The promised evening rain is feverishly tap dancing on the roof of the walkway as I make my way to the City Lodge Hotel. Through glass windows I can see the lights of buildings and cars reflected on the now wet shiny surfaces below me.
It just about 7pm and while checking into City Lodge I am served a delightful glass of sherry. Even with the rain falling I am not ready to retire for the evening as I am excited to see and experience more of South Africa than O.R Tambo or City Lodge. A trip to Nelson Mandela Square is recommended and it sounds like a nice place to have dinner.
A half hour later I am back at the airport to board a train for Standon. A R$115 fare and I am about twenty minutes away from my destination. Leaving the train station for the short walk to the Michelangelo Mall a light rain is still falling but the heavy thunder and flashes of lighting has passed.
On the lower level of the mall I walk out to an open square. Here, I am standing next to a man whose struggle help to shape what South Africa has become today. I say a silent thank you to a man that is a hero to me and a symbol of hope for many, Nelson Mandela. Like many others that have sacrificed to make their countries and the world a better place, I hope he and others are never forgotten.
From my position, I can see a lot of dining options but so far none of them strike my fancy. I'm in search of a South African culinary experience not Italian, Brazilian or Thai. Finding a mall security guard, I pose a question and hope the answer will point me in the right direction.
Where do you eat, I ask. His response, “KFC”. I have to smile. Rephrasing the question, I get pointed in the right direction and end up at Lekgotla, a South African restaurant.
The manager gives me a personal tour of the buffet and after just seeing the first few items I know my taste buds will be pleased.
Besides, having a great food selection, I am seated at a candle lit front table where a local jazz band with a great vocalist is performing. It is a nice comfortable dining atmosphere where I almost feel a sense of romance in the air. It is not long before that feeling moves to my stomach as I am delighted in the flavors of the food.
A carrot, bean and zucchini dish seasoned with exotic spices, a smoky flavored type humus, grilled shrimp, venison sushi then some type of white corn couscous type dish, tasty breads along with various pot stews.
With my first South African experience over, I must now roll my way back to City Lodge Hotel. Unfortunately, the last train from Standon to the airport leaves at 8:15pm which leaves a taxi as my only alternative. Extending more South African hospitality, the manager of Lekgotla walks me to taxi cab area while sharing with me a little about South Africa.
It is a R$400 fare back to City Lodge compared to R$115 for the train but the difference was well worth the experience for my first night in a country that has a world to offer.