Monday, May 31, 2010

The Golden Mile

Last Saturday we walked Durbans famous Golden Mile from the new Moses Mabhida Stadium to Ushaka Marine World.It really is something that Durban can be proud of. Our beachfront looks amazing!

Although it is far longer than a mile, it works out to be around 10kms there and back, you never really feel tired as there are many things to grab your attention. There were lots of families cylcling and running, and as the walk way is very wide it doesn't feel like you're squashing up against everybody else. We felt safe the whole way because of the CCTV cameras everywhere and there were many Policemen and women walking around.

There are a few new "nodes" which have been built along the way, which i believe are going to be retail stores and restaurants after the world cup. These are looking really good and should prove to be some good sunrise/sundowners' spots!

The two best points for me along the way was the South Beach area and coming up from under the M4 tunnel and facing the stadium. South Beach has a really cool little spot for Kids to play, with a jungle gym and rope bridge to play on. There are really nice new public toilets there too for the little ones.
When on your way back/to the stadium when you come from under the M4 tunnel, pause and tae a look at the stadium. It really is breath taking. See picture below.

When FIFA gives us back our stadium again, i would advise to park outside, on the old Walter Gilbert Road and walk to Ushaka and back. Then when you've really built up a thirst and an appaetite, you can replenish at the Keg and Spier. Good food and a cold beer! Highly recomended!

I can see why some people are saying that Durban will have one of the top Beachfronts after this.

Till next week,
Happy Day Tripping!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Guided City Walk

On Sunday we went on a guided city walk with the Amblers Hiking Club. My mum normally walks with them every now and then, and i saw this walk advertised in the paper, thought it couldn't have been better timing!

The main objective of the walk was to look at all the Art Deco buildings that Durban has. Durban is deemed as Africa's Miami as it has the best Art Deco examples in Africa. But there were a few other buildings of interest also seen and explored.

We started at the Point Yacht Club and walked up the Esplanade and then right into Russle Street. Just off Russle Street we went into the Old House Museum, a replica of one of the oldest houses in Durban. It has been preserved with genuine artifacts and furniture as well as having one of the biggest gardens in the centre of town. In the Garden are old Buggies and a beautifully built carriage. The original building was built in the 1900's and was home to the Mercury's proprietor and editor, George Robinson, and then his son, John Robinson who became Natals Prime Minister in 1893. Needless to say the Old House hosted many of Durbans prominent colonist families. Admission is amazingly free and is open from 8:30am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and 11pm to 4pm on Sundays. Well worth a visit.

Next on our walk was the Zulu Christian Church. You might've seen it on your travels in town. Its Huge! The security guards weren't very keen to have us in there as there were big buckets of money at the alter. However the parishioners were very friendly; they all introduced themselves and shook our hands. Not too sure if this was worth the stop... but still interesting to go in. Because of its size and 'grandness' its always been on of those places I wanted to go look at inside.

While we were walking along the streets, i think everybody thought we were from overseas as they all were shouting hello and were very friendly. In the quieter roads people were all coming to their windows and waving from their flats. We really must've looked like serious tourists as we were all in walking gear and if i'm honest there were a few funny people with us. So it was a good experiment to see what the "locals" will be like with real tourists in a few weeks from now. I say "locals" because i don't know how many people i saw were actually from Durban, perhaps Nigeria and Pakistan. We noticed a few blocks of flats that were really run down, there was a terrible smell coming from them and all the windows were broken. I believe that slum lords have overtaken them and they are used for illegal purposes.

Next on Grey street was the Guma Musjid Mosque. It was built in 1880-1882 by local architects and builders. This made it cheaper. It is the largest mosque in the southern hemisphere and really is beautiful! What impressed me the most was how intricately and ornately it was decorated. As you enter you see the foot washing area, and there is a koi fish pond in the middle of the fish washing area. There is a separate area for men and women to pray and wash their feet. Interesting to note that in the mens' section there was a clock on every wall and time seemed very important, while in the womens' praying area, there was only one clock and no koi fish pond! If and when you go to the Grey street mosque, it is important to dress respectfully. Ladies please wear long sleeved shirts and no low cut tops. There are no shoes allowed into the Mosque building, but there is a safe place to leave them outside.
I will write on it separately as they found out i was writing a blog on it and have promised to send me a whole wod of information. And i do think that it is so special it does need a separate entry!

From there we walked to the Emanual Cathedral. This catholic church was built in 1905. Being very close to Warwick Triangle and the bus stops, one would imagine it is pretty dirty, but the cathedral grounds are immaculate inside the boundary walls. Everything is in pristine condition. Along the side walls of the church are the different stations of the cross all expertly carved out of stone. These stations of the cross were donated by Empress Eugenie in remembrance of her son Louis Napoleon. The stain glass work is one of a kind. I learnt that stained glass windows were used to educate the illiterate, through pictures rather than words. We climbed up the bell tower, the view from the top is sureal, the video below does not do it justice. The climb to the top isn't for the feint hearted, there are lots of ladders and small spaces to get through, but it is worth it. I was suprised to find that it is the only "viewing deck" in Durban from which you cannot see the new Stadium! I really get excited about being in a space that has so much history and SO much energy, and i really felt it here. This was the highlight.

Interesting to note that besides from Isreal, Durban is the only place in the world that has a Mosque, a Catheral and a Temple within a kilometer of eachother. Perhaps we can claim that we are only place in the world were they co-exist peacefully!

We then took a stroll down the old West street and looked at all the different building types on there. We also looked at the new Mutual Mall, which looks really good. We were making our way to the old Post office and the Durban City Hall. We noticed that they were planting a vegetable garden outside the City Hall, we assumed it was in benefit of those who could not get fresh vegies. Nice touch! They are busy refurbishing the outside as the sand stone does not age very well. So our guide told us that they clean the outside and then pant it in a similar colour so it looks the same and the delicate sandstone underneath it protected for the moment. I plan to go to the Durban City hall to watch the Kwa Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra play one Thursday night. So i will write more on it then.

We then turned back and into Durban Club Place, where we found one of Durbans most acclaimed buildings, the Nedbank Building, designed by Norman Eaton. It has one many awards not for the way it looks but more for the design of it. Also for the terracotta tiles/bricks that are
almost 'shelling' the buildings. They are green in colour and make the building look a little better these were made by Hendrik De Szanderes. It really isn't anything to look at especially with Durban Manor right across the road. However, it does remain one of Durbans best buildings, so i'm told.

As we got back to the Esplanade Dick King was waiting to greet us on his horse. He is famous for his 10 day ride on horseback to Grahamstown to round up British troops for the Old Fort.

This walk took 3 and a half hours but because we were a big group it took longer than it should especially as only 10 people were allowed in the Bell Tower at a time. I really count myself lucky to do this walk because i got to see a lot of the things i miss just driving past and i got to go into a lot of the buildings i would normally never have gone into. I am trying to organise another tour from Musgrave Centre to the harbour, if you are interested please let me know.

Perhaps Botanical Gardens or Mitchel Park this weekend, or both!

Happy Day Tripping!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Buds On the Bay

Today was a tricky day because i didn't know what to do on my list! I thought about going to Mitchel Park and Botanical Gardens for Tea and the most amazing crumpets i have ever had, but then thought the better of it, and decided to go to Buds on the Bay as it started clearing. (And to be honest i think Mitchel Park is better if you have children with you, we don't have any of those! A nice group of friends should have the same effect tho!

So off we went to Buds on the Bay in Maydon Wharf around the Bluff area. Its dodgy as to get there, we did feel like we were taking out life in our hands by dicing with the truck drivers. These aren't little lorries i'm talking about, they are big container/"abnormal load" trucks! However, it was a sunday and there weren't as many as when i have gone on my own for work. We made it out to the restaurant with my little Corsa Lite unharmed to find a FULL restaurant. Our hopes of a lovely lazy lunch sunk to the bottom of the harbour we were standing over. But then, a lovely gentleman made us feel very welcome at the bar where we had a drink and a plate of Nacho's and we eventually found a table just before our main course arrived. Gareth had the Lamb Chops(R95), he said they were outstanding, and i had the Zulu Sushi(R85) for which Buds is very well known, which was good.

The menu is varied from Vietnamese Chicken and Sweet Potatoe Curry to Line fish with Dipping Sauces. Prices vary from R16 to R95. There really is something for everyone. Its very chilled, and we noticed that there were a lot of big tables. Drinks were reasonably priced, and BYO is not really smiled upon. Fair Enough! The staff were amazing! I think its really hard to find good staff these days, but Billy Bud has got himself a good team. Everybody was warm; friendly and upbeat. In my oppinion, people are more likely to go back for good service then good food.

If you are a group of more then 2 people, i very much suggest that you book, it would be a terrible waste of excitement and petrol and nerves driving there and being turned away because you didn't book. The Number as well as a map is on the website, (if you didn't get the link at the top of the page in pink).

Another great day tripping adventure in Durban! Next weekend, i am working at the Tourism Indaba at the Durban ICC so i might not be able to have an adventure, but the upside is that i can get more ideas from the KZN section. I'll just write about Indaba anyway, its always fun!

Have a good week!