I could go to some of my favorite restaurants and have some sushi, or some sizzling steak ('cause Zeus knows I won't be cooking for myself).
The best sushi I've had in Joburg came from Cape Town Fish Market. They are a little (if not a lot) classier than my other favorite fish place, even if it is a little fast food-ish, Ocean Basket. CTFM actually has a sushi bar, the conveyor belt kind that is, which always takes me back to our stay in Taiwan, and just wins me over no questions asked. On top of being sushi-heaven, their wine list is decent, and their other dishes pretty awesome as well. At least my husband seems to enjoy them, personally I can't seem to get off the sushi-wagon once I'm on it.
In Cape Town my favorite sushi place so far is 221 in the Waterfront. I say so far, since their sushi is the only sushi I've had in CT.
The best steak round our way - and after the world renowned Argentinian beef we kept splurging on in Mexico, finding this was a task indeed - is to be had at either Karoo or Cattle Baron. Karoo does not win hands down, since their steak is only good if you are smart enough to ask for it without the horrid basting all South Africans seem to be very fond of. But, Cattle Baron does not win hands down either, since even though the meat was excellent, the service and the atmosphere weren't, and they actually charged us for an unfiltered red (what we ordered), but brought us a regular one. Shame.
I could go to the movies.
There are two movie theatre chains in South Africa: Ster-Kinekor and Nu Metro. They show the same movies and the theaters themselves are pretty identical. Last weekend we went to the Nu Metro movie theatre in Menlyn Park Mall in Pretoria to see Australia. We opted for the Privé theatre, which according to our friends should be the theatre with the most comfortable (airline-like) seats. The seats were nice and my butt vouches for that since miraculously it did not fall asleep or tingle uncomfortably at any moment during the loooong epic. At a staggering R33 (€2,5 or $3,5) we'll definitely go for the Privé again. As for the movie: well, it was an epic, I liked it, kind of. It was very long, and every time you thought it was finished it picked up again, for almost three hours. I've heard that Burn after reading should be far more butt-friendly, and funny too, so perhaps I'll try out the Ster-Kinekor privé equivalent (and actually find out what it is called, since it is not obvious from the website).
Still, sadly South African movie theater magic is centuries behind Mexico. Check out their VIP theater, Platino Cinemex. Why oh why, can I not satisfy my craving for a cocktail or a slice of pizza in the middle of a three-hour, numb-your-b'cheeks, cinematic experience?!?!? All I ask is a waiter to crawl to me on his knees and take my order, crawl back while balancing a fancy glass and some nachos, and let me enjoy an exorbitantly priced glass of (possibly quite bad) white wine while I'm meticulously ogling Brad Pitt, or possibly Hugh Jackman.
I could go get drunk and listen to some live music.
My singular 'get drunk to the sound of loud live music' experience in South Africa took place some months ago in the suburbia of Centurion, north of Joburg, at a place called Firkin Pub. The music was good, but obviously I'm past my bar going days, unless we're talking snobbish, martini-galore, quirky-little-finger-food-at-high-prices kind of establishment. I'll still feel out of place in the more snobbish venues too, but at least I won't feel the need to stuff toilet paper in my ears to avoid the searing headache the volume is causing me. In the end, I think I'm simply more of a 'get drunk with your friends over a nice braai' kind of gal. I won't host them without the husband with the mad braai skillz, but I'll graciously accept invitations. And, you you can always count on me to bring the wine.
I could go shopping.
In a country that has never heard of department stores (No, Woolworths is not one) the shopping is surprisingly good. I happen to adore Woolworths and all of the malls, Sandton City, Nelson Mandela Square (links to Sandton City), Brooklyn Mall, Menlyn Park Mall, Centurion Mall, etc, that we have visited offer a wide variety of different shops and boutiques. As opposed to Mexico the shoe shops here actually stock my size (I'm a big-footed Scand, as you might have guessed), which means that in my shoe-mania I've so far acquired quite a few pairs. Unfortunately, the dress code here being far more relaxed than anywhere else in the world that I've ever experienced, I've yet to have too many opportunities to flaunt my black and gold stilettos, or my Hilfiger wedges. Double shame.
I could go to Montecasino and gamble away my husband's pay check or see The Beauty and the Beast.
Well, I've already seen The Beauty and The Beast, and have no interest in seeing the premiering one - The High School Musical. I saw the movie and strongly prefer Grease and even Grease II to it, so we'll just leave it at that. However, Montecasino is definitely something to see, especially if combined with a visit to Soweto, the sprawl of former townships Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu once called home. Montecasino is designed to imitate a Tuscan village, probably by someone who has never been to Italy, or even Europe. Fake laundry hangs over the 'alleys', walls have cracks painted on them, and looking up you are faced with either a hot pink sunset or an eerily blue sky. I seem to recall some twinkling stars as well. Luckily or unfortunately, you take your pick, Montecasino also houses quite a few good restaurants and drinking spots. Montecasino is so kitch it almost borders on cool, and is most definitely best served with a hefty dose of the other side of South African reality, the townships.
I highly recommend a pre-Montecasino visit to a Soweto-shebeen. Get a glass (or a pickle jar) of the local brew. I did, from a communal mug nonetheless.