FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Soweto, Johannesburg

Jan 28, 2014
2014 / February 2014

On the outskirts of South Africa’s largest city is what appears to be a middle-class neighborhood, with hillocks of abandoned mining slag heaps — a gritty reminder of the past — in the distance. I make my way past a neat network of streets void of trees but lined instead with brick-faced cinderblock tin-roofed homes. Their doors are ajar and kids are everywhere.

Welcome to Soweto (short for South-Western Townships), South Africa’s most famous township. It wasn’t long ago that Soweto, during apartheid, was off-limits to outsiders who were afraid to tread, many fearing the “what-if” scenarios. Now busloads of tourists arrive to take in the historic sites and new developments.

Start in a nook dubbed Orlando West — during apartheid hailed as “the Wild West” — and veer onto Vilakazi Street, famous for two former residents: Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Nowhere else in the world is there a road on which two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates once lived.

Head inside Mandela’s earlier home, now a museum, to see the simple three-room abode with its array of Papa Africa’s personal items, from photos to his bedroom and even his well-worn boots.

For your journey into the history that shaped South Africa’s here and now, a must-visit lies east of the township at the Apartheid Museum. Take tissues. The emotionally charged collection starts with a bang with photos of the executed; graphic footage and actual torture devices are on display, but rest assured the museum meshes restful places to reflect and displays artwork of post-apartheid life from some survivors who are now artists.

By the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum, the infamous photo of a helpless teenager holding the lifeless body of the young student stands as a stark reminder. The picture gripped hearts around the globe, and Pieterson’s name is synonymous with apartheid itself.

Music is the lifeline of South Africa, and the a cappella Soweto Gospel Choir is another township success story. Chances of catching a performance by the traveling ensemble are slim, but other local singers regularly perform around the neighborhood.

For an upscale eatery that’s not fussy and caters to both tycoons and Nobel Peace Prize winners (Richard Branson and Archbishop Desmond Tutu), Nambitha Restaurant features home cooking inspired by the owner’s mother, Mama Jacobeth Vilakazi. Find fish, various meat curries and traditional dishes like mogodu (wild spinach) and pap (maize porridge).

Visitors can overnight at quaint places like Vhavenda Hills Bed and Breakfast, only footsteps away from Vilakazi Street in the heart of Soweto, or at the Soweto Hotel on Freedom Square, the district’s first 4-star hotel.

A South African businessman recently completed Maponya Mall, purportedly the largest mall in Soweto. For retail therapy, quick bites and fun diversions for movie buffs and health nuts, the large multicomplex venue satisfies every whim. Don’t be surprised by the Richard Branson gym, either — the king of the Virgin empire opened a Virgin Active health club here.

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Explore Excursions

#globility

Insta Feed

Global City Guidebook: Rotorua

Located on Lake Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is a hot spot for volcanic landscapes, hot springs, outdoor recreation and Māori culture. If you are looking for a destination where you can spend most of your time outdoors, Rotorua is for you.

Extend Your Stay In Trendy Madrid

With its rich artistic and natural heritage, its outstanding transport network, the quality of its accommodation, its excellent gastronomy, and the passion with which the people of Madrid enjoy both the day and the night, the capital of Spain is one of the most attractive cities in the world.

Balearic Islands Tighten Tourism Laws

Spain’s Balearic Islands’ government recently announced tighter laws targeting excessive tourism. The new law bans drinking on public roads and prohibits shops from selling alcohol late at night. Tourists found breaking these rules could be fined up to €3,000.

NH Collection Debuts in Finland

The new NH Collection Helsinki Grand Hansa marks the brand’s latest property. Located in the center of the Finnish capital, the property combines two historically significant buildings, Hotel Seurahuone and Student House. The hotel features 224 guestrooms and suites, including a grand, 1,722-square-foot presidential suite.

L’Ermitage: Your Beverly Hills Self-Care Haven

Nestled amidst the palm-lined boulevards of Beverly Hills, L'Ermitage exudes refined elegance and unparalleled service. This haven, a Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond and, most recently, Two Key MICHELIN Guide recipient, continues to captivate discerning travelers and Angelenos with its unwavering dedication to personalized hospitality and self-care.

Global City Guidebook: Toronto

Toronto, Canada’s largest and most populated city, sits on Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore. Ontario’s capital city, it boasts a skyscraper-crowded skyline dominated by the iconic CN Tower, but it also features many green spaces and 530 miles of the Bikeways Network. With 158 distinct neighborhoods, the city is known for its multiculturalism as well as being a world leader in technology, finance and entertainment.

Daily
Jul 11, 2024

Celebrate National Caviar Day at The Meritage Resort & Spa

Calling all caviar lovers! Celebrate National Caviar Day July 18 at the newly renovated Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa Valley, California. Sip delicious, handcrafted cocktails and indulge in a lavish, luxurious spread of the world’s finest caviar for the ultimate taste experience.

Colombia: A Different Kind of Beauty

Colombia’s beauty defies description — it’s that unique, that special, that different — and travelers are taking notice as 2023 marked the country’s best year for tourism, welcoming more than 6 million international travelers. The Country of Beauty looks to continue growing and enhancing its regions and communities in 2024 and beyond.

Daily
Jul 11, 2024

Patrick Mouratoglou Partners with The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón on Tennis Center

World-renowned tennis coach Patrick Mouratoglou announced a partnership with The Ritz-Carlton Naples, Tiburón to debut the first Mouratoglou Tennis Center in Florida. The center opened in early summer 2024 boasting training camps, private lessons, leagues and retreats that deliver a premium tennis experience.