Sunday, February 24, 2013

Melville, Johannesburg

Once again, time has gotten away from me! I kept meaning to post something about our trip to Johannesburg last weekend but I'm just now getting around to it. We carpooled down with two other couples to spend two nights in the Melville neighborhood of Johannesburg over President' Day weekend, and everyone had a great time getting ourselves reacquainted with the big city life for the weekend - restaurant choices! people! traffic jams! bars open past 11 pm! Wonderful.
Looking out from our balcony

Any given Joburg experience is dependent on which neighborhood you stay in - for this trip we decided on Melville because we all wanted to check out a B&B called A Room With a View that we'd heard great things about, and we were not disappointed! This was a very unique hotel, constructed to look like a castle in the Tuscan countryside and beautifully positioned up on a hill with great views of the city. The owners hand-crafted many of the furnishings and decorations in the rooms and around the hotel grounds. Each room was unique, with thoughtful touches like impressionist oil paintings, Tuscan tiles, large balconies with gorgeous wrought-iron railings, etc. The breakfast each morning was served family-style and really made us all feel like we were living in some 19th century Italian country manor!
Adult World = beginning of skid row
BUT there really was a great view!

All in all the hotel was a fabulous experience. However, without the hotel I don't know that I would go out of my way to return to the Melville neighborhood again. There was a cute little street with restaurants and bars about a 15 minute walk from the hotel, but this was a walk past an Adult World porn shop, liquor stores, dilapidated houses, and late at night a sort of "skid row" of sleeping and/or drugged out homeless people. Looking back, I realized we probably shouldn't have been walking through this area, especially given that when we told the hotel manager we were going to dinner on foot, he said "Well, you're all young so you can probably run faster than I can!" Yikes.

While I enjoyed Joburg because of the big city feel and the food that we can't get in Gaborone, I wouldn't want to serve a tour there because of all the crime and the general sketchiness that you just don't experience in Botswana. But, fortunately our rewards for surviving the skid row gauntlet were some really delicious food and cocktails - highlights of the weekend were ostrich spring rolls I tried at one restaurant, and the margaritas and fajitas we had at a real Mexican restaurant, where the cook was actually from Mexico City! Nice to know that we can get to Joburg every once in a while when we feel the urge to get out of Gaborone.

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