We meet at the Royal Hotel just for old time’s sake, then it is over the road to the Natural Science Museum – out of this world – we don’t spend a long time here as I leave that for you to go back at your leisure and soak it all up. Next stop is a new mosque (the first one in South Africa to be named after a woman), a peek inside the Old Court House Museum to see the fabulous exhibition on the Markets of Warwick that travelled to the 15th International Architecture Show in Venice! Wow! Then it is time for the magical roof top garden in the heart of Durban! A peek inside a trendy backpackers; then a visit inside St Paul’s, the oldest church in Durban – such a tranquil place where you can rest your legs for a bit. A stop at the old Station building to admire the beautifully restored foyer; then it is over the road past the Post Office. Who will find the plaque commemorating the speech Winston Churchill gave on the steps of the Post Office? Then to the City Hall and Cenotaph where we pay our respects to the men of Durban who died in WW1 and WW2. If it is a Saturday, I like to save the best for last and end off at the new roof top restaurant called Chambers Club, in the old Nedbank building. Action packed best describes the City Walk and definitely a walk down memory lane!
A refreshing walk around the Point taking in the old and the new; the area is steeped in history. Plus, many new enchanting places you would never know existed unless you went knocking on a few doors! Did you know there is a tunnel at the harbour entrance which pops out on the Bluff? We get to hear about the good work undertaken by NSRI Station 5, a quick stop at a roof top garden, I’ll point out where the first steam train in South Africa serviced the Point, in 1860. The famous Vic Bar and Howard College have a connection, bet you never knew that! If we play our cards right, we may be invited inside an exclusive jazz club filled with delightful artefacts; then pass the last row of surviving warehouses dating back to the late 1800s. I have so many stories to tell you – you won’t be disappointed!
We step back in time to the 1930s to soak in the many art deco buildings along route before donning our sailor’s caps! I’d never stepped inside the oldest yacht club in Africa until 2019 but now you can’t keep me out! We hear about the Royal Charter and the history of the RNYC that makes the club so snobby. Oops – I mean so special! Have you seen the new 9thAvenue Waterside Bistro? We will then head to the Maritime Museum to see the recently restored SA Navy minesweeper from WW2 and the salvage tug JR More. I have some inside information from Anthony Steward whose round the world yacht is also on display; he is the only person to have accomplished a circumnavigation in an open boat. Then a visit to the PYC to hang out with some local sailors. We head across the road to the Durban Club and this time the ladies will enter through the front door! Those stuffy old gentlemen from “way back when” would be horrified today! The Victoria Embankment was built between 1896 and 1901 at the cost of GBP83,000. In the early days, the bay was devoted to recreation especially swimming, picnics, rowing, yachting and fishing. This area was a big mangrove swamp home to pelicans and flamingos. I will point out the railings on the Esplanade that my great grandfather, Henry Anthony Chadwick, made. Tea and cream scones could be the order of the day when we end back at the Royal Natal Yacht Club.
Join me as wefollow the path that the elephants took 170 years ago and we may very well also stop in Greyville for a drink of water; we take the lazy route back up the hill by catching a ride! We start at Mitchell Park after giving Admiral a quick salute and then slowly weave our way down Florida Road passing an original tram stop. We check out the new Florida Fields, plus all the little alleyways, shops, galleries and restaurants tucked behind the scenes, you’ll be amazed! I can’t give away all my secrets but one of our stops will take your breath away if you’ve never stepped inside this establishment – if you love interior decorating you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven! Great to see Hollis House getting a face lift; Jack Hollis built the City Hall and it was a case of one brick for the City Hall and two for Hollis House – only joking! There is so much to see – beautiful boutique hotels as well as an established flower wholesaler who also welcomes us inside. What is Florida Road without a visit to Ike’s book shop? This is when my whistle comes out! We then march over the road to St Mary’s Church, one of only nine churches in South Africa where they still ring the bells – I need to get my timing right for this happening. I’ll point out some original wood and iron houses which were popular in Natal from 1870 to 1930. The folk in Florida Road welcome my walking tours with open arms so expect a couple of spoils along route! After all that now you know why we catch a ride back up the hill!
Every week (mid-week), I will be introducing a new destination to visit and, in most instances, we take in a nice easy walk to the destination to incorporate some exercise. I have a long list of places to visit as I love being a tourist in my own city and most of all, I love learning.