Perusing Gauteng: A day on the Gautrain

Posted by David Henning on 15 September 2021

Words & pictures by Ryan Enslin

Abandoning his car for the day, Ryan Enslin takes the Gautrain on a journey of discovery in search of vegan waffles, an assortment of spices and a naughty milkshake.

Anyone living in greater Johannesburg will tell you that getting around is no easy feat. It’s a vast, badly laid out area, challenging to navigate. Public transport exists in pockets but is often unreliable at best.

Back in 2010, the Gautrain Rapid Rail Link commenced operations. Although much criticised for not bringing transportation to the masses, it is still around and I occasionally use it, especially when I need to go to Pretoria.

So, I decided to leave my car at home for the day and jump aboard the train for a bout of exploration around some of the stops the Gautrain services. Plus, I have been wanting to visit a spot in Pretoria I had been to some time back, so it felt the stars were in alignment as I headed off to buy the tickets.

Leaving Park Station

Determined not to use my car, I pumped the tyres on my (now truly retro) bicycle and pedalled to the Park Station. I rather enjoy cycling around the streets of Joburg, I find it gives me a heightened sense of connection to the city and her people. And fresh air is always a win.

Loading R230 onto my Gautrain Card, the operator assured me would see me through my day’s travels. Down the industrial-scale escalator, I went into the bowels of the city, feeling rather peckish. My first stop would be Rosebank for a spot of brunch.

 

A Vegan Lunch in Rosebank

Alighting the train at the Rosebank Station, and in just a few minute’s walk, I found Lexis Healthy Eatery. Styled as a mostly vegan, whole-food restaurant striving for a sustainable, nutritious way of living I was intrigued and went in.

Luscious green plants abound in this eclectic establishment which had me photographing all manner of angles. Containing myself for just a bit, I perused the menu in search of sustenance. Opting for the savoury waffle, stuffed with spinach and served with carrot ‘bacon’, grilled cherry tomatoes, hollandaise and almond ricotta I decided to pair it with a juice named ‘glow’. Made from oranges, beetroot and grapefruit, I was sure it would tick all the RDAs the day ahead would require.

The need for food attended to, I once again climbed aboard the train, this time, heading for Sandton and a pop-up market I was told would have some interesting spices (since I am now a cooking expert, see this article).

Shopping in Sandton

The short train ride gave me a chance to plot a walking route to The Marc, a fresh new precinct in Sandton. On the last Friday and Saturday of each month, The Marc hosts a pop-up artisanal market with interesting goodies including fashion, fragrances and other accessories. Since my day of exploration was indeed the last Friday of the month, I was ready to shop.

With my newfound passion for cooking, I was in luck and managed to buy some great spices, which I would soon put to use. Plus I discovered a rather interesting eye pillow made using lavender.

Retail therapy done, I found the line that would take me to Hatfield, Pretoria, and I was off again.

A Naughty Milkshake in Hatfield

About three years ago I discovered Mustang Sally’s in Hatfield. This old-school diner serves some of the best milkshakes to have ever passed my lips, with a certain section on the menu marked as ‘naughty’ (read: adult, containing alcohol). A short stroll from the Hatfield Station I was reunited with Mustang Sally’s and since I was not driving, I settled in for a Fudge Caramel milkshake.

Homeward Bound

Brunch, shopping and a naughty milkshake, I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend a day, such were my thoughts as the train gently returned me to Park Station. But, a bicycle ride home awaited. Suddenly I was rather missing my car.

Anyway, at least it was a downhill pedal home.

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