Far from being the tourist metropolis it is displayed as, Durban nonetheless will appeal to the blessed few tourist-types who are more interested in wandering from the oft’ beaten track.
The night life is vibrant, but a little shady in areas; you will know what I’m talking about when you drive through them. There is a lot of crap to do in Durban; Museums, Art Galleries etc. Don’t go to those. If you are experiencing a terrible craving for fun, sleep all day, from 6am until +- 10pm, then go out.
The beach is nice, but only if you are in a group and have been drinking, but please try to refrain from swimming, rip-tides can be quite severe. The clubs are fairly cool, maybe not up to much by international standards, but the ambiance is great.
While Durbanites tend more towards unresponsive, pent aggression when dealing with the camera-round-the-neck tourist types, they will warm to you should express an interest in buying a round at the bar. You will have just made yourself a friend/bodyguard/tour guide for the price of a few beers. This will come to a total of about 20 pounds (sterling). Beer is cheap here.
Clubs to visit (ask a pedestrian, they will know where they are):
Burn: Alternative Rock, Punky vibe, various week-night drinking specials. Live bands on Saturdays.
54: House, Electronica, Radio Rave type tunes. Drink until you fall down.
The Winston: Gothic, Gothic-Electronica and some other heavyish stuf (Tool, the Deftones, Disturbed etc.) Great vibe, my favourite night spot.
330’s: The party mecca of Southern Africa. It has to be the biggest club in SA and one of the most successful in the Southern Hemisphere. Trance, Rave, Jungle, D & B etc. Quick note though, if anyone asks you any of these questions, they are offering to sell you drugs, (beware of stocky, thick-necked box-cut types, they are undercover cops.); Are you sorted bru?(bru is a SA’can term loosely translated to ‘brother’ in Americanese and means ‘mate’ in the queens English.)
Are you partying tonight?
Is everything cool?
The Bat Centre: Jazz, Reggae, live music arty-farty vibe. Calm, cool and collected. Go here if you like listening to ambient jazz and dig your woman a little older.
There are many others, but those outlined here will act as a gateway to the rest, if Durbans nightlife is one thing, it is not stationary.
Museum, City Hall, Various Art Galleries, Restureants on nearly every street, assorted nicieties associated with SA e.g. trinkets, homemade baskets, tiny drums, Zulu spears.
If you are genuinely interested in the history of the area, give the local tourist board a call, if you stop off at the museum, do it there; they will give you all the help you need.
The local history and culture is as rich and as diverse as any you could ask for, there are quite literally hundreds of historical sites surrounding Durban, many of them with reference to Shaka Zulu and the multitudes of conflicts and battles that took place why back when.
I will compile a list of phone numbers, addresses and details of some of these sites as well as the clubs and restaurants. This will be done in 2 or 3 weeks, so don’t forget to check here again then.
Durban is also home to the highest concentration of Indians outside of India herself. This adds to an already full cultural heritage. The vast mix of backgrounds and races has made Durban one of the most interesting holiday destinations in Southern Africa.
The Indian population has given rise to another great facet of Durban’s ambience; the food. Although it seems that Cape Town is ‘the place to be’ for connoisseurs of fine wine and food, Durban must also have the highest concentration of eateries in the country, if not the continent.
The cultural differences evident in the population have not served as divisions, but rather as a unique form of unity. Durban’s varied race, religious and cultural groups blend softly casual into each other to form a new breed of South African, not tainted by the past and its injustice; Durbanites.
Business-wise, we are the largest and busiest port in Southern Afican (I think). A lot of stuff flows through Durban, Gold, Silver, Platinum, Cars, Drugs, Drugs and occasionally, some drug trafficking gets done.
When in SA, be sure to visit sunny Durban, but don’t wear a camera round your neck or someone will bop you on the head with it.
(Insights into Durbans development and history will follow soon. Dont forget to come again in a week or two!)