If you find yourself in Jozi, looking for a place to hang out for a bit, check out Melville, specifically 7th street. It’s an artsy neighborhood not too far from the downtown area. For those familiar with San Francisco, California, US, Melville is similar to the Castro. We used this area as a launching point for our forays into the northern part of South Africa.
This area has a number of small shops, bars, restaurants and guest houses. We stayed at the Sleepy Gecko Guest House and found it to be fabulous. Cristian, our main contact at the Sleepy Gecko, was very friendly and helpful, getting us situated well. We had a room in the back that afforded a lot of privacy. Breakfasts were group events and enabled us to meet some other travelers. The Sleepy Gecko is central to Melville and walking around the area is easy.
As we walked around 7th Street, we found the shops to be very fun to visit. Many curio, antique and tchotchke shops that held our attention. Many had memories of Mandiba available since we were there right after he was buried. Most evenings we sat outside, had a few nice drinks and ate tasty food while watching the world pass by. My favorite was at the Lucky Bean, where the food was wonderful and the wine was better. We started with an avocado, grapefruit and rocket salad, then a slow cooked pork belly and star anise sauce appetizer. Our main was a beautifully cooked ostrich steak on a bed of tender bok choi. We finished with a dense chocolate torte. After a few weeks of camp cooking this was a slice of heaven.
As a side note, its worth remarking that the costs for food in South Africa are quite affordable. Where housing seems comparable with what we have seen in the States, the food costs are markedly different. The meal above cost about 1/2 what this same meal would be back home.