Exploring Jozi – July 15 Edition

Visiting another country is always amazing. It affords you the opportunity to learn about another place, discover more about yourself and shed a different light on your home town. Don’t get me wrong I do love travelling but I love coming back home so much more. My recent trip to London made me more appreciative of Johannesburg. I have decided that I need to explore more of Jozi, not just go about the same routine of restaurant/shopping mall and movie.

I did extensive research when I was in London which included tourist attractions, restaurants, markets, galleries, museums and shops to name a few. I’m guessing many of you also do the same. Why don’t we do that in our own town? Sure we usually go to the latest event that pops up because it catches our social media feed and gets exposure. But why don’t we do our own research? Discover our own gems? I visited galleries in London but I am ashamed to say I had never been to an art gallery in Jhb or even thought to check what galleries there are.

I visited not one but two art galleries this weekend! Circa gallery is architecturally the most beautifully designed building I have seen, looking even more stunning at night. There are currently two exhibitions on at the moment, a collection by Colbert Mashile on the ground floor and one by Dylan Lewis on the first floor. It’s a short spiral walk to the top with light beaming in from the gaps in the outer design. The roof is one of the best parts of the gallery playing home to a rooftop lounge with beautiful views. We took the quick exit down a pretty leaf enclosed staircase.

Directly opposite Circa is the Everard Read Gallery in a converted house. I loved that there is plenty of light coming through the gallery and sections where you can see the garden and water features. The best part about these two galleries are that they are free! I am quite a late sleeper so the only difficulty for me was making it there before they closed at 1pm on a Saturday.

We decided to lunch on a candyfloss milk shake, craft burger and pollo pizza at Craft. They don’t do reservations so be prepared to wait. The busy and bustling vibe suited our day out of exploring.

The last excursion for the day was to 27 Boxes. Some advice is not to go to the street listed on the website as the parking entrance is on the street before it. It is an interesting space and a lot smaller than I imagined it. The outside area resembles a kids playground and the interior is vacant and cold. There is still construction carrying on with plenty of the store space unoccupied. I will definitely pay a visit in the summer time which should hopefully be better. The main reason for the trip was to try icecream at Paul Ballen’s store. Birthday cake and salted caramel were the two flavours we devoured. And yes it did taste like birthday cake!

The rest of the weekend was spent shopping and attending a Benefit Beauty event. Hey, you can run, you can hide but you can’t escape the mall!

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I hope these posts will inspire you to get out of your comfort zone and do a little exploring of your own!

Art & Galleries,
CG

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Aficionado Pop-Up Bar

The Aficionado Bar situated at the Sandton Eye (aka the Radisson Blu Hotel) is the latest in pop-up offerings. Introducing Ron Zacapa, a premium rum produced in Guatemala was the main inspiration behind the bar.

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Ron Zacapa scores a 95 point rating (out of 100) from the Beverage Tasting Institute proving it to be exceptional. What makes the rum special is that it is stored 2300m above sea level in Guatemala. The high altitude slows the aging process allowing more time for the flavours, body and colour of the rum to develop. Zacapa 23 is a blend of rum aged in a barrel between 6 and 23 years.

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The area near the entrance houses space for the DJ, a dance floor/standing area, a lone table and a couch. Whilst I’m not sure what Guatemalan decor looks like (Google you have failed me!), I would say a good job was done transforming the space. The mix of various leather and fabric couches, use of wood and wooden barrels, the lighting and plants did form an image of an exclusive Guatemalan bar in my mind. I didn’t automatically think it represented Guatemala but it definitely clicked and made sense once I read that it was the idea behind the decor.

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The upstairs section hosted the smokers which I didn’t check out as I absolutely hate cigarette smoke. The best thing about this separate area is that non-smokers don’t have to end of the evening reeking of disgusting cigarette smoke. The menu boasts more than a few innovative drinks which are presented with flourish, theatrics and props. Try an unusual drink if you do go, leave the boring beers for another place. You can check out a few of the drinks I tasted in my next post on the pop up restaurant “The Dining Room”. This is the restaurant that is currently running in conjunction with the bar.

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I loved the portraits depicting pictures or quotes relating to Guatemala or Ron Zacapa rum. The multi wood paneled wall provided a complementary decor contrast. This section was home to a few bar tables and stools. Whilst the space looked a bit too empty from a decor perspective, the space was needed from a practical perspective as it is near one of the bars.

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Most people would probably find this picture weird but I have an obsession with silhouetted images lately. I love that you have a little peek of the purple lighting, rum barrels, couches and the exposed brick wall with frames in the background. I had to stand pretty close to the plant to get this shot, pretty sure the bouncer thought I was such a weirdo!

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I liked the music, but this is of course dependent on who the DJ playing on the night is. The crowd was quite young – less chance of dodge old men hitting on you here! I am not really the bar/clubbing person but my friend
who was there the same night as I was, left because the place was too packed and busy and went somewhere else.

The bar is open Wed to Sat and is running until the 28 November. Dress more smart than casual and no under 23’s allowed. Do expect to pay exorbitant parking fees (we paid R35 for 4 hours – well I thought it was expensive). And definitely do make a reservation online beforehand to avoid the R50 entrance fee, a waiting list and a queue.

Click: http://www.aficionadobar.co.za
Hop: Sandton Eye, Cnr Rivonia & West Street, Sandton

Guatemala & Rum,
CG

Girl Geek Dinner in Johannesburg

I attended my very first Girl Geek Dinner at Col’ Cacchio in Benmore yesterday. My expectations were high as I have always seen the tweets from past events and the event looked quite cool. Tickets sell out extremely fast, after a few hours they are all snapped up. Before I tell you about the event I’m sure you are wondering what are Girl Geek Dinners. It’s an informal organization in 23 countries that promotes women in the information technology industry. The Johannesburg bi-monthly dinners were founded by Leigh-Ann Fowle. The idea of the dinner is to give women the opportunity to connect support and empower each other. 

Tickets are paid for via EFT which I didn’t mind but the confirmation email lacked any detail. It being my first event I thought things only started at 6:30 but you should ideally get there at least 30 minutes earlier. We got our name tags and goodie bags outside before going inside the restaurant. Now this is where all the confusion started. I only saw tables with company names on and there was no one inside to direct you. I didn’t know where I could find a seat/where I could sit/where I was allowed to sit. I proceeded upstairs where there was an Xbox dance demonstration (very cool – dance mats are so last season!) as well  as a skin mapping by Tusc. I have heard great things about skin mapping but my time was wasted as I was informed it was too dark to see anything so random Dermalogica products were ticked on a page and handed to me. 

I went downstairs still confused as to where to sit or what was going on so I asked a waiter who much to my horror showed me to a table outside. There were three tables outside and ours seemed like an afterthought table as we didn’t get a heater or programs or cutlery like the other tables did. 

The ticket price of R200 certainly covers all the foods and drinks we got served. Starters was a delicious salad, vegetarian antipasto and focaccia. For mains there was an option of selected pizzas or pastas. I opted for the seasoned chicken, avo, feta and peppers (without the bacon). Dessert options included Italian kisses, caramel popcorn with ice cream and chocolate brownies. Hats off to Col’ Cacchio to handling a big event well. I was surprised my pizza was served hot given how many pizzas had to get made. Our waiter was also super friendly and checked on us even when we moved tables. 

The speakers of the evening were Emma Sadlier and Tamsyn de Beer. They have co-authored the book “Don’t film yourself having sex… And other legal advice for the age of social media”. These ladies are both super smart with a Masters in Law from London School of Economics. The ladies were on after we had our starters. I have a total girl crush on Emma who is just amazing. It’s not easy to be an eloquent, engaging, witty and interesting speaker all at the same time but she is. I was super glad I got to hear her speak. Emma went a bit over her time so Tamsyn had to rush through her segment. I thought it would have been better if the two speakers were split up during the course of the evening so they didn’t have to rush. Ladies were also quite rude chatting during the QnA session making it hard to hear.

A few thoughts from the talk that I thought I would share:

* Anything you put or share on the Internet is there forever. People will screenshot it faster than you can delete it.

* Liking, RT or favoriting a tweet or status means that you are agreeing and associating yourself with it.

* There is no such thing as a free product, all your data is being mined. Facebook, whatsapp and even gmail! I have seen plenty of articles on this but I will say it again to you anyway, DO NOT install Facebook messenger. The settings enables it to do scary things such as record, send an SMS etc without your permission. 

* Your online activity becomes your online CV.

* Private settings now doesn’t mean it will remain private in the future. Terms and conditions on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram can change and all your data can be made public before you can do anything about it.

* Don’t tweet when angry or drunk.

* After work activities that bring your company into disrepute will get you fired. Even if you don’t mention your company on any of your profiles a quick search can easily bring up this information.

* Don’t be a racist ever. Especially not on social media.

* Did you ever consider about what happens to your social media profile when you die?

* If you have kids is it really necessary to document their lives on social media for everyone to see? And especially so with the large number of paedophiles that exist.

After mains most of our table left because we were frozen at that point. Overall the event felt very commercialized – a well known tech blogger I chatted to afterwards agreed with me. Preference was given to companies who booked out tables and they socialize only amongst themselves. I would recommend that if you do go, make sure you take a buddy with. The evening was awkward for me as most people had their friends to chat to. Also since everyone at our table was freezing we didn’t really interact and chat much. It was difficult to enjoy sitting in the cold watching from an awkward angle without a heater or blanket. The event wasn’t special as I would have easily achieved the same outcome by hearing people speak at an auditorium and then leaving. Speaking to a few ladies there it seems that some people go with the intention of getting sloshed or just having a dinner out with their friends which doesn’t seem like the real reason the dinners started. 

Our sad goodie bag contained a beautiful (but stale biscuit), pens, 20% discount voucher on one cup only at Wakaberry (?!), an energy bar and energy tablets. We all had a good laugh at our table about the Wakaberry discount voucher which can also only be used at the Waterfall branch. I’m glad that the speakers were great otherwise I would have been even more disappointed. I fully understand the hard work that goes into organizing an event and while it seems that past dinners were better in terms of organization I can only go on what I can experienced first hand. I can tick this off the bucket list but I doubt I will be going again – I’ll follow the tweets on twitter next time.

Click: http://girlgeeksofjhb.co.za/

Girls & Geeks,
CG

Sushi class at The Hilton

The great thing about a cooking class is that you don’t need to know how to cook at all. I don’t do a stitch of cooking, baking or any culinary work. I don’t even like eating sushi! But I had an amazing time and would definitely recommend it to anyone. The class takes place only on Fridays nights at The Hilton in Sandton at a cost of R330pp. I think this is great value for money as you get 31 pieces of sushi plus a welcome drink, tea/coffee and dessert. The price is reasonable as most cooking classes cost around R500.

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The classes are intimate with a maximum of 8 people attending ensuring that you get enough one on one attention. Waiters are present to take your drink orders throughout the class. Like most classes it is best you go in a group of at least two as people are generally there with someone and you might feel left out. If you do decide to go alone the intimate nature of the class won’t make you feel too lonesome. 

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I was worried that like other cooking classes we would only eat after the class. This wasn’t the case as we sampled the sushi we made throughout the class. Warning: you will make 31 pieces of sushi! Don’t stuff your face with the boring cucumber maki and eat all six pieces like we did. We made sushi using salmon, smoked salmon, tuna and prawns.

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While your sushi might not look perfect it doesn’t matter because it will still taste great! The instructor had a good laugh at me because I couldn’t cut anything properly. At end of the class we got a certificate and had tea/coffee and dessert. It is a unique activity for a date or a group of friends. Book a class, you will have loads of fun and dinner to eat!

The Hilton have kindly agreed to sponsor a sushi school experience for two people worth R660! All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment below on who you would take with you to the class and what your favourite type of sushi is. A winner will be drawn on 1 September. Good luck!

Update: The competition is now closed. Congrats to Poonam! Thanks for reading and entering everyone.

Chopsticks & Sushi,
CG

Walking tour with Past Experiences

I don’t go out into the CBD and certainly not out and about walking. This made me love this tour that much more. I had always thought (wrongly) that walking tours were expensive. This is certainly not the case with Past Experiences. A two hour weekend budget tour will only cost you R120. The tour I did was a naming Jozi tour through the streets of Newtown. There is a huge variety of tours on offer that change constantly. I definitely want to go back and do a graffiti tour. A few of the places we stopped at included the old Johannesburg Stock Exchange, The Johannesburg Library and Chancellor House. The nerdy bookworm in me was rather excited to check the inside of the library out. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and super passionate which made the tour that much more great. Overall the tour is quite chilled and at a slow walking pace. It’s suited for everyone, there were old people and parents with kids in prams. I learnt some interesting facts whilst we wandered in parts of the city I have not been before. If you are looking for something interesting to do over the weekend or simply wanting to explore the city you should definitely book your place on the tour. It makes for a good outing to pair this tour with a trip to Neighbourgoods Market afterwards. Below are a few of my favourite pictures I took with my iPhone.

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Click: http://pastexperiences.co.za

Walking & Touring,
CG

Madame Zingara

Madame Zingara’s Theatre of Dreams is nothing short of spectacular. People who have been will tell you how amazing it is and are sure to have visited several times. Zingara for those who are unaware is a dinner theatre show in an unrivalled class of its own. I have been three times already and it certainly is not going to stop at that number. In a nutshell it can be described as a show and dinner, but it so much more. The entire experience is very unique. Madame Zingara is currently calling Monte Casino in Johannesburg home. I felt the outside area complete with a bar before you enter the tent was very small this time around. A cute lit up heart and lollipops form part of the décor where everyone loves to take a pic, including me! Inside the tent there is a dress up store where you can buy wigs, wings, crowns, hats, feather scarfs and get your face painted. The floor fairies (waiters) are all assigned a character and are dressed accordingly. Our waiter was Speedy and he bounced and walked on the spot.

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There were seven different acts in between the food courses. The performances was nothing short of amazing. We were in total awe of their capabilities. The food was superb and better that some of the restaurants I have been to. Even the bread and butter was really yummy. Our first course was a selection of mezze. Everything was delicious and I really loved the soup.

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For our second course we chose the heart shaped ravioli pockets served with a sauteé of delicate mushrooms & a drizzle of truffle oil. The other second course option that you can choose from is a light, crisp and crunchy summer salad. For me the choice was easy as pasta wins over salad always!

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The bf had the salmon topped with a vegetable salsa and served on a bed of mash. He enjoyed his fish but it did seem that it was trout served and not salmon.

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I had the lamb shank prepared in a red wine sauce served with mash. I have had lamb shank at a few restaurants and they range from dismal to average. This was a good lamb shank. Also because they serve only a few dishes to a large number of guests you don’t get served old produce which sometimes happens in restaurants.

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Other main options include a chocolate chilli fillet, a Moroccan chicken tagine and a Thai veg curry. A trio of delicious desserts was the perfect way to end the evening. Malva pudding; red velvet, white chocolate and Amarula mousse and vanilla pod ice cream. The red velvet was by far my favourite.

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For a four course meal and a show it is certainly well worth the price which ranges from R440 to R495 excluding drinks. If you paying for two it can be quite a pricey evening out. Zingara is perfect for a small birthday party though it does get quite loud. I love that they change the show every year so that you can experience new acts. It’s a fun night for the young and old, lovers, friends or family. Do check out the gallery on the website for great pics of the performers. If you haven’t been I would highly recommend you go. If you have been already you should understand why you need to go again!

Click: http://theatreofdreams.madamezingara.com/
Ring: 0861 623 263
Hop: Monte Casino

Theatre & Dreams,
CG

Air cinema club

The choices are limited for weekday night outings in Jozi. You generally will go out for dinner or a movie or both. As much as I love going to the cinema the experience is always the same. The social aspect is lacking and the environment involves a stuffy shopping mall. This is where Air Cinema comes into the picture. Like the name suggests the experience is watching a movie out in the open air on a rooftop overlooking Jhb city centre (usually the top of the neighbourgoods market). Munching on popcorn, enjoying a drink (which can be alcoholic), whilst relaxing on a beanbag and taking in the gorgeous view of the city… what’s not to love!

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The idea behind Air cinema is to make the cinema experience social once more. Classic movies are screened in the hope of encouraging people to get excited about cinema and the conversation flowing on film discussions.Tickets can be bought online from webtickets. R120 for movie only, R150 for movie and afterparty, R100 for afterparty only and R150 for movie and right to take your own food in. Cinema goers are encouraged to dress according to the theme of the movie. I attended the Friday the 13th Texas chainsaw massacre movie where some people dressed in scary attire.

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The effort the team went to set the scene was amazing. From the moment we entered there was a cordoned of police scene with a hanging chainsaw and bloody words encouraging you to Facebook and tweet using the Air cinema hashtag. I didn’t like having to walk up five flights of stairs – you guys know how lazy I am! I would have missed all the cool decor if I hadn’t. Fake blood, dead pigeons, dead dogs, burnt bodies, voodoo dolls and demon heads kept us company on our walk to the top.

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In the food area a newspaper clippings wall was set up with missing person articles and scary stories. There was also a voodoo room and a Dexter style operating room. It was great to see the attention to detail in ensuring that the experience started way before the movie began.

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The food we had to choose from was nachos, burritos, hotdogs, boerewors rolls, chicken pieces and waffles. Prices are decent at R40. I didn’t think it was fair that vegetarian nachos are the same price as chicken and beef. I opted for the chicken nachos which I didnt like as it was quite a heavy meal to eat before lying down on a beanbag. The portion is quite large and I felt the food upsetting. Unfortunately all the food options on offer are junk.

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I think it would be nice if you could eat in the food area with some tables and picnic style benches or beanbags. This area was an empty space with no vibe as people buy their food and leave. Sitting on the beanbags and eating in the cinema area is not ideal as it is quite dark and cramped. My advice is eat somewhere else beforehand. Eating the food there doesn’t contribute or form an integral part of the experience so rather give it a skip! I would have loved different types of sweet options sold like a mix of candies and chocolate or candy floss. Drinks were quite expensive. A lime and soda water as well as passion fruit, lemonade and vodka came to R70. Unlimited popcorn served in the cutest containers on the rooftop is complimentary and included in the ticket price.

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A really gross aspect for me were the bathrooms. The toilets had no seat and no water meant no flushing either. Neither was there any soap or water to wash hands. Totally utterly disgusting. We were at the venue early and secured our spot. Most people arrived late in big groups and then struggled to get seats together. If you are going in a big group I would advise getting there before 8. Tickets are sold to accommodate 350 people. While this sounds quite cramped for a small rooftop once everyone is seated you don’t feel that space is an issue. The big annoying problem was that people got up every 15min to buy more beer or go to the bathroom. You wouldn’t do this in a normal movie so why now?! I wish people did all their business before hand. Unfortunately people with only a few brain cells lined the open spaces against the wall with beanbags which are meant for space and walking. This meant there was no walking space whatsoever. People doing a very dodge balancing act trying not to spill their beer or step on you was a disturbance that really detracted from the experience. This is obviously not the organizers fault but more a function of the people attending.

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The cinema crowd was split into the arty peeps who actually came to watch a movie and the loud offensive drunks who came for a drinking beer and smoking weed opportunity. With the chosen movie being a horror and the event held on a Friday night it certainly attracted plenty of the latter. I think the more arty films screened on a Thursday draws a better crowd.

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We packed blankets as it did get chilly with it being out in the open and off the ground. The floor is quite dirty as drinks and food get spilt so I would recommend leaving the pretty handbag at home ladies.

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The idea behind air cinema is a great one. It is a different and innovative take of a movie experience in a new and fun way. This is just one of many new events taking place to get people back into the city. I really loved that we were on a rooftop, underneath the stars watching a movie. The group of people present on the night made it difficult to concentrate and watch the actual movie. If you are there with the intention to watch a movie you will get annoyed by the people that view it as a drinking opportunity not a movie viewing one. I think that this is not ideal for a romantic date but as a large group of friends you are bound to enjoy it. It is definitely more fun and social than a visit to an ordinary cinema. The movies screened are not the latest blockbusters but it’s always good to watch a cult favourite that you might not have seen before. I will definitely be going again with a group of friends!

Popcorn & Movies,
CG