If you’ve been following social media over the last couple of years, you’re bound to have heard a lot about the new things going down in Johannesburg town. People are coming together, new cultural hubs are emerging and, as a result, the social landscape of the big city has undergone a massive transformation.
South African travel bloggers are even making a noise about it.
Suddenly going to Jozi, without having (to have) an alternate agenda, is beginning to sound like an okay thing to do. Perhaps even more than okay, perhaps an actual thing.
Even Johannesburg’s prolific hijackers seem to have been swept up in the craze and crime levels are levelling out, if not in fact, dropping*.
Lists are being written, not just about “which suit to wear”, “the best places to get a facelift” and “how to talk like a yuppie,” but things like the “top 37 things to do in Johannesburg.” Thirty seven! If that doesn’t begin swinging the pendulum, nothing will.
This Jozi thing is a good thing.
Joburg isn’t a wasteland, it never has been (Cape Town, i’m talking to you.) It just needs a new image. Like a beard, and possibly a top-knot.
The city’s colourful landscape has always been one-upped by it’s “We are the financial capital” / “look at all our money” egotistical big brother. Nobody wants to visit a financial capital. N.O.B.O.D.Y.
So this rebranding is long overdue. And it is good. But it’s not all rebranding, that’s the wrong word. It’s more like a “revealing” of what’s already been there for so long, hidden from view by the blankets of Table Mountain.
I’m tired of hearing travellers pipe and and say “oh yes I went to South Africa once!” and then in very a hushed, sheepish sort of a manner “but only Johannesburg.” As if we are about to judge them. Johannesburg is South Africa and it’s about time we started showing everybody.
Johannesburg is alive and vibrant.
There is so much on offer here that I feel cheated for not having heard about all the awesome things to do sooner. And I’m not the only one.
With segregation falling by the way side and a new, common, enemy rising from the cooling towers (Eskom) we are finally starting to get involved with each other. Just take a look at some of the things going on here.
Maboneng has been described by BBC Travel as “one of South Africa’s hippest urban enclaves and an incredible example of urban regeneration.”
Read all about it in the link or simply Google it. There is a ton of awesome content on Maboneng. You can also check out http://www.mabonengprecinct.com for all things Maboneng.
Another hot urban regeneration area, Braamfontein is all about boutique clothing stores, trendy markets and public art spaces.
Travel & Leisure Blog mention Braamfontein and say “..inner-city crime rates are dropping and young urbanites are moving in.” and they encourage tourists to “Walk down lively Juta Street in gritty-but-safe Braamfontein” to get all kinds awesome crafty things.
Follow these people for the best things going down in Johannesburg.
Di Brown, The Roaming Giraffe
Not actually from Jozi but check out Di’s latest blog post “Cape Town, it’s time to meet Joburg” – her opening paragraph says it all.
“Surely this was a mistake. A nine day trip and three whole days were allocated for Joburg. What on earth were we going to do there?”
[Valid question for people living outside of Jozi.]
Di’s listed some really cool places there that Lauren and I have already added to our “next time we’re back home” check list. She’s also a passionate Instagrammer and travel ninja so check her out on Instagram and Twitter.
Check out Heather’s blog, 2Summers for anything and everything Johannesburg related. Heather is an American living in Jozi and not only has heaps of awesome information on her blog, but also a unique insight into daily life that South African’s often miss. Heather’s been here for 5 years already so, in fact, a fully fledged local. :)
Merushka is a South African travel blogger / enthusiast with a passion for Jozi like you’ve never seen. She finds interesting little cultural hotspots just about everywhere and shares them with us. Check this article “Johannesburg in 48 seconds” that she posted on her blog.
Kate is another dynamite Johannesburg based blogger and shares her stories over at http://indikate.net. More than an independent travel advocate, Kate rocks out daily life in Jozi with the best of them.
Until June this year Hasmita will be based in the South of France (jealous) but her blog is a Jozi treasure chest. Check it out at http://www.joziliciousblog.co.za and also follow her on Instagram and Twitter where she fills your day with quirky updates. Hasmita is awesome.
That’s all for now. I’m pretty excited to get back to South Africa and check out all of this for myself, we were last in Johannesburg in October 2013 just before our huge South African road trip (actually it was one of our destinations,) but we didn’t get much time there. So we are keen to check it out.
For travel accommodation in and around Johannesburg we recommend checking out AccommoDirect.com
Are there any places you can recommend us to check out or would like to see included in a future post? Please let us know in the comments.
* Entirely dependant on what your level of trust in government released crime stats is.
Featured Image Courtesy of Ulrich Mueller