If I had to split my time between 2 places only, I would choose San Francisco and Johannesburg.
One city I know well, the other one I want to get to know well.
Johannesburg is where I live, I know these streets, the people, some of its secrets and many of its treasures. It’s the biggest man-made forest in the world and no vista is more spectacular to see a huge part of this forest than from the top of Munroe Drive in Houghton.
In spring the purple jacarandas line the streets like a purple canopy. In winter the sunsets are like a fire in the west, fleetingly showing off all the colours of the red, orange and yellow palette.
There’s a frenetic energy befitting the economic hub of the country. People speak fast, walk fast and drive even faster. It’s not a place for sissies.
Johannesburg began as a mining town established when gold was discovered on the Witwatersrand. Many buildings still go back to that period, and the city is laid out in a grid pattern. It’s easy to imagine dirt roads, horses and saloons on every corner.
It’s known as the city of gold, or Egoli (Place of Gold), Jozi, Joeys or Joburg – to those of us who live here.
San Francisco I experienced fleetingly, as a tourist. I experienced a similar energy, even more sleeplessness, more of a 24-hour place than Johannesburg.
I crossed the Golden Gate bridge and looked across at Alcatraz and thought – “I can swim that…!” (Yeah, right!).
I rode down Lombard Street in a mini van with 6 of us yelling, screaming, laughing nervously and commenting about what South African taxi drivers would do in their tin cans without any brakes – it was memorable!
I experienced Fisherman’s Wharf, and loved it. The vibe and energy. Each corner turned was a new discovery. The novelty shops. Entertainment arcades. Seafood restaurants. And a subtle setting of the sun over the marina.
Silver painted buskers stood statue-like waiting for kids to go up to them and tentatively touch their glistening skin before making a sudden move, much to the surprise and eventual delight of the kids.
In the evening we drove to the Coit Tower and wondered the gardens looking at the lights framing the skyscrapers.
In the chilly wind I made a promise – that I would be back, for a longer time, to experience the city in its entirety.
Yes indeed…if I had to split my time between 2 cities, Johannesburg and San Francisco are definitely my choices.
In the summertime for both.