Hi folks, excuse my english…i’m french!
Durban or not Durban?
Durban was a stop we wanted to avoid because it’s just 90 miles from Richards Bay. The idea was to go to East London, 250 miles further south.
We finally had to stop, Gaïa was too slow, the hull as well as the folding propeller and the water intake had to be cleaned up. In this region it’s better to be fast … and it’s no regrets!
Durban is a bustling city, living at the rate of three million people, counting its suburbs. Mainly Zulu, the population and history of the city were enriched with the arrival of a large Indian community from the late nineteenth century. Today, Indians make up about 20% of the city’s inhabitants.
An essential first step is a walk in the Victoria Street Market where scented spices stalls open the appetite for the traditional Bunny Show: an Indian curry served in a loaf of bread. On the other side of the market, the atmosphere changes, we are in the Zulu section where the spices have been replaced by traditional Zulu medicine stalls: snake skins, roots , dried plants … to handle with care! traditional Healers are still very active and respected for their ancestral know-how.
Another and different neighbourhood : Glenwood and its hipster atmosphere. A visit at the Kwazulu Natal Society of the Arts to discover local artists is essential: photography, painting, art design … the quality of the exhibited works is enough to spend some time. The place has also a good terrace cafe where you can eat.
You will also find in the corner a great bakery, a roaster and some good restaurants where XXL burgers have been replaced by more elaborate cards. To name a few: The Glenwood Restaurant, Pop Up Society and Oil and Olive.
For epicureans, we also recommend a trip to theMarket Restaurant, in the neighborhood of Greyville: tables on the terrace around a fountain, a nice South African wines very explanatory and dishes for carnivores and vegetarians, all at price as cool as the place.
In the same spirit, ‘good vibes’, take a ride to Station Drive Road, a former derelict neighborhood that has become in a few years one of the coolest places in Durban. Open your eyes at the African Art Center, go shopping in the lobby of the antique dealers before testing craft beer at That Brewing Co. All these neighborhoods are quite far apart, a good solution to move is the Uber (half the time expensive than traditional taxis), a simple and effective option.
On the sea side, Durban has an air of rivera to the American with its stroll as far as the eye can see ‘the golden mile’ at the edge of its immense beaches where surfers and swimmers meet each other. The many buildings on the other side of the street testify to the economic boom of the city in the 70s, becoming THE tourist destination for holidaymakers from Johannesburg and its region (2.5 million tourists per year !).
Finally, you will have to wait until nightfall to continue the exploration of Durban and the intimate atmosphere of a Jazz club … music is a serious business in South Africa, and the Jazz almost an institution in Durban that welcomes every year a recognized festival.
We had the chance to be there on December 31 and spent the evening in the excellent club The Chairman. On the menu: captivating divas and a New Orleans style brass band. The address is known to regulars, the atmosphere is so authentic and warm.
Today, the glory of the golden mile seems far enough, the old-fashioned buildings, like old witnesses of a very different past but a new balance seems to give to Durban his second breath, much more alive and rich of its diversity.