Friday, April 03, 2009

where to stay in jo'burg: melville

Ever an urban planner, I'm always drawn to walkable cities, vibrant street life, cafes that induce people-watching. When I heard that I'd definitely need to rent a car to get around in Jo'burg, I was bummed. Then a friend recommended that I stay in Melville - a few blocks of cafes, bookshops, boutiques and bohemia in a suburban area on the outskirts of the city. It did not disappoint, starting with where I stayed. Ginnegaap Guest House is adorable, with wood floors, beige walls, white trim and pressed ceilings, framed black and white photos, simple white down comforters, rain shower head in the bathroom. The dollar is really strong in SA right now, so four nights at Ginnegaap only set me back $150. Upon arriving, I announced that I would not be leaving the confined of the cute guest room and adjoining patio. But then I would have missed:

A visit to Audrey at Bookdealers, a second-hand bookshop on 7th - where I spent over an hour selecting titles, finally settling on four (for a grand total of less than $15):
Siddharta by Herman Hesse
The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
Snakepit by Moses Isegawa
A Place of My Own by Micheal Pollan

Dinner at Cafe Picobella, with delicious wine less than $2 per [huge] glass and some amazing things done with butternut, including a butternut and sage lasagna.

Dinner at Cafe Mezzaluna, on their adorable garden patio, with more delicious wine and apricot chicken with couscous.

And when feeling adventurous, call up Maxi Taxi and discover the hideout of all the white South African hippies at the Bryanston Organic Market every Thursday and Sunday. Smells like nag champa, sounds like flautists, and [the best part] tastes like savory crepes with roasted veggies and pumpkin seeds, plus an almond polenta cake. Definitely worth a visit for the crowd and the food.

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