Feb 16th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Senior Citizens Discover a World-Class City

Well Seniors, we are going to go a long, long ways on this one,  all the way to South Africa. Let’s first check out the airlines.  We will fly South African Airlines, okay? Johannesburg is served by O.R. Tambo International Airport, the largest and busiest airport in Africa and a gateway for international air travel to and from the rest of southern Africa. Now that that’s settled, let’s check into some great times in South Africa.

Johannesburg also known as Jozi, Jo’burg or Egoli,  is the largest city in South Africa.  The population of the Greater Johannesburg Metropolitan Area was 7,151,447 a few years ago. Johannesburg is the provincial capital of Gauteng, the wealthiest province in South Africa, having the largest economy of any metropolitan region in Sub-Saharan Africa. The city is one of the 40 largest metropolitan areas in the world, and is also the world’s largest city not situated on a river, lake, or coastline.

It claims to be the lightning capital of the world, though this title is also claimed by others. The city is the source of a large-scale gold and diamond trade, due to its location on the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills so, senior traveler,  maybe we can get a deal on some good gold jewelry and a nice diamond ring. Check out one of these tours.  I love to take a tour, like a Grey Line, the first day in any new large city. These tours look pretty good and will also take you a  day’s drive out of the city.

Half the population of Jozi live in Soweto (Originally an acronym for “SOuth-WEstern TOwnships”) and adjacent suburbs. The majority of the population is formed by South Africa’s black residents. There are also around 300,000 residents of other descent. Unlike other South African cities, no language group dominates, although English is the established lingua franca. Jozi is the economic hub of South Africa, and increasingly for the rest of Africa. Although estimates vary, about 10% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP is generated in Johannesburg. Yet the city’s wealth is unequally distributed among its inhabitants causing the city to have, within its own borders, living conditions varying from first world standards to third world conditions.

Johannesburg represents the spirit of South Africa, and in some ways a visit to the country is not complete without an introduction to the city. Lonely Planet to the rescue with a great listing of activities, entertainment, restaurants, shopping, sights, tours and hotels all on this one page.

Johannesburg is a booming, happening city and the emphasis is on making money – whether in business or on the streets – and has been since its beginnings when the world’s richest gold fields were discovered in Johannesburg during the 1880s. To the first-time visitor Johannesburg can be a little daunting, more so because of the misrepresentation by the media of Johannesburg as something of a war zone. There is crime; you do need to keep your wits about you, but once bitten by the vibe of Jozi, you’re going to want to return.

There are over six million trees in Jozi (my two brothers and I counted them once) – that draws senior visitors; buzzing, trendy suburbs like Parktown and Norwood, with their restaurant-lined avenues that cater for the dining and décor set; the high street of Greenside that so easily dons the mantle of hip chic; fashionable Melville, and the sprawling malls of Sandton, all combine to make the city a great place to be.

Gauteng Attractions Catch Seniors

Although it is the smallest of South Africa’s nine provinces, Gauteng, the Sotho word for “Place of Gold”, is the commercial and industrial powerhouse of the country and indeed of southern Africa. Gauteng is a cosmopolitan, multicultural mix of people from all walks of life, from all corners of the world. Gauteng’s main attraction is big business, but there is so much more … museums, galleries, historical battlefields. Gauteng is also an entertainment playground offering world-class restaurants, shebeens (Irish: sibín) was originally an illicit bar or club where alcoholic beverages were sold without a license, shopping malls and music venues. Try to take in one of these gospel choir concerts.

Johannesburg epitomizes South Africa’s paradoxical makeup—it is rich, poor, innovative, and historic all rolled into one. And it seems at times as though no one actually comes from Johannesburg. The city is full of immigrants: Italians, Portuguese, Chinese, Hindus, Swazis, English, Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Xhosa. And the streets are full of merchants. Traders hawk skop (boiled sheep’s head, split open and eaten off newspaper) in front of polished glass buildings, as taxis jockey for position in rush hour. Sangomas (traditional healers) lay out herbs and roots next to roadside barbers’ tents, and you never seem to be far from a woman selling vetkoek (dollops of deep-fried dough), beneath billboards advertising investment banks or cell phones. Take good notes on this one with lots of good photos to share later with friends. jeb

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