44 Stanley Avenue – Joburg’s well kept secret!

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A few months ago, while casually browsing some local websites, I stumbled upon this address – 44 Stanley Avenue. It piqued my curiosity but with a lot of things happening simultaneously – family visiting, us bringing little Mia home,etc., I forgot about this place.

However, just this week, thoroughly bored of baby-sitting and the usual chores, I was desperate to go on one of my exploration adventures around Joburg. But when I sat down to figure out a place to go to, I realised – there wasn’t much left that I hadn’t already seen. A typical OMG moment!! What would the bored expat wife do now?? That is when 44 Stanley popped out of the bored recesses of my mind once again.

After a few minutes of google maps searching, I was on my way to check out yet another new place. But nothing had prepared me for what was in store. I had read that 44 Stanley was a collection of boutiques and eateries so I was expecting yet another market.

How wrong I was! Yes, the place is a small market but so different from any other in Joburg. The site used to house industrial buildings in the 1930’s but when they moved out, the place was occupied by squatters and completely vandalised. However, in the recent years, the area has been re-developed and given a complete overhaul, whilst still retaining its the old-world industrial look. It now houses boutiques, cafes, restaurants, design studious and a bookstore.

Tree-line courtyard

Tree-lined courtyard

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It was early on a Tuesday morning and there were not many people in the stores. However, the cafes were buzzing with smartly dressed people discussing business over breakfast, perky girls out with their friends for a morning cuppa and laptops-ipad yielding artsy folk, quietly working away on what might be their latest book! The atmosphere was one of laid-back peace & serenity with a degree of timelessness attached to it.

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Having browsed the shops & studios, I stopped to soak in the ambiance and a grab a small bite at the L8 Panini & Cafe, located bang in the middle of the open courtyard. Being a person who detests  malls in general, I wanted to make the most of this place. However, soon it was time to wake up from my idyllic reverie and head back, but not before promising myself to be back again soon, with the hubby this time!

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