Many of you now know that I am a proudly African blogger living in Johannesburg. Even though I have been living here for only two and a half years, this is the one place in the world I have always considered home. It’s beautiful, it’s comfortable, and a part of me is from here… So when my dear blogger friends decided to collaborate on a series talking about the things we love about our hometowns, I jumped at the opportunity to brag about this place I have made mine. After all, home is where the heart is!
Since I have only been living here for a short while, I figured the best way to write this was to go through my pictures and see what triggered special memories. So grab some tea and come along on my virtual tour of what I love about living in Johannesburg!
O.R Tambo International Airport
This might seem a little strange to some, but trust me, there is logic to this madness. You know how grimy and gross airports are? They are filled with so many different people, some who have not showered in days. And the level of unsafety is through the roof. Close your eyes for a second and you just might lose your wallet… or a kidney. And yet, this one is different.
My experience began with the welcome song that played onboard South African Airways each time we touched the ground. Every time I landed in OR Tambo International Airport, I saw families reunited or loved ones hugging. Every time I walked through the double doors, I was greeted with a sense of home. Landing on South African soil meant that I was going to be with my grandmother, and eventually my husband.
After 2020, I think we can all appreciate our airports even just a little. But in my case, the airport is a reminder of the different emotions I felt throughout my transition to the life I have now. Call it silly, but OR Tambo will always have a special place in my heart.
Living in Johannesburg means you’ll have endless greenery
Have you ever been to Central Park? No? Well, I haven’t either. But where I have been is Walter Sisulo Botanical Gardens. This place is a magical gem that people generally call a park. What makes it special is just how beautiful and well preserved it is. I spoke of Central Park not to be funny, but to create an image of a park that you need to process then destroy. This gem here is filled with hiking trails, a gorgeous waterfall, playgrounds for the kids, and so much more.
But that’s not the only green thing about Gauteng. In case you didn’t know, Johannesburg is referred to as the largest man-made forest in the world. So, driving to work in spring is a magical trip down a jacaranda isle. I’m not much of a runner, but road running in spring is one of my favourite things to do for this very reason!
Related: Life lessons I learnt from a safari
Hartbeespoort is just a drive away
This little community on the outskirts of Gauteng reminds me of the movie ‘Get Out’ every single time. There is something slightly eerie about driving through the miniscule communities in Harties, and seeing an environment where everyone probably goes to the same school and eats at the same restaurants each weekend.
Of course, if you ask someone else, their experience of Harties might be completely different. But the way my brain works, nothing can just be normal. Normal is boring!
What normal people would say about Harties is that it has such a peaceful air to it. If you go up the Harties Aerial Cableway, you can enjoy some drinks with an awesome view. Take a drive down the road and have lunch in the beautiful gardens by the Windmill. Drive a little further and take some stunning photos by the gorgeous Harties Dam.
Living in Johannesburg means going to a casino with kids
Any gamblers out there? This one is for you! Did you know you can take your kids to a casino with you? Yup… it’s not even a joke! The coolest part is that your kids will have so much entertainment that you can take your sweet time!
When my daughter turned one, I took her to Montecasino for a mother-daughter date. I’m sure any of you that haven’t actually been there would consider that to be the strangest choice for a kid who can barely walk, but it was quite the opposite.
Montecasino is a combination hotel, mall, and casino that is built to feel as though you are walking in some Italian street. There are so many restaurants, shops, and entertainment centres for the entire family. And if you get tired of walking around indoors, there is a bird sanctuary just a few steps away.
So yes, I took my one-year-old daughter to Montecasino… to play with the birds!
Close knit communities
We live in a time where everyone is fighting for equal rights and calling for an end to racism. We see protests all across the globe. I’ve even been afraid to permanently move to a country where crossing the street is grounds for violence… And yet that is not what I found here.
While it is true that Johannesburg is unsafe, living in Johannesburg has taught me that unsafety is only a piece of the puzzle. I’d love to do a story-time and share about the time I watched an intruder who attempted to break into my neighbour’s house on my security cameras. But that story can be for another day. What I want to share is the sense of responsibility I felt for protecting my neighbour’s belongings from robbery. And the beautiful part about it is that they carry the same burden for my house too.
Someone once told me that living in South Africa is difficult as a foreigner because everyone is already in their own circles. Three years into my journey here, I can definitely attest to that. But on the flip side, once you do find your own bubble, you will have people that will treat you as their own. For me, the bubbles are my neighbours, my church prayer group, and some of my colleagues. The best part of it is that we come in all shapes, colours, ages and with different qualifications!
Going through a pandemic might have been the eye-opener for me. After all, it is when you are isolated that you see who is really there for you!
I could go on a little more, but let’s stop here for today.
Where are you from? What are some things you love about living in your hometown?
If you enjoyed this post, make sure to read the other versions in the series!
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