As it happens, I have had a few people asking me what do to over the holidays as they introduce friends/family/partners to their beloved home city. It’s a difficult thing – showing someone the place you grew up in and trying to get them to fall in love with it that same way you have.How do you take the essence of a place and get another person to understand it when they only have a few days with you – whether they’ve traveled from abroad or even just from the other side of the country?
While there are no doubt many impressive places in the 031, here’s some of my first choices that I took a certain individual to for “Durban’s Best Date Ever."
We kicked off the morning at Bike and Bean along the beachfront. The promenade is best in the earlier hours of the morning – there’s just the right balance of still, ocean tranquility and the day bursting into life with surfers, joggers and skaters on the go.
After we felt sufficiently caffeinated, we headed to Warwick Junction for a guided tour through the 9 markets. Warwick really is the heartbeat of Durban, with over 460 000 people passing through the stalls and station daily. This kids, is Durban at its most honest and raw. (BTW FYI, I did a full post on the tour a while back – read it here.)
We also got to check out the Faith47 murals up close, which is something I’ve been dying to do since blurry snaps taken through car windows flooded my Instagram feed. These portraits represent prominent members from each of the markets and really are a sight to see, reminding us of the city’s intense history and diversity. Try to hold back those tears now folks.
Two hours of walking through the crazy bustle of a Monday morning warranted some decent chow, so I swopped out my usual lunching spots for a gem in the CBD called Little Gujarat. This tiny vegetarian restaurant pumps at lunchtime and our whole bill came to a grand total of R96. The food was ridiculously delicious and we didn’t even make a dent in all the selections of curries, sambals and rotis that we got with our two veg thalis.
The Durban Natural Sciences Museum is possibly one of my favourite places, no matter how old I get or how many times I see it. I still get stoked to meander in between the animal displays and mummy replicas and of course, checking out what art exhibitions are on rotation upstairs. And guys, it’s mahala.
My little un-airconditioned car was well over the crazy CBD traffic and relentless sun by 2pm so we headed out of the city towards Mitchell Park Zoo for an ice-cream and walk through the gardens. Most of their animals are rescues and all the grounds and enclosures are kept impressively immaculate. It’s only but R10 to get in and check out monkeys, parrots, meerkats and over-enthusiastic toddlers. And me talking to the guinea pigs like I’m Doctor Doolittle reincarnate. True story.
We had some time to kill before the final destinations so we hit up Bay of Plenty for a quick swim. Even in the Christmas chaos, our beaches shine. At about 3pm the water is perfect, the sun glints off of the Elangeni and the skaters regroup at the skate park to take advantage of the afternoon shade. You’re just waiting for Ludacris to pop out and film another music video.
Even in all its predicable cheese, the Roma Revolving is still something to show 031 newcomers (or even just individuals you are trying to woo). The view, the history, the kitschy décor that has been untouched since the 80’s – it’s all worth hitting up the bar for a whiskey to watch Durban spin as the sun sets over our harbor.
I had left dinner plans open, not knowing how we would be feeling after a day of feasting and festivities, so we chose to make the most of the exquisite summer’s evening and chowed down on Blue Dolphin’s famous pizzas.
Durban ya little show-off!