Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Party at the Old Park Station-you have to see this!

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to be invited to my cousin's husbands 40th birthday at the Old Park Station concourse.

If I had to describe the party and the building is one word, it would definitely be WOW!

My cousin Margie's husband Eric is Lebanese so the party had a "Lebanese theme" which this building is perfect for! Think Arabian nights, with smoke machines, low tables, red velvet and stunning mood lighting. The food was also great- humus, flat bread, couscous...all my favourites. The alcohol flowed freely and the DJ was awesome. In my opinion a successful party needs a few things: great music, fab food, lots of booze and fun people, and this party had all those things in abundance.

I have heard about how fab this building is before but no pictures or stories, did it justice! You walk in and its like you have stepped back in time. The old shop fronts are still their are look like they have just closed up for the night.

Designed by Gordon Leith and originally decorated with 32 J.H Pierneef murals, Clive Chipkin describes the station beautifully in Johannesburg Style (1993)

"behind the main exterior of Park station is the great sunken station concourse-magnificent, like vast Roman thermae. The floor is three and a half metres below street level, but the stunning intersecting barrel vaults and lantern clerestories rise up nearly 15 metres above the floor level in a controlled explosion of public space".

Chipkin also says that at the time, the concourse was so popular that it often appeared in short stories and novels:

"Jill Westcott ran down the marble steps of the Johannesburg Railway Station into the blue-dome vault with the sunken goldfish ponds and the murals. The clock said she had 15 minutes to catch her train, and she slowed to a sedate walk. She told herself she had nothing to fear. He hadn't rung up and after last night he certainly wouldn't have the nerve to come to the station" Fell Purpose by A. Campbell

What is so great about the station, is that it looks like someone just closed it up one day and never went back. This is not entirely true as it is an event space and I have heard was a really popular spot for raves in the 90's. We explored all the surrounding rooms (they were once restaurants or bars) which was fantastic!
 Even the bathrooms are stunning and totally old school! One of the most remarkable rooms is the "Blue Room" which is a completely tiled in "delft" style tiles each with a completely different South African Image on them from Rock Art, to the Castle in Cape Town.

But believe me we weren't only looking at the architecture...this was a party of note! We danced and drank and were maybe a little to merry! Justin (AKA Monkey) passed out on a police car (the police were not around at the time) afterwards! Good Times.

A huge thanks goes out to Margie and Eric for such a fab party!

Ill write again soon xxx

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Inner City Capers -including an expedition to the fabulous London House

I had the most awesome of adventures with Tania on Saturday afternoon. We decided to spend a few hours aimlessly wandering through the inner city taking photo's and doing research.

We found some great places and saw some great city scenes:

Retro Dinner
While walking down Jeppe Street (near Newtown), we found the most awesome looking old Diner. Really fab! It is now some sort of tavern/ bar but the old diner fixtures are all their. We went in and took some pics of the super friendly patrons! It seems to have been next to an old movie theatre. I can just imagine going to see a movie and then having a milkshake and burger at the Diner! Swoon.

Lionel Richie Time Machine
Just outside the Diner, Tania spotted one of the coolest and craziest cars I have ever seen. I love how it looks like a faded Lionel is sitting in the back!

Aegis House
We then ended up near the Rand Club, where we took some stunning pics of the Aegis Building which was home to an insurance company originally but now has some fab shop space on the ground floor. My favourite is the retro shoe shop and the "Sense and Sensibility" Coffee shop.

London House
We were then walking past London House (an absolutely stunning Art Deco building) when the security guard said that we should go inside and take a look! is so stunning. I am not sure what it was originally but it is now full of traditional African dress makers and designers and was still buzzing on Saturday afternoon. It has such stunning original features which is great to see! It also has at least one large "walk in type" safe on each floor! We are totally in love with the building! It also has a great view which we were lucky enough to see from a 13th floor veranda. What is surprising is that although the building does look a bit rundownn from the outside, it is actually looking pretty good inside! I also love how it has such a vibrant, sustainable community working inside it!

We discovered a few more great buildings but I am going to do some research and then will blog about them!

Ill blog again next week! X X

Monday, March 14, 2011

Inner City Adventures-Religion and Pipe Smoking in the City of Gold

I have had a really busy week in Jozi which means I am going to have to write two blog posts this week. My first blog is going to be about an absolutely fabulous day I had in Joburg.

The day started off with a Rea Vaya ride to Regina Mundi in Rockville, Soweto. I have mentioned the church before as it is definitely my favourite site in Soweto. What is so great about the church is that it isn't a tourist attraction but rather a functioning church. It can be found slap bang in the middle of Soweto and is often called the "Mother" or "Protector" of Soweto. Regina Mundi which means "Mother of the World" is a catholic church home to one of the few black Madonna's in the world. It became famous in the 1970's as it is where many children involved in the student uprising ran for safety. The church is not just a tourist attraction but rather plays a crucial role in the community. When we were visiting on Thursday they were just finishing up their weekly soup kitchen. Outside the church, some bubbly local ladies have set up a few tables of handmade craft. I have walked past it so many times when I am taking tourists around the site but finally had a good look. I was pleasantly surprised! They have made the most stunning mosaics of the "black Madonna". They are about R130-00 -totally worth it. The artists who make the tiles are: Sonto, Tebogo, Nokwazi, Zandi and Marry. If you would like any more info contact Tebogo on 0733746712. My company does a great tour of Regina Mundi-email if you are interested.

We then caught the bus back into town for lunch at the Marshall Inn- a great little inner city bar and restaurant. It, like many older inner city spots, may look a little dodgy at first but once you explore them a little further, they prove to be special, unique and worth a visit! It has been owned by the same Portuguese family for over 20 years and is situated in the mining district on Marshall Street, just near Khotso House. The main bar which is up the stairs is cosy and full of business people from the area. I cant wait to go back unfortunately it is only open during the week until 18h00. It still has a fabulous old credit card advert on the door- I love it when things like this survive!

On our way back to the car which was in Newtown, we had a couple of fun experiences. I always meet the most awesome and special people while walking around the inner city. On this particular day we ended up walking behind a large group of elderly ladies in their distinctive blue and white Church uniforms. We got talking when one of them told my boyfriend that she loves him! Other than that priceless piece of info, they told us that they had been at a meeting at Khotso House (Marshall Street). (Khotso House is a bustling religious centre that is home to the South African Council of Churches and played an important role in the anti-apartheid struggle. The building became known in the 1980's when a bomb just about destroyed it. It was later found during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that former South African President PW Botha personally ordered the bombing). To get back to the church ladies, when we asked them which church they were affiliated with, they told us the "South African United Apostolic Church of Christ in Mufolo Soweto" under the "Archbishop IM Khumalo"...what a mouthfull! The ladies where even kind enough to let us take a photo! Total characters.

We were then walking down Diagonal Street, when both my friend Tania and my other half Justin decided that they would like to start smoking a pipe! yes you heard me right...A PIPE! an old mans pipe! They both then bought one..ok they only cost R20 so it wasnt like they exactley broke the bank. It was really funny and they actually suprisingly both suit a pipe. The Diagonal Street area is full of fun little shops that sell things like pipes. Tania bought me a fab hollow ivory looking pendant that you would traditionally put snuff or herbs in! I LOVE IT!

The city is just so alive and unique! I have been to many city's in South Africa and the rest of the world but none are as friendley or vibrant as Jozi! how lucky we are to live here.

I also had a great city exploration on Saturday which i will blog about during the week.

Be in touch soon- the JHB Tour Guide.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Discovering the City

Even though I spend so much time in the city, I am always discovering something new. I have always said that I would like my life to be full of adventures and Joburg is my adventure.

I have taken part in some fun events, activities and adventures in the city recently.

Archaeological Society Tour with Peter Rich
We went on a really great tour of Ferrierasdorp with the Archaeological Society and prominent architect Peter Rich. It was great going on someone elses tour and it was fantastic as he doesn't only care about buildings but also the communities and people that live in the buildings. We went into Orient House a great building with a strong community feeling which was super interesting- the drying chillies on the roof were stunning. I also just love Ferrirasdorp- definitely one of my favourite areas in the city. It really is like a little village.

12 Decades Hotel/Joburg Photowalkers Photo Exhibition
We then rushed off to an awesome event organised by passionate Joburger Mark Straw (also founder of the ever popular Weekend culture Club and Joburg Photowalkers)- a tour of the 12 Decades hotel and then a photo exhibiton that anyone can take part in inspired by the hotel (which will happen in the next month or so). Its a great hotel as it has 12 rooms, all of which are decorated a different decade of Jozi's history. My fav's were the Love Jozi room and the Nigerian Nollywood room.

For more details on Joburg photowalkers and the exhibition:!/JoburgPhotowalkers

When we were exploring the Main Street Life area after the event, we found this awesome old drain. Now I know a drain might be a strange thing to blog about but it is just such a rare thing to see in the inner city and looked so old and awesome.

St Albans Mission Church
St Albans is a stunning old Anglican church near the Westgate Rea Vaya station on the outskirts of the city. I just love the look of the church and it has a really interesting history. It had a largely coloured congregation who were removed during the forced removals. I have admired this church from afar while on the Rea Vaya to Soweto so it was great to get up close and take some pics.

Fantastic Building...swoon!
I have found a new building to love. It is a really run down building on Marshall Street. It seems to be damaged by fire and years of neglect. It says CPB 1913 on it. I am not sure what it was exactly but will find out and update the blog. A side note: I saw the biggest this building! Smaller than a medium size dog. Crazy. Still I want this building!

Naming Jozi
I dis a really fun tour the other day- its called Naming Jozi and its all about the origins of the building, street and area names in the inner city. Its a really great way to learn about some of the city's most prominent figures. I am doing another one on the19th of March. Hope to see as many of you as possible on the tour!

Catch up soon..hope you have many Jozi adventures till then!