Johannesburg, more affectionately known as Jo’burg, can be described as South Africa’s financial, commercial, and cultural powerhouse. As the largest city in South Africa, with wealthy suburbs and massive townships, Jo’burg is also known for its diversity. In addition, the fast-paced locale houses an intense lineup of self-employed street vendors throughout the business district.
- Who’s who: There are 2,412,000 residents in Jo’burg. Of course former president Nelson Mandela is the area’s most popular resident. He lived in Soweto for many years and maintains a house in the vicinity.
- Social Scene: Wandee’s (011-27-11-982-2796), located in Soweto, features variations on South African food and beverages. Aside from the food, the walls of this eatery are covered with the business cards of travelers from all over the world.
- Music and more: The House of Jazz/Palazzo Di Stella is an interesting dining-entertainment combination. The 24-hour hot spot features African cuisine available as take-away (a.k.a. take out) or as a sit-down meal. During the night hours, the eatery is transformed into a jazz club that features music and drink for adults in the back and pizza for the youngsters.
- Sites Worth Seeing: Take the Soweto and Jo’burg Tour to visit the infamous Soweto township and acquire firsthand insight into the apartheid struggle through the eyes of the nation’s student population. Also check out the Johannesburg Art Gallery (Nord Street, Jourbert Park, 2044 Johannesburg; (011 27 11 725 3130 ) to view an art collection of South African origin, including work by distinguished artists Gerard Sekoto and Willie Bester.
- Shopping Spree: For a wide range of crafts made from wood, wrought iron, dyed materials, glass, and other materials, stroll over to the Crafters Marketplace, which is open daily. Then relax on the balcony of the market’s exclusive coffee shop, Platters (011 27 11 794 4810).
- Sleepy Time: The Grace (011 27 11 280 7200; www.grace.co.za) was cited as the “Best Luxury City Hotel” by experts. But the centrally located hotel also features top business amenities, including international plug points, fax modems, conference rooms, a computer/copy center, daily newspaper, shoe shine and free pressing of the first set of clothes you bring in. There is also a slew of recreational activities. Nearby is The Michaelangelo (011 27 11 282 7000), located off Sandton Square West Street. The hotel’s luxurious rooms are complemented by elegant marble bathrooms and the facility features an indoor heated pool, two personal trainers, health club with sauna, steam bath, laundry service, valet parking, and more.