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Graham Williams & Louise Jones Travel Blog This is our journal logging our trip through Central and Latin America from July 2005 to the present date. We update it and add new pictures every two to three weeks. At the moment Will is travelling in South Africa, while Lou is living in Buenos Aires.For more background reading on our travels go to - http://journals.worldnomads.com/will/

Pretoria - South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA | Wednesday, 4 October 2006 | Views [3979] | Comments [1]

Looking across from the Union Buildings to downtown Pretoria.

Looking across from the Union Buildings to downtown Pretoria.

After over a year in Latin America, last week I flew to South Africa to continue my trip in Africa. The plane flew via Cape Town and I got a glimpse of Table Mountain as we came into land, before heading onto Johannesburg. I decided not to stay in Jo’berg or Jozzie as its reputation for crime goes before it but to stay in the comparatively safer Pretoria.

I’d been to South Africa before, in 1998 but had only travelled in the area around Durban. The Jo’berg/Pretoria area is the richest part of the country and the first thing to strike me was the amount of conspicuous wealth on display, every other car is BMW or a Mercedes. There is lots of building going on too, especially ‘security villages’, housing estates with very high walls and electric fences around them.

The hostel I’m staying in is in the very pleasant area of the city called Hatfield, which is the University and Embassy District. There are lots of wide roads and nice suburban houses, the quite a few have been converted into Backpacker Hostels and B and B’s. The only problem with it is that although the centre of Hatfield is only ten minutes walk away, it is not recommended that you walk between the two at night. People either drive or you have a lot of quiet nights in. Anything outside the high walls and electric fences are considered fair game at night be they parked cars or people.

The centre of Pretoria has a very 50’s 60’s feel, not many new buildings have been built since then. Although it is the capital of the country and the heart of Afrikanerdom, there are almost no white people about and even fewer walking about, so tourists like me stand out. White people drive everywhere and shop in the suburbs. There aren’t that many sights to see, the Colonial Union Buildings which you can no longer walk around and Church Square, the heart of the Transvaal which is surrounded by grand buildings.

After so long in the Latin world it’s been a real pleasure to be able to speak and ask for everything in English. There are also lots of little things like the plaques and memorials scattered around the city that remind one of home. Another delight is to be able to walk into a bookshop full of English books and have a real choice of things to read. Even doing things like writing this is easier as the software is not in Spanish.

My intention was to make a short visit to Mozambique. Unfortunately, this week the Mozambique government has decided to increase the visa fees for British Nationals to the amount we charge them, which is a lot. No doubt fair but not something that will help their tourist industry. Instead I am heading into the heart of South Africa, to Kimberley.

Tags: On the Road

Comments

1

Graham, you certainly don't let the dust settle on your shoes! I was last in S.Africa in 1984 under apartheid and the pleasures of Tom Sharpe's novels... appalling as that regime was it does sound from your reports (and those of friends we have, who have lived there throughout the period) that there is a long way to go before stability & personal safety become a way of life.
We shall continue(as long as the pc allows us!) to follow your travels / experiences.
Love from us both, Paddy.

  pADDY jOHNSTON Oct 7, 2006 4:49 AM

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