Monday, January 26, 2009

A Day in the Big Smoke!

The reward for getting up and travelling in the dark?
A stunning sunrise

The flat countryside really lends itself to a memorable sunrise

A few weeks before Christmas my husband and I had to travel to Johannesburg and Pretoria on business. We had to be in an industrial suburb of Johannesburg by 7am to have our motorbike serviced. Nevertheless, the deed had to be done so the evening before my younger son assisted my husband to load the bike onto the trailer and hitch it to my pick-up. We got up at 2am and were on the road forty minutes later. We had a wonderful journey riding in the dark; we spotted a porcupine, a springhare, a civet cat and numerous owls (my personal favourite).

Once headed north on N1, a major National Freeway, we travelled through a part of the Free State, know as Central South Africa. There are no mountains in this region, just vast flat tracts of farmland and countryside. About two hours after leaving home, the sun began to peek over the horizon. And just like every sunrise and sunset across the African continent, this one was spectacular. Hubby stopped and I managed take some photographs.
We stopped one of the two filling station where you can also have breakfast or a quick cuppa. We opted for the second as we had to get to the city by 7am.
I love every part of South Africa, but the Free State really has my heart
Edenvale, a large township just outside Johannesburg

Bumper to bumper traffic really tests my hubby's nerves.
He doesn't enjoy the city traffic at all

We arrived at our first destination at 7am. Once we’d unloaded the bike and wheeled it into the workshop, we left the trailer in their yard and headed off to our next appointment. We travelled through Monday morning traffic to Pretoria approximately 70kms/44 miles away. My husband had a meeting with the liaison officer at the Criminal Record Centre. He had to collect his Police Clearance for his new employment.
The city of Johannesburg almost flows into the next large city, Pretoria

Now I have to add here: my husband loves to use a GPS on his travels. However, our particular model is designed for the motorbike. You need a special attachment for the car, else the battery doesn’t last. This particular day we had just turned onto the Ben Schoeman Highway, between Johannesburg and Pretoria, with approx 40km / 25miles to go when the GPS, which I was holding in my hand, flashed the “battery low” sign. My husband uses a blue tooth device which fits into his ear so that he can hear the instructions given in a lady’s voice on the GPS. I turned off the GPS and said if he’d remove his Blue tooth, I would direct him to our destination. No sooner had he removed the gadget when he asked me “So where do I go now?” I directed him until we arrived in the city centre; then he said (afterwards) I’d left it too late when I said “Turn Right at the next traffic lights”, so he sailed on past.

I’ve heard my husband telling people that I remain calm in a difficult situation. This day I quietly redirected him down another street which I knew leads to the street we were looking for. He wasn’t letting me off so easy, though and said “Why don’t we just turn around and go back to Johannesburg?” (such is his aversion to looking for an address in the city!) As he uttered this [silly] statement, I pointed to the intersection and said “Turn down here, NOW “which he did and we arrived at the address we sought! Within a few minutes we found a parking space on the street.

I LOVE the city and have travelled through every major metropolis in South Africa with no problem at all. My darling husband on the other hand, does not enjoy traffic or the hustle and bustle of the city. I must admit though, once we got out of the car and walked the few metres to the Criminal Record Centre building, the cacophony of music, blaring horns, and vendors plying their wares on the sidewalks, had even me overawed. I’m sorry I never took photos of the streets in present-day South African city centres, but I didn’t want to stress my husband unduly.

The Criminal Record Centre is a beautiful building with modern architecture to cheer you as you wait in L O N G queues at the necessary counter. Ironically, the queue moved quickly and within a few minutes my husband was stating his request to see the Liaison Officer who came to the front in due course. It wasn’t long and he’d found the envelope with my husband’s Police Clearance and we exited the building.
The architecture of the Criminal Record Centre building
is designed to calm you while you wait in long queues!

While travelling up to Pretoria, we’d noticed a restaurant built across the highway and wondered who would ever want to eat up there. Well, the joke was on us. As headed back to Johannesburg, my husband swung off the freeway onto the ramp and asked if I’d like breakfast at this restaurant. For the next forty five minutes we replenished our bodies with good food and managed to restore our “country” souls so that we could take on the traffic once more.
I managed to take some very nice photos from the restaurant. (I think many South Africans will recognise the area)
This photo was taken from the restaurant over the Freeway.
Homeward bound. Can you hear my husband's sigh of relief?

We returned to the workshop in Johannesburg, loaded up the bike and were soon on our way home...


  1. Jo, I can relate to the enjoyment of getting up early & travelling far for a day in "the big smoke" - then coming home in the dark, exhausted and having to unpack all the shopping ! (Thanks for sharing such lovely South African scenes with us, too !) I have given your blog an award, you can read about it in my blog post today. Have a super day !

  2. I don't like going into the city. When we have to, I always want to turn around and go home.
    Thanks for showing the pictures of your trip.

  3. Thanks for the award Lynda. I will pass it on early in the new month! Yes, African distances require perseverence and grit. Hugs Jo

  4. Dedene, that is EXACTLY my husband's feelings. He also wanted to turn around that day so fortunately I ignored him and we managed to get our business done. Thanks for your comment. Hugs Jo

  5. Lovely photos, Jo thanks for the road trip in South Africa!

  6. Thanks for "visiting" my beautiful country, Peggy. Hugs Jo


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