I’ve been traveling for four of the last five weekends. Although the trips were great, I’ve really missed spending time in Joburg. I’m making up for it this weekend and having fun all over town.
On Friday evening I participated in an “Underground Pub Crawl”, led by Bheki Dube of MainStreetWalks. If you think you’ve already seen and done it all in Jozi, take this tour. I discovered several fascinating new places and learned a lot. Also, I consumed hardly a drop of alcohol and still had an amazing time — high praise for a pub tour.
Here are a few photos from the evening.
Sunset at the start of the tour. The pub crawl begins at Curiocity Backpackers in the Maboneng Precinct.
Our first stop: the Fox Den Pub on Main Street in Jeppestown. Unfortunately the bouncers wouldn’t let me take pictures (I had to sneak this one before they noticed me), which is a pity because it’s very interesting inside. The Fox Den is a raucous, locals-only kind of place — great vibe but not for the faint of heart.
The pub crawl group at Poolside, a new poolside bar/restaurant behind the Museum of African Design in Maboneng.
An underground pub crawl would not be complete without a stop at the infamous Zebra Inn in Jeppestown. Read more about the Zebra Inn in my Quirky Joburg post.
A local plays pool at the Fairview Bar, a grungy shebeen hidden in the historic, rundown suburb of Fairview. (“Shebeen” is a South African term for an informal — often unlicensed — drinking hole.) This was my favorite stop on the pub crawl, as it’s the kind of place that I could never find on my own. The Fairview clientele were friendly and I loved the music playing on the juke box — a genre of traditional Zulu folk music called Maskanda.
A spectacular skyline view from the roof of the Beryl Court apartment building in Troyeville. Beryl Court was the only stop that isn’t a pub/bar; it’s the building where Bheki grew up. There’s a lot more to this tour than booze. Bheki does a great job of describing the history and culture of this little-known, much-misunderstood part of town.
Our last stop: The Don Buildings on Commissioner Street in Fairview. I can’t wait to go back to the Don Buildings during the day and write a dedicated blog post about it. The restaurant/bar is housed in a 1930’s-era building, nicely restored by a German businessman/restauranteur named Ralph. I had an interesting conversation with Ralph, but it was after midnight and my brain turns into a pumpkin after 12. So the longer story will have to wait.
The Underground Pub Crawl costs R200 (about $18) and includes a couple of drinks/shots. Be sure to bring your own money for extra drinks and food. I highly recommend booking a bed at Curiocity because the tour usually ends after 1:00 a.m. At the very least, book a taxi.