Perth-ish: A pit stop in Pretoria

Arriving at 5am in a new country always makes for an interesting day. With my departure scheduled for ~6pm the same day I knew that my visit to Johannesburg would be a quick one, likely without too much in the way of really experiencing the city. The fact that I was now in my 4th country in 5 days probably didn’t help my chances much either. I spent a bit of time in the arrivals lounge to freshen up and then it was off to see what I could discover. This was also the second stop of my 5 continents in 3 days adventure so I needed to make sure I got out and did something.

My initial inclination was to hit the Rosebank African Craft Market. The rooftop market only operates on Sundays (the day I happened to be in town) and it is pretty widely respected as a destination, including a personal recommendation from a friend. Plus it is easily accessible from the Gautrain which serves the airport.

Alas, my research that morning wasn’t so great and I failed to uncover the silly little detail that the market is closed for renovations. On the plus side, brunch at one of the shops in the Rosebank mall was nice. On the down side I had spent too much time trying to find it meaning that I didn’t have many other options available in Johannesburg. I looked in to a SoWeTo tour but the timing was too tight with my flight departure time. What to do??

Back at the Gautrain station I came up with a new plan. Pretoria was at the far end of the line and it looked reasonable enough to wander around in for a couple hours. Seems as good an option as any….I’ll take it.

I decided to take a quick and easy walkabout in Pretoria, basically heading straight from the train station up to Church Square and then back. It is about 2 miles round trip which gave me the opportunity to see a bit of town but also close enough that I was not too worried about getting lost. I was not at all disappointed with the visit.

In the park outside a municipal building there was a group of men doing some sort of tribal dance (see the video above for more).

There were also a whole bunch of people out enjoying the day in Church Square, though I was a bit surprised to learn that there is no church there.

At this point I was pretty much exhausted, plus it was getting close to time to return to the airport and check-in for the next flights. I hopped back on the Gautrain and not too much later I was sitting in the SAA lounge, enjoying a beer and a quick snack before my flight up to Istanbul.

The visit was certainly not what I expected when I set out on the trip. It wasn’t even what I expected when I landed that morning. And I would be lying if I said I thought it was the best way to spend a day in the area. Still, given my time and budget constraints I think I did pretty well overall. And I’ll have to go back again to get a better visit of the area.

More photos here.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Most people don’t equate South Africa with high speed rail – but the Gautrain makes getting around the Joberg area possible when time is limited. It was only operational to Sandton when we were there for the World Cup, so good to know it’s up and running to Pretoria. Glad you got to see some sights. Check out the Apartheid Museum if you have the chance in the future.

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