Today was my last day in D.C. Before leaving town I had hoped to visit (and blog about) the brand-new Martin Luther King Memorial. (We love our memorials in Washington.) But time and weather weren’t on my side. MLK will have to wait for my next trip home.
Instead, I’ll leave you with some pictures of Filter, one of my favorite D.C. coffeehouses. Filter is hidden away on a residential street, just north of Dupont Circle at 20th and S. I’ve spent many happy mornings sipping coffee at Filter with my friend Bob, and that’s exactly what I was doing when I took these photos.
A skilled barista brews me a single cup of Ethiopian Sidamo. Filter serves single-origin coffees from around the world, roasted locally in Annapolis, Maryland.
Washington D.C. commuters love to complain about Metro. And the D.C. subway system does have its faults: rising fares, rush-hour delays, malfunctioning fare card machines, and surly station managers.
But I spent thousands of hours riding Metro in my day, and all in all I think it’s pretty great. It’s fast and convenient, and makes it possible to get around this city without a car. Plus, the Metro stations are beautiful. Especially on quiet, nearly empty Sunday evenings. Continue Reading
Dear Mom: This post is going to freak you out. Please read at your discretion. And please don’t write me out of your will. Love, Heather
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I’m in a taxi with my dear friends Claire and Michelle, riding toward a bohemian neighborhood in northwest D.C. called Adams Morgan. We’re meeting friends for drinks at a legendary blues bar called Madam’s Organ.
Madam’s Organ, in Adams Morgan.
Pretoria, which sits just north of Joburg, is smaller and tamer than its neighbor to the south. Some Joburgers consider Pretoria to be a boring backwater, while many Pretorians see Joburg as a crowded, wild place that’s best avoided. (I grew up near Baltimore, Washington D.C.’s northern neighbor. A similar rivalry exists between those two cities.)
Pretoria City Hall, one of many historic buildings in Pretoria.
Pretoria is the capital of South Africa. Well, sort of. The country actually has three capitals: Pretoria, where the president is; Cape Town, where the Parliament is; and Bloemfontein, where the courts are. Sort of. South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, actually sits in Joburg. But Joburg isn’t one of the capitals. Go figure. Continue Reading
Joburg and Pretoria are about 60 kilometers (35 miles) apart. Rush-hour traffic between the two cities is legendary. If you’ve ever driven from Baltimore to Washington D.C. at 7:00 a.m. on a weekday, then you know what it’s like to drive between Pretoria and Jozi. On a bad day it can take hours. And until today, the freeway was the only option.
Friday afternoon gridlock in downtown Pretoria.
I’m a big fan of train-commuting. I spent 10 years as a D.C. suburbanite and rode the train to work every day. Believe it or not, I miss those train rides. I loved having that daily hour (or more) to myself — to read, sleep, listen to music, or just space out. Continue Reading
Note: A “cuppa joe” is an American slang term for a cup of coffee. I’ve just been informed that people outside the U.S. might not know this.
When I left Washington D.C. for Joburg, I thought I was leaving coffee culture behind. I was under the impression that South Africa, like many other African countries I’ve visited, is ruled by tea drinkers.
I was dead wrong. People take coffee seriously in Joburg. And unlike D.C., where most people (including me when I lived there) get their caffeine fix from flimsy cardboard or styrofoam containers while driving or hurrying down sidewalks, Joburgers tend to drink their coffee from real, washable coffee cups, stirred with metal spoons, while sitting on actual chairs. Continue Reading
A few months ago, I promised to write periodic posts about Melville guesthouses, restaurants, and shops. I’ve strayed from that commitment — the majority of my posts these days are about the Joburg city centre or more far-flung places outside of town.
So today I’m getting back to my roots. Melville is one of Joburg’s wackiest neighborhoods; it straddles a divide between tree-lined suburbia and urban grittiness. Melville is constantly changing — there are always quirky new places to visit, along with well-loved old standbys.
I’m not a Melville tourist, but I’ve just spent a few days wandering around pretending I am. Here is a recommended itinerary for a one-day visit to the place I call home in Jozi. Continue Reading
When Joe was a little boy growing up in Johannesburg, his favorite place to eat was a restaurant downtown on Commissioner Street, called the Golden Dragon. At least he thinks that’s what it was called. There’s no way to confirm it now because that restaurant, like much of Joburg’s “Old Chinatown,” is long gone.
Run-down buildings on the outskirts of Old Chinatown, which is adjacent to the trendy inner city neighborhood of Newtown.
Transportation is an issue for me here. I don’t have a car and there’s little chance that I’ll get one any time soon.
I moved to Joburg from Washington, D.C., where one can live quite comfortably without an automobile. I had a car while I lived there but I barely used it. I felt so free and happy when I sold it.
But Joburg is a more like Los Angeles than D.C. This city is built for driving — sidewalks are scarce, public transport is unreliable and unsafe, and everything is spread out. Fortunately I live in Melville, one of the few walkable neighborhoods in town. But if I need to get somewhere outside Melville and Joe isn’t around to take me, I’m pretty much stuck. Continue Reading
My dad and his girlfriend are coming in 10 minutes to take me to the airport. They’re late, but fortunately I’ve built in a sizable time cushion. I don’t mess around when it comes to international flights. I once trusted the SuperShuttle to get me to the airport for a flight to Africa and wound up checking in with two minutes to spare. Never again.
I like my posts to be witty and light-hearted but I don’t think I can do that today. The last 48 hours have been so emotional and surreal. I’ll be relieved to get this protracted goodbye process over with, so I can sit on the plane and do nothing for 18 hours. (By the way, severe thunderstorms predicted for this evening. Ugh.) Continue Reading