Pick of the Week: Exploring Jozi with Joburg Places

Kerk St open air mall - the home of hairstylists

Kerk St open air mall – the home of hairstylists

The only way to get a real sense of a city is not by driving through as an observer, but by immersing oneself in the sensory experiences of street life and activity. So while the Hop-on Hop-off Red Bus is a great way to orientate oneself to the geographical layout of the larger city, nothing beats a walking tour of more contained areas, precincts and neighbourhoods. And if you go with Gerald Garner of Joburg Places, you’ll get a really informed, fascinating and passionate account of Joburg – from the early mining days, to its Modernist heyday at the height of the gold boom, to the start of its decline from the 1950s through into the 1990s, and finally the new urban regeneration and comeback of the city.  I and some friends were privileged to do a full day tour with Gerald back in October 2012 and while there was a lot I knew about the city, I was amazed by how Gerald makes the connections between isolated pockets of knowledge in a rich and integrated way.  Even for someone who has lived in the city all her life and has researched many aspects of it, he provided fascinating new insights. Gerald kept us all riveted for the whole tour – a real gift.  He has released Joburg Places’ tour schedule for the next 4 months with the dates, times and itineraries of the 8 different tour options all listed below. Private tours can be booked during week days except for the weeks of 23-29th December and the 6-12th January when Joburg Places is closed for tours.

For bookings contact Gerald Garner on 082 894 5216 or e-mail:gerald@joburgplaces.com

View from the Parktonian in Braamfrontein

View from the pool deck at the Parktonian in Braamfontein

TOUR A: Regenerated inner-city walking tour (6-hours)   R330 per person We walk and use Rea Vaya buses
* Saturday 14 Dec, 12:00 – 18:00
* Saturday 21 Dec, 12:00 – 18:00
* Saturday 15 Feb, 12:00 – 18:00
* Tuesday 5 March, 12:00 – 18:00
* Saturday 15 March, 12:00 – 18:00
Experience the incredibly regenerated Joburg City. This walking tour takes you through Braamfontein, the Retail District, the Historic Core and the Corporate Mining District. The tour recounts the astonishing story of Joburg’s gold-rush birth, its glory days and the impact of apartheid until the eventual decline of the city. Of course the focus is on the current rebirth of downtown Joburg. Get to know the trendiest spots, incredible public art and fall in love with Joburg City! 

Private tours from R3 300 flat fee (1 – 10 people); and R330 per person for groups of more than 10
Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
0:00        Neighbourgoods/70 Juta, Braamfontein
0:20        Randlords
0:50        Narina Trogon
1:00        The Grove/Hotel Lamunu
1:20        Rea Vaya Park Station to Rea Vaya Harrison
1:45        Kerk Street Mall
2:00        Eloff Street
2:15        Ernest Oppenheimer Park
2:25        Historic core at City Hall/Rissik Street Post Office
2:40        Gandhi Square
2:55        The Turret
3:10        Drinks at Goldmine Café or Elevate rooftop @ Reef Hotel
3:50        Main Street Mall
3:55        Hollard Street (Stamp mill, Cullinan plinth, hanging tower)
4:10        Main Street Mall/Leaping Impala Sculpture
4:25        Chancellor House (Mandela & Tambo’s original law office)
4:40        Sisulu Sculpture
5:00        Rea Vaya Chancellor House to Braamfontein
5:30        Parktonian Hotel rooftop
6:00        Tour complete


TOUR B: Newtown-to-Maboneng walking tour (6-hours)R350 per person
We walk and use Rea Vaya buses
* Sunday 15 December, 9:00 – 15:00
* Sunday 19 January, 9:00 – 15:00
* Sunday 16 February, 9:00 – 15:00
* Sunday 16 March, 9:00 – 15:00
* Sunday 30 March, 9:00 – 15:00
Explore Newtown – the arts and culture hub of the city, as well as the corporate mining district and Gandhi Square. Visit the Carlton Centre’s Top of Africa observation floor and enjoy sparkling wine in a city penthouse. Next up is a Rea Vaya bus ride to Maboneng’s Market-on- Main. A fantastic and leisurely Sunday in the city! 

Impala sculpture outside 44 Main St

Impala sculpture outside 44 Main St

Private tours from R3 500 flat fee (1 – 10 people)
and R330 per person for groups of more than 10
Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
9:00        Mary Fitzgerald Square, Newtown
9:20        Brenda Fassie Sculpture/Bassline
9:25        Sci-Bono coffee  
9:45        Sisulu Sculpture
10:00      Chancellor House
10:20      Leaping Impala Sculpture
10:40      Hollard Street (Stamp mill, Cullinan plinth, hanging office tower)
11:00      Turret (coffee at Reef)
11:30      Gandhi Square
11:45      Carlton
12:00      Walk up Fox
12:10      Rand Club
12:25      Corner House & Apprentice rooftop penthouse
13:00      Walk to Rea Vaya Library Gardens
13:30      Maboneng – lunch at Market on Main (for your own account)
14:30      Rea Vaya bus back
15:00      Back at Chancellor House, walk to cars
TOUR C: Gandhi to Mandela walking tour (2-hours)  R200 per person
* Friday 20 December, 15:00 – 17:00
* Friday 3 January, 12:00 – 14:00

Reproduction of the Mapungubwe gold rhino

Reproduction of the Mapungubwe gold rhino

The incredible stories of Gandhi and Mandela – two world leaders who started their careers as lawyers in Johannesburg. We visit Gandhi Square and Chancellor House (original, 1952 law offices of Mandela & Tambo), as well as Joburg’s outdoor mining museum along Main Street. 

Private tours from R1 800 flat fee (1 – 10 people);  and R200 per person for groups of more than 10

Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
0:00        The Turret, cnr  Marshall & Loveday Streets
0:15        Gandhi Square
0:30        Cramers Coffee
0:45        Mapungubwer Rhino
0:55        Hollard Street (Stamp mill, Cullinan plinth, hanging tower)
1:10        Headgear and Marshall Square
1:20        Anglo campus, Leaping Impala
1:40        Shadow Boxer and Chancellor House
2:00        Walk back to starting point.
TOUR D: Pubs, Bars & Rooftops tour (6 ½ hours) R660 per person
We travel by mini-bus

* Saturday 30 November, 13:30 – 20:00
* Saturday 1 February, 13:30 – 20:00
Experience some of Joburg’s most famous drinking spots – from trendy rooftop bars to underground pubs and historic watering holes. Discover a city that is undergoing a remarkable rebirth, a city that offers much more than you would imagine in terms of trendy bars and fantastical entertainment. You are guaranteed an exceptional and memorable Joziburg day! The tour includes stops at six bars, four local drinks and lunch.
Private tours from R14 000 flat fee (1 – 20 people)
and R660 per person for groups of more than 20

Mapungubwe Hotel in the old French bank building has converted the original bank vault with brass and copper safety deposit boxes into a stylish hotel bar and lounge Read more: http://www.mapungubwehotel.co.za/#ixzz2mauJWg4A

Mapungubwe Hotel in the old French bank building has converted the original bank vault with brass and copper safety deposit boxes into a stylish hotel bar and lounge

Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
13:30      Depart from Neighbourgoods Market, Braamfontein
14:00      The Vault @ Mapungubwe Hotel
14:30      Darkie Cafe         
15:10      Guildhall Pub
16:15      Apprentice Penthouse
17:15      Pata-Pata
18:15      Elevate @ Reef Hotel
19:30      Depart to drop off guests at Gautrain or starting point
TOUR E: Fashion District & Little Addis tour (5 hours)R400 per person (including lunch)
We walk and use Rea Vaya buses

* Saturday 29 March, 9:00 – 14:00
A walking tour centred on the Fashion Kapitol in the Fashion District. Visit Joburg’s most famous Shweshwe fabric store, do some high-end and bargain fashion shopping, learn about the city’s migrant heritage and visit the mesmerising Ethiopian Quarter, known as Little Addis where you can ‘shop till you drop’. The tour includes lunch and coffee on the balcony of a genuine, authentic Ethiopian Restaurant with a great view of the hustle and bustle of the street below.
Private tours from R3 000 flat fee (1 – 7 people)
and R400 per person for groups of more than 8
Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
0:00        The Turret, cnr  Marshall & Loveday Streets
0:15        Rand Club            
0:30        City Hall                
0:45        Rea Vaya to Fashion Square
1:00        Fashion Kapitol & Fashion Shack
1:30        Fashion District Wholesalers
1:45        Walkabout to surrounding streets and shops
2:30        Walk from Fashion Kapitol to Little Addis
2:45        Joburg Mall
3:00        Medical Arts Mall
3:15        Lunch at Ethiopian Restaurant
4:15        Walk to Fashion Square Rea Vaya
4:40        Library Gardens Rea Vaya
5:00        Back at The Turret
TOUR F: Apprentice Penthouse Food & Wine Pairing, combined with Gandhi-to-Mandela walking tour (6 hours)
R750 per person (tour, dinner, 4 glasses of wine)
* Saturday 1 March, 17:00 – 23:00
Enjoy an evening stroll through the Corporate Mining District, taking in the Gandhi-to-Mandela route. The tour culminates in a fantastic food and wine pairing experience in the city’s most exclusive penthouse – an exquisite evening that you will fondly remember. Guests get to enjoy all the spaces of this penthouse in an informal, but exquisite dining experience.
Private events from R30 000 (20 people)
Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
17:00      Welcome Drinks at Apprentice Penthouse
17:15      Walking tour
19:00      Return to penthouse for entrée, starter, main, all paired with wine
21:30      Talk by Gerald Garner on Joburg history
22:00      Coffee and dessert

Looking down on the Fort part of the Constitutional Hill complex

Looking down on the Fort – part of the Constitutional Hill complex

TOUR G: Stanley Avenue to Constitution Hill – including Childrens Memorial Institute (6 hours)  R400 per person (tour, coffee and lunch)
* Saturday 18 January
This new route includes fantastic coffee and lunch at 44 Stanley Avenue, combined with visits to South Africa’s most significant architectural marvel (the Constitutional Court), as well as the surrounding museums in erstwhile prisons. Constitution Hill is also a treasure trove of art. To add even more meaning to the spiritual journey of this tour, we also visit the neighbouring Childrens Memorial Institute – home to over 20 Joburg-related children’s charities.
 Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all  times)
   09:00      Coffee at Bean There, 44 Stanley Avenue
  10:00      Rea Vaya to Constitution Hill
  10:20      Tour of Constitution Court and prison museums
  12:20      Children’s Memorial Institute
  13:20      Rea Vaya back to 44 Stanley Avenue
  13:40      Lunch at Salvation Café, 44 Stanley Avenue
  14:00      Tour ends
TOUR H: Swimming pools tour (6 hours)   R400 per person (including lunch)

Andrew Lindsay's mosaic commemorating the battle of Ellis Park during the 1922 Miners' Revolt.

Andrew Lindsay’s mosaic commemorating the battle of Ellis Park during the 1922 Miners’ Revolt.

We walk and use Rea Vaya buses
* Saturday 4 January , 12:00 – 18:00
A fun day out exploring the Joburg inner-city by hanging out at the trendiest swimming pools, including hotel pools,  a  spectacular rooftop and a public pool.
Private tours from R3 000 flat fee (1 – 7 people) and R400 per person for groups of more than 8.
Rough tour schedule: (routes are subject to change at all times)
0:00        Mapungubwe Hotel                           
 1:00        Rea Vaya to Maboneng    
 1:20        Curiocity Backpackers
 2:20        Rea Vaya back to city
 2:40        Lunch at Fashion Shack
 3:40        Rea Vaya to Ellis Park
 4:00        Ellis Park public pool
 4:40        Rea Vaya to Parktonian
 5:00        Parktonian rooftop pool
JoburgPlaces Tuk-Tuk Tour (8 hours)
  R1500 per tuk-tuk per day  (up to three people)
* Private bookings only – any day
Book a private, customised tour by Joburg Squirrel tuk –tuk and choose five destinations out of a list of 20 options. Explore the city at your leisure. We organise the itinerary and all bookings, including lunch. The cost per tuk-tuk (max three people per tuk-tuk) to five destinations for full day: R1500 (excluding entrance fees and meals/drinks where applicable). This is a self-guided tour – you are taken through the city by a driver but we provide a customised itinerary with an info guide on all your destinations.  
Pre-booking and payment essential
Tour starts at the Turret, cnr Loveday & Marshall St.


So if you are a visitor to Jozi, make sure you have time to do a walking tour with Joburg Places and if you live in Joburg, make 2014 the year of learning more about your home city.


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Pick of the Week: Screening of Kentridge’s NY Met production of The Nose at Cinema Nouveau

Image courtesy of artsnosh.blogspot.com

Image courtesy of artsnosh.blogspot.com

There are 3  performances left of this dazzlingly whacky absurdist opera by Shostakovich, brilliantly produced by William Kentridge.  This is a live screening of the opera (in the Met’s HD series) which has returned to the New York Met after premiering in 2010. Based on the 1836 short story writtten by Nikolai Gogal,  it tells the story of a small time Russian official who loses his nose which then develops a life of its own.  A visual feast of collage, shadow projection and animation, all set to Shostakovich’s avant-garde score, this is a must-see.  There are 3 performances left at Cinema Nouveau Rosbank Mall on Tuesday 10th at 17.00; Wednesday 11th at 11.30 and Thursday 12th at 17.30.  For a review see http://bachtrack.com/review-met-opera-the-nose-2013


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Will this revival of Newtown be the one that works?

Map 2004 heritageIn 2004 I wrote an article entitled ‘Re-envisioning Greater Johannesburg South African Development in the first decade after Democracy’  African Arts Winter 2004.   Back then I wrote about how, post 1994, the Gauteng Provincial Government had earmarked funds to the tune of R3.5 billion for the development of various programs to revitalize Greater Johannesburg.  Several of these programs were cultural heritage and tourism projects, one of which was the Newtown Cultural Precinct. Here the intention was to build on the existing cultural facilities in that area: Museum Africa, The Market Theatre,  Kippies jazz club and several performing arts, visual arts and music organizations.  The R300 million development had several components:  housing units (the Brickfields development); the Metro Mall and taxi rank ; and the link from Braamfontein to Newtown over Joburg’s symbolic ‘river of railway tracks’: the Mandela Bridge. These structures and other institutions in Newtown including the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre at the old Electric Workshop,  SAB’s World of Beer Museum, as well as Anglo-Gold Ashanti’s amazing adaptive re-use of the Turbine Hall,  have contributed to Newtown  as a cultural and heritage space. However, something has never ‘quite worked’ : the stark alienating space of the bricked Mary Fitzgerald Square is empty, soulless  and largely unused; and there is no sense of street life and neighbourhood despite several attempts since 2004 to revitalize this area.

Newtown JunctionNow, nearly a decade later, there is yet another attempt to fill this area with life and activity.   A huge mixed-use office and retail development, Newtown Junction, is being built behind Museum Africa where the old potato sheds of the Market building stood.    References to the old poultry shed, the original station master’s residence as well as the potato sheds will all be included in the design of the new development.  Although a mall seem to be the complete antithesis of what this area stands for, it  might be just what the precinct  needs.  It will hopefully attract through-traffic from the inner city to the south- west which has a growing residential population:  from 2007 to 2011 empty office blocks have been converted into approximately 44 000 new apartments.   With office space as well as a hotel, a gym, cinemas, food outlets and retail stores , Newtown Junction is bound to encourage pedestrians and street-life both in the evenings and over week-ends.  A walkway and historical railway bridge will link Newtown Junction with Museum Africa and the Market Theatre, creating a connected and walkable city experience.   Construction work started in April 2013 and excavation of the four level basement is about 80 percent complete.   The main contractor WBHO has begun work , and the entire project should be completed in two years.

For more see Laurice Taitz’s article:  http://mg.co.za/article/2013-10-31-newtown?utm_source=Mail+%26+Guardian&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily+newsletter&utm_term=http%3A%2F%2Fmg.co.za%2Farticle%2F2013-10-31-newtown

Will this be the re-envisioning that finally works for Newtown?  Let’s hope so.


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