posted by Rebecca Keenan | 0 Comments
(February 2nd) I have to say, it's been a bit of a culture shock, walking along jacaranda-lined avenues where all the houses are advertising their security systems along with their fortified fences. This, however, does come from someone who grew up in a tiny village whose idea of security is remembering to lock the door and owning a big dog (that's more likely to lick your face than growl at you). But walking around I've not had any problems at all, the weather here in Pretoria is beautiful and anyone I’ve met so far has been incredibly friendly.
From Pretoria Backpackers, I made my way towards Arcadia Park. Then it was on to Church Street which I followed all the way down to Church Square. As I get nearer to the Square, the street got busier and busier with plenty of shops, a mall and lots of stalls.
Church Square itself is great, with lots of beautiful old buildings all round the square and a park area in the middle. If you're looking for somewhere to hang out in the shade of a tree amongst locals, this is the place to go.
I retraced my steps back along Church Street to Union Buildings, entering through the Lower Gardens, a large expanse of park land which is open to the public, and then making my way up to Union Buildings themselves. I was shown around by Anande, who'd helped me to organise the podcast and I learned that these Buildings which were once the very apparent symbol of apartheid in the city have been given a whole new level of meaning following South African independence.
Though the Buildings themselves are not open to the public yet, you can walk up the steps to Government Avenue and the Five Arches. You'll be able to see the stunning exterior of the buildings where Nelson Mandela was inaugurated and where 20,000 South African women once protested about passes.
My first podcast was then recorded in the private gardens of Union Buildings, a spot that I'm told they're hoping to open to the public as part of a Union Buildings tour before the World Cup. Kassiani who's the Website Director at the Presidency did the interview for me and I think it sounds pretty cool. When I've it edited up it'll appear on the website along with all the other Hostelworld.com podcasts.
Even if you visit Pretoria before this tour starts, be sure to check out Union Buildings. Not only is it humbling to visit a place with such a history, up on Government Avenue right in front of the Buildings you'll find the city spread out before you.
Once the podcast was done and I'd taken some footage of the gardens, I headed back to the hostel to check in and see what was happening.
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