Sunday, December 20, 2015

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of..... Johannesburg

For a very long time now I've been wanting to do a Jozi post.... and seeing the below article made me decide to finally do it.

Get Yourself to Johannesbug - The new cool capital of the Southern Hemisphere

My first real experience with Joburg was not a positive one... The altitude made it almost impossible to breathe, the Dr was grumpy, and the only scenery I saw was the drive from the airport to Milpark Hosp. I was not impressed. However I had no other options.... if I wanted a shot at lungs I would have to face all these things again. I couldn't wait for my lungs in Joburg, as I struggled too much with the altitude. I guess I was also never there for long enough to let my body adjust. But breathing felt 10 times harder and I had no friends there, so in the end sea-air and friends won, and I waited in PE for the call, knowing it makes getting The Call for lungs way more stressful, and I might not be able to get there in time if they had lungs for me.

Needless to say, The Call came, I got there in time, got lungs and became friends with the Dr and other staff. The first time I really got to see JHB was on the way home from the hosp after transplant. It was a lot prettier than I expected and I loved it immediately. The afternoon thundershowers of January were fascinating and dramatic. I was told there was a massive one on the night of my surgery as well.

The other amazing thing for me was how many trees there were. It is actually the biggest man-made forest in the world! The Jacaranda's also make for spectacular sights in late October. In PE the trees always looked the same, regardless of the season, but in Jozi every season is clearly visible.... You have the new leaves in Aug, the Jacaranda's in Oct, green trees for the rest of summer, the most stunning shades of orange in March/April, and most trees lose their leaves for winter.

Some interesting JHB facts:

  • JHB is the largest city in the world not situated near a river, lake or coastline.
  • The city was established in 1886 after gold was found.
  • It's the biggest city in South Africa (the greater Johannesburg metropolitan area has a population of over 10 million people)
  • It has an elevation of 1,753 metres (5,751 ft)
  • Sister Cities of Joburg include London and New York.

One of my New Years resolutions will definitely be to explore some new places, esp the CBD areas that have been given a new lease on life. There are many restaurants and coffee shops that I love, but thought I would list my 3 favourite  things to do in the outdoors.

  • Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
I have made many memories here over the years, the most recent being my 30th birthday. This place makes you feel like you're completely outside the city 

  • Northcliff Hill 

I've always lived pretty close to this landmark, and it's the best spot to eat ice-cream. And it has the BEST views of suburban Joburg.

  • Emmarentia Dam

Also close to where I live, this is where people row, run, do picnics, attend concerts, walk their dogs... Just a general feel-good location!

I got this book from my granddad when he was still alive...

It was published in 1986, so the info is all a bit biased in terms of what we know today, but still very interesting. My granddad was himself quite a developer of JHB, being involved with the founding of the old RAU (Afrikaans university, now called the University of Johannesburg), various companies and the Randpark golfclub. I don't know all the detail and maybe that's an idea for a future post...

I bought myself the below book in the last year, and need to start studying it a bit more seriously! So much to see and do still!

In a nutshell.... JHB gave me lungs, my donor lived here, I have strong family ties here, I met Chris here, I started my working-life here, and I think it's a great city. The people are fantastic for the most part. This afternoon while driving around and listening to Bob Dylan I just realised how much I love this place and that it's 100% HOME.


Unknown said...

I have also accepted Joburg as my new home and it was not difficult, Love it here after 4 and a half years!

Sherry Boyle said...

Very interesting reading this, Alice. I knew nothing about this city and now I feel like I know a little bit, at least. The jacaranda trees are gorgeous! It is about the same elevation as Lake Tahoe, I think. Beautiful place to live. So glad you are happy in your adopted city. I hope and pray that 2016 is a very good year for you and Chris, as well as your family. Happy New Year!

Alice said...

Thanks so much Sherry!!!