Johannesburg - Touchdown in South Africa & Mall Culture

We'd never been to Africa before and saw South Africa as the perfect place to give us an introduction to the continent.  We touched down in Johannesburg at the end of July for a two week holiday coinciding with my birthday.  We'd heard that JoBurg is just a bit rough and that you need to be on your guard.  Even in the airport, they recommend that you wrap your luggage to avoid petty pilfering.
After we retrieved our luggage, we popped into Mugg & Bean for a 'serious' (large) cappuccino.  We found that South Africa has great coffee and that the shops enjoy giving kitschy names to the different beverages.
We took advantage of the relatively new train service (Gautrain) from O.R. Tambo International Airport to our home base in Rosebank, a posh Johannesburg suburb.
The train was quiet, safe, and clean.  We made one transfer at Sandton and in less than 20 minutes total, we had arrived!  The sun was shining on a gorgeous winter day.
Due to some of the safety concerns, people gravitate toward the suburbs where a mall culture has developed.  We stopped into The Zone@Rosebank open air shopping center.
It had been a long flight and we didn't get much sleep on the plane.  Thankfully there was not much jet lag though since South Africa is just 1 hour ahead of Dublin.  We popped into Motherland, another of South Africa's numerous coffee shops for a 'Mother Cuppa'.
We sat on a couch in the back to enjoy an iced coffee and a snack.
On the wall beside us, we saw two things we hoped to learn more about on our trip: South Africa's wildlife and Nelson Mandela.
For lunch, we dined al fresco at Tashas.
The peach iced tea was divine with real pieces of fruit added.
A butternut and goat's cheese salad with avocado and a chicken sandwich with polenta fries rounded out the meal.  We were quickly starting to appreciate the amazing food available in South Africa and variety of fresh ingredients.
After lunch we discovered an African craft market in the mall. 
We popped up the stairs to have a look around.
The scene below was a jumble of colorful delights including beaded jewelry, carved animals, and colorful printed clothing.  I smiled at this sign:  This is Africa - We Bargain...and bargain they did.  Each vendor tried to lure us in offering us a 'really good price'.  We managed to get a few things (Zulu beaded spoons, and a beaded necklace) for 25-50% off the asking price.  We probably could have done even better but psychologically, I think Americans are challenged by bargaining because we don't want to offend people and offering less than 50% feels like you're offending the craftspeople.  Never mind that they probably added 50+% to the price in the first place...
On our way to our hotel, we saw an uplifting sight. A local school had painted a number of pillars in the mall with well wishes for Nelson Mandela who had just turned 95 and was ailing when we arrived.  He seems to be universally revered for his role in bringing an end to the ugly era of apartheid in South Africa.



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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: Johannesburg - Touchdown in South Africa & Mall Culture
Johannesburg - Touchdown in South Africa & Mall Culture
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog
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