An October 2003 trip
to Johannesburg by KenDurham
Quote: This trip is for seven weeks as a Global Guide Exchange participant with RCI. This is part three of seven.
Restaurant | "The Meat Company"
It is the talk of the town! You have not experienced the best until you’ve had their steak. They use a unique aging process that ensures the meat is the most tender available, equaled by the best seafood, starters, and amazing desserts. They have one of the best wine selections around. Try walking up (or down) their spiral staircase and count the bottles. It is a challenge before your first drink and after it.
The atmosphere is perfect either for a family outing or that romantic dinner for two. We had a fire juggler and an accordion player wander by our table. The outside seating is actually inside the huge building complex but with trees and birds all around you and a starry night sky above you feel like you are outside in southern Spain.
Starters - range from snails and black mushroom bake to halloumi cheese and prawn bisque. The price range is between R30-38 (US$4-6).
Salads - beware, a single salad is big enough for four adults. And they have a large variety of them from the simple green salad to the marinated balsamic beef salad. The price range is between R30-R45 (US$4-7).
Main Courses - choose seafood, chicken, vegetarian, or beef. The price range is between R30-180 (US$4-26). They include potato of choice and vegetable of the day.
Seafood – Calamari, fillet of kingklip, line fish (changes daily), sole, prawns, and lobster.
Chicken – breasts, famous Spatchcock chicken *, or schnitzel.
Vegetarian – platter or burger (haloumi cheese)
Meat – 1) Super aged meat rump, fillet, sirloin, rib-eye, t-bone or prime rib. Servings range in size from 330g (11oz) to 1 kg (2.2 lb).
2) Grillers selection include skewers, saucy steak, fillet mignon, cajun sirloin,
spare ribs, saucy ribs, lamb cutlets, lamb shanks or the Meat Co. burger.
* See the section entitled “From Pretoria to Lions and Rhinos”
Desserts – prices range from R28-69 (US$4-10). They include chocolate mousse, a Meat Co. sundae, crème brulee, malva pudding, fruit Pavlova, sorbet, chocolate brownies, and cheese platters. Hope you saved some room!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 21, 2003
Johannesburg, South Africa
Attraction | "Montecasino"
Parking is entirely underground, so weather is never a problem. The entire complex has great security. Every person entering is swept and packages are searched. So there are no concerns.
The Montecasino is located at the Fourways junction on William Nicol Drive and Witkoppen Road. It is also accessible form the William Nicol off-ramp, off the N1 freeway. There also is a shuttle that goes to selected Sandton hotels to the casino every 90 minutes. Check with your hotel for more information.
The casino features over 1500 slot machines, two Fountain of Fortunes where the jackpot is either one or two million Rand. (approx. US$130,000-300,000 depending on exchange rate). They also have 70 gaming tables featuring blackjack, roulette, poker, dice, and Baccarat. There are two smoking casinos as well.
The InterCiontinental Palazzo Hotel offers guests a stunning view of the Montecassino village and the distant Magaliesburg mountains. The hotel has 246 suites and rooms. It is built on a Mediterranean theme and has a restaurant right on the premises.
From fast food shops, like Whimpy and KFC, and cafés to sip a fresh brewed coffee, Like Café Principe, to full service dining establishments such as the Meat Company (See dining section for write up). The MonteCasino offers a complete dining experience for all.
Visitors can choose from live theater to the Nu Metro (with 12 movie theaters in one). There also is the Magic Company with games for all ages.
The specialty shops cover all sorts of items. From fine jewelry to photo shops. From Teddy World to a music market. From Ghepetto’s Candy Store to Waners American Trading Store the combinations are endless and so is the selection.
Finally, there is fashion. Or maybe this should be first. Famous names such as Electric Circus, Cross Trainer, and the Feminique Boutique are just a few. Amici and Manock leathers and furs are also there. Enjoy and bring your plastic money.
Visit their website. Their phone number is 011/510-7777.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 21, 2003
cnr William Nicol Drive & Montecasino Blvd
Johannesburg, South Africa
Attraction | "Fort Klapperkop"
The construction started in December 1896, and the bomb-proof casements and ammunitions store were constructed as well as the ramparts. The casements and ammunitions storage room were constructed of concrete, and Italians were used for the masonry and stonework. Also, Germans, Dutch, and non-European labourers from various parts of the South African Republic were used.
Other fort sections that are still quite visible are the loopholes built into the walls for infantry to use. Trenches and barbed-wire barriers were built on the outside to stop the advance of troops. There were fortified rooms built into the side of the fort for officers and privates’ rooms, kitchen, hospital, machine and telegraph room, a stable, and a supply storeroom.
It took one year to finish the fort at a cost of 50,000 British pounds, and on January 18, 1898, the State President Kruger took over the fort on behalf of the government. The fort was very modern for its era. It had running water from a pump station built in the Fountains Valley. Electricity was available from a dynamo connected to a power paraffin motor, and a telephone system connected each fort in the area and the artillery camp.
The artefacts that are in the museum are rare and well worth the climb to the top of the hill to enter the fort.
Outside of the fort is a monument to remember those that died in service for their country. Even Canadians are listed there. A great thank-you to the families who lost loved ones in the defence of freedom through the years.
Fort KlapperKop Military Museum
Johannesburg, South Africa
The city of Pretoria is called ‘The Jacaranda City" for its unique tree with purple flowers. The city was named after Andries Peroris, the leader of the Boer forces at the battle of Blood River. The Afrikaans call it "tshwane", which means "we are one because we live together."
We saw the University of South Africa, which is the largest correspondence school in the world. Visit their website. Its impressive campus on Muckleneuk Ridge is a major landmark of the capital city. It has provincial centres in Cape Town, Durban and Pietersburg, Nelspruit and Umtata. The university has five learning centres in Pretoria (Thutong), Johannesburg, Durban (Masifunde), Pietersburg, and Cape Town and one satelite centre in Umtata. Also they are highly involved in Distance Education has been identified as a viable and feasible option for the retraining and in-service training of people to address the backlog in trained manpower in South Africa. With all its advantages, distance education is about to play a major role in the upgrading and restructuring of education in the near future.
Our first actual stop was at Fort Klapperkop, a military museum. The fort was declared a National monument in 1938. See the special activity section for detail information.
Pretoria boast the largest indoor shopping mall in South Africa. Menlyn Park Mall is multi stories and has every major chain of store in the mall to choose from. On the top floor is a large food court as well. We ate at the Ocean Basket restaurant in the mall. They have a unique way of serving their fish. You get it in individual steel frying pans. The fish is fresh and we had Hake and fries. Visit their website. Be prepared to walk and shop when you arrive.
When we left the mall we headed for the US Embassy. My traveling business partner is from the USA and wanted their picture taken in front of the embassy. There were local Pretoria police outside and they would not allow us to take a picture.
From there we went to the Union Building which is one of the two seats of government for South Africa. The terraced gardens here are beautiful even though they are just coming out of a drought season (April to September).
For many South Africans the Union Buildings are the most beautiful seat of a government in the world. Sir Herbert Baker was the architect of this 275 m long building and had it built in the English monumental style from light sandstone. It does indeed look majestic and lends a solemn environment to the official acts of the respective President. The Union Building has a half-round shape. The two wings at the sides represent the Boerish and the English part of the population. The building's name comes from the time of the South African Union, which was only changed in 1961 to the current name, the Republic of South Africa.
Since the first free and common elections in South Africa in 1994 the Union Building has been the seat of Ex-President Nelson Mandela for the winter season. Parliament spends the summer in Cape Town, the alternate capital.
Our final stop on our tour of Pretoria was at the Voortrekker Monument.
The Voortrekker Monument, which does not appear very attractive to tourists, is a national icon for Afrikaans South Africans. Particularly on December 16, the anniversary of the battle at the Blood River, Afrikaners from all over the country stream to the Voortrekker Monument to commemorate the--in their view-- most important event in the history of South Africa. The Building is constructed in such a way that just on that day at noon a ray of sunlight falls onto the Shrine of Honour in the Heroes’ Hall. It bears the inscription: "Ons vir jou, Zuid Afrika!" (We for you, South Africa!).
The Voortrekkers played an important part in Pretoria's past. The capital of the Boer republic in Transvaal was named after Andries Pretorius, the victorious leader of the Boers in the war against the Zulus. The founders of the former South African Republic were honoured by a colossal monument situated on Monument Hill, which is supposed to be a reminder of the courage, determination and persistence of the Voortrekkers.
Finally, we were headed home around 7pm. Time to rest after a day of seeing the sites of beautiful Pretoria. For more on Pretoria visit their website.
Wednesday night was a night to eat out, and a fantastic treat was in store for me. I was taken to the Meat Company at Monte Casino in the Fourways section of town (see the dining entry section). I had the ‘Famous Spatchcock Chicken’. For those who do not know what that is (as I didn’t) it is a whole chicken cut in half. Yes my eyes were bigger then my stomach. The grilled Portuguese style with peri peri was fantastic. Not mouth watering but definitely eye watering. What was left over was quickly put into a takeaway bag for my lunch the next day. I had started the meal with the ‘Black Mushroom Bake,”(see the attached picture and yes it is better then it looks. It is one mushroom topped with creamed spinach and cheddar cheese, which was divine. No, I had no room for dessert, a pity!
On Saturday we headed to Pretoria. See the article for this great sightseeing trip.
On Sunday we headed to the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve. Again see the article on that. It was here that I had the thrill of my life. To find out what that was read the article.
I visited here on Sunday October 12, 2003. There is a cost of R50 (US$7) to get into the reserve and it is well worth it.
The Rhino and Lion Nature reserve is a privately owned game reserve covering some 1,400 hectares (3,459 acres) which was opened to the public in 1990. The reserve started out with two white rhinos and a few assorted small buck. Now visitors can see up to 600 head of game on the reserve. There is a wide variety of game including some very rare and endangered species. The reserve falls within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (See part one for more on this site).
At the centre of the reserve is a protected area for visitors where they can have a braai (bar-be-cue), swim in the pool, get snacks at the kiosk, or buy a special gift at the well stocked curio shop. For the adventurous there is the ‘Croc Pub’ which overlooks the crocodile enclosure.
This was the key day to visit the reserve. Why? Because it is feeding day for the lions, cheetahs, and wild dogs. So at 1pm we headed over to the Lion and Predator camp. The reserve is proud to boast a pride of lions in this specially erected enclosure which conforms to standards as required by the Gauteng Department of Nature Conservation. As a result they are fed and not allowed to hunt. They still operate as a pride and live as close to nature as possible. There are two smaller camps adjoining the lion camp which house cheetah and a pack of wild dogs. These are both highly endangered species. The animals on view were all born in captivity.
Each of these enclosures are extremely large, with natural vegetation and water for the animals. When we arrived at the lion enclosure we were behind the ranger truck with the carcass on it for the animals. It was interesting to watch the lions at first approach the back of the truck and then try to get onboard. However, the driver moved faster and then headed to the feeding area. The lions waited until their food was off of the truck and then the female lions approached and started to feed. The male lion slowly approached after the females had started but waited until the females moved away a short distance before he started to feed.
We then proceeded to the next compound and saw the wild dogs feed on the ribs of a large animal. Again the pack works on a seniority basis, with the two dominating leaders waiting until the weaker ones ate.
Finally we entered the cheetah compound. At first we saw nothing, then the rangers spotted the cheetahs way off on a rock outcrop. After a few minutes the animals slowly approached the kill and started to eat. It was very apparent when watching the cheetah as to how well their colouring scheme helped them to blend into the area. We kept losing sight of them as they approached. One of our hosts Lynn said that she had never seen them before here, even though she has been to the reserve several times before.
The reserve has built a nursery for all the young endangered and orphaned animals. It is located next to the braai/kiosk area. There is no fee to get into this area, however there is a small fee to have your picture taken with the cubs or pups. In the area they had hippos, a baby zebra, named "Ziggy". There were also baby wild dogs and lions. Petty "Ziggy" was a great adventure, he wanted to suck on my fingers expecting it to be food.
‘THRILL OF A LIFE TIME"
While visiting the nursery I was approached by one of the attendant and asked "if I would like to help with the feeding!"
"The feeding of what," I asked?
The answer was "a seven week old lion cub."
WOW! Here I was visiting South Africa and I was going to be holding and feed a baby lion. WOW. The pictures prove that it happened. I held the cub just like a baby cradled in my arms, sucking on it bottle. Then when it was finished I rolled it over my leg, rubbed its back, and waited for that ‘baby lion burp’. Then I continued to stroke it until the cub fell asleep. There is no other way to describe the feeling of exhilaration that it gave me then except the one phrase "FANTASTIC THRILL OF A LIFETIME."
The late afternoon was spent having a braai while enjoying the beautiful scenery and the animals grazing nearby. There were rhinos, wildebeests (black and blue), Hartman zebra, ostrich, springbuck, blesbok, gemsbok, and Cape buffalo. While waiting for the coals to be ready for the braai we could see two thunder storms approaching the area. The rain held off until the food was ready, (of course). We were fortunate that it was a light shower that did nothing to dampen our time eating.
Across the road from the main gate is the reserves breeding centre. The main focus of the centre is a breeding programme for white lions, endangered species, and Bengal tigers.
It was a full, long day but enjoyed by all.
The reserve has an active web camera available on the web. See it and find out how to adopt an animal by visiting their website. Their phone number is 011/957-0109. They are located on the Krugersdorp Road just outside of Johannesburg.
Quispamsis NB, New Brunswick