The City Lodge Hotel Group recently invited me to stay over at one of their hotels and gave me some pocket money to explore the city. I invited my bestest best friend over, and we started a hard day of exploring with a hearty meal.
The legendary burger at Hard Rock Cafe Johannesburg
Situated on Nelson Mandela Square, South Africa’s own piece of rock n roll is pumping from the moment they open their doors until the last stragglers head home. According to its website, the Cafe can seat over 90 on the terrace outside and over 200 inside. Of course, the first thing you see when you enter the cafe, is the Rock Shop, featuring iconic Hard Rock merchandise (including their Pinktober shirts).
But let’s talk about food, specifically, the kind of burgers legends are made of. Each city has it’s own twist on HRC’s Legendary Burger, and Johannesburg’s features a succulent beef patty on crisp lettuce, tangy gherkins, and a slice of ripe tomato, topped with smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and a golden fried onion ring – all on a soft, fresh bun, and served with chunky potato chips.
With our bellies full and pulling our eyes shut, we needed to find a bed for a quick nap before our adventures continued.
A room with a view at City Lodge Fourways
Our room was on the third floor, and when we stepped out on the balcony we could not only see Montecasino, the highway and Pineslopes, but also the crystal clear pool. It looked so inviting!
The room is pretty open plan, but there’s this really great motorised divider in the bathroom to create some privacy. The geek in me just had to create a hyper-lapse of how efficient it is!
That’s pretty fantastic, right? And how tempting does this bed look (especially when all you want to do is nap!)?
But there was no time for napping – the city was waiting! So off we went to Montecasino, which offers so much more than slots and tables. There is a variety or restaurants, a theatre, a comedy club, a ten-pin bowling alley, a games arcade, a movie complex, a great indie bookshop and shops that had everything from sweets, clothes, pranks, shoes, and crystals! It was such a beautiful day though, that we were more interested in the outdoor features.
Flight of fantasy at the Montecasino Bird Park
We were just in time for the start of the “Flight of Fantasy” show in the amphitheatre at the Bird Park. The presenters and the acts were really entertaining; the adults probably enjoyed it as much as the kids did – I know I did 🙂
After the show we walked through the rest of the park – it is huge! We saw all kinds of animals: snakes, lizards, lemurs, meerkats, spiders, frogs, tortoises, and birds of every shape, size, and colour! After a bit of window shopping, we got to see the city from a different angle.
A bird’s-eye view from the Hyundai balloon
You probably have seen the balloon in Johannesburg. In fact, there are two that I know of – this one and another in Sandton. The helium balloon is tethered to an underground cable, which is released slowly via a sophisticated engine and coil system. “Balloon rides last approximately 15 minutes and offer breathtaking panoramic views of Johannesburg, Sandton, Northcliff Hill and the Magaliesburg.”
I’m not entirely sure of how high we went up, but it was fantastic! The wind up there is quite something, and even though the operator told us we were free to move around once we were up, we mostly stayed where we were for the sake of balance.
Once we were back on solid ground, we walked through to the other side of Montecasino to have dinner overlooking the musical fountain. Instead, the piazza was converted into the popular Bok Town and absolutely brimming with supporters watching the game between South Africa and Australia on the enormous big screen. We got to see a great try by Jean de Villiers before finding our way out of the crowd again, and back inside. We stocked up on a few essential snacks before heading back to our room.
I won’t lie, I was so happy to have a bath. I only have a shower in my little flat, and having a bath after a long day is one of my favourite spoils. And I do so love the fluffy hotel pillows. The one thing that kind of ruined my stay (due to no fault of the hotel; I’m a ridiculously light sleeper), is that it’s quite noisy – even in the middle of the night – a firetruck sped down the road at one stage. Not that my friend noticed 😀
Breakfast the next morning was delicious, except that we were a bit late to get bacon. But with a vast spread of goodies, we didn’t go hungry. I was a bit surprised that we weren’t offered coffee; we might have missed a self-service coffee setup, but I was happy with the orange juice, and my friend had coffee in the room before we went downstairs for breakfast.
I’d like to again thank the Hotel Group and their agencies for organising this experience. The stay, the exploration, the food… it was an unforgettable day!