Remember Griffin, my fellow American Joburger who cruises the streets selling books from a suitcase? Well, he’s not just selling from a suitcase anymore. Griffin now has his own bookshop, Bridge Books, right in the middle of downtown Joburg. I visited the shop last weekend and it’s awesome. Bridge Books on its opening weekend. I love this guy’s shoes. I am so excited about this shop. It’s on one of downtown Joburg’s most iconic streets, Commissioner Street, just around the corner from the Johannesburg Public Library. The shop is located in a beautiful building, 85 Commissioner Street, which used to be the headquarters of Barclay’s Bank and will soon house a trendy food court (to be called the City Central Food Hall) and a high-end restaurant. This is an exciting, historic, and very safe section of downtown Joburg. Bridge Books is on a balcony overlooking the ground floor of the building, with floor-to-ceiling windows and great light. Looking up at Bridge Books from the ground floor. Looking at Bridge Books from the balcony on the other side of the building. My friend Veronica (left), who works at Bridge Books, ringing up a sale. I was too shy to talk to this man dressed in […]
Do you live in Johannesburg? Do you have a garden, or know someone who does? Do you have R400 to spend? If so, then you need this: Hadeda tire planter from Yada Yada in Melville. If you don’t live in Joburg and don’t know what a hadeda is, read here. But these hadedas are not easily transportable, so unless you already live in Joburg (or at least in South Africa) then you probably can’t have one. If you do live in Joburg, then make your way to Melville’s 7th Street and buy a hadeda. They’re made of recycled materials, they have a built-in irrigation system, and they can double as large hand-bags. Ray photobombs Hadeda. Ray carried Hadeda as a handbag for a while after we bought her. Hadeda in another position at Yada Yada. We did a whole photoshoot with her. If you’re not into hadedas (some people aren’t, although I’ve never understood those people) then you can also buy an owl. Best of all, Hadeda looks fabulous in our garden (as I’m sure she would in every South African garden) and she makes me happy every time I look at her, which is at least 50 times a day. The red petunias match Hadeda’s beak. […]
Yesterday I went to Rosebank for coffee and donuts. I waited 40 minutes for two Krispy Kreme donuts and 90 minutes for a Starbucks frappucino. At Starbucks with my donut and frappe. (Photo by Wimpie, one of the friends I made while waiting in line outside Starbucks.) It was worth the wait. Not because I’ve never had a Krispy Kreme or a Starbucks coffee before, and not because I couldn’t wait another minute to sample these over-hyped, all-American treats now that they’ve finally arrived in South Africa. It was worth the wait because waiting in those lines was a fun way to spend my Sunday afternoon. Also, I learned something. The line at Krispy Kreme, which remains lengthy even though the shop arrived in November 2015. The line at Starbucks, which opened less than two weeks ago. I’ve always made fun of South Africans who wait in long lines when American and European chains first arrive here. It’s happened a lot recently: Burger King, H&M, Krispy Kreme and now Starbucks. How silly, I’ve always thought, to freak out about such mediocre brands. I drove past the lines, laughing and shaking my head. I wrote snarky Facebook posts. Yesterday, I was sitting at home without much […]
Last weekend I was invited to spend two nights at Walkersons Hotel and Spa in Dullstroom, a holiday town halfway between Joburg and Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga Province. I had been to Dullstroom briefly once before, and while I found it quaint I wouldn’t have considered spending a weekend there. Dullstroom is known as a fly-fishing destination and I don’t fish. A man fly-fishes at sunset on a dam at Walkersons. (Photo by Ray) However, I’m not one to turn down a weekend at a five-star hotel. So I went to Dullstroom and brought Ray with me. In the end, we didn’t want to leave. We arrived at Walkersons on Friday afternoon and I was useless for the first five hours, having suffered a bout of food poisoning the night before. I collapsed onto the cloud-like bed and slept until dinner. Our suite at Walkersons, which looked out onto the lake. But despite my slow start we managed to do a ton of fun things during our two days in this tiny town. Here’s a run-down. Where We Stayed in Dullstroom Walkersons is an English-manor-style hotel on a sprawling estate just outside Dullstroom. The main building, with its 19th-century antiques and fox-hunt […]
I travel a lot. I also shave my legs. (Don’t hate, feminists.) When it comes time to pack for a trip, I toss my razor into my well-worn cosmetic bag along with my toothbrush, tinted moisturizer, lip gloss, dental floss, etc. I hate packing that razor though. I have an irrational fear that, after a particularly long and exhausting journey, I will carelessly thrust my hand into my cosmetic bag and cut myself on the razor. Also, women’s razors take up a lot of space. But the razor always gets packed. And that razor is always a Venus. I’m currently visiting my mother in Hilton Head, South Carolina, in the United States. I brought my Venus along as usual, but I accidentally left it in the cosmetic bag and forgot bring it into the shower with me. It didn’t matter though, because my mom has her own Venus in the shower. (I know it’s probably bad form to use someone else’s razor. But she’s my mother.) Anyway, the story proves that Venus razors are the best and every leg-shaving woman in the world knows this. When I was invited to participate in a blogger campaign promoting the new Gillette Venus Snap razor — a campaign that […]
Shockingly, my whirlwind trip to Ghana was nearly a year ago and I did a few things there that I still need to tell you about. My visit to Hakim Jewelart in Accra is one of them. I’m not sure how my friend Michelle, who I was visiting in Ghana last August, originally discovered Georgette Hakim. But I’m glad she did; our visit to Georgette’s unlikely jewelry-making operation was one of my most memorable experiences in Ghana. Georgette — who was born in Lebanon but spent her entire adulthood in Ghana — has been selling handmade jewelry in Accra for decades. Georgette is close to 80 and her husband, who ran the business with her, died some years ago. Georgette has no plans to retire anytime soon. Georgette presides over her incredible spread of silver jewelry. See the bracelet in the lower-left corner of the red box in front of Georgette? I bought that. All of Georgette’s jewelry, with the exception of the intricate Ghanaian glass beads, is made on the premises in the small workshop next to the showroom. Most of the jewelry is silver, with a bit of gold mixed in, and most of it is designed using West African Adinkra symbols. Georgette sells her jewelry […]
Several months ago I wrote an article featuring my top ten favorite quirky places in Joburg. Kalahari Books wasn’t on the list because I didn’t know about it back then. But if I had, it totally would have been. Kalahari Books. Kalahari Books has nothing to do with Kalahari.com, the South African online shopping giant. Kalahari Books came into existence long before Kalahari.com did; in fact Kalahari Books came into existence long before the internet did. Richard Welch, Kalahari Books’ owner, can’t remember exactly how long ago he started the business but he thinks it was about 30 years ago. (When you visit Kalahari, ask Richard to tell you the story of his legal skirmish with Kalahari.com.) I like this shot of Richard. He looks like Ben Franklin. I first learned about Kalahari in April while working on the “Norwood and Surrounds” chapter of the SandtonPlaces book. I followed Google Maps to 2 Dunottar Street, just off Louis Botha Avenue in Orange Grove. I saw a small sign for Kalahari and squeezed my car into a cramped parking lot shared by a garage and a medical supply company. (Look for the flag pole with a wheelchair at the top.) I spotted another Kalahari sign, […]
Yesterday evening, as one does, I found myself in the posh office of a Sandton City diamond dealer with four lively ladies from New York City. I’m not much interested in diamonds, although I was intrigued by the tanzanite and semiprecious stones. I’m still thinking about a pair of purple-gold amethysts that I saw, toying with the idea of an early birthday present to myself. But I digress. As the lively ladies from New York City inspected the diamonds with discerning eyes, I wandered out onto the balcony and watched the sunset. It was pretty. Sunset from the balcony of Bryna the diamond dealer, adjacent to Sandton City Mall and just across from the Michelangelo Hotel. See the pigeon on the ledge? This photo reminded me of some news: SandtonPlaces, the book I co-authored with Gerald Garner and Brian Unsted, is about to be published. The book will hit store shelves in Joburg during the last week of June. Excitement. There will be two public launch events for the book: 1) Wednesday 2 July, 6:30 p.m., at Exclusive Books in Sandton. 2) Tuesday 29 July, 7:00 p.m., at Skoobs in Montecasino (Fourways). If you want to buy a book and have it signed by […]
Fifth in my series of Sandton Snapshot posts, leading up to the publication of SandtonPlaces. Read posts 1, 2, 3 and 4. For years, the weekly flea market at the top of the Rosebank Mall parking garage — the Rosebank B&B Market — was a go-to Sunday afternoon outing for Joburg families. The market was the only one of its kind in Joburg and had hundreds of stalls selling crafts, antiques, food, and countless other locally made products. I never got around to checking out the Rosebank B&B Market. I kept putting it off because I figured it would always be there. Until, suddenly, it wasn’t.
I dropped the ball on my Melville Snapshot series. I wrote the first post in the series six weeks ago, promising to publish a new Melville Snapshot every week or so. I’m just now getting around to post #2. Oh well. Better late than never. Anyway, today’s Melville Snapshot is from Yada Yada, a clothing/gift shop on Melville’s 7th Street. The interior of Yada Yada Gifts and Clothing.
If you live in Joburg, you know that the most popular beaded animal of 2013 is the rainbow giraffe. Beaded rainbow giraffes. Beaded giraffes are nothing new in South Africa, nor are beaded animals in rainbow colors. But this particular design — the giraffe with a super-long neck, loveable face, and bright, blocky horizontal stripes — appeared earlier this year and has taken the beaded animal world by storm. Every beaded animal artisan in town is churning out rainbow giraffes, and they’re selling like hotcakes. I can see why. It’s impossible to look at a rainbow giraffe and not smile.
Fashion is not really my thing. I don’t buy many clothes and don’t keep track of what is and isn’t fashionable. Fashion is not something I ever gave much thought to at all. Until I moved to Joburg, that is. Joburg has a wacky, unpretentious, Africanized, anything-goes kind of fashion culture that I love. Park yourself on any downtown Joburg street, on any given Saturday afternoon, and within a few minutes you’ll see a man wearing a bright red suit, giant plastic glasses, and white patent-leather shoes (or some combination thereof). You won’t blink an eye because the man will somehow blend perfectly with his surroundings. There’s something about Joburg that makes me wish I were more fashionable, while at the same time giving even less of a sh#t than I ever did before. Does this make sense? Probably not.