavy outpour filled with the sounds of grumbling thunder. Lightning flashes, the rain becomes hail, falling on cars, thudding like mini boulders on every surface it hits.
On Saturday, I chill by the Westcliff, where I can hear the sound of the lions roaring at Johannesburg Zoo, and, suddenly, it is as if I really am in a jungle, a concrete jungle. As I ponder about the diversity of this city, I look out at the horizon, accompanied by the sound of the city's skyline.