A weekend in Johannesburg
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As I exited I looked at the dozens of name cards and hotel drivers waiting for pickup, looking for mine. I didn't see it. I stood to the side to check my phone for the hotel and confirmation, but before I could, there was a man with a bright smile standing in front of me. I looked up (slightly confused, I admit) and then saw the paper in his hand with my name in black letters. I just stared for a second thinking, "how did he know I am me?" I smiled back. He shook my hand and excitedly said, "Welcome to Joburg
This small initial interchange can pretty much define my few days there. The people of South Africa are just wonderful. They have a storied past and if on one side, a rather difficult one, but they are genuinely helpful and friendly, expecting nothing in return. And they don't seem to stop smiling. I love it.
I won't bore you with details of my work, but luckily I did have a little time to actually see/do something other than work. So, if you find yourself on a quick business trip in Johannesburg and don't have time to get to the Cape or other cities in SA, here are a few things you can do on a weekend in Johannesburg.
Friday night you can head to Sandton Central's Nelson Mandela Square. There is a well known, authentic restaurant called Lekgotla, Africa's Dining Room. The atmosphere is like sitting in a beautifully decorated hut. The menu boasts delicacies and signature dishes from the four corners of the continent including crocodile, springbuck, and ostrich.
Saturday you can do a couple of things. Ideally you will have time to head into Soweto, a township, and a glimpse into 'real' Africa
That evening, we went to another African style restaurant, Moyo. This was interesting since it sits inside Zoo Park. They have a delicious menu, they paint your face while you are eating and there is live African music. Place was filled with tourists and locals alike.
Sunday is shopping day. Being based in Rosebank actually worked out pretty well since Joburg's famous Sunday rooftop market is inside Rosebank Mall
Sunday afternoon before heading off to the airport, I got to meet up with an old and dear friend from grad school. I live in Chicago, he lives in Cairo, and we met in Joburg. This is the real beauty of travel.
From here I am off to London. I wish I didn't have to go, it is summer here in Joburg so the climate is a perfect 22-25C/75-80F, not to mention, I have fallen in like with this place already. I can't wait to come back! But next time, it will be on holiday, and I will finally manage to go to the one place in the world I have longed to see for years, Cape Town.
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Lion Park: http://www.lion-park.com/
African Craft Market: http://www.gauteng.net/attractions/entry/the_african_craft_market_of_rosebank/
Sunday rooftop market: http://www.craft.co.za/