The M&G rounds up the top cheap(ish) thrills to be had in Jo’burg, Cape Town & Durban as the festive season winds down.
With society unravelling at the edges, it’s time for a refresher course in what’s important. The Constitutional Court is free and thought-provoking. Check out the edgy art, and grab a ringside seat to witness the ConCourt upholding your rights. Afterwards, you can enjoy a panoramic view over Johannesburg from the historic fort next door.
Pick n Pay on William Nicol
This self-styled green-friendly superstore makes competitors blue. Admire the eco-elegant design and discover what anorexic celebrities buy for lunch. At Pick n Pay on Nicol you can cruise the aisles for free: who says you have to buy anything?
Busy Corner, Tembisa
Head out to the four-way stop where Midrand meets the East Rand and ask for directions to Busy Corner. The place is already a legend for its shisa nyama and ice-cold beers. Busy Corner is able to woo tenderpreneurs, professionals and pantsulas, even though there’s no parking or fancy seating.
Walter Sisulu Square Kliptown, Soweto
A visit to the home of the Freedom Charter comes at no cost. Come to Walter Sisulu Square and dance to 50s kwela played by a veteran penny whistler, who sometimes uses his nose.
Don’t miss this New Year parade of kaleidoscopic floats and music that dances its way from Newtown across Nelson Mandela Bridge on December 31 and January 1 to the rhythm of Jozi’s heartbeat. Want to participate next year? The city’s application process starts in October.
Free cable car trip up Table Mountain
Did you know that if you are a South African citizen and you’re celebrating your birthday, you can claim a free ride on the Table Mountain cable car? We didn’t either, but it’s true. Don’t worry if the weather is wild and windy on your special day, because your ticket will be valid for another week. But don’t forget to bring your ID.
Burg Street food market
When it comes to all things fresh, you can’t beat Burg Street on a Thursday morning from 10am to 2pm. If you like home-baked breads, handmade cheeses and delicious fruit juices, this is the place for you. Short of cash? You can feast on the aromas — and a few free samples.
This Kloof Street landmark is a grown-up version of your childhood dream house, with its exotic oriental decor and an olive tree growing through its centre. Food and drinks come at Mother City prices, but entrance is free so you too can afford to mingle with the A-listers.
Underground clubbing scene
When you’ve had your fill of celebrity-spotting at Ashoka, head down to Mercury Mondays on Long Street for some live music. The first 50 people get in for free before 8pm. After that it’s just R20 (or R10 for students). Dubstep and Drum & Bass are other good options for a night out, and you can often get into the ever-popular Assembly for R10.
The architecture might not be too cosy, but Cecil John’s memorial on Devil’s Peak is the perfect place for a starlight rendezvous. Snuggle up on the old imperialist’s favourite bench and plan a romantic road trip from Cape to Cairo.
Enjoy a twilight picnic in the company of three million swallows who come to nest each evening between November and April at the Lake Victoria conservancy, Mount Moreland. The spectacle is free, but don’t forget to pack some mozzie repellent along with your sundowners.
Schabir Shaik spotting
Get on your bike and try to find convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik. He has been spotted all over Durban, playing golf and dining on fine cuisine. Take a peek at our ‘Shaik spotter’ to find his favourite haunts. Maybe he’ll give you a tip on how to live a long, healthy and prosperous life.
The Victoria Bar
Be it footy or cricket, the holidays are jam-packed with sport. If you can’t convince your beloved to give you the remote, take him/her to lunch at the quaint Vic Bar, behind Ushaka Sea World. While s/he feasts on flawless fresh fish you can chill with a beer and watch the game. All at Durban’s cheapest prices.
Grey Street Mosque
This magnificent mosque is said to be the largest in the southern hemisphere. The surrounding streets flow with energy and you can nibble on a tasty bunnychow while you admire the splendid architecture.
Shembe beach baptisms
Start 2012 on a spiritual note by joining thousands of Shembe Church devotees as they perform their annual New Year ceremonies and baptisms on Durban’s beachfront. In 2012, this vibrant mix of Zulu culture and Christian ritual takes place from January 9 to 12.