It’s still Jozi, but with view from the top

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iol travel feb 8 sightseeing bus REUTERS Have a green Valentine's Day this year with the City Sightseeing experience.

Johannesburg - It is a cultural excursion with a different view.

See the longest bar in the country. Tilt your head to take in the tallest building on the continent – a sign of Johannesburg’s concrete ambition.

Walk into the exclusive gentlemen’s club of mining magnates on Commissioner Street and imagine Eloff Street in its grandeur – like New York’s Park Avenue.

Welcome to Joburg, a city sitting atop the richest gold reef in the world.

These are some of the few historical and vibrant routes that one can expect when hopping on the open-top, red double-decker buses operated by City Sightseeing.

The buses were officially launched on Thursday with an inaugural tour that included a fascinating view of the city via Constitution Hill, Gandhi Square, the Carlton Centre, the James Hall Transport Museum and Gold Reef City.

The normal tour has 12 stops and operates between 9am and 5.30pm at a ticket price of R150. The ticket is an all-day pass that allows passengers to hop off at different stops to explore.

The bus has a hostess and accommodates 80 passengers seated and 20 standing. It is air-conditioned and includes commentary on the story of Joburg through the many historical buildings, landmarks and attractions along the route – all served in multiple languages including Zulu.

It also plays music between the commentary, from the legendary Mahlathini and the Mahotella Queens to Bongo Maffin and Mbongeni Ngema.

What makes the tour a thrilling experience is feeling that “you are seeing the city for the first time,” said Gladys Jones, a city dweller.

“You see it beyond the urban decay and dilapidations,” she added, waving to bustling pedestrians while flying the nation’s flag.

The bus may fail to appeal to lethargic city dwellers, but for those who are fascinated by the history, culture and vibe of Joburg, hop on the bus.

- The Star

Tickets can be purchased at Gold Reef City, or online at www.sightseeing.co.za

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