"All that is gold does not glitter, not all those that wander are lost," J. R. R. Tolkien mused in the Fellowship of the Rings. Unbeknownst to Tolkien, his statement is not only an apt description of South Africa's biggest city, but a suitable portrayal of the myriad of people who pass through it every day.
Johannesburg is the biggest city in the hot, southern tip of Africa, and acts as the commercial centre for South Africa's gold and diamond industries. For this reason, it is referred to as the city of gold. At first glance it's hard to identify the hair-rising traffic and smudged skyline with such a pure and valuable metal. But, those who take the time to wander around will inevitably find rich reward in the mélange of cultural events, social activities and variety of shops on offer.
Like a diamond in the rough, Johannesburg will reveal a treasure cove of activities to keep a woman in every stage of EX occupied and fulfilled. Once the city's surface has been scratched, it can, like the women who walk through its busy streets, reveal a heady set of possibilities andendless potential for pleasure.To begin with, those in the stage of Exile can exit the humdrum ofeveryday life and escape into tranquil surroundings.
Spend a day at the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens where women can wander around and pass some well-deserved quiet time in a safe environment, surrounded by a beautiful collection of South Africa's indigenous plant-life. When darkness falls, head to the Johannesburg Observatory which opens for public viewing on the last Friday of every month. Here, a night out under a starry sky includes a short, informative presentation before the telescope is opened. With some tea and biscuits to boot, you can sit back while the universe unfolds before your eyes.
For an even more relaxed approach, pack some comfort food, scroll your windows down and park your car for a night out at the Top Star Drive-In. Enjoy the benefits of life in a hot climate while you happily lounge in your car, under the cool night-sky with a breeze in your hair. For more information, plus an updated list of the shows, click here.
On the other hand, some of us might prefer a complete new world, insteadof just different surroundings. If you feel like escaping to foreign countries, extraordinary stories and exotic settings, head towards the Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank Mall for the selection of art house films. Visit the Moviesite beforehand for listings.
When you ready to enter the social arena again, EXpress yourself in an explosion of passion and sensations.Flaunt your sexuality wrapped in silver and chiffon, at the Jewels of the Nile belly-dancing school in Johannesburg.
After jiggling and strutting your stuff for hours at a time, annihilate that last bit of pent up anger at The Big Time Taverna. At this Greek restaurant you will not only be wined and dined, but allowed to vent your anger on the crockery. For more information on how, where and when to zorba the night away at this Johannesburg restaurant, visit www.dining-out.co.za
Now, you are ready to eliminate all remaining negative feelings. You can EXorcise and exercise simultaneously at The Satyam School of Yoga in Johannesburg.
For a rejuvenated and exalted woman, it is now time to EXplore new possibilities in familiar surroundings. Become a member of the Red Hat Society and cheerfully trample all over societal rules with groups of other fantastic females. Don a red hat and purple outfit and join the Johannesburg chapter to fulfill their sole purpose of having fun in different locations all over the city.
Expand your horizons further than just the borders of the city, and indulge yourself in the cultural melting pot of Soweto. Long gone are the days when the thoughts of visiting this burgeoning suburb invoked looks of horror and wide eyed wonder. Contact a tourism agency for a guided insider's view of the best spots. Wander past massive mansions and cramped shanty houses. Enjoy a traditional, spicy African lunch and end the day sipping cool beer in a shebeen (a local drinking spot).
Finally, EXhale, and let yourself go in a complete fit of self-indulgence.Lose yourself in Johannesburg's offering of shopping paraphernalia, sprinkled like precious stones over the city.
On weekends and public holidays, you can mosey around the myriad of stalls and precious finds in Rosebank's rooftop market, arguably, the country's best. For every other day of the week, the Oriental Plaza offers a rich display of exotic materials wrapped in a deep, spicy aroma of samoesas and musky incense.
After a hard day's shopping, visit Terenzo's Hairdressers (info: +27 (0)11 7267607) in Melville - well-known South African celebrity hangout. As you walk down the street to a pamper session deluxe, you will find yourself in one of the most famous streets in Johannesburg -location of the popular local soap opera '7de Laan' (seventh lane). Cappuccino in hand, prepare yourself for your eventual exit looking gorgeous, feeling relaxed and ready to enjoy the heady atmosphere of Melville at night.
Lastly, after a myriad of new experiences, it is sensible thinking that, like the diamonds this city founded itself on, Johannesburg can be a girl's best friend.
Petro Kotzé is a freelance travel writer, and, self-admittedly, a women obsessed with the quest to keep on moving. Currently located in South Africa, she is happily typing away at stories ranging from scrapie in the Shetland Islands to Muti markets in South