A Quick Stop in Jo'burg

 

Johannesburg was the first stop on our trip to South Africa. It's the country's biggest city, but unfortunately, not the nicest place to visit. The area that we stayed in, Maboneng District, is a very interesting, artsy neighborhood, but beyond the two streets that it's safe to walk on, much of the rest of the city is dangerous and difficult to explore on your own.

We stayed at the 12 Decades Art Hotel, which has guest rooms themed for various decades of Johannesburg's history. It's a cute, but basic hotel. Just outside the hotel are a bunch of restaurants and cafes that are convenient to visit.

What to See

Although we took a day tour around Johannesburg, the primary attractions were the Apartheid Museum and Soweto.

The Apartheid Museum was very well done, and I would very highly recommend it to anyone visiting the city. Entering the museum, your ticket indicates whether you enter through the 'Whites' entrance or the 'Non-Whites' entrance, which really sets the segregation theme.

Tickets for the Apartheid Museum. You randomly get a ticket to use the entrance for Whites or Non-Whites.

Entrance to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. Left for whites, right for non-whites, depending on your randomly assigned ticket.

Inside are a number of exhibits that really give you a feel for what life must have been like, both for all South Africans during Apartheid, and the incredible influence that Nelson Mandela had on the country. As with other such museums, it serves as a reminder of a very unfortunate past.

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I was very surprised when we toured Soweto. I was expecting a shantytown with garbage on the streets and muddy sidewalks, but instead, I found the city to have many very nice neighborhoods, with homes that rival other cities' most affluent and expensive areas.

Street performers in Soweto.

The childhood home of Nelson Mandela was a nice stop on the tour. He lived there in very modest accommodations. Inside you're able to see some of the many honors and awards that he was presented with.

Nelson Mandela's childhood home.