Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Weekend in the City of Gold

Living in Cape Town, you are constantly reminded of how lucky you are to be here. When people ask me where I live, I usually respond "The Most Beautiful City in the World", because as far as I'm concerned, it is. As Capetonians we are smug and rather derisive when it comes to talking about our northern counterpart, Johannesburg. When people try to defend Jozi we exclaim, "But where is its mountain? Its beaches? What's the point of a sunny day if you can't spend it by the sea or winetasting in Stellenbosch?" There is an inherent distaste for the hole that we consider Joburg to be.

Having spent a long weekend there recently there, though, I am afraid I misjudged it. I went up to visit some friends of mine who work there now (this being part of the reason for my loathing of the city: it's like a black hole that sucks in cute guys and good friends), and I have to admit that I was unfair on it. The city has a number of strong points. For example:

  • It's like a first world city in Africa. There is something very glamorous about five enormous hotels on one block. That, and the fact that basically every major company and firm in the country has its headquarters up there. When you're in Jozi you feel like you're really part of this big, buzzing THING. I can understand why the locals find Cape Town infuriatingly sleepy.
  • Consequently, there are a lot of other first world characteristics - the shopping is fantastic (well, I believe so, I didn't get to do much shopping up there), there are some excellent restaurants and, well, a lot of strip clubs. I know it's sleazy, but it's also kind of cool. On my first night we went to a great steakhouse called Chef & the Fat Man, and in the same complex we discovered, to my guy friends' delight, that a Hooters is about to open. Only in Jozi.
  • The nightclubs - a) more selection and b) they are just bigger and better in Joburg. On the Friday night my friends took me to the notorious Hat (the Manhattan Club) and it is about three times the size of our Mother City version, Tiger Tiger. There's also a novelty Top Hat bar (just for men) and a ladies-only bar (of unremembered name). The music was a bit dodgy, but altogether the experience was very charming. 
  • The weather is also pretty awesome. Although, let's face it, a blue sky is a lot less thrilling over the Joburg cityscape than it is over mountain and sea, at least in Jozi it doesn't piss rain for weeks on end.
  • Lastly, and probably only lastly because I was there for just three days (and spent a good portion of those on the couch recovering from the nights), there are some good people up there. I felt very welcome and included by my friends' friends who had only just met me, and it was extremely cool to catch up with some of my good buddies who are living there. 
Sometimes bad cities happen to good people. Usually this is because of work. But sometimes those bad cities aren't actually all that bad. Us Capetonians, I think, should learn not to judge so swiftly. I for one will definitely be visiting again in the near future.

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