On the final leg of the tour...South Africa

Johannesburg Travel Blog

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At South African Breweries (SAB) in Joburg.

We are now excited to be on the final leg of our tour in South Africa.  We arrived in Johannesburg earlier than initially planned and are unfortunately staying here longer than we had hoped so Ana can get a visa for Lesotho.  This is the most business oriented city in Africa and supposedly accounts for 25% of the gross product for the continent.  On the other hand it is one of the most dangerous cities in the world.  Unemployment that exceeds 30% and weapons probably left over from the apartheid struggle make for some disturbing events.  One day the headline on the front of the newspaper read ‘7 DAYS 7 MALLS ROBBED’.  These aren’t small robberies, there was one mall where 22 people arrived with guns and robbed a half dozen stores at the same time and the previous day four men robbed guys putting money in an ATM by shooting them on sight.

Meeting up with Thorsten in Joburg.
  So while we were trying to avoid small scams at tourist in Asia, we were just trying to make sure we weren’t the ones getting shot here.

Upon arrival we ate in the airport and were shocked by the pleasantness of everybody.  Our waiter made small talk and made sure we were happy with our food and when the car rental company didn’t have the car somebody ordered, they did everything they could to rectify situation.  In Asia, things were more like, ‘I realize you had a reservation, but we don’t have any rooms so you need to find another place to stay’.  We were also able to speak English a lot easier here.  While at one restaurant they were confused when we asked for Ketchup and French Fries (since they are called Tomato Sauce and Chips here), for the most part we have not had much problems communicating.

The apartheid museum in Joburg.

We are staying outside the city to avoid the worst neighborhoods and are staying in a nice hotel since we will be spending a lot of time in the hotel.  A few restaurants and a movie store are in the strip mall next door which is our main source of entertainment since Ana says we are not allowed out after dark.  I tried to explain to her that they don’t really seem to mind shooting people in the daylight either, but that didn’t really help.  We also have a rental car which allowed me to briefly refresh my driving a manual knowledge, but I quickly took the navigation duties to let Ana get familiar with driving on the other side of the road.

On our first full day in Joburg we ate the breakfast buffet and Ana got a flower from the hotel since it was woman’s day.

  We then drove down to make sure we knew where the embassy was so we could go the next day which was Monday.  Unfortunately, upon arrival we found out that Woman’s Day is a National Holiday.  Since it fell on a Sunday most businesses (and embassies) would not open on Monday.  We would later find out that this was true and therefore that despite rearranging our flight for 2 days earlier we would not make it to the embassy earlier than if we kept our original flight plan.  Luckily, when we arrived on Tuesday the embassy said that they would issue it the next day instead of the 2 or 3 days that they told us on the phone which means we would at least be able to leave on our trip on Thursday.

Overall the stop in Joburg was not too bad.  It gave us a chance to relax before the long bus ride trip and we had dinner with one of our Michigan classmates who was in town on a project with my future employer and now lives in Germany. We also got some reading done, watched half a dozen movies and did a bit of site-seeing.

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At South African Breweries (SAB) i…
At South African Breweries (SAB) …
Meeting up with Thorsten in Joburg.
Meeting up with Thorsten in Joburg.
The apartheid museum in Joburg.
The apartheid museum in Joburg.
Frankie: our truck and where we …
'Frankie': our truck and where we…