Updated: Oct 1, 2021
1. Arrived at the Johannesburg Park Station via train. Please see the Cape Town After Action Report for the details.
2. Use Uber to get around. It is very economical (~R60 around town), convenient (~5 minute wait time), and most importantly safe. Half of the Uber drivers had minor issues when driving around: unsure of what route to take, trouble getting out of first gear, delivering us to the rear of the Apartheid Museum and the S.A. Military Museum. It wasn't a big deal, but you need to stay alert.
- Note: It is very difficult to get a sense of a city when you are continually advised not to walk around. The little time I did walk around and the time looking out the Uber window reminded me of the old tv show McLoud (with Dennis Weaver). The show was a police procedural in the early '70s (about a rural policeman working in the big city), that also served to document NYC at its nadir - with graffiti, litter, danger, and hopelessness around every corner. Johannesburg appears to have a similar vibe.
3. Apartheid Museum: An AAR Must See (R90/person). You need to plan at least three hours, as there is a temporary Nelson Mandela exhibit and a 20-minute movie that will take up some of your time.
-Note: the correct pronunciation is "Apart hate".
4. South African Military Museum: this museum has one of the most extensive collections of tanks, vehicles, and guns I have ever encountered with a significant amount of soviet equipment (captured in Angola during the Angolan Bush War in the '70s and '80s). Highlights:
An exhibit on 32 Battalion, a unit of Angolan, ex FNLA, black soldiers, that fought for S.A after the Angolan War of Independence. Still trying to understand why. Reminded me of slaves who volunteered to fight for the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
An interesting exhibit on South Africans who were POWs in Germany during WW II and participated in The Great Escape.
An exhibit on Italian POW art
The only Me 262 two-seater in the world.
An exhibit on S.A. anti-WWII activists and Nazi supports (many of whom became S.A. political leaders, including a President).
Note: just prior to exiting the museum make a sharp left (prior to reaching the bars) and enter the Lt Gen Aml Masondo Library. Go right and review the hallway full of old photos and art. Then double back and go upstairs to review the newspaper posted clippings.
After exiting inspect the Anglo-Boer War Memorial
5. Hallmark House: Centrally located (you will be taking Uber everywhere), a king-sized bed with a modern bathroom and spacious shower. A solid buffet breakfast is available (R70-80), a small bar and coffee shop are located in the lobby (though the coffee shop did have an issue processing my credit card). $50 a night via booking.com.
6. In the basement of the Hallmark House is The Marabi Club. It's a jazz club with live music and a delicious small plate menu (I recommend you start with a classic Old Fashioned, then the grilled springbok followed by the mackerel ceviche). Mrs. AAR discovered this place (it has a speakeasy vibe) and it was a real score.
7. Shakers Cocktail Bar: located in the vibrant Maboneng District. A shot of Jameson's (R29) cost less than a pint of Saweto Gold Tap Beer (R46) - go figure. If you are in the neighborhood give it a try (and get the Jameson's), otherwise I'd try someplace else.
8. The Living Room Rooftop Cafe for sunset views of downtown Johannesburg.
9. Ubered to the Johannesburg airport (JNB) @ R260 @ 35 minutes (during morning rush hour).
-Required Listening: Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner by the inimitable Warren Zevon.