My story begins in the OR Tambo airport after we (my colleague and photographer (Sylar) and I) arrive in Joburg and try to get a hold of Peter, Managing Director, Afrocentrique Travel and Tours, who was to pick us up from the airport. As we head to the exit, I immediately spot him, and after exchanging pleasantries he directs us to his car.
The drive is long and we are heading to Garden Court Hotel in Sandton. I am awed by the lights that illuminate the streets and I am exhilarated for what this trip will have in store for us. Peter is so vibrant and he tells us a lot about what we should expect. We check in and freshen up. After some time, we head over to the Nelson Mandela Square to have a glimpse of this place. We then grab dinner and we begin to head back to the hotel. By this time, Peter has already left and he has made sure that everything was ok. We do our own wandering and we discover many places that we plan to revisit the next morning.
We head back to the hotel since we have a flight the very next day. We decide to wake up early to catch the sunrise and to do some photography. The rooftop is restricted and we make do with what we have. I am still surprised by how we managed to get up early, do a long shoot, head to the pool and still have breakfast. I have always been great at keeping time and I had vowed to give my photographer a call when I woke up so that we could start shooting (and possibly film). South Africa and Kenya have a one hour time difference and so I woke up at 5am instead of 6am. You can imagine our embarrassment when we made our way to the lobby and the staff gave us puzzled looks. I remember one lady shouting, “It is 5 am maam. It is still dark’ with a heavy South African accent.
The Garden Court Hotel is amazing and has spacious rooms. The breakfast was great and every corner was picture perfect. This property has close proximity to the Nelson Mandela Square. Peter told us that there is a train’s station nearby and I remember thinking to myself, “a train station? Who uses trains”. The information just floated by but little did I know that I would have a nerve racking experience with that station in future. The pool area was my favorite and it overlooked the street. Round it were manicured lawns, flowers and trees.
As soon as we were done sightseeing, we began to prepare for our flight to Cape Town. I had a short time with Jo burg and something about my time there felt rushed. I wanted more. I wanted not just a brisk touch with this place but a long dance. I knew that I would be back in a few days.
I found myself in one of the grandest urban metropolis. Joburg is a transport hub and it is centrally located. The roads are excellent and although there is traffic gridlock at some points, try to chose the mode of transport that works best for you. There are many ways of getting around if you are visiting. You can rent a car, use Uber or hop on a bus. If you are going to other cities, there are many carriers that offer direct flights. You can also check Kulula and FlyMango. There is a fast railways system in Gauteng. The company is called Gautrain. It connects, Pretoria, Johannesburg and OR Tambo airport. We used it once and I will mention it in subsequent posts.
In Part 2. I tell you more about our next stop; Capetown and how we met amazing people.
Special Thanks to South African Tourism, Afrocentique Travel and Tours and my photographer Sylar.
All Photography by Sylar.