Posted by: Richard Marshall | June 23, 2009

Introduction: Johannesburg


I’ve been in Joburg for a little over two weeks and think an update is due. I’m feeling rather exhausted and wired on caffeine and sugar which is pretty representative of my time here – the course has been really hectic. It’s also been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, and one which I suspect hasn’t stopped, so I’ll reserve judgement for now.

The main aim of this blog is really a travel diary, and since I’ve been a tourist here I may as well record my impressions of this city. I find Joburg to be an absolutely fascinating city – huge, incredibly diverse, with a history which although short seems to be so full of drama and excitement as to be almost hysterical – the fabulous wealth and crushing poverty, the brutal violence and real beauty and grace, and simply the sheer audacity of creating a gigantic metropolis in the middle of nowhere. It’s a city which requires insider knowledge to appreciate, so I’m really lucky to have friends who appreciate the city in their different ways – thank Craig, Gregor and Gail!

One of the areas of Joburg that I really like is the CBD – although parts of it are still in ruins, the development there is really exciting. The course is being held in Braamfontein which has been very attractively developed, and has surprising gems like our little coffee shop round the corner from the school. In the CBD proper there is a great deal of really fascinating architecture, including wonderful art deco buildings. Craig and I went up to the top of the Carlton Centre, a shadow of its former glory but functioning and offering spectacular views from the top. Gregor, Gail and I went into town on a Sunday and actually walked around. Main Street is a beautiful pedestrian mall with old mining equipment and the restored Impala statue outside Anglo-American. We checked out buildings whose names have a great deal of romance to me, such as the Rand Club, the Chamber of Mines and Corner House, all newly renovated.

Gregor also took me to Sandton, which I really didn’t like, though we just drove around so perhaps I shouldn’t judge.

Coming from Grahamstown I’ve enjoyed eating and drinking different things in different places – beer in the Radium Beerhall which is has a pleasingly long tradition to a history enthusiast, cocktails in Melville, sushi, coffee and other good things. I also had the absolutely best Pizza ever in a place in Pretoria – it has to be seen to be believed. While in Pretoria Craig and I also checked out the Voortrekker Monument, which of course is horrifying and fascinating at the same time.

But even when not actually being a tourist, I enjoy the feeling of being in what is genuinely a Great City…


Impala Statue outside Anglo-American


Joburg CBD



Joburg CBD


Corner House



  1. Hey rich! glad you enjoying it, it truly is the GREATEST CITY THIS WORLD HAS AND WILL EVER SEE, and in the words of the great Theodore (teddy) D. Roosevelt: “a city does not achieve greatness by simply being, it achieves greatness from being inhabited and being visited by those who behold greatness within them”.
    (T.D Rooseveld: 1901).

  2. Haha, looks like I’m not the only one visiting! We must get in touch soon…

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