Fratelli, Hyde Park

My friend and I left work early yesterday to have a relaxed time at Fratelli restaurant in Hyde Park shopping centre. Although we work at the same place there is never enough time for us to visit because once we get started we can’t stop and you can’t very well go disappear for hours on end from work. We always have a fabulous time and never run out of things to say, two real chatterboxes. While we were chatting over some pizza I saw this one woman staring at me the whole time but chose to ignored it. Hours later she came over to ask me if my sister’s name is Tia as we look the same, have the same laugh and we could be twins. I thought I would ask my mother if she knew of my twin as I always say I cannot be her child as we have almost nothing in common (although we do look alike but that can be a fluke) to which she jokingly responds that I had the better looking pram so Tia, sister, if you are out there, hello 🙂 As for Fratelli – we had a great time and the food was good. Most of the places in Sandton and surrounding areas are a bit noisy for a Friday afternoon so if you are in the mood for a chat then this is perfect!

Rooi granaat, Loxton

I was totally shocked yesterday when my cousin sent me a message from Rooi granaat (Red pomegranate)  and I had to ask her what she was on about. It is a restaurant in Loxton and what surprised me even more was that I didn’t know where it was. I have toured SA extensively and have been trough most towns, even the one horse towns. Loxton is in the Upper-Karoo and even scarier is that I lived in the Karoo for several years growing up so how I missed it is a mystery. I Googled it and decided to put it on my list of things to see in SA.

What Makes South Africa Unique?

A friend at work sent me an email with these fun facts about South Africa. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of all of these (and considering that the price of electricity has gone up with 82% since last year – well mine at least – I don’t think we have the second lowest electricity cost in the world anymore). The facts may be outdated but it is still fun to read.

Infrastructure:
The world’s biggest hospital is the Chris Hani – Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto.
South Africa is one of only 12 countries where tap water is safe to drink. Its tap water is rated the third best worldwide.
Pretoria has the second largest number of embassies in the world after Washington, D.C.
South Africa is the world’s biggest producer and exporter of mohair.
The rand, the world’s most actively traded emerging market currency, has joined an elite club of 15 currencies – the Continuous Linked Settlement (CLS) – where forex transactions are settled immediately, lowering the risks of transacting across time zones.
South Africa mines deeper than any other country in the world, up to depths of 2.5 miles at the Western Deep Levels Mine.
It has the largest hydro-electric tunnel system in the world at the Orange Fish Rivers Tunnel.
South Africa is the second largest exporter of fruit in the world.
Electricity costs are the second lowest in the world.
South Africa is the world’s largest producer of macadamia nuts.
Officially, the youngest language in the world is Afrikaans. By the early-20th century Afrikaans had developed from Dutch, French and other influences into a fully fledged language with its own dictionary. After a mere 90 years, it is the second most spoken language in South Africa (Zulu is the most spoken, the Zulu people being the largest ethnic group).
South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of gold, platinum, chromium, vanadium, manganese and alumino-silicates. It also produces nearly 40% of the world’s chrome and vermiculite.
Durban is the largest port in Africa and the ninth largest in the world.
South Africa generates two-thirds of Africa’s electricity.
There are about 280,000 windmills on farms across South Africa, second in number only to Australia.
The world’s two largest platinum mines are located near Rustenburg.
While occupying 4% of Africa’s landmass, South Africa boasts more than 50% of the cars, phones, automatic bank tellers and industrial facilities on the continent.
The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), now rising from a Karoo koppie in Sutherland is the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere (and third largest in the world).
South Africa is a middle income country with a strong emerging economy – the 25th largest in the world – and produces more goods than Portugal, Russia or Singapore. It also has Africa’s biggest economy, three times larger than Nigeria or Egypt.
South Africa has the fourth largest coal reserves in the world. Its coal industry ranks sixth in the world in terms of output of hard coal and third in terms of seaborne international coal trade.
Currently, South Africa is the only country in the world that has voluntarily dismantled its nuclear arsenal.
South Africa has 19,004 miles of railway track – 80% of Africa’s rail infrastructure.
South Africa has the oldest wine industry outside of Europe and the Mediterranean, featuring Chardonnays, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cinsault, Riesling, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinotage varietals.
Entertainment:
South Africa has the second oldest Film Industry in the world.
The Cape Argus Cycle Tour is the largest timed cycle race in the world.
South Africa has the longest wine route in the world.
South Africa has the highest commercial bungi jump in the world (710 feet).
M-Net is Africa’s largest pay television service, delivering 24-hour programming to dozens of countries across the continent.
South Africa has the most luxurious train in the world, The Rovos Rail.
The Lost City Resort is the largest thermal resort in the world as well as the largest building project undertaken in the southern hemisphere.
Military History:
South Africa has the world’s second oldest air force, established 1920.
The Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) was the first war of the 20th century and saw the introduction of trench warfare, the first large-scale use of concentration camps for non-combatants, and the most prolonged period of guerrilla warfare by a conquered nation’s military against a victorious army.
Camouflage was first used in battle by the Boers, who used camouflaged trenches and adapted battledress to blend into treeless landscapes.
The world’s first news footage and propaganda films were shot during the Anglo-Boer War.
Technologically, it saw the first use of a generation of weapons that are still with us today – automatic handguns, magazine-fed rifles, and machine guns.
The Guinness Book of Records lists the Anglo-Boer War as Britain’s most costly war outside of the two World Wars.
Travel & Nature:
The Kruger National Park nature reserve supports the greatest variety of wildlife species on the African continent. It is roughly the size of Wales, or the state of Massachusetts (USA), which makes it the eighth largest reserve in the world.
Home to one of the world’s 6 floral kingdoms, South Africa has one-tenth (23 200) of the world’s flowering plants, of which nearly 19 000 are endemic, making it the richest region in the world in terms of species to area – 1.7 times richer even than Brazil. It is the only country in the world to contain an entire floral kingdom.
It is home to more kinds of mammals than North and South America combined; or Europe and Asia together.
South African grasslands have approximately 30 species per square kilometer, greater than the biodiversity of rainforests.
Table Mountain in Cape Town is believed to be one of the oldest mountains in the world. Standing at just over 1000 metres, it dominates the city’s skyline. Table Mountain can be seen as far as 200 kilometres out to sea.
South Africa has the third highest level of biodiversity in the world.
Paarl is South Africa’s third oldest town and home to KWV Cellars- the largest wine cellar in the world (covering 22 hectares).
Kimberley’s ‘Big Hole’ is the largest hand-dug hole in the world and is deeper than Table Mountain is high. Kimberley also has the only drive-in pubs in the world.
Mpumalanga province is home to the Blyderiver Canyon, the third largest canyon in the world – and the largest green one. The Grand Canyon in the U.S. is the biggest, and the Fish River Canyon in Namibia the second, but both are very dry.
The Tugela Falls in KwaZulu Natal, at 948m (3110ft), is the second highest waterfall in the world.
The world’s best land-based whale-watching spot is located in Hermanus, Western Cape.
Mossel Bay is in the Guinness Book of records as having the second most moderate climate in the world.
Seal Island in False Bay is the only place in the world where Great Whites consistently breach (leap completely out of the water) to catch their prey, mainly seals. It also boasts the highest frequency of Great White shark attacks in the world.
In 1991, South Africa became the first country in the world to protect the Great White shark.
According to ‘Trivial Pursuit’, Graaff-Reinet in the Western Cape has the world’s biggest grapevine.
Fossilized footprints were found at Langebaan Lagoon, Western Cape, in a sand-dune-turned-rock. The 117,000 year-old fossils are the oldest known footprints of an anatomically modern human.
Most of the world’s proto-mammalian fossils are found in the Karoo region.
The 2,02 billion year-old crater in Vredefort is the oldest known crater on Earth. The general estimate of its original diameter is roughly 300 km, which makes it the largest crater on the planet, as well.
The Sterkfontein Caves, in Gauteng, is the site where the oldest human skeletal remains were found in the world (3,5 million years old). This is the place where the human race was born!
Close to Oudtshoorn are the Cango Caves, a 3 km long sequence of caverns of glittering stalagmites and stalactites, which makes it the longest underground cave sequence in the world.
The Boesmansgat is renowned as the second deepest sinkhole (about 299 metres) and the largest of its kind in the world. Many attempts have been made at world records in cave-diving in this exceptional sinkhole.
The St. Lucia estuarine system, in Kwazulu Natal, is the largest estuarine system in Africa.
South Africa is home to the world’s smallest succulent plants (less than 0.39 inches) and the largest (the baobab tree).
Business:
The Rand Refinery is the largest refinery of gold in the world.
The South African oil company SASOL has established the only commercially proven oil from coal operations in the world.
The world’s biggest producer of non-fuel minerals is South African company Anglo-American Corporation.
The University of South Africa UNISA is a pioneer of tertiary distance education and is believed to be the largest correspondence university in the world with 250,000 students.
Eskom, the national electricity utility, is the world’s fourth largest in terms of both sales volume and normal capacity.
The De Beers Group of companies control more than 80% of the world supply of rough diamonds.
SABMiller ranks as the largest brewing company in the world by volume. It supplies up to 50% of China’s beer.
Samancor Limited is the world’s largest producer by sales of manganese and chrome products.
The Johannesburg Stock Exchange was the 7th best performing stock market in 2005, according to the World Federation of Exchanges.
Stellenbosch University was the first university in the world to design and launch a microsatellite.
South Africa is the sole producer of the Mercedes Benz C Class, right-hand drive vehicles.
KSDP Pentagraph is rated as the world’s second best design company by British design magazine, ‘Creative Review’. The company is responsible for the new-look packaging of ‘Fanta’ and design modifications of ‘Coca-Cola’ soft drinks worldwide.

Montecasino

I went to Montecasino on Saturday night for a fun night out. Monte’s tagline is “Gauteng’s Premier Entertainment destination” and it is so true. There is something for everyone. The many restaurants cater for all different tastes, from Kai Thai, Gourmet Garage with some interesting burger combinations, Metropolis Lounge and Grill on the Square that serves a fabulous fillet with real mushroom sauce and Ciao Baby Cucina that offers great breakfast buffets to name but a few.

There are stunning movie theatres with the Il Grande if you want to watch a movie in absolute comfort, ten pin bowling, hot air balloon, bird garden, dinner/dance and two theatres of which the Teatro is probably South Africa’s best theatre, currently showing Phantom of the opera. It also has a casino in the complex and has an open air Piazza which sometimes hosts free open air concerts, especially over New Years or during product launches. I had a great time.

Fillet signature cut restaurant in Douglasdale

My friend and I went to Fillet signature cut restaurant in Douglasdale and had a fabulous time. I had the beef trinchado which was delicious and my friend had fillet with parma ham and cheese sauce. The restaurant specialises in meat dishes, particularly fillet, but also have a few other dishes such as chicken, pork ribs, vegetarian or fish although I don’t know why you would choose to go to a restaurant with the name, Fillet, and not have meat. We were seated inside as the outside tables were fully booked when this one petite blonde woman received quite a few comments and looks when she got out of her huge SUV which she parked right in front of the restaurant with her headlights blinding everyone and she didn’t know where to switch them off saying eventually (after a minute) they switch themselves off. She just walked around apologising to everyone. This made me think how you can never just sneak out anymore and how Hollywood would need to change their movies when the good guys get away just in time by silently sneaking to the car, opening it quietly before driving off. Today you can’t open your car without usually disabling some alarm accompanied by flashing hazards, unlock the car doors which not only is noisy but also unlocks all doors, giving the bad guy a chance to get into the passenger seat and once you open the door the lights inside go on as well as the headlights as soon as you start the car and it is dark enough. I think car manufacturers need to design a stealth mode (with the click of one button) for when you need to get away unnoticed or when the Ferris Buellers “borrow” their parent’s car for a fun night out.

Constitution Hill in Braamfontein

My friend and I went to Constitution hill today and that on national Human Rights Day, exactly eight years after the inauguration of the constitutional court building. Okay, little confession –  when we decided to go we hadn’t realised it was Human Rights Day because a public holiday is a welcomed day away from the office and this was one of the things on my list of things to see but anyhoo it was really great.

We had a fascinating tour guide called Pius, dressed in yellow shorts and a bow tie that took us around the Old Fort jail, the Women’s Goal, Constitutional court and Number Four. Murderers such as Daisy de Melker and activists such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Helen Joseph and Mahatma Gandhi were imprisoned there but the jails were demolished in the early 1980s.

The constitutional court was established after the first democratic elections in 1994 and is built on the site of the Old Fort prison, on the highest point in Johannesburg. You enter the constitutional court building through massive wooden doors that have signs, symbols and words engraved in the 11 official languages as well as sign language and Braille. It represents the 27 rights in our constitutional Bill of Rights. The constitutional core values are also handwritten on the ceiling beams outside. The courtroom itself is centred around the theme of “justice under a tree” that is evident in the decor and design and hosts a beautiful handmade beaded flag. There are 11 chairs around the cow hide covered podium for the 11 judges that represent all the cultures of our country.

The building also hosts the biggest law library in the southern hemisphere. We really enjoyed the tour (which costs only R30 pp) and went for lunch at Killarney Mall afterwards and then made sure we got out of town as everyone was getting ready for the Jozi Nike night run. What a fabulous day.

Dinner in the sky

My friend was telling me about this new craze for people to have dinner in the sky while suspended 50-100m above ground. She took her husband for his birthday at Cedar Square over the weekend. They have these all over the country and you can book it online via Computicket. I love mother earth and I am not fond of heights so I don’t understand why people would want to do such crazy things. You can also do corporate events and meetings but honestly! I would be utterly useless, given you are able to get me up there and probably only after you have given me lots and lots of drugs.