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  • Writer's pictureJoanna

Joanna-sburg & the Mall Maze

Updated: Jun 18, 2023

Once I was safely out of customs yesterday, without a 7 month working visa to contend with... I carefully and confidently made my way towards the vultures.


The taxi drivers. The schemers. The crooks. The thieves. The beggars. The vendors. The strange men that just want to “get to know you.”

... they were all there waiting for me.

And when I walked out the door, not only did they start circling... they swooped.  I was smart enough to keep a bit of charge on my phone, as I had been advised to call Uber as opposed to hailing a taxi from the airport.


For a single female travelling alone... double dangerous.

Uber successfully called.

The trouble was that I was not familiar with the Johannesburg airport. I had no idea where the proper Uber meeting point was.  It just said Terminal B...  and exited the sliding glass doors to wait in Arrivals, Terminal B.

Bad idea.

The harassment began with each taxi driver within my vicinity insisting they would ‘beat’ my Uber price... and it didn’t stop there. Some got angry that I had chosen Uber over taxi and started to yell at me that I wasn’t supporting the taxi community.

I had to take refuge back inside the airport in order to get away... and to also get back in to a free wifi free zone so that I could keep in contact with my potential driver. So due to the animosity between taxis and Uber, Uber only is permitted to pick up in ARRIVAL, Terminal B.

Who’da thunk?

A sign stating this or an airport announcement  might have been handy for me, the less fortunate.

Even as I took in the proper location, the vultures were coming at me hot and heavy. From every direction, I heard, “Hi, I’m your Uber driver.”

I would respond with “What’s your name?”

Not one of them responded with “Max George.”

Finally Max George appeared and whisked me away to my first bed & breakfast for the evening. Old World Charm in the City.

A quaint little garden home owned and operated by a lovely Indian woman. I can’t remember her name at the moment which is ignorant of me, considering she was so sweet. 

And man... she could talk...

I heard all about how her husband didn’t want to be married anymore, her settlement in their divorce proceedings, her son’s asburgers, her son’s current job, her friend who got a boyfriend & stopped talking to her, the dates that she’s gone on, the man who wouldn’t commit to their relationship, her illnesses, her aches & pains, her renovation plans, her organizational skills, past students from when she ran a boarding room, her mom who taught her to make chutney, her brother in England, her sister of whom she doesn’t really ever heard from, her help, where her help lives, how she needs more help, how much she usually eats in a day, how much she ate today, her favourite foods, her likes, her dislikes, her comfort zones, where’s she’s travelled, where she plans to travel, pictures of her from 10 years ago, her cooking, her cooking pictures, her cooking classes... I’m sure I’m missing something.

Finally I just asked her if she wanted to join me for dinner. I had asked her for a recommendation and after she directed me to her favourite restaurant, Doppio Zero, she let me know that she was going to just order in sushi.

She did join me.

...I think she’s a bit lonely.

Doppio Zero was fabulous. I loved their selection and the food was to die for. I can only say that I wish I could have stayed longer for a few reasons:

1. To bathe in her enormous claw foot tub.

2. To try everything on her menu. Her creations looked devine.

3. She was sweet.

Old World Charm *Highly recommended*

The only reason that I didn’t stay two nights here was because I originally booked the following night at another location. When I went to add on an additional night to that location, it was well out of my affordability.

When I tried to cancel, I risked losing half of the money I had already paid. So I looked around for another location and Old World Charm was what I found.

I left in the morning to meet David in the city. He had taken the bus down from Zimbabwe and was briefly in Joburg before beginning another tour. Someone recommended “Sandton” and I jumped at it.

Sandton... sounds like quite a remarkable place, doesn't it?


We spent the afternoon wandering around the South Africa's third largest and number one most annoying mall.

After failing to find an exit 7 times and getting ourselves completely turned around to the point of me wanting to just start running and screaming, I looked it up online.

Sandton City is Africa’s most iconic shopping centre. Defining the Sandton skyline, this prestigious setting is home to over 300 of the world’s most coveted retail brands and embodies all the glamour of world-class shopping, dining and leisure.

Now.... in my defence, when someone recommends something to me, I don’t automatically assume that they are sending me to a mall. Especially as an avid traveller.

I envisioned gardens, monuments, cobblestone pathways, cafes, breweries, crafts stalls ... everything hip and happening. Not a mall.

I think I’ve got “let’s go to the mall” tattoo’ed on my face.

Please... someone tell me if I do.

I will never get these hours back...

If I thought manoeuvring the mall was bad enough and even trying to pretend to shop in a location that was so far out of my budget, you should have seen how difficult it was to find a place to sit down and have lunch without breaking the bank.

I feel like I won a continental mall tour. I really should have kept track of who had the best customer service... what was offered... lunch options... is there enough ladies clothing shops? liquor stores? grocery?

A Canadian Guide to the Southern African Malls.

My day in Johannesburg destroyed by incompetent mall navigational skills.

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