“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all,” reads an inspirational adage by Helen Keller, which forever rings true each time we pack our bags for yet another thrilling working vacay. We were recently hosted by South African Tourism (SAT) at the heartbeat of South Africa, Tshwane (Pretoria) – a meeting place of many cultures boasting many historic buildings, monuments and museums, which tell the story of a colourful and often turbulent past.
Located about 50km north of Johannesburg and surrounded by the foothills of the Magaliesberg Mountains, the city of Pretoria is South Africa’s administrative capital. It is also known as the “Jacaranda City”, for all its purple blossom-bedecked trees.
Friday, November 1st was quite a majestic day; not only did Botswana’s 5th President, Dr. Mokgweetsi Eric Keabetswe Masisi become inaugurated on this day, but SA Tourism had also found it fitting to invite #BotswanaUnplugged and Yarona FM to the fourth annual Tshwane Food Festival – a multi-faceted event which takes place at Pretoria National Botanical Gardens in the City Of Tshwane (Pretoria), with a promise of an exciting day for everyone, to celebrate the diverse cultures and interests.
The festival also swanked variety of foods, dance, song, games and festivities to remember for a long time to come. Our itinerary was quite exciting as we were scheduled to leave Gaborone with Air Botswana flight BP206 from 1830hrs but due to its usual dramatics and delays, we only left Sir Seretse Khama International Airport (SSKIA) an hour later. A sigh of relief was seeing the flight getting fueled in the vast tarmac, from our waiting lounge, while everybody’s temperaments cooled amidst the sweltering Botswana heat.
Our arrival at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport was truly blessed despite the unforeseen delays earlier, as there was a downpour, and you know what they say about rain and traveling in Setswana culture. It’s symbolic to having had a blessed journey, in typical Setswana fashion, goroga ka Pula! (Loosely translated ‘Arrive with rain’). Prior to us landing, we had battled several scary turbulence which humbled even frequent flyers like ourselves. Anyway, that fast became water under bridge when our captain managed to land his bird nicely amidst the drizzle which had already enveloped the OR Tambo landing strip. We passed through the usual immigration requisites before meeting our hosts for the weekend. After exchanging pleasantries, we proceeded straight to our dinner held at Summit Grill and Skybar .
The rain continued as wined and dined at the Summit Grill & Skybar – an en vision of Stelio Tsihlas who set out to create an upmarket cocktail lounge reminiscent of the ambiance, feel and beauty of a fine dining restaurant. The brand is designed to be the ideal spot for any occasion with a seven-days-a-week breakfast, lunch and dinner trade. The fusion inspired menu is complemented by expertly crafted cocktails, an acclaimed wine list as well as genuine and warm hospitality.
Satiated and ready to take over Pretoria, we went ahead and checked-in at the swanky-looking The Maslow Hotel, located in Pretoria’s Time Square. Well, everybody freshened up, excited to be in the bubbling city of Tshwane. An hour later we all met by the lobby as our hosts treated us to some invigorating nightlife at the nearby Altitude – Rooftop Restaurant and Bar.
Altitude is the ultimate rooftop Social Supper Club and Champagne Garden based at Sun International’s Time Square. The vibe and ambiance here will have you drooling. Revelers partied down a storm despite the heavy downpour, which had us worried that should it continue into the next day, the event we had come so far to attend will be interrupted. However, that was not to be as we woke up on Saturday morning to some shimmering sunshine. The air was also cool, which added to the many pluses of the Tshwane Food Festival.
After some hearty breakfast by the hotel, we all met by the hotel reception as our hosts ferried us to Pretoria National Botanical Gardens, where the Tshwane Food Festival was taking place. We arrived at the venue where the mood and vibe was still laid-back as only a few people had gathered. To spice up the day, the Tshwane Food Festival were showing the World Cup Rugby clash between South African national rugby team, The Springboks versus England. The Springboks were ultimately crowned world champions, for the third time, since 1995 and 2007, which set the partying mood for the day. The Bokke triumph against arch-rivals England was just the cherry on top of the lit festivity which was The Tshwane Food Festival.
The is the brainchild of couple, Felane and Nqobile Mahlangu who have followed the many ‘tastes’ that South Africa has to offer in forms of markets and festivals. One evening while driving back home to Pretoria from Johannesburg, the pair realized they often have to drive out of their home city to enjoy a food and lifestyle festival, and they later realized this is something they can start and do in their own backyard.
This is a pretty chilled vibe, a family-friendly event catering for both the young and old. The varying nibbles from the many stalls were both sumptuous and mouth-watering. The event attracted thousands of people to Pretoria for the only food and lifestyle experience in the City of Tshwane with renowned South African food chefs, and a musical line up to match!
Tshwane Food Fest is a celebration of diverse cultures and interests with the variety of Food, Music, Dance, Games, Activities and more! Everybody minded their own business, whilst beaming with vivacious smiles to everyone, boogying down a storm to the many musical bands that spiced up the day. These included The Muffins and Samthing Soweto amongst others. By this time, the mood was truly sky-high, as the award-winning and chart-topping troubadour had revelers eating out of his musical palm with a medley of hits such as Akulaleki, Sebenzela nina, Nodoli and others. Surely, we will be back next year as the Tshwane Food Festival celebrates its 5th year anniversary and we would also urge you to tag along.