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shopping

Salmon sushi at La Marina

#Gauteng52, Week 41: Fresh Fish at La Marina Foods

Welcome to Week 41 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 La Marina Foods, a fish and specialty food supplier in Modderfontein. Marie-Lais and I drove into a bland office park in Modderfontein. We blew right past La Marina Foods the first time, asked directions twice, and eventually made our way to an imposing metal gate. Is this place really open to the public? I thought. It looks very warehouse-like from the outside. But the security guard opened up for us. We parked, stepped inside, and found ourselves in a culinary wonderland. The La Marina deli. La Marina is first and foremost a food supplier — mostly seafood — supplying restaurants and hotels all over Joburg and South Africa. If you live in Joburg you’ve probably driven past many La Marina delivery trucks without noticing. But La Marina also has a retail shop and deli, again mostly seafood, but also selling cheese, meat, and exotic packaged foods from all over the world. The food at La Marina made me really, really happy. Kirsten Jooste, owner of La Marina, in front of the […]

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Hindu temple in Marabastad

#Gauteng52, Week 38: Exploring Marabastad

Welcome to Week 38 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 Pretoria suburb of Marabastad. Marabastad, like Sophiatown and District Six, has a history that can exist only in South Africa. A suburb of Pretoria just west of the city center, Marabastad has always been a multicultural neighborhood populated mostly by Indian and black South Africans. The area experienced forced removals during the 1940s and 50s, when everyone was forced to move out and people of different (non-white) races were relocated to various townships outside the city. A Marabastad street corner. A traditional medicine (muti) shop in Marabastad. Unlike Sophiatown and District Six, much of Marabastad was never demolished and the people who were forcibly removed continued to do business there. (There’s a decent Wikipedia entry about Marabastad, although the history section peters out after about 1950. Read more about Marabastad here.) Marabastad was supposedly named for the Ndebele Chief Maraba, who headed a village of the same name in the 1880s. Even today, Marabastad is the place where Ndebele artisans (like the women I wrote about a few weeks […]

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Retro Rabbit antique shop in Pretoria

#Gauteng52, Week 26: Pretoria’s Quirky Antique Route 6

Welcome to Week 26 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit Antique Route 6 in Pretoria. South Africa has a tumultuous past and a tumultuous present. The only thing that’s consistent here is change. South Africans tend to be constantly on the move, coming and going, accumulating and leaving behind trails of possessions that must be bought and sold, and bought and sold again. This state of flux leads to many interesting cultural phenomena, one of which is an abundance of antique shops. Antique shops are everywhere in South Africa but in certain places they concentrate together in clumps. Johannesburg’s Long Street is one example. Pretoria’s Antique Route 6 is another. The Retro Rabbit Antique Shop in Pretoria North. Antique Route 6 is a bunch of antique shops in Pretoria North, not far from the Hatfield Gautrain station, clustered mainly around Pierneef Street and Soutpansberg Road. The route has its own online map, at www.antiqueroute6pretoria.co.za. I have no idea why this route is called Antique Route 6. Are there another five antique routes somewhere? If anyone knows the answer I’d love […]

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The Box Shop exterior

#Gauteng52, Week 11: A New Take on Vilakazi Street

Welcome to Week 11 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Box Shop, a shopping center and coffee shop on Vilakazi Street in Soweto. A few weeks ago I met up with my friend Andile, a.k.a. @may_i_take_apicture, to talk about a new project he’s working on called Imagine Soweto. Andile is cycling 150 kilometers around Soweto and taking 150 pictures — about four pictures for each of Soweto’s 38 townships. Andile Bhala, a.k.a. the Man With the Red Bag, in his home township of Orlando West. Andile was looking for some advice on blogging for his Imagine Soweto project. I agreed to give him some in exchange for an introduction to a new place in Soweto for my #Gauteng52 project. We wound up having coffee at the Box Shop, a relatively new development built from shipping containers on Vilakazi Street in Orlando West. The Box Shop on Vilakazi Street. Vilakazi Street is legendary as the only street in the world where two Nobel Prize winners (President Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu) lived at the same time. Vilakazi is one of […]

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Pink roses at the Multiflora Market

#Gauteng52, Week 7: Johannesburg’s Multiflora Market

Welcome to Week 7 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Multiflora Market, a massive wholesale flower market east of downtown Joburg. I love taking photos in warehouses and factories and the Multiflora Market had been high on my list for a long time. But you have to go at the crack of dawn to catch the action, and it’s not easy to drag oneself out of bed at 5:30 a.m. to look at flowers. Luckily the #Gauteng52 project finally gave me the motivation I needed. The Multiflora Market was founded in 1944 and is the largest flower market in Africa. Every morning before dawn, farmers from across South Africa ship boxes and boxes of fragrant blooms into this warehouse, where they go up for auction and get shipped out again to florists, grocery store chains, and even the guys who hawk flowers at street intersections. Buyers come to the Multiflora Market from all over Joburg, South Africa, other African countries, and even Europe. Cartloads of flowers lined up for auction in the Multiflora warehouse. Stopping to Smell the Roses at the Multiflora Market […]

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Sausages at the Schwaben Butchery

#Gauteng52, Week 2: Schwaben Butchery, Where Pigs Come to Die

Welcome to Week 2 of my #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. This week I visit the Schwaben Butchery on Joburg’s East Rand. I sit at a wooden picnic table outside the Schwaben Butchery, in a nondescript shopping center in Edenvale. I ponder the mustard-slathered bratwurst on my plate. The mammoth sausage intimidates me. The owner of a Jozi café — one of my favorite breakfast spots in town — walks past. “Stocking up on supplies?” I call out as he walks through the butchery’s sliding doors. “Bacon,” he replies, eyes gleaming. “This place sells the best bacon in town. It’s where pigs come to die.” Crass as it sounds, I see what he means. This German butchery has more interesting meat products, and especially pork products, than I’ve ever seen before in a single place. An array of pork in one of the Schwaben Butchery meat counters. Do you know what this is? Me either. There are a fair number of Germans in South Africa, and Germans take their food seriously. I learned this last year when I visited the Black Forest Bakery, a German bakery in […]

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Oriental Plaza Instameet winners

The Oriental Plaza Instameet: Winners Announced

This is a quick post to announce: 1) The first-ever Oriental Plaza Instameet happened on 3 December and it was awesome; and 2) We’ve chosen the winners of the Instameet photography contest. The contest winners amidst a sea of Oriental Plaza holiday shoppers. From left to right: Andile (@may_i_take_a_picture), who won first place, Dominique (@dominiqueinthecity), second place, and Kevin (@kevinspired365_), third place. The Instameet was great. About 40 people came and everyone got into the spirit of the event, roaming around every corner of the Plaza and taking pictures of the shops, the food, and the people. Here are a couple of my own favorite Instagrams from the day. My friend Gail (@dizzylexa) takes photos inside the Plaza’s Grand Bazaar. Ra’eesa of @stylefabrics. Christmas in Africa. Meruschka, aka @mzansigirl, aka samoosa head. The Winning Photos More than 200 Instagrams were posted under the Instameet hashtags, #ShopAtORP and #FestiveDealsAtORP, and narrowing down the winning photos to three was a major challenge. Seriously, there were so many great photos and we agonized over dozens of them. I wish we could have picked more winners. But in the end, here are the photos we chose: Third place by @kevinspired365_. This portrait of a longtime shopowner just screams “Oriental Plaza”. […]

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Oriental Plaza Instameet infogram

News Flash: The First Oriental Plaza Instameet (With Prizes)

I first visited the Oriental Plaza six-and-a-half years ago, on 18 August 2010, 12 days after I moved to Johannesburg. I know this because I wrote a blog post about it the following day. The first photo I ever took at the Oriental Plaza, in August 2010. I’ve been to the Plaza at least 50 times since that first visit (read about other visits here and here and here), and the place still awes and delights me every time. It’s always at the top of my list of recommendations for things to do in Joburg. So imagine my joy when an opportunity arose to work with the Oriental Plaza on a social media campaign, encouraging people to come to the Plaza for an Instameet to kick off the Festive Season. (“Festive Season” is South African for “Holiday Season”.) I am so, so excited to host an Instameet at the Oriental Plaza. Our announcement for the upcoming Instameet — Instagram-speak for a gathering of photographers. As you can see, the Plaza is already decked out for Christmas. It’s a mall, technically, but the Plaza bears no resemblance to the bland, suburban megamalls that Johannesburg is famous for. First of all, the Plaza is in […]

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Read This: Jozi’s Five Best Bookstores

I’m still trying to get back into the swing of things post-Trumpocalypse. I know that blogging about Joburg is the best thing I can do to pull myself out of this mental morass, but the struggle is real. For the first time in a while, I woke up today with no idea what to write about. In desperation, I opened up a list of potential blog topics I made several months ago when my brain was less encumbered. There, I found my inspiration: Jozi Top Fives, bookstore edition. Joburg has tons of great bookstores — new bookstores, used bookstores, small bookstores, huge bookstores — so narrowing down the field to just five is kind of unfair. I have many other favorites that didn’t make the list. But anyway, here are the five I came up with: My Five Favorite Bookstores in Joburg 1) Bridge Books 85 Commissioner Street, Johannesburg I’ve written about Bridge Books tons of times and you’re all probably sick of hearing about it. Really though. Bridge Books is great, and if you have any affinity for books whatsoever you will love it. Bridge Books on its opening weekend. Cute kid reading at Bridge Books. In addition to selling a fascinating selection […]

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Shepherd and his beaded hoopoe in Melville, the best antidote to the Trumpacolypse

Melville: The Trumpocalypse Antidote

Perhaps it’s the combination of jet lag and grief, but I am not recovering well from Trumpocalypse. I tried to put on a brave face with my gratitude list, but the truth is I’m horrified and I’ve lost a piece of my identity. I often remark upon the fact that when living in South Africa, the first thing everyone notices about me is my American-ness. This has never really bothered me. I’ve always been more or less proud of my country. I’ve been happy to be known as an American in Quirky Johannesburg. But now, suddenly, my relationship with America feels like a relationship with a spouse who I just discovered has been cheating. Who is this country I thought I knew so well? How could you humiliate me like this, America? What did I do wrong? How did I miss the signs that we were growing apart? How could you leave me, and how will I cope without you? Worst of all, what will happen to the millions of other betrayed spouses who are still living with you? What will happen to the entire world? We trusted you, America, and you’ve let us down. Fortunately, I live in Melville. A sign outside Junkie Charity Store, one of my favorite hangouts in […]

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Inside Mad Giant

Five Amazing New Places in Downtown Jozi (not in Maboneng or Braamfontein)

Downtown Jozi is on fire. There are cool shopping, dining, and art destinations popping up all over the city. The Joburg Ballet performs at Joziburg Lane, one of downtown’s newest destinations, on its opening weekend. Regeneration in Joburg’s inner city is nothing new: Exciting stuff has been happening downtown since I moved to Joburg in 2010, and long before that. What’s different about the last year or two — and especially the last six-to-eight months —  is that inner-city regeneration is no longer largely limited to the hipster hubs of Maboneng and Braamfontein. Urban renewal is everywhere and it’s becoming easier to travel between all the new restaurants, shops, and markets. Maboneng and Braamfontein are still great and there is new stuff opening in those areas all the time. But if you’re looking for fun in the city, it isn’t necessary to limit yourself to those neighborhoods. Here are five of my favorite new non-Maboneng, non-Braamfontein spots, all opened within that past several months. 1) Mad Giant/Urbanologi The Mad Giant Brewery is a huge, beautifully designed craft beer joint in the 1Fox Precinct in Ferreirasdorp. Urbanologi is a high-end, Asian-inspired tapas restaurant inside the Mad Giant premises. Outside Mad Giant. The upscale interior. Mad […]

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Fashion at Work Shop New Town

Work Shop New Town: The Embodiment of Jozi Coolness

If you read this blog then you already know that downtown Jozi is cool. But do you know about Work Shop New Town? This particular corner of Joburg takes coolness to a whole new level. Ntsaki (left) and Jade (right), two salespeople at Work Shop New Town who are also contenders for the two coolest people in all of Johannesburg. They’re surrounded by shoes from Maria McCloy, one of Joburg’s coolest designers. I intend to buy a pair of these shoes very soon. Work Shop New Town is “an innovative retail concept” in Newtown, adjacent to the Newtown Junction mall. It’s a modern, open-plan glass structure, filled with small fashion and design shops that meld seamlessly into one another. Work Shop New Town is built on the site of Joburg’s “Potato Sheds”, a historic fruit and vegetable market built in 1911 that was torn down to make way for Newtown Junction. There’s not much left of the actual Potato Sheds, unfortunately, but the old trolley tracks to the market are still there and run right outside of Work Shop New Town. I’m not a big shopper, as I’ve said many times before, but Work Shop New Town has the kind of shopping […]

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