17 December 2010 by Kate Turkington

Shop till you drop - Johannesburg inner city style

On one of the hottest days in December, just before the heavens open and pour down over 100ml of rain in a couple of days, a group of us join Jo Buitendach, archaeologist and tour planner of www.past.experiences@hotmail.com for a shopping trip into the heart of Johannesburg’s inner city.

First stop a visit to the African ‘muti’ shop in Diagonal Street - where traditional medicines rub shoulders with animal bones, beaded walking sticks, shelves and shelves of dried plants and a couple of baboon skulls. It all proves too much for two of our shoppers. They crack and each buy a small bottle of sinister looking, shocking pink ‘lucky liquid’ - guaranteed to win you the lottery or a rich handsome husband if you just add a couple of drops to your bathwater.

(I’m still waiting to hear…)

Then off on a Rea Vaya bus to the fashion district where we join thousands of pre-Christmas shoppers and struggle our way along spotlessly clean streets sussing out bargains - of which there were plenty.

Fancy a handmade sunhat for R15? Or the latest trendiest gladiator sandals a-drip with bling for R75? Sexy cotton dresses for R60? Bags galore - oh, what fun we had in the bag shop - it was like a sharks’ feeding frenzy. Glitzy, stylish bags for under R100, an important looking overnight mock leather bag in dark red, and kiddies’ backpacks of every kind.

At lunchtime, sweaty and satiated with shopping but happily weighed down with purchases, we fetch up at one of Jozi’s oldest pubs, The Guildhall.

Where we down cold beers, spicy chicken and chips.

Forget the expensive malls, and head downtown…

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