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#gauteng52

Gauteng52 map

#Gauteng52: The Year in Review

Around this time last year, I got an idea. In 2017, I would publish one blog post per week about a place in Joburg where I’d never been before. I mentioned the idea to a friend, who suggested I expand the project to all of Gauteng Province rather than just Joburg. And just like that, #Gauteng52 was born. The nifty map I made of all my #Gauteng52 destinations. You can zoom in and click on the numbers to see the post I wrote about each place. Some of my friends wondered why I would create such a significant challenge for myself for no particular reason. Others said there was no way I could find 52 interesting places I’d never been to before. I knew that wouldn’t be a problem, but in hindsight I’m also not sure why I decided to do this. I’m so glad I did though, for a few reasons. First, #Gauteng52 gave me a sense of purpose during a year that turned out to be one of the toughest of my life. There were a few weeks when I was in total despair, and #Gauteng52 was the only thing pushing me to get out of bed and […]

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Heather with bagels

#Gauteng52, Week 52: Bagels and More From Feigel’s

Welcome to Week 52 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week — the final week! — I visit Feigel’s Kosher Delicatessen, with locations in Glenhazel and Lyndhurst. For the last couple of weeks I’d been wracking my brain, trying to think of somewhere special to go for the 52nd week of my #Gauteng52 challenge. I wanted it to be a place in Joburg with an interesting story and some kind of personal significance for me. In a post last week I mentioned the tasty bagel I had for breakfast at the Immigrant, and lamented that bagels are hard to find in Joburg. A reader named Colleen commented and tipped me off to Feigel’s Kosher Delicatessen. The old-school Feigel’s sign outside the shop in Glenhazel. I immediately knew Feigel’s would be my final #Gauteng52 post. Feigel’s sells bagels, of course, and the bagels are delicious. But there’s a lot more to the story. Here’s the short version: Feigel was a Lithuanian girl who moved to South Africa in the 1920s. Years later in 1968, Feigel and her two children, Patsy and Jos, rented a shop on […]

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Scala Barber

#Gauteng52, Week 51: Scala Barber, the Oldest Shop in Melville

Welcome to Week 51 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Scala Barber, which has been doling out men’s haircuts in Melville for nearly half a century. It’s the second-to-last week of #Gauteng52 (I can’t believe it), and as the year winds down I want to include one more spot in my own neighborhood. I’ve walked past Scala Barber countless times over the last seven years, and have been perpetually tempted to go in and chat to the owner. But I always felt intimidated. Barbershops are so…male. A few weeks ago, Marie-Lais agreed to go with me to Scala and introduce me to Fred the barber. He was much less intimidating than I thought. Scala Barber, on 4th Avenue near the corner of 7th Street. I love the scissor pattern in the security gate. Inside Scala Barber Scala stands out from the businesses around it because it is so old-school. It has those real twirly barbershop lights in the windows, although the lights are enclosed in weird plastic boxes. The plastic boxes and the iron security gate at the Scala entrance are […]

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Duck at Marievale Bird Sanctuary

#Gauteng52, Week 50: Marievale Bird Sanctuary

Welcome to Week 50 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Marievale Bird Sanctuary. I don’t have my own set of binoculars yet. But perhaps it’s time to admit I’m a birder. A common moorhen cuts through the water in Marievale Bird Sanctuary. I started getting interested in birds during a recent trip to the Kruger National Park, and even wrote a whole blog post on birds in the Kruger. Then a couple of weeks ago I went to the Marievale Bird Sanctuary, the most popular birding spot in Gauteng. I mainly went because birders have been raving to me about it for years and I thought it would be a nice thing to cover for #Gauteng52. But I must confess I loved it and can’t wait to go back. The South African highveld is not known for its wetlands. But this is mining country, and in the 1930s the mining industry started pumping water from underground and created a manmade watery wonderland. (Please excuse this infantile description of what I’m sure is a highly complex scientific phenomenon. If there […]

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Lettuce growing at Culinary Table

#Gauteng52, Week 49: Culinary Table in Lanseria

Welcome to Week 49 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Culinary Table in Lanseria. It’s a lesser known fact that Johannesburg has not one, but two major airports. O.R. Tambo International Airport, the huge one everyone knows about, is about 30 kilometers east of central Joburg, give or take. I’ve always considered Lanseria International Airport, the smaller of the two, to be much further away. Hence I never went there. But a few months ago, when I accidentally booked a flight out of Lanseria instead of O.R. Tambo, I realized Lanseria is virtually the exact same distance (33 km) from my house. It’s also a considerably more pleasant drive. Best of all, I’ve just discovered there’s an amazing restaurant virtually next door to Lanseria airport: The Culinary Table. The kitchen garden at the Culinary Table. The restaurant is in the background. The Culinary Table has an interesting story. The restaurant is attached to the Culinary Equipment Company, a large warehouse and showroom just off Route 512. Chef Daniela Gutstadt’s family owns the Culinary Equipment Company, and Daniela initially started out […]

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Inside the Richmond

#Gauteng52, Week 48: The Richmond Studio Café

Welcome to Week 48 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Richmond Studio Café, a new coffeeshop in Richmond. Every now and again I visit a new place in Joburg and get so freaking excited I literally cannot wait to blog about it. Such was the case on Tuesday, when I went to the Richmond Studio Café. Entrance to the Richmond Studio Café. Richmond is a suburb just south of Melville. It’s one of those tiny Jozi suburbs — just a few square blocks — that most Joburgers outside the immediate area probably haven’t heard of. But Richmond has a special caché, despite its modest size. Several national and international news agencies — CNN, Media24, SABC, etc. — are based in or immediately surrounding the suburb, so Richmond has always been a central hangout for the South African media. It has a buzzy, journalisty vibe that I’m fond of. When I first moved to Joburg there was a legendary bar in Richmond called the Bohemian. But the Bohemian closed and moved to Westdene in 2012. Richmond used to have a […]

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Colorful handbags at Via La Moda

#Gauteng52, Week 47: Joburg’s Best Handbags (and there’s a sale)

Welcome to Week 47 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Via La Moda, a workshop producing luxury handbags and other leather goods in Industria. I can’t believe I named this post “Joburg’s Best Handbags” because in America we call them purses, not handbags. But during my years in South Africa I’ve gradually adopted “handbag” over “purse” (much in the same way I’ve adopted “petrol” over “gas”), because it just sounds cooler and more sophisticated. And when it comes to handbags, no one is cooler or more sophisticated than Via La Moda. Finely crafted handbags (not purses), made of ostrich leather and python skin, await completion in the Via La Moda workshop. Before I get into this, I should mention Via La Moda is holding its big annual sale next week, from 30 November to 2 December. (Not on Black Friday, thank goodness. Black Friday is the devil.) I’m not a big shopper and usually don’t care about sales but I think this one is worth mentioning. These bags are exquisite and not cheap (like, really not cheap at all). If […]

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Olatunji Sanusi, artist at August House

#Gauteng52, Week 46: Open Studios at August House

Welcome to Week 46 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit August House, a collection of artists’ studios and residences in downtown Johannesburg. August House is a building full of artists. I went last Sunday during one of the Open Studio events the building holds a few times a year. I ran into an artist friend who has a studio there (it seems nearly every artist I know either lives in August House, has studio space in August House, and/or is affiliated with August House in some way) and he was shocked when I told him it was my first time visiting. I now realize why. August House, a 1940s-era Art Deco building on End Street. The building housed light industry before it became an artists’ residence. Although I had never heard of August House until a year or two ago, the building has been an icon of the Joburg art world since artists began living and working there in 2006. There’s been lots of intrigue surrounding the building since then, with rumors of it being sold to property developers for low-cost […]

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Chapel at Jesuit Institute South Africa

#Gauteng52, Week 45: The Jesuits of Auckland Park

Welcome to Week 45 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Jesuit Institute in Auckland Park. Sitting atop a ridge in Auckland Park is a stately, century-old house occupied by a group of Jesuits. Who knew? I certainly didn’t, but Marie-Lais did. In fact, as #Gauteng52 draws to a close (only seven weeks left!) I need to give Marie-Lais Emond a shout-out. Her encyclopedic knowledge of secret Jozi places has made this series much more interesting than it would have been without her. If you’re not reading Marie-Lais’ weekly “Other Side of the City” column in the Saturday Citizen newspaper, which features my photos, now is a good time to start. (The column doesn’t appear online, unfortunately, so to see it you have to buy the actual paper or follow Marie-Lais on Facebook.) Anyway, Marie-Lais knew about the Jesuit Institute South Africa and the two of us went there to meet Father Russell Pollitt. One of several buildings that comprise the Jesuit Institute South Africa. The institute’s gardens are really spectacular. The Jesuit Institute residence, built as a private home by […]

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Church in Cullinan

#Gauteng52, Week 44: 9 Things to Do in Quirky Cullinan

Welcome to Week 44 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Cullinan, a historic diamond-mining town northeast of Pretoria. Cullinan is a classic day trip destination. It’s a quaint little town about an hour-and-a-half from Joburg (significantly less from Pretoria) with just about enough to see and do in a day — maybe two days for hardcore history buffs. Marie-Lais and I were there from about 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and experienced quite a lot. Train tracks in Cullinan. Diamonds are Cullinan’s claim to fame: Sir Thomas Cullinan discovered diamonds there in 1898 and later founded the Premier Diamond Mine. In 1905, Frederick George Stanley Wells found the 3100-carat Cullinan Diamond, the largest diamond in the world. The Cullinan Diamond went on to become part of the British Crown Jewels. I’m not particularly interested in diamonds, nor is Marie-Lais. So we didn’t do the diamond mine tour, which I think is the main thing most tourists go to Cullinan for. I was, however, interested to learn that the diamond mines in Cullinan are still active and all the land in the […]

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Fortiscue Help of African Flavour Books

#Gauteng52, Week 43: African Flavour Books

Welcome to Week 43 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit African Flavour Books, with locations in Vanderbijlpark and Braamfontein. Word of new local bookstores travels fast in Johannesburg. I started hearing about African Flavour Books, which sells primarily African literature with a hint of African-American mixed in, the moment they opened their shop in Braamfontein. I visited the new Braamfontein shop for the first time a couple of weeks ago and scored a copy of Lauren Beukes’ Moxyland for the rock-bottom sale price of R80. (That’s about $5.75 for a brand-new paperback!) The shop is bright and cheerful, with a fantastic selection of books and an adorable section for kids to sit and read. I fell in love instantly. The new African Flavour shop in Braamfontein, right across from the Once in Joburg Hotel. Books. More books. Cute kids reading books. You get the idea. The Story of African Flavour Books As I was making my purchase I fell into conversation with Fortiscue (aka Fort) Helepi, the owner, and learned that while the Braamfontein shop just opened, African Flavour itself is […]

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Eli in Rhodes Park

#Gauteng52, Week 42: Kensington’s Rhodes Park

Welcome to Week 42 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Rhodes Park in Kensington. Kensington is one of Joburg’s most interesting neighborhoods and I don’t get over there enough. I have this idea that it’s on the opposite side of the world from Melville, even though it’s less than a 20-minute drive without traffic. My friend Gail lives in Kensington and she’s always posting pretty photos from her walks in Rhodes Park. So when I heard Gail was organizing an art exhibition at the park called “The Land That Never Forgets”, I made a point of taking myself across town to check it out. Looking out over the lake (or dam, as South Africans call it) in Rhodes Park. Exactly two years ago there was a terrible crime at Rhodes Park. Since the tragedy Gail and a group of her friends have been holding weekly cleanups and other events to help uplift Rhodes Park, and it seems like they’ve made tremendous progress in making it a safe, welcoming place for the community. This exhibition — consisting entirely of land art — […]

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