Trekking through the streets of the Joburg CBD on a Friday afternoon is a highly recommended pursuit, especially if you’re trekking with Joburg360’s Sarah Barret.
We met in Maboneng on an overcast and windy winter’s afternoon, ready to go exploring. And what treasures we discovered! The stories, the street art, the architecture and the company were all top notch.
Everyone had their favourite moment. For me it was seeing the artworks of Nelson Makamo liberally adorning the walls around Maboneng and the soon-to-be-completed Jewel City precinct. I became enamoured with his work through RMB and the Turbine Art Fair* (where, by the way, I discovered a piece called “Wild Dog” which I totally love – in case anyone’s stuck for a gift idea. #justsaying) In fact, I loved all the art on all the walls!
For Josh it was looking out over Joburg from the top floor of the Hallmark House Hotel – which, incidentally, houses the amazing Marabi Club – “It reminded me of the importance of perspective and how a change of view can often teach you so much,” he says.
Rob says he really enjoyed getting out. “I loved being outside again, and for a longer period than I am used to these days,” he says. “Just exploring the city was really awesome.”
Carel loved his fellow tourists’ reactions to the environment.
“It was great seeing people who have not been to this part of our city change from apprehensive to in awe – partly at the city’s hidden gems, partly at their ability to be a tourist in their own home town,” he says.
We also learnt a great deal. For me it was the expanse of the precinct and the growth that is happening there. When visiting, I have traditionally stuck to the “main” section of Maboneng, but there is so much beyond! Sadly many of the businesses remain shut because of the Covid-19 lockdown, but hopefully they will reopen once the pandemic has run its course.
Joshua was typically philosophical when I asked him what he had learnt from the trip: “The history of the Maboneng Precinct and the story behind how it started,” he replied. “As we walked the streets, I experienced many moments of introspection. How had I not visited this part of town before or learnt about its history?
“It also got me thinking about how many South Africans don’t know about the diverse spaces that make our country special.”
For Rob the most interesting piece of local knowledge that he gained was that Maboneng houses the largest and oldest second-hand bookstore in Africa. The Collector’s Treasury in Commissioner Street was sadly closed when we walked by (it’s only open from 10am to 2pm), but Sarah told us some wonderful stories about the experience of visiting the store. It sounds like a fantastic place and has definitely made it onto my list of spots to check out in Jozi.
Carel learnt, “… that The Cosmopolitan Hotel has the most amazing bar counter (which I LOVE) and that the Hallmark House rooftop is the venue for my next birthday party (I hope!).”
I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say it was a most engaging and enlightening three hours.
Joburg360 offers a wide range of walking tours of Joburg and Soweto. Under level 3 of lockdown, the tours comprise a maximum of six people and all social distancing protocols are observed.
*This year’s Turbine Art Fair takes place live and online from 28 August to 2 September. Check out the Turbine Art Fair website for more info.