Recently, Liz at Lancaster guests who were born and grew up in Johannesburg and were visiting from overseas for a big family reunion, wanted to take their grand-nieces on the Red City Bus leaving from Gold Reef City. However
they were very hesitant about the drive there. When I suggested taking the Gautrain to Park Station and catching the Red City Bus from there and then hopping off at Gold Reef City, they looked a little hesitant and skeptical that this was a wise thing to do. Having finally convinced them that it was a great idea and that it would be easy and seamless, off they went. They returned not only safe and sound, but quite effusive about what a fabulous day they’d had: apart from being so easy and hassle free, the kids loved the train, they were so interested in seeing Park Station having travelled by train when they grew up in Joburg, and the Red City Bus tour (with great commentary) was fascinating and a real eye-opener to all that was going in Joburg Central.
Their complete surprise at all that Joburg has to offer was reinforced by a recent excellent opinion piece that appeared in Tourism Update: ‘Stop underselling downtown Joburg’. Here, James Delaney of Moja Heritage echoes exactly the feedback I have had from guests who have previously stayed in Sandton hotels. He writes: ‘I’m often asked by Sandton-based trade what there is to do in Joburg! And I encounter tourists who’ve been told by their hotel reception not to venture out, and so all they experience of the city is room service’. In my experience many international guests come with the perception that Sandton is the ‘city centre’ in the sense of a European city central node or square where ‘all the activity is’. I try to explain that Sandton is a business centre with fenced-off office parks, a huge mega shopping mall, little street life, and no after-hours attractions.
Recently, after some chats with me, Swiss guests equipped with a guide book and their rented car, took themselves off to Maboneng, to Constitution Hill and to the Orbit in Braamfontein amongst other places. They came back saying how energizing and fascinating it all was. They felt a real sense of creativity, of history, of variety, of interaction with different social groupings, of a city in the process of reinventing itself – edgy, cool and exciting.
While the fabulous new publication Johannesburg In your Pocket (part of a series on international capital cities) has gone a long way to giving information on what downtown Joburg has to offer, there are many who still know little about their own home city and so cannot begin to sell it. As a born and bred Joburger, as somebody interested in local art and culture and as a researcher who has written on many aspects of Joburg’s history and heritage, I so want Liz at Lancaster guests to have the option of experiencing Joburg in all its gritty richness. So apart from having extensive tourism information on our website www.lizatlancaster.co.za , posting on Facebook www.facebook.com/lizatlancaster, tweeting (Twitter handle @Lizatlancaster), and chatting to guests, we also have a noticeboard in our public lounge area with current info on what’s on including a Pick of the Week. For example this week’s Pick of the week is another evening in the series Science and Cocktails at the Orbit Jazz Club. I’ve written about this before http://www.lizatlancaster.co.za/blog/spin-into-orbit-with-science-cocktails-and-jazz
This Tuesday (23rd) the talk is entitled ‘Eyes and their owners Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ being given by Marie Dacke, a sensory biologist from Lund University, Sweden who will talk about adaptations for animals to
navigate in the dark. Music by the group Donkey will follow. Donkey is a trio comprising Janus van der Merwe (saxophone), Justin Badenhorst (drums) and Roger Hobbs (bass) and apparently (I haven’t heard them) they have ‘a unique, grimy sound with influences ranging beyond jazz all the way to drum and bass and hip hop.’ So there you have it.
What can be so wrong with hearing a fascinating talk from a world-class academic while sipping exotic cocktails and then slipping into an evening of fusion jazz .
Entrance R20; for dinner book at the Orbit 011 339 66 45 or 081 53 42 867 For more see www.scienceandcocktails.org/jozi/2016/Vision.html