City Tour: Sandton to Johannesburg CBD

On my second last day in South Africa, I wanted to take a tour to put every place I had seen into context.  Most people are familiar with ‘Citysightseeing’ Tours – this one had a good online reputation.


There was just time to watch donuts being glazed…


…and to pick up an iced coffee and one of those shiny donuts!


There was no-one else willing to sit up top as it was warm – but the guide told me it would get breezy pretty quickly and feel very comfortable. With Factor 50 and a hat on my head, I was prepared for once!


I was surprised by how green most of the Northern suburbs of Johannesburg turned out to be.


One bad thing is that there is a LOT of rubbish.  As it’s so warm, people sit out underneath trees and in parks, but lots of people must have a tendency to leave drinks bottles and food wrappers behind them.


This first part of the trip, from Rosebank (which is gorgeous) to Constitution Hill (site of a prison and court) went through a lot of suburbia.  The picture below was a war memorial that we just about couldn’t see.


You get a sense of the size of the houses which are ALL (in the Northern suburbs) behind big walls, with security guards (armed) and barbed wire.


This was St John’s school, a private school built for rich white boys.


See the white minibus below? These ‘taxis’ are just everywhere in Johannesburg.  The guide explained that during apartheid, black citizens faced a lot of restrictions on public transport and that made it extra hard to get from places like Soweto into the city for their jobs.  These taxis sprang up as a cheap and unofficial parallel transport system.


In the Central Business District (CBD), there is a lot of regrowth, but still a lot of shonky and abandoned properties.


This is Constitution Hill, where I changed over from the Green Route (basically a feeder route) on to the Red Route (the main Joburg tour).


There’s a lot of rubbish, often in bags.  Only later, I worked out that often these bags are someone’s recycling business – they collect plastic bottles, for example, and store them at each trash can until they get a chance to top up the bags or collect them.


I just loved the rows of shops and the entrepreneurial spirit that was obvious nearly everywhere in Joburg.


However, as this accidental picture shows (I was aiming for the market just beyond this chap), there are homeless people just everywhere.  Drink is a terrible master.


Although the stock exchange and financial services businesses have moved out to Sandton, a lot of provincial government remains in the city.


Finally, someone risked coming upstairs behind me! Yellow was his colour.


Did I mention that chicken shops are ALL over the place! I love chicken but KFC is ubiquitous. No, I didn’t try it!


Tekkie Town was a sneaker store that appeared in more of the working areas of the city.


I spotted this advert for Immaculate College! I’m not sure if I’d like to study engineering there!


So many wonderful hair salons! Often the doors were open and people having straight weaves sewn in were leaning back into the breeze during the lengthy sewing-in procedure!


Property for sale! Just missed it!


People took great pride in their cars – irrespective of their age or the odd ding.  Lots of car cleaning shops were around.


Barbed wire just everywhere.


This was coming into the Soweto area – it’s hard to believe that people live in tin homes, but they do and hold down jobs and ambition and handle education and health.


This was the ‘middle-class suburb’ just outside Soweto – the guide explained.


Next stop was the Apartheid Museum and Soweto, but that warrants a fresh post.  Have a great day!