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.
America has brought many great things to the world. Imagine life without the light bulb, the cotton gin, the automobile, or (gasp) Facebook. Even worse, imagine life without themed family restaurant chains! Okay, I can imagine the world without restaurant chains and I think it would be a pretty nice world. But anyway, America invented them and they’ve shaped modern life as it exists today. America is overrun with chains: T.G.I. Friday’s, Ruby Tuesday (we like to name our chains after days of the week), IHOP, Red Lobster, Outback Steakhouse, Olive Garden, Chili’s…the list is never-ending. Such chains are successful in the U.S. because, in my opinion, Americans fear the culinary unknown. We like to know that no matter where we are in the country, we can always enjoy a Ruby Tuesday shrimp quesadilla for $8.99. The American passion for chain restaurants went global long ago, and South Africa was not spared. Spur Steak Ranches, founded in 1967, is one of the largest and most recognizable South African chains. According to their website there are nearly 300 Spurs worldwide. Every time I pass a Spur I chuckle at the logo, which shows an Indian chief in a feather headdress. I don’t associate Native […]
One of the cool things about living in Joburg is that people are always passing through. It’s difficult to travel from one place to another in Southern Africa without stopping here along the way. This week, Joe and I were lucky enough to host not one, but two special pass-throughs. This rainbow passed through Melville just our first pass-through arrived.
Sandwiched between a week in Durban and a week in Lesotho, Joe and I are wrapping up one hectic (but fun) week at home. We’re leaving again tomorrow morning and I have no time to write a proper account of this week’s events. Here is a brief synopsis. 1) We had our first overseas visitor: my colleague Evan Von Leer from Washington D.C. He spent a few days with us in Melville while on his way to Lesotho and stayed at the Die Agterplaas B&B, which is a block up the street. The Agterplaas is a great guesthouse – I would stay there myself if I didn’t already live here.
It’s my second full day in Joburg. I’m sitting on the deck of my new house in Melville, soaking up the late winter sun, admiring the small purple flowers on the potted rosemary plant, and listening to a chorus of bird calls. There’s a neon-yellow weaver making a nest at the back of the garden — it’s a bouncy ball of green leaves suspended from a vine hanging off a tree branch. It looks, sounds, and smells like Africa. A South African hadedah (Ha-dee-DAH) on the back wall of the garden.