Monday, May 30, 2011

In search of Joburg’s gems

I have a passion for finding hidden treasures. It started in my childhood home – a quaint village called Henley-on-Klip – where I would dig up and hack away at rocks I was convinced held precious gems and proudly display them to my ever-patient parents. It sparked to life during my varsity days in Grahamstown … you know, the place where students major in Castle Draught and Crackling and are remembered more for their bush-diving skills, creatively explicit trivarsity overalls and hundreds’ clubs, than academic pursuits.

Despite student antics, I couldn’t have wished for a better place to ignite my love of all things quirky, arty and charming than in a little student town tucked away in the Eastern Cape, and celebrated for its annual National Arts Fest.

My passion has followed me to Joburg – a city constantly reinventing itself and perceived differently by all who pass through it. A hobby I developed (and recently rediscovered) is driving through its suburbs on a lazy Saturday, finding little gems in the form of cosy coffee shops, markets, quirky art galleries, spoil-yourself girls’ night venues and art-deco joints. All treasures should be shared and that's what this blog is about: sharing my 'happy-places'!

One of my favourite spots has to be the super trendy and yet oh-so-chilled 4th Avenue in Parkhurst, Joburg. This treasure trove of antique stores, tiny art deco stores and cafés is tucked away in suburbia and boasts some of the most renowned restaurants in the city.

Empty shop floors are quickly filled with pop-up stores such as the latest, Egality (for the time being at no. 38 cnr 4th and 13th). Felicity is warm and welcoming and showcases clothing, footwear and accessories from local designers, including Arwen Garmentry, Ninon shoes, Terrence Bray, The Summit, Tjerrie shoes and Willow jewellery. Check out her website for more details:

Bottega (‘little workshop’ in Italian) is a new firm favourite of mine. This unassuming eatery offers reasonably priced meals throughout the day, with friendly, efficient service and an inviting, Italian ambiance. The walls are covered with black and white Peroni-inspired photos and chalk boards displaying the specials, with dark-wood tables grouped cosily together.


The food is exceptionally well-priced and this little spot is in the perfect position for people-watching (a secret hobby of mine) with a view of Georges on 4th (another hotspot) and the quirky Saturday market across the street. Make sure you book for supper though, or else its patrons are bound to beat you to its welcoming seats.

I could spend an entire morning on this street and write about it here, but you’ll have to catch future blogs to find out more ;)

x Elle