Lifestyle, Travel

Exploring Johannesburg, The City of Gold

Exploring a big city and its sights is almost impossible to do in one day but hopping on and off one of those red City Sightseeing buses makes it that much easier.

I was born in Johannesburg but moved to Botswana when I was 2 or 3 years old. The time I spent in Joburg after that consisted of weekends strolling through the city’s many malls and markets, seeing friends and family and enjoying places like Monte Casino.

This past weekend, however, I had the opportunity to see a side of Joburg I’d never seen before. I was able to be a tourist and explore my city of birth’s many attractions and sights.

Friday – Montecasino

Montecasino has to be one of my fave spots in Joburg, simply because there is so much to do and see in the tiny little indoor town.

We took an Uber to Montecasino where my mum and I went to the bird park and saw not one, but TWO movies, as well as had dinner with my sister when she finished work.

Montecasino’s bird park is awesome. I have been there more times than I can count, and I keep going back because not only is it a lovely place to walk around, but I love watching their bird show and ogling at their flamingos.

We spent about an hour and a half (which included the bird show) walking around the park and sunning ourselves before heading inside to watch our first movie – The Upside.

In short, The Upside is based on a true story and follows a guy (Kevin Hart) on parole who is ‘looking’ for a job. He ends up working for a very wealthy quadriplegic man (Bryan Cranston) taking care of him and fulfilling all his needs. This journey changes both of them (spoiler: for the good) and had me in tears more than once. 5/5 from me and I highly recommend it.

After our movie, we took a walk to one of the cafes where we had some tea and a latte while waiting for my sister to arrive. Once she got to Montecasino, we then went and indulged in a v-delicious dinner at Donatellas. Here is my short review:

We chose a Caprese salad for our starter (to share). It was okay, simply because it didn’t include fresh mozzarella, which really let it down. For our main course, we each chose a pasta dish. The three dishes included: Donna’s Linguine, Chicken Alfredo Fettucine and Panzerotti, all of which were nothing short of delicious, just beware of their very large portion sizes.

After dinner, it was time for our second move – What Men Want. We saw the trailer for this movie when we went to see The Upside and knew we had to see it (but not without my sister). In short, it’s about a women who has an accident and can hear men’s thoughts. She then uses this ‘power’ to her advantage, but not without things going wrong.

Wow, this was a movie well worth waiting for. My mum, sister and I laughed from the moment it started until the very last second and it’s another 5/5 recommendation from me. If you’re looking for something lighthearted and extremely funny, this is the movie for you.

I think that was a day very well spent.

Saturday – The City Sightseeing Bus tour (+ Soweto tour)

The City Sightseeing bus route allows you to see so much or Joburg in such a short space of time. You can see the map of the Green and Red routes below:

We were dropped off at Rosebank where we hopped on the Green route to Constitution Hill (Stop 5, R100). We decided to get off there and take part in their tour, as we were all very interested in its history. We not only learned so much through the duration of the tour, but I shed some tears as we read about those imprisoned there and their journies. It’s a very important stop for those who want to know more about South Africa’s turbulent past.

Once we completed the tour at Consitution Hill, we hopped on the Red route (you can change routes in the courtyard) where we continued the tour.

Our next stop was the Carlton Centre (Stop 11, R30). This is the ideal place to view Joburg in all her glory. Once we hopped off the bus we were escorted inside the Carlton Centre where we paid for our tickets (R30 each) and headed inside the elevator. Our guide clicked on the elevator button and it took us 36 seconds to make it to the top – the 50th-floor. The views include those of the FNB Stadium (Africa’s largest), Gandhi Square, the skylines of Braamfontein, Hillbrow and Sandton, and more.

Next stop was Gold Reef City, where we paid extra to go on the 2-hour long Soweto tour. This tour is conducted by a guide who is a resident of Soweto, giving us a more personal insight into the town. The tour was pretty incredible, and the guide was brilliant. He gave each person on the bus their own name – mine being ‘Letsati’ – answered all our questions in detail and made us laugh throughout the entire tour. It’s an add on I would highly recommend.

To finish off our tour we ended up back at Gold Reef City where we finished our day wandering around the Apartheid Museum. Strolling around the Apartheid Museum was a heart-wrenching experience. The images, documented experiences, videos, signage and objects displayed made me cry on more than one occasion, as the exhibition took us through the years leading up to, during and at the end of the Apartheid. For those wanting to learn and see more of what happened during those years, again, I highly recommend taking the time to walk around the Apartheid Museum. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, we were able to see the first half in detail and had to rush through the last half, meaning you need definitely need more than one and a half hours to complete the exhibition thoroughly.

In all honesty, one day is too little time to see what we wanted to see thoroughly and I would recommend a two-day ticket for those who want to stop off at more stops as well as see what we did.

But, apart from that, the City Sightseeing buses were the ideal way for us to get around Joburg city centre and surrounds and see what we wanted to see without driving around (and possibly getting lost – which would be so like us).

For those wanting to see more of Joburg (or Cape Town, that one is equally as good!), get yourself a ticket and learn more about the City of Gold.

Have you already been on the City Sightseeing bus in Joburg? What was your favourite stop? Let me know in the comment section below.

This post is not sponsored.

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