Brown City Travels: Johannesburg, South Africa
It's been two weeks since I've been back from my trip to South Africa and I can't stop thinking about it. Wow -- it is hands down the best experience I've had in my twenty-something years of living so far.
Johannesburg exceeded my expectations completely. This city is filled with beautiful people, rich culture, amazing food and nature! A lot of people think of Cape Town as a place to visit and completely disregard Johannesburg as a travel destination. There is so much to see and do in Johannesburg!
What surprised me about Johannesburg is how fashionable everyone is -- there is also a large blogger|photographer|artist community which I love (Sidebar: I could definitely live in Joburg)! In addition to there being great shopping, city life and food; everyone there is so friendly and welcoming. It felt good to hear the locals say "welcome home my sister" and them being genuine about it.
Although I did a lot during my week there; I know that there is a lot more to do in Jo'Burg (I definitely have to go back)!
Here's what I did:
1. Dinner in Maboneng
Our first night in Johannesburg we went to Maboneng which reminded me a lot of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. There was a lot of street art, shops, work spaces and restaurants. The locals were saying that Maboneng has become very gentrified (which I guess is why it gave me the vibe of Williamsburg which is also very gentrified).
We had dinner on a rooftop and the food was amazing & all cooked by a female chef with beautiful braids.
I learned that the food in South Africa is a lot like the food we eat in Trinidad because there is a strong Indian influence on their dishes. We had a salad and curry based dishes. I was sold on South African food the first night there for sure.
2. Visited Alex and Soweto & Kliptown
We visited the townships of Alex and Soweto on the second day. Townships were developed during Apartheid and black people were forced to live in these townships by the white Africans (how ironic). Although Apartheid ended in 1991, there are still many South Africans living in townships. I was so inspired by the children living in Alex and Soweto because it didn't matter to them how much they had; they were full of joy + pure happiness.
We also visited Kliptown & Kliptown's Youth Program -- the boys there were so ambitious and smart! They performed for us by dancing and it was refreshing to see all of that #blackboyjoy.
Although Alex, Soweto & Kliptown are "poor" neighborhoods; to me it was filled with richness. The happiness these people consumed and embodied is really indescribable. In that moment I truly felt blessed.
3. Went to a chef's house for authentic South African food!
One of my favorite parts about traveling to places i've never been is trying new food (I love to eat & explore new foods)! We visited the house of a South African chef, Le-Chef and he showed us how to make Braii (South African barbecue).
What I loved about the food is that it was light and fresh and tasted so amazing -- we were in a dope environment with good food and wine so life was perfect in that moment.
4. Went on a safari!
Going on a safari was so dope! We went to Lion Park which was about a 45 minute drive from Johannesburg.
We were so close to the animals and I really couldn't believe that I was on a safari!
5. Went on a hot air balloon!
Going on a hot air balloon has always been something I was interested in doing. We started the balloon ride at about 6:30am so that we can catch the sun rise. It's also best to ride early in the morning because that's when the sky is most calm. We were 5,000 ft. above sea level which was both exhilarating and scary (I looked down and realized how high up we really were)!
It was so peaceful because everything felt really serene & I saw how breathtaking South Africa really is.
After landing, we celebrated with mimosas! We landed near a herd of zebra which was really dope!
6. Visited an art gallery!
We visited M Studio Art Community which I loved because I love art & it was dope being in the space with the artists that created the work I was admiring. It was super inspiring to see these artists in action and doing what they are most passionate about -- creating.
Yes, I did more while being in Johannesburg (like hike to a 4 million year old cave and visit their malls) -- the experiences I mentioned above were the highlights of my trip.
If you've never considered Johannesburg as a destination; I highly suggest doing so -- I now have memories for a lifetime!