While driving home the other day, it occurred to me that very few of my friends overseas actually know what it's like around here. So I thought I would do a little pictorial essay showing the city I drive through every day.

To start with, a quick introduction to Johannesburg:

Johannesburg is a relatively new city, only a little over 100 years old. What we here generally call Johannesburg (typically shortened to "Joburg", "Jozi" (by those who think they're Afro-hip), or "Joeys" (by the shoo-wow 1980s slang brigade)) is really the core city of Johannesburg, surrounded by a collection of semi-independent towns and cities, namely Roodepoort, Randburg, Midrand, Sandton, Edenvale, Germiston, and Alberton.

Despite being the largest city in South Africa, Joburg is very green - in fact, it's been listed as the largest non-commercial man-made forest in the world.

There is a "ring road", consisting of portions of the N1, N3 and N12 freeways, encircling the concrete city-centre (which lies in the Southern third of the ring), as well as Randburg (NW) and Sandton (NE).

My travels take me from home, while lies in Roodepoort, just on the outside of the far Western edge of the ring, to Bedfordview, which lies just inside the far Eastern edge. Either I can take the freeway round the top, which is an excruciating journey in stop-start rush hour traffic, or I can bisect the ring, travelling from one side to the other on suburban and urban roads.

The trip itself works out to about 35km, either way. Taking the freeway is fairly quick during non-peak hours (the trip takes 15-20 minutes late at night), but much slower during rush hour. So I take the cross-city route, which is far more interesting, and where I'm in motion most of the time, rather than being in the parking lots so euphemistically called "freeways". If I leave at 6:30AM, the trip takes about an hour. If I leave at 7, about an hour and a half. So I work from 7:30AM to 4PM, which gives me some flexibility with regard to traffic.

The drive isn't usually too bad. I drop Morgan off at his nursery school on the way, and listen to music and news reports along the way. Fortunately, I do enjoy driving.

I have two major route options, and I tend to vary them as my mood takes me, or in the case of severe traffic problems. On this day, 19 October 2004, I took one route in to work and the other back home.


The photos

I took all the pictures with our Nikon Coolpix 2500 digital camera. I'm afraid I'm no expert photographer, and taking pictures while in motion didn't help much. That said, many seem to have come out OK.

In most cases, I have not cropped the pictures at all, since even the edges may be interesting to some. I have sharpened some images slightly to enhance detail, and have resized all images so that I don't end up with gargantuan file sizes.