I LOVE THE INNER CITY. There, I said it. I go there often, and I feel so alive when I leave. It’s the place you are warned to never enter, and it’s the place that has the most heart and vibe of anywhere I have ever visited before. Sure, it’s run down – Apartheid does that to a place, but times change and this previously scary place is being re-developed left right and centre. There are some very cool people with some very cool visions turning parts of the city around. Gregory Solik is one of those people. He created Main Street Walks, a company that offer tours in the Inner City, one of them being “Picnic in The Sky”
I’ve been dying to go to Picnic in the Sky for a while now, but we decided to wait until we had guests. Well, Rob’s mum is here, so off we went to Market on Main. You meet there, you receive a picnic basket with a few basic goodies in, and then you have 30 minutes to purchase yummy food and drinks from the market. You then jump in a mini-bus and they whizz you off to the Carlton Centre, where you will ascend to the 50th floor for an indoor picnic with a view
The Carlton Centre is the tallest building in Africa at 223m high (50 floors), and has an excellent panoramic view of Joburg CBD and surrounds. Our 2 tour guides, Bheki and Bones, took us round the 4 sides of the building, educating us about Joburg – its history, its landmarks and how it became the place it is today. Did you know it used to be a little rocky outcrop that no one wanted to live in, until they discovered gold and the place sprawled thick and fast?!
I learnt so much about Jozi, and I spent my time snapping pics of the landscape, trying to dodge the smears on the window glass from people’s head and elbows as they had previously strained to see the view. It was the only annoying bit about the tour – the dirty windows making picture taking difficult
Our hosts were interesting, knowledgable and approachable and made it a very enjoyable experience to learn about the town, it’s suburbs and answer any questions that we had
We then sat down to enjoy our picnics – they set up tables, but they also provided blankets so that you can chill on the floor, which everyone on our tour chose to do
After we had finished eating, we were treated to a poetry performance by Bones and Q. Both of them were so talented. I had expected a monotone recital, but boy was I wrong, and we experienced a dynamic, artistic performance with Bheki becoming a human beat box at one point. Awesome!
The tour lasted from 11.00-14.00 and costs R150 per person for the tour, a picnic basket with drinks, crockery and cutlery, and a lift to and from Arts on Main to the Carlton Centre. You buy as much or as little food as you like at the market. You can book online via the Mainstreet Walks website
Go check it out and let me know what you think. Tours like this are great for people that are a little nervous about going into the CBD (although Bheki informs me that the area is actually called City & Suburban), as this area does have a bad reputation – a hangover from days gone by. This is without a doubt the best thing that I have done since I have been in Joburg and I really do recommend it as a half day out