Friday, July 30, 2010

The Inner City Fashion District and so much more!

Well the World Cup is over which is sad as my company Past Experiences was really really busy and I met some fantastic visitors on our inner city, Soweto and archaeological tours! I think Joburg did an awesome job in hosting so many people...and I think it highlighted that Gauteng can be a world class tourist destination...and not just a stop over!

I have had a busy couple of weeks since then so read on and maybe it will give you some ideas about what Joburg (and South I have mentioned Mapungubwe this week) has to offer!

The Fashion District
I spent a couple of hours in one of the most stunning parts of inner city Joburg yesterday- The Fashion District. Historically this area was home to the fashion industry, textile factories, tailors and seamstresses but when the inner city went into a downturn in the 1980's and 1990's many of these business moved out of the city and this area was a bit of a no go area for many. But things are really looking up for the Fasion District. Their are numerous rejuvenation schemes going on- renovated buildings,a hotel, a sewing school and of course Fashion Kapitol. This is an awesome new redevelopment dedicated to fashion that even has an outdoor fashion catwalk! Cant wait for it to open!

The fashion District is also home to some beautiful buildings- many of them Art absolute favourite period. One of the most stunning is the Gallo Building which was built in the 1920's to house Eric Gallo's record shop. In the 1930's a recording studio was added and in the 1940's renovations took place that changed the buildings outer facade to an Art Deco Revival Style (info from Westcliff Heritage Plaque).

Their are some great shops in the area- many of which we visit on our inner city shopping tour (I Love Shopping). Their is a fantastic bag shop, haberdashery that sells the most extensive collection of shweshwe I have ever seen, sewing machine shops, a fantastic little shop that sells only pashmina's. I even bought a shweshwe hat for R10 from a lady selling hats on the side of the road. Their is also a great new little cafe called SunMoon on Troy Street that sells the most delicious curry's and roti and its very very budget friendly!

Hats and Overalls!
I also recently discovered two great new shops next door to each other in the inner city. They for me represent why the Joburg CBD is so important and special. D&H Milner is a small shop not to far from the Carlton Centre that specialises in ladies overalls and uniforms. They have been around for over 4 decades and basically sell the Rolls Royce of ladies uniforms. They are all designed and made on site. Next door is the absolutely charming Gauteng Hats which is about 30 years old. This little shop is like walking back in time and you can buy beautiful gloves and hats..they even have the original shop counters! I have officially fallen in love!

Rissik Street Post Office
Many of our inner city tours start in Rissik Street which is home to some beautiful buildings. Probably most famous is the Rissik Street Post Office which was badly damaged by a fire last year. It has been sitting ever since in an awful state and we owe this important part of our history so much more! Flo Bird and Westcliff Heritage are really trying to do their part in getting the building fixed. They need as much support as possible.

Ernest Oppenheimer Park
But its not all doom and gloom in the Rissik Street area. City Parks has recently done the most beautiful renovation and restorations of a park directly behind the post office. Ernest Oppenheimer Park is looking fantastic. The gardens are stunning, their is a new basketball court and they have put in some fantastic new public art which is all about Jozi and Egoli....go and check it out ASAP!

Stargazing at Forum Homini
I was lucky enough to go to a Standard Bank Private Banking function with my dad this last week at Forum Homini in the Cradle of Humankind. It was a stargazing event and was really fun. We had great food and drinks- potato and apple soup, risotto, sorbet and an awesome whisky and rooibos drink. We then got to look at Saturn, the moon and even saw the space shuttle go over! I would love to see and know more about the planets and stars.

Save Mapungubwe
I know that my blog is about Joburg but this week I am also adding a little bit about my second favourite place in the world (other than Jozi) and that is the Limpopo province, in particular the Mapungubwe National Park (near to the Zim border). I went their for a long weekend recently after the World Cup. We stayed on the SAN Parks accommodation and it was fantastic! This park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it is home to the first known Southern African complex civilisation...first sacred leadership, first palace...and the list of firsts go on. This area is an integral part of South Africa's history and everyone should have to go and see it! Why I am also writing about it this week is because the park's nature and culture is being severely threatened by an Australian company "COAL of Africa" which is starting a mine in the area that is going to endanger the park! Something has to be please check out this link and sign the petition... It is saddening when all people care about is saving money and not at all about culture and our past!

I have a busy couple of weeks coming up as usual so expect another jam packed blog soon!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Great happenings around Jozi!

Just a quick post about some special people, places and programmes happening in Johannesburg. I have seen some great stuff on my travels about town recently and just thought I should share these with as many people as possible

Firstly just a big shout out to the Carlton Centre "Top of Africa" and their staff. The "Top of Africa" is the 50th floor viewing deck of the infamous Carlton Centre in downtown Johannesburg. The view is unbeatable and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who lives in Jozi or is visiting our fair city. They also have such awesome and caring staff- the ticket sellers, security staff and cleaning ladies. Everyone is great and they have been so helpful over the World Cup period that I really can’t thank them enough.

The Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) is, as always looking fantastic. This gallery is special for so many reasons. They play a large role in the surrounding community and the gallery is always full of local kids drawing and just generally having a great time. If only more museums and art gallery's could have an open door policy to their community. The gallery staff is also fantastic- they are sooo welcoming when you enter the gallery, they know a lot about what’s on show and are just generally great. And finally the JAG is fantastic because their exhibits are always changing. At the moment their is some unmissable stuff on show- William Kentridges "I am not me, the horse is not mine", "Borders-Bamako Photographic Biennale" and "Without masks- a collection of Afro-Cuban art". If you have some spare time over the weekend..go and check it out!

I took a tour at the Apartheid Museum last week and was luck enough to take a look at the Nelson Mandela Exhibit that is on at the moment. It really is absolutely fantastic. Its all about Mandela from his birth, growing up, his life in Joburg, his family and so much more. The video footage of him is also fantastic! I can’t wait to go back and take another look. The book shop and restaurant are also looking great and it would be great way to spend a weekend afternoon.

I also thought I would talk about a great initiative/ programme (brought to Joburg by Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela)that is taking place in the inner city called City Year. It is a great national youth service programme that engages youth in a year of voluntary service and leadership development. Basically school leavers, become involved for a year on a voluntary basis facilitating after school programmes. They wear a very specific uniform (khaki pants and red jacket) that makes their presence in the city felt. I see them nearly every time I am in the city. It is great for the youth involved but also for city rejuvenation. Well-done to the "City Year" participants and organisers.

This is a generalisation but generally people living in Joburg are really it the weather? Anyway often when I take international visitors around the city, we have a great random meeting with awesome and friendly locals. It always makes me proud to be from the city of gold. I met some great people in Newtown at the Brenda Fassie statue/ public art yesterday. They were posing with Brenda's statue and so we ended up taking pics of them and joining them in some photo's. I told them I would put them in the blog so a big shout out to BOOM2WIN and Sis FAITH!

So until next time...go explore and have fun in Joburg!