Yesterday, we spent the day in the centre of Johannesburg.

For all the fearful suburbanites who have the impression that downtown Jozi is a cesspit of filth and crime and to be avoided at ALL costs… I have to respectfully disagree.  Sure (like any city) – there are pockets of horribleness in Johannesburg… and sure, there are a few neighbourhoods that are best avoided… BUT!!!!… do not throw the baby out with the bath water!  Downtown Jozi has some fabulous places…  Braamies, for one, is awesome (don’t forget to visit the Neighbourgoods Market!).  And there’s the wonderful Fashion District… Arts on Main… Newtown… and so much more.

Yesterday – we went to visit The Carlton Centre… The Johannesburg City Hall… and The Johannesburg Public Library (all within a couple of blocks from one another).  We went with our friend, Brett – who is a Jozi Aficionado and is very passionate about anything and everything that gets people back into the inner city.

We started off with a quick stop-over at Fournos – where we purchased a box of freshly baked chocolate croissants (Fournos bakes – by far – the best chocolate croissants in Jozi!).  Then – we drove into the city, parked underground at the Carlton Centre – and took an elevator ride up Africa’s tallest skyscraper.  Here’s some pics:

OK – so 50 floors is no big deal (compared to other massive skyscrapers around the world) – but still – this remains the tallest skyscraper in Africa!

Joah ran straight to the window to take in the impressive view…

Morgan, the chocolate croissant… and the view…

The view from the top…

More view from the top…

Nick and I are considering taking some of these prints, blowing them up and hanging them in our bedroom….

More impressive views…

And more…

The view towards the East (and our home-town, Benoni)… look how flat it is out there? Factories and mine dumps… (and the airport)… are all out there…

Morgan enjoyed this big, brass sculpture. Can you spot Joah?

After our trip up the Carlton Centre, we took a walk through town towards the City Hall and the Public Library.  The kids were feeling very energetic…

Inevitably, though, they got tired… so Nick and Brett carried them…

Tee-hee! Morgan’s dress looks like a pink bonnet on Brett! 🙂

Then – we stopped in at the Johannesburg City Hall… which is currently undergoing a very expensive renovation.  Brett persuaded one of the security guards to let us inside (but we had to leave our camera with him, because we weren’t allowed to take photos of the goings-on).  It is soooooooo beautiful in there!  What a terrible pity that this magnificent, historical building has been abandoned and un-visited for such a long time!  (Hopefully – the renovations, and the fact that the Joburg Philharmonic Orchestra will be moving in) will change all that – and the City Hall will be filled once again with people and music.

The most beautiful thing of all was the pipe organ!  It has an ENORMOUS pipe organ (apparently the 2nd largest on the continent).  I can’t tell you how badly I itched to play it!  But the security guard was having none of it, constantly reminding us that he could get into trouble for allowing us access in the first place.  Oh well… we’ll have to try again later.

Here’s a (very limited) shot of the exterior…

Following the City Hall excursion – we then visited the Johannesburg Public Library.

I have to tell you, I felt like a real Suburban-Whitey when I went there… and I was rather embarrassed that:  a) I never knew about the library; and b) It had never crossed my mind to visit the library.  And this, in spite of the fact that I have been living in greater Johannesburg since 2004!  WHY have I never visited this beautiful place?

The newly renovated library is breathtaking!  It is world-class… it’s extremely well-stocked… it’s well-staffed (everyone was helpful and friendly)… it has various different sections, loads of space to read, relax, study, drink coffee… why-oh-why have I never visited?  I am definitely going to pay regular visits to this amazing space… (and blog about it more too).  To all Jozi folk who have not yet visited the Joburg Public Library:  VISIT the Joburg Public Library!!!

Here’s a few limited pics (I was too busy staring and oohing and aaaah’ing to take many pics):

One of the amazing sculptures on the front doors…

Exploring…

The Reading Room – where you can read any newspaper… whether today’s newspaper – or a newspaper from forever-ago….

Of course, we had to pay a visit to the Children’s Section…

Morgan loved it – and wants to go back…

One more exciting thing about the Johannesburg Public Library:  Tucked away, in the bowels of the library is a beautiful little theatre.  I have always wanted to produce a unique show/experience called “An Evening of Songs and Stories”… and what better venue than the Library Theatre?  I won’t go into more detail for now… but my mind is churning with the possibilities….

And so… after a lovely, interesting, different day… we returned home for an afternoon nap.  Here’s a pic of our tired, chocolate-covered boy….  🙂

Zzzzzzz……