The Irene Dairy Farm is located just off the biggest highway in South Africa, the N1, which links Joburg to Pretoria. When you arrive at the farm, it feels as though you’ve driven 100 years back in time. In fact, Irene farm was founded in 1895 when the first European settlers entered the area. It still functions to this day as a dairy farm, and the shop sells the most delicious melktart (a sort of local cheesecake) and runs a lovely outdoor restaurant cooled with mist-sprayers.
I took my mom and my 3 year old Tommy to the Irene Dairy Farm on a recent outing. We left Tommy with his nanny Nomsa to play at the children’s area while we went to the adjoining Camdeboo Day Spa. The spa is set in a converted horse stable with thick, stone walls, and each room is cool and pleasant. After our treatment we took a dip in an outdoor infinity pool, then returned to the play area to find Tommy happily climbing on an antique tractor.
It was great day, and a wonderful way to escape the asphalt and skyscrapers of Joburg. For more info, go here.
Located off Jan Smuts Avenue across from the Johannesburg Zoo, this park beats with the heart of South Africa’s diversity, attracting locals and foreigners alike. On our last visit we did an informal language survey (by eavesdropping!) and counted fifteen languages being spoken. Come join in the joy.
The Shosholoza Meyl runs from Johannesburg to Cape Town four times a week. It is surprisingly inexpensive, even when you book a “coupé” in Tourist Class, meaning a closed compartment with fold-down beds. Children under nine pay half-fare. I traveled with my son Tommy, who is absolutely crazy about trains. We prepared him for the trip for a few weeks prior by reading books about trains and watching YouTube videos about trains, including Peppa Pig and Caillou.
First we saw the city slip away, then the suburbs, and then we entered the vast middle ground of South Africa. Farms, fields, and grasslands.
And what about the dining car? The food was simple and also affordable, but the decor held a touch of old-school elegance. The seats were upholstered in the official purple of Shosholoza, and white china matched the crisp white tablecloths. Tommy ate a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch and a bowl of vegetables for supper.
I’d highly recommend the Shosholoza — the name is an onomatopoeia for the sound a train makes — for its price, cleanliness, views, and good service. See here for more info and reservations.
I am so happy to welcome our wonderful, dynamic, and multi-talented new Correspondent from Johannesburg, South Africa: Shannon Walbran-Niebuhr. Shannon has her own blog, is a crafter with her own Etsy shop and is also a tour guide in Joburg and is of course, Mama to little Tommy, (who is in a couple of the photos). I couldn’t have found a better new friend to contribute to Bellissima and share Johannesburg and other parts of South Africa with us! Here is her first post.