Day 1: Pretoria and Joburg City Tour
We arrived early in the morning (6-ish) in Joburg, the airport was packed with passengers even at that unearthly hour. Immigration processing was not too bad, we cleared the customs in probably under an hour. I booked the City Lodge OR Tambo within the airport for the ease of just walking to our accommodation from the departure hall. That would also prevent any unnecessary taxi scams (if there were) and avoid the city for fear of its rampart criminals (which was clearly just me being overly worried). There were as usual porters whom were enthusiastic to help to move your luggages which you could politely decline or be expected to pay a tip for his service, which we did though he expected 200R from us, way too much.
Check in was smooth, room was big, nice and comfy beds. There was a safe which was good for storing the wads of cash that we brought for the whole trip and the other gadgets that we did not want to carry around while we toured Joburg.
After taking a rest, we had to go meet up the tour guide at the lobby for the Pretoria and Joburg tour. Soon we were off in a car to Pretoria, administrative capital of SA. We passed by Unisa, biggest university in Africa enroute to Pretoria.
We visited the Voortrekker Monument which gave some history of the struggles in the early days of SA
Reliefs on walls depicting history. The lower pictures showed the battle of blood river of 1838
At the basement we saw the sarcophagus in memory for the Voortrekkers who were sacrificed. This lighting reminded me of a halo.
Storytelling in the form of tapestry, beautiful artwork.
Next stop, we were off to former President Paul Kruger residence, now a museum. As expected, luxurious deco from the old times could be seen.
We went on to drive past the church square, where our guide stopped the car for a while for us to take some pictures. He was a little jittery about the surroundings (I thought) and we quickly got in the car after some quick shots.
Later we drove to where former president Nelson Mandela was recuperating from illness.
More posters in support for Madiba at the entrance. There were also a swarm of reporters waiting outside to get the latest news of the president.
This concluded the half day city tour of Pretoria. We headed for lunch en-route to Joburg, and we ate at Steers at one of the service stops “Ultracity”. Shortly we were on our way again.
Joburg had their own version of the ERP, just like ours in Singapore. This had not been put in use because there were still discussions why this was only available in Joburg and not in Cape Town.
City of Joburg developed according to the various gold mine locations during days of the gold rush. One such bank actually still had a abandoned mine at its basement, as a exhibition.
After visiting the bank, we drove to the highest building in Africa (still, as of 2013). Although there are only 50 storeys, it is at a height of 223m (according to Wiki), thus aptly Top of Africa.
Next we drove to the Chancellor’s house where Mandela used to work with his partner OR Tambo and played a vital role in the shaping of how SA is today. Read up some history that were showcased in the Chancellor’s House windows.
After this, there were just more driving through the city where we see the Mandela bridge and the Railway station, on the way to Constitution Hill.
After the short vision through the constitutional court and the prison cells and the exhibits, which had a bit of history on high profile prisoners such as Gandhi and about his life long mission of non-violence protest, it was time to leave. But not before a drive by one of the “notorious” streets of Joburg – Hillbrow
Drive by the “notorious” street of Hillbrow. Just saw a couple of street vendors selling their wares, nothing much really.
We were back at the hotel in the airport. Went to look for dinner at one of the various food court in the airport but choices were pretty limited. In the end, settled for some fish from Ocean basket which we brought back to the room to eat. Nothing much on TV either and thus we had an early night after a long day.