Once in a while we like to introduce you adventurous families that inspire us. This time we interviewed the Logar family that inspired us with their brave decision to move from Slovenia to Republic of South Africa. They live there for several years now and we were curious what is like living as an expat in this amazing African country. Tina and Miha thoroughly answered our questions and gave us a great insight to their South African experience.
1. You were born, raised, educated, got married and had a child in Slovenia. How hard was to move to the other part of the world and start a new life?
First year was really difficult. When we came to Cape Town, I was already 6 months pregnant and my older daughter was just 20 months old. Miha had to work till late and I was completely alone with my daughter. We don’t have as much parks, lawns or public places here where you can walk and play around as we have it in Ljubljana. In South Africa everywhere you need to go, you have to take a car (there is no public transport in the area that we are living and the stereotype is that white people don’t use it at all). As I never drove in Slovenia and due to the fact that they drive on the left, this was a new beginning for me. Now I drive the car on a daily basis without any difficulties. The other problem we had was the weather as we weren’t used to have such a windy weather conditions through all the year. Cape Town can be very cold in the winter time, which is from June to November and South African are not used to have any kind of heating in the houses. For Europeans this is quite difficult as we are used to have 22 degrees inside through all winter. They are also used to have shoes on all the time as there are tiles in vast part of the houses but for us this is something that we cannot live with.
Weather conditions, especially very wet environment is also the mayor cause for health problems related to asthma and tuberculosis in Cape Town. After a month, we all ended up being very sick. The physician at local pharmacy actually told us: “welcome to Cape Town”. After that, we got used to take allergies tablets every time we have problems with sinuses.
2. Now you are a family of four – what is your daily routine like in Cape town?
We are always late, especially since we moved to Cape Town and since everything is very close to us. So for us mornings can be very hectic. Every morning I have to drop my two girls at school till 8.30 am. We live in so called Southern suburbs in Tokai what is around 30 minutes to the Cape Town CDB (central business district) therefore we do not have usual traffic jams. The school is quite close so it takes us about 20 minutes drive to get to the school. I have to fetch them from school at 2.30 pm. Between that time I have some time for myself, for grocery shopping and for the gym where I do my daily workout. After school I take my girls back home where they can play (houses in South Africa are very big compare to Slovenian with big gardens and swimming pools). We live inside the estate where we have a park with the jungle gym and swings. Park is a popular play date venue so we spend quite some time in the park. People in South Africa are not used to have visitors at home quite often so parks are playing a big social role between the inhabitants of the Silvertree Estate, the estate where we live.
Miha is usually back from work at 6 pm when we have a dinner together. After the dinner comes a family time in which we play games, watch television and discuss with the kids about the upcoming day and what they did in the school. Kids have a traditional bath in the evening with the story time in bed and this is how the day ends.
3. Did you have any problems finding the right kindergarten and primary school for your kids? How quickly did they adapt to the new culture, new way of life?
When we moved to Cape Town, one of our Italian friends recommended a local preschool – Constantia Pre School and we decided to sign our daughter in. We weren’t really looking elsewhere as we did not have enough time. We wanted to put our daughter in the school that is close by the place where we are living and the Pre School was also the only way for our daughter to get socialize and to start with the introduction to the English language. Good schools and also kindergartens are all preoccupied therefore waiting lists are something usually in all major cities in South Africa. We were lucky enough to get the free spot for our daughter in such a short time.
First year at preschool was quite though for my daughter as she was only observing other children and she needed to adopt to the new environment. She wasn’t speaking English at all. But when she started to speak at the age of two and a half, you couldn’t stop her. Our youngest daughter was born in Cape Town and she hadn’t had any problems with adaptation to the new environment at all. We can actually say that this is her home, at least for now. She doesn’t know how is in Slovenia and she doesn’t fell Slovenia as a home even though we are coming back for the holidays. She is more like a local South African child with short sleeves all the time (we are fighting a lot before we put a jumper on) and no shoes on where is possible.
Older one is going to international primary school next year as she is turning five this year. We call it “the big school”. That means that in June she will have an interview and the assessment if she fits in with the school program. In South Africa school starts in the middle of January and ends on the first Thursday in December. We have a summer holidays from December till mid – January and all South Africa stops for a month.
4. What are top 5 places you recommend for families who visit this beautiful town?
Cape Town is famous for a family friendly activities and accommodations. We would definitely recommend the following activities:
- Green Point Park is a little piece of paradise in the middle of the Cape Town in Green Point. You can have a fun day out, school tours, family picnics, children’s birthday parties, outdoor exercise, romantic walks and healthy activities. This is a beautiful natural place to get some fresh air and be social.
- Strawberry Picking where you can spend a day picking strawberries and other fruits with the kids at one of the several Winelands-based farms that open up their berry fields to the public during season, from October to December each year.
- Spier Wine Estate where they’ve got kid-friendly wine tasting like chocolate and grape juice pairing for the kids as well as a bicycle rides, golf carts, swimming pool, gorgeous restaurants and endless open space for delicious picnic. You can also visit the eagle and owl encounters with the bird shows where you can watch the dancing owls and petting a porcupine.
- The Scratch Patch where kids can sit between the colourful stones like Tiger’s Eyes, amethysts, agates and crystals. Stones can be picked up and kids can take it home.
- Two Oceans Aquarium offer visitors the opportunity to discover the diverse marine life found off the southern African coast. Kids can meet the animals that call the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean their home the brightly coloured ones that live in the warm Indian Ocean and discover the fascinating microscopic life at the microscope area.
- Iziko Museum Planetarium offers the view at the stars and constellations of South African skies from the comfort of this state-of-the-art celestial theatre. Little ones are entertained at the various educational shows at the planetarium while older kids can learn about the stargazing and local astronomy.
- Rush Indoor Trampoline Park offers a day of extreme adventure for both parents and kids. The entertainment hub has over 1700 square meters of wall-to-wall trampoline fun for everyone.
5. Tina, what are your top 5 experiences, sights, shopping places, activities that you would recommend to girls who travel to South Africa? And what are yours, Miha, top 5 adventures, activities for guys who travel to South Africa?
Tina’s top five activities:
- Breakfast at Twelve Apostles Hotel is one of the most heavenly place to enjoy a luxurious breakfast with a local food on oceanfront terrace.
- Swartkop Mountain above Simon’s Town where is a lesser-known hike in the fynbos above Simon’s Town with breath taking views of the peninsula.
- Summer Concerts at Kirstenbosch to enjoy in the most spectacular outdoor arena space in the world- Kirstenbosch botanical gardens.
- Wally’s Cave is one of the most famous of the caves and is relatively easily accessible from the Lion’s Head hiking path. It’s an awesome spot to enjoy a Cape Town sun downer with magnificent views of Table Mountain, Camp’s Bay and the Ocean.
- TheDistrict Six museum recounts the history of the forced expulsion and relocation of black residents during apartheid, and the ultimate demise of this former, mulit-cultural district.
Miha’s top five activities:
- Robben island is the unique symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice” with a rich 500-year-old multi-layered history, is visited every year by thousands of people eager to understand and honor the important aspects of South Africa’s history that the Island represents.
- Gansbaai is the best shark cage diving experience. It is a small town known also as shark alley.
- Stellenbosch & Franschhoek with famous Wine tours and Wine tasting with gastronomic restaurants.
- Table Mountain where cableway can take you to the top of a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town. It is also very popular hiking destinations.
- Cape of Good Hope is a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula. It is part of South African nature reserve and must see destination when visiting Cape Town.
- Boulders Beach Penguin is a sheltered beach made up of inlets between granite boulders from which the name originated. It is located in the Cape Peninsula, near Simon’s Town towards Cape Point. Boulders Beach is famous for its colony of urban African penguins.
6. Can you share your favourite place to taste local cuisine in Cape Town? And what is the tastiest South African dish in your opinion?
South Africans love their food and Cape Town has a variety of different restaurants. They love mixing and mashing the food, from European to Indian and Asian. There is a big influence from India as Indian population especially on east coast (Durban) is quite big. Netherlands and their colonies in Asia, especially in Malaysia, brought also a Euro Asian mix of dishes to South Africa. It is difficult to find South African family who don’t have meat as the main portion of the meal. This is why braai (barbecue/grill for the uneducated) is so popular. Braai is part of the South African culture and you can find built in braai place almost in every house and every summer house. There are even open built in braai places in the parks. Real South African have braai at least three times per week.
Traditional South African dishes are:
- Bobotie (dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg based topping).
- Potjiekos (dish consisting meat, vegetables like carrots, cabbage, cauliflower or pumpkin, starches like rice or potatoes, all slow-cooked with Dutch-Malay spices, the distinctive spicing of South Africa’s early culinary melting pot).
- Boerewors (a type of sausage which originated in South Africa, is an important part of South African cuisine and is popular across Southern Africa. The name is derived from the Afrikaans words boer (“farmer”) and wors (“sausage”).
- Koeksister (is a traditional South African flavoured syrup or honey infused fried dough).
- Biltong is the most famous South African dish. It is made of dried meat from game, beef and ostrich. This is a perfect snack for every South African and they eat it a lot!
Our best places for eat a local meat is Catharina’s Restaurant inside the Steenberg Golf Estate where you can eat impala, lion, zebra, kudu or springbok, antelope and crocodile. South African don’t eat horses therefore Catharina’s restaurant lost quite some quest due to the zebra on the menu.
The other place we like to go out for a dinner is Harbour House in Kalk Bay. It is a nice local seafood restaurant in the old harbour of Kalk Bay with the view of the seals that are resting on the rocks of the seacoast bank.
7. What do you like the most about South Africa and what are the things you don’t like?
South Africa is known as a complicated country, so called a “rainbow nation”. Country wrestles not just with a staggeringly diverse population representing a cacophonous mix of cultures, but also with a history loaded with all matters of tragedy and injustice, redemption and resentment. Every point has a counterpoint; every opinion has its opposite and waiting for you at the other side of the street.
The Oscar Pistorius murder case is a fair reflection of just how murky things still are here: depending on whom you talk to, it’s either a case of violence against women or a symptom of the well-armed paranoia of the rich elite, or perhaps just a simple human tragedy. Serve up strong opinions of your own to locals about what is really happening in South Africa and you’re likely to show how little you know.
On the other side, nature as pure and utterly breathtaking beauty makes South Africa a special place to live. South Africa has got the kind of splendour that will have you pack your bags and relocate just to see it every day. Capetonians are daily dazzled by the mountains and the sea. Every beach is having its own unique characteristics. Capetonians are famous for being chilled, friendly and fun.
Every city has shared icons and past-times that define their identity. For Capetonians, icon is the braai. You would be surprised to find a local who doesn’t love standing in front of an open fire, biltong in one hand, a beer in the other, and with two eyes on a juicy coil of sizzling boerewors sausage.
8. Africa is unfortunately well known because of not very quality health care and many diseases that are not very common in Europe or North America. How do you deal with this issue? What insurance do you use?
In South Africa, a struggling national healthcare system means that unless you have medical aid and can afford a private treatment, it can be a real challenge to get a proper healthcare. The state of national healthcare is also reflecting in the country’s grim statistics, with many people dying every year from largely preventable diseases. Same goes with the children as they are the most vulnerable to diseases and a shockingly high number of childhood deaths are easily preventable with the proper vaccines and healthcare. Unfortunately, these are not available everywhere and there is also a lot of parents who are not even educated enough about their children’s needs. Tragically high number of childhood deaths are reported in South Africa each year.
We are very strict with the cleanliness, same as we were in Slovenia. We only use private medical aid and private hospital’s services. So far we haven’t been in a public hospital.
9. We often watch National Geographic documentaries that show all those wild animals wandering into the cities and houses in Africa. Did you have any uninvited guests (spiders, snakes, monkeys…) in your house yet?
We live in the Southern suburbs in Tokai area where wild animals as snakes, spiders, squirrels, birds, leopard toads, porcupines and especially baboons are mostly like domestic animals.
There used to be a baboon watch at the Reddam House school, which is a 5minute walk from our house. The whistle went off each time baboons were spotted approaching the school and kids ran to the shelters. Baboons are searching for the food and can be quite aggressive. Luckily we haven’t had any visitor at home for now.
10. Do you have time to travel around South Africa and neighbouring countries? Did you make any special trips, adventures?
South Africa is a very tour-friendly destination where you can take a road trip from Cape Town along the beautiful Garden Route, all the way up to the Eastern Cape’s malaria-free game and natural reserves stopping for some of the world’s best whale watching sites along the way. South Africa has also a rich cultural heritage, which you can witness in the Cape’s food and wine tours or on the historic battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal.
So far we have visited beautiful Hermanus which is a seaside town southeast of Cape Town, in South Africa’s Western Cape Province and it’s located on the Garden Route. It’s also known as a best whale-watching destination.
At the weekends, we usually take a trip to one of many Wine estates on the wine routes around Cape Town. We prefer Spier Wine farm at Stellenbosch, Boschendal Wine estate at Franschhoek and Rhebokskloof Wine estate at Paarl. For small children, this places are amazing. Estates have plenty of places where you can have a proper picnic with a local food and wine. Kids can enjoy jumping castles, jungle gyms and pony rides at the Rhebokskloof and eagle encounters at Spier.
We have also been in one of the popular Farm retreats around the Cape Town, called Oude Denneboom. We stayed in the stable cottage which is located in the heart of a private game reserve, surrounded by huge trees and views of beautiful mountain ranges. There is an abundance of animal and bird life such as springboks, elands, blue wildebeests and zebras.
Last winter we took a trip to Johannesburg (also known as Jozi or Joburg) over the weekend were we visited the Zoo, Mandela Square in Sandton and Johannesburg Botanical Garden. While Johannesburg is not one of South Africa’s three capital cities (Pretoria, Cape Town and Bloemfontein), it is the seat of the Constitutional Court. The city is located in the mineral-rich Witwatersrand range of hills and is the center of large-scale gold and diamond trade.
Due to the cold sea in South Africa, our preferred family summer destination is Mauritius where we enjoy lots of sun and swimming in a nice hot Indian ocean.
11.South Africa is probably one of the most famous countries in Africa for great safari experiences. Did you already find time to go on safari?
South Africa is one of Africa’s top vacation destinations for a safari. A South African safari is packed with superb wildlife and luxurious accommodation, from award-winning lodges to intimate boutique hotels and world class villas. You can even make it easy to book a holiday package on the internet that combines classic safari game viewing with a relaxing beach break in cosmopolitan Cape Town or its beautiful winelands.
Our plan is to visit Kruger Park but when the kids will be bigger as there is a potential malaria threat and we don’t want to take the risk with the small kids. There are some nice safari places couple of hours drive from Cape Town and we are planning to visit one in this year.
12. If you compare South Africa to Slovenia – is it more expensive to live there or in your home country? What are you biggest expenses?
South Africa is in general more expensive than Slovenia. Places that suit our Slovenian standard for living are quite limited. You cannot live everywhere as in Slovenia because a lot of neighborhoods are very dangerous. Best place for us as expats for living are estates where the rent prices can go up to the sky. There is no public transport so you need at least two cars to drive around if you have a family.
Food prices have also gone up a lot since we came three years ago and are now more expensive than in Slovenia. In Slovenia, if we want to buy a product or need a service, we can check the price on the internet. In South Africa, we need to call different providers to get a free quotation for tires, furniture, insurance, etc.… Of course, when they hear our Russian accent, everything is much more expensive than for the locals.
Our biggest expenses are: house rent, school fees and food. Electricity is also quite expensive compare to Slovenia. We have a prepaid electricity meter and we need to buy a voucher to top it up. In winter, we can spend a lot for it as all the heating appliances and the underfloor heating is working on the electricity. And yes, winters in Cape Town can be really, really wet and cold.
13. What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to stay permanently in South Africa or you plan to move to some other country in Africa?
Everything depends on Mihas company business plans and his work permit in South Africa. For now, we are planning to stay for four more years but we will definitely move once our daughters will be bigger. South Africa is a nice country if you have small kids as they are at home all the time and they are not going out on their own. Crime is still a big issue in South Africa therefore I cannot imagine leaving my kids out on their own when they will be bigger.
Thank you Tina and Miha so much for sharing your interesting experience of living abroad. We wish your family to have great time wherever your paths will lead in the future!