So here I am, back in America. I landed at Dulles Airport yesterday morning. I’m really happy to be back in Washington D.C. — much happier than I expected to be. I’d forgotten how much I like it here. I’m staying with my friends Bob and Tim in their lovely apartment in Shaw. I didn’t know much about Shaw, which is in the Northwest quadrant of D.C. near Howard University, before this trip. It’s a beautiful part of town with an interesting history. Hopefully I’ll tell you more about it in a future post but at the moment I’m too tired. Last night we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant nearby. (Again, I’ll definitely have more to say about that in a future post.) I snapped a few pictures of the neighborhood during our walk back home.
Tall buildings dominate the Joburg skyline. I visit and write about the city’s tallest buildings all the time — the Carlton Center, Ponte City, and the Hillbrow Tower are some of my favorites. I love looking at the city from the tops of tall buildings. This Instagram was taken from the roof of the Lister Building, near Joubert Park. However, Joburg has some lovely little buildings too. The Turret, on the corner of Marshall and Loveday Streets, is my favorite little building in town.
My recent tour of Ponte City, hosted by Mainstreetwalks and Dlala Nje, included a Saturday-afternoon stroll in Hillbrow. I go to Hillbrow at least a couple of times a week for boxing training but I don’t walk around the neighborhood with my camera very often, especially not on weekends when the streets are most busy. So I was excited for this opportunity. Art deco apartment block in Hillbrow.
Ponte City is a mythical place. Ponte City, the tallest residential building in Africa. Ponte City is the most visually striking structure in Johannesburg, and its history is as fascinating as its appearance. Ponte has 54 floors and hundreds of flats. A few decades ago it was a trendy middle-class apartment building. Later it became the city’s largest brothel and dope den, ruled by gangs, thugs, pimps, and dealers.
I published my first blog post on 26 June 2010, six weeks before I moved to Joburg. I didn’t have a plan for 2Summers back then. Almost no one read my blog. I didn’t publicize it or put photos in it. I didn’t read other blogs so I had nothing to model mine after. I didn’t even know what my blog would be about. I did know, however, that I was embarking on an extraordinary journey. I figured I should write about it. And here I am, 28 months, 300 posts, and a few lifetimes later. I could be profound and write deep, meaningful reflections and ruminations on this milestone. But that would be sort of lame. Instead I will show you a series of photos of my two favorite Johannesburg landmarks: Hillbrow Tower (also known as the Telkom Tower) and Ponte City.
On Sunday afternoon, Anita and I went to the Ansteys Building — an art deco high-rise in the Joburg central business district (CBD) — for an event called Claim Your City. Instagram of the Ansteys Building. I went to Ansteys once before; you can learn about it in my old post. (Side note: This photo was selected to be in an exhibition associated with I ART JOBURG, opening Thursday. Here are the details if you want to come.)
After my last post, the Joburg Expat informed me that Heritage Day in South Africa is also “National Braai Day”. I can’t believe I didn’t make this connection sooner, as this is my third Heritage Day in South Africa. Anyway, I like this concept; it reminds me of Memorial Day back home. (Dear Americans: Braai means barbeque in South Africa.) I (unknowingly) celebrated Braai Day on a walkabout through the historic neighborhood of Kensington with the Joburg Photowalkers. I’ve done many photowalks over the last couple of years (browse my photowalk posts here), but haven’t participated in one for a while. It was great to hang out with the old gang, meet some new photowalkers, and cruise the streets of a lovely Jozi neighborhood.
On our way to the Bushfire Festival last month, my friends and I spent the night on South Africa’s Wild Frontier. This is the name given by the South African tourist industry to the corner of Mpumalanga province that borders Swaziland, Mozambique, and Kruger National Park. The landscape does indeed have a wildness about it. The scenic Wild Frontier.
I’ve been in Jozi for nearly two years, during which time I’ve photographed the city skyline from countless different perspectives. (See some examples here, here, and here.) I’m afraid the 2Summers audience may start to tire of my Jozi skyline posts. I’ll hope you’ll hang in there for one more though. This weekend I was lucky enough to take photos from another spectacular vantage point. The 24th floor of the Parktonian Hotel, on the border of Braamfontein and Parktown.
I know I’m starting to sound like a broken record. But this city has an unbelievable number of striking vantage points. Yesterday I visited another one and I think it was the best view I’ve seen yet. I was on a drive around town with a few members of the Joburg Photowalkers. This wasn’t a photowalk; it was a scouting expedition for a photowalk planned for later this week. I’ll explain about that in a future post. But for the purposes of this post, all you need to know is that we drove to the top of a big hill in Yeoville yesterday and parked on Highlands St., across from an apartment block called Westminister Mansions. We got out of the car and saw this: