I had a few days off work and decided to use the visa I didn’t get round to using on my birthday in January. Leave Lagos on Thursday to be back for work on Monday morning-I can do this! So off I went to Johannesburg.
Got in on Thursday night on Arik Air. I had made reservations at the Reef Hotel through my trusted hotels.com and had the hotel come pick me from the airport since I had no forex on me. About that. You know how the dollar rates were crazy in April (still are)? Well I wasn’t going to buy for that rate and I couldn’t get from the bank for travel allowance either. So I sent money to myself in South Africa via moneygram. Pretty cool huh? Anyway I found the guy holding a cardboard with my name on it and off to my hotel I went.
The next morning-Day 1 in Johannesburg-I enjoyed my complimentary breakfast at the naturally lit, quaint, rustic restaurant and set off to go pick up my money. My hotel was at the edge of downtown, which may not be the safest location but given the short time I had, proximity to things was key. I asked for directions to the Carlton Centre where there’s a moneygram agent and which is the tallest building in Africa (not a coincidence –I did my research). Another guest was asking for directions going my way so we decided to walk together. It turned out he was from Innsbruck, Austria and I’d been there so we quickly became friends. We walked to Carlton making sure not to look like tourists. I got the money and we went to the top of the building (the 50th floor). The view was quite nice.
Going in at breakfast
Hotel Buffet Restaurant
Carlton Centre (the building with Transnet on it), the tallest building in Africa
We then walked in search of Africa Museum. It wasn’t much so we left. I was determined to see the Apartheid Museum so after frantically searching for taxis and finally putting together that “robot” meant traffic light, we finally found one and went to the museum. The museum is large and impressive and takes hours to get through if you want to soak in all the stories of the struggle. From the door you get a sense of what the discrimination felt like, as there’s a black entry and white entry (although, it’s only experiential because you all meet inside).
Markus at the different entries for black and white people at the Apartheid Museum
Gold Reef City, a theme park, was right next to the museum but since I was travelling solo, it was never on my itinerary and seeing as Markus and I were tired and hungry we returned to the hotel. But it’s a definite to do. We met back later at the roof top lounge of the hotel, prepared to go checkout the nightlife. After a few drinks and some randomness that involved a South African guy joining our table, handing us condoms and attempting to tag along with us, we set off to Taboo in Sandton. D’banj was going to be there apparently and they played house music, so yass! Well we heard mostly Nigerian music and little house. They go crazy for our music and it was super fun watching them dance.
Check back next week to find out what happened next! And while you wait, figure out which awesome visa-free destinations you can head to yourself.
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