In Summary

  • The Sandton Sun, where we stayed, is a beautiful, quality hotel and even more important, has exquisite service.
  • I loved the fact that at a wedding expo, they found it important to remind people that sometimes happily-ever-afters don’t turn out that way, even when you want them to

‘Travel is for remembering home.’

It may seem presumptuous to quote myself, but I did say that, because it is true for me and I am reminded of it every time I go anywhere.

Last month I was in Johannesburg for the Wedding Expo, which is Africa’s biggest wedding fair. Considering the fact that I am not a bride, you would think that going all the way down south for a wedding expo seemed over the top – but it was well worth the experience.

The Sandton Sun, where we stayed, is a beautiful, quality hotel and even more important, has exquisite service. It feels like Johannesburg hotels are constantly trying to outdo themselves, though not with the moneyed buoyance of Dubai, but in a much more elegant and natural fashion. Or at least, that’s what it seemed like when I was there.

We were treated to several Johannesburg delights. The expo was as interesting for me as is possible when you are removed from the subject. You can see what you would like and what you don’t like in an unhurried way, be it flower arrangements or outfits, or dresses and rings, or pre-nup lawyers!

The Wedding Expo, Johannesburg. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

I loved the fact that at a wedding expo, they found it important to remind people that sometimes happily-ever-afters don’t turn out that way, even when you want them to.

Then there was quad biking through Soweto (no, I didn’t bungee jump, I can’t bring myself to just yet), going up in a hot air balloon with Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris which was breathtaking, spa treatments, and of course, shopping through Africa’s biggest malls.

Fun on a hot-air balloon (left) and Mandela House (right). PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

If you’re into this sort of thing, Johannesburg is the perfect city for you, fusing an urban cultural vibe with the best of South Africa, and you’re getting everything you need for your special day too.

Did I mention that food is so much cheaper in Johannesburg? It’s so surprising to me that one of the nicest hotels we visited, the Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa, had their food priced at Java-like rates, which is amazing because not only was the food delectable, the ambience was incomparable.

 Fairlawns Boutique Hotel and Spa. PHOTO | ABIGAIL ARUNGA

We’re now living in the hell of Sh80 for a packet of milk, but that’s an article for another day…

In spite of the plush hotel room (I never wanted to leave that bed) and the wonderful ‘vibey’ city, as our guide called it, I was still very ready to come back to Nairobi. There’s something to be said for familiarity.

Johannesburg felt like heaven, but everything has to end, doesn’t it? Of course, as I sit here, I could really use a hot air balloon ride, but alas.

Johannesburg also serves as a contrast for other places I’ve been. This long weekend took me to Kapsabet in Nandi County. Because it was that time of the month (i.e., before payday), I and a bunch of friends decided it made more sense to put our resources together, contribute for fuel and drive down.

Much as shuttles have gotten more and more comfortable, they don’t let you stop where you please and relax on the way in any fashion. There would be so much money to make if there were a few cleaner stops with toilets and palatable food on some of our roads, because most people use roads to go places. It only makes sense.

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