Fantasy-land in Johannesburg

LOCATION: Housesitting in Johannesburg, South Africa
WEATHER: Beautiful. Sunny. High 80

On our last full day here, we thought we would explore another part of town called Sandton. It is a wealthy suburb about 20 minutes from here. When Johannesburg’s downtown began to go downhill, major businesses, banks, and shops pulled out and moved to Sandton. It is quite a contrast – everything is new, well-kept, and prosperous-looking. It is a big banking/finance center

Our plan was to go to a Sunday farmers’ market there that is supposed to be full of food vendors, food trucks, etc. However, when we got there, we found it closed! (Even though the internet said it was open). Undaunted, we asked the Uber driver to drop us at the adjacent Monte Casino, not knowing anything else to do.

What a shocker! It is a massive complex, with hotels, entertainment complex, and of course the casino. It is a fantasy-land, sort of a cross between an indoor Disney World and Las Vegas. The inside is dim and the decor is Tuscany-wantabe. We strolled around the entertainment complex with lots of different restaurants, a movie theater, ice skating rink, bowling alley, and performance auditorium. Our mouths were probably wide open with shock.

Our first stop was at one of the Italian restaurants for a glass of wine and some duck pate.

No, I didn’t drink this entire bottle!!!

We followed the signs outside to a bird park, in a beautiful garden setting. We were in luck – the bird show was starting five minutes after we bought our ticket

They put on a nice show – kind of like Sea World (but with birds).

This huge owl flew to a perch right by us.

Then, we walked around the aviary observing beautiful birds, and some animals.

This bird was breathtaking – a crimson ibis.

Back inside the casino, we chose a Greek restaurant for lunch. (We opted out of the Texas steakhouse restaurant). George had kingclip, a fish unique to South Africa that he has been wanting to try.

We took an Uber back home, then chatted with the homeowners over a glass of wine on the patio.

DINNER: The homeowners took us out to Melville, the cute little neighborhood nearby that had the unfortunate drive-by shooting on New Year’s Eve. They took us to a Middle Eastern restaurant. We shared flat breads with different dips, then a pita. It was nice enough to sit in their outdoor courtyard. A very nice evening!!

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