There have been people. Everywhere!


Africa-themed “light sculptures” of a mother and baby rhino and an acacia tree at Sandton's Nelson Mandela Square.  (Photo by Karen Elowitt.)

Africa-themed “light sculptures” of a mother and baby rhino and an acacia tree at Sandton’s Nelson Mandela Square. (Photo by Karen Elowitt.)

Vida e Caffe – whichever Vida you go to – Greenside, Parktown North or Sandton – the cyclists are hanging out outside, the hipsters are inside and the writers are huddled over their laptops on the barstools. Vida are selling tons of coffee and doing a really good holiday trade.

There are the most unbelievable line outside The Magnum Pop Up Shop in Rosebank. Kids and adults, all queuing up for hours to get their tailor made Magnum ice-cream. I did this with my boys (true love) the day before Christmas. The ice-creams were delicious, but mostly, standing in the queue was an astonishing experience. Chatting to everyone around us, watching the teens take their selfies and then finally getting to the front and designing, and eating, an ice cream. Yummy. Fantastic. And ridiculously busy.

When I went to Rosebank, the Rosebank Mall was pumping. There were no free tables at Tasha’s Restaurant in The Zone, and that was mid afternoon, not even lunch-time. The new Woolworths restaurant – full. Ninos and Europa – madness. The waiters were run off their feet. And everyone was rushing around with huge bags, filled with presents and fabulous shopping.

I challenge anyone to go to a Virgin Active Gym over this festive period. No such thing as choosing a treadmill or having the sauna to yourself – busy busy busy!

Driving down 4th Avenue Parkhurst one evening, I was not sure if I would find anywhere for a light supper. Those restaurants that were open had people spilling out into the pavement. Vovo Telo, Craft and the new burger place that I don’t know the name of, opposite Nice – packed. I shared a pizza with my son, wondering about this very quiet Johannesburg.

And then the Bryanston Organic Moonlit Market. It was fabulous, vibrant and bustling, tons of craft stalls, delicious food stalls and guess what — we waited forty-five minutes for our felafel in pita. I’d expected a calm, quiet market where we could shop and then sit at a table under the trees, basking in the moonlight, listening to Christmas Carols. We did eventually, and it was great fun, but hectic.

Today was Christmas Day. And I will admit, it was really quiet. Walking through the suburbs was peaceful, hearing kids shouting and yelling and jumping into the swimming pools, divine. And most of the restaurants and cafes were closed, but not all! If you’re staying in a Johannesburg Guesthouse in the northern-suburbs, something is always open nearby, on Christmas Day.

I think it’s possible that Johannesburg will get quieter from now on to the New Year. And I have to say, I’m quite looking forward to going to the shops. And not having a single queue. But I am not sure it will really happen.

Merry Christmas y’all. Have a wonderful holiday!