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3 months in Pretoria

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Helsinki
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3 months in Pretoria

Next February I'm coming to Pretoria for a 3 month working period. I will have some free time, and also my family and friends are asking if they could join me for a short while.

Would be great to hear some insights from locals or other people familiar with the city and near area! I have gathered a few bits of information here and there, but it's still early days and I'm not totally immersed in all things Pretoria and South Africa :).

I would love to know what Pretoria is like in Feb-April, what is there to see and do, what's the best way to get into the South African vibe etc. Any insights are welcome!

Also how safe is it to travel alone for a young woman, moving around on her own? Our foreign ministry advices that tourists should not walk outside after dark, meaning that in the evenings you would have to stay indoors. How true is this for Pretoria?

If you can also give me tips where to connect with locals, either beforehand or once in Pretoria, that would be much appreciated :).

Pretoria, South...
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1. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

Well we certainly don't barricade ourselves into our homes between sunset and sunrise - wouldn't be much of a life. You do need a car however - public transport is thin on the ground. People tend to hang out in precincts such as shopping malls with outdoor spaces. I have no clue where young people hang out in Pretoria but I think you'll find once you get here that people you work with/meet will be only too delighted to give you pointers.

There have been a couple of threads on the Johannesburg forum in recent weeks with quite comprehensive lists of things to do and weekend getaway options. The two cities are not far apart so most of these options would work for Pretoria as well. I would post the links for you but the device I'm currently using doesn't support it.

Weather will start off hot 30 plus maximum temps - with frequent afternoon thunderstorms mellowing to warm and drier as we head towards autumn.

Hope you have a great experience!

Edited: 1:55 am, September 07, 2012
Aberdeen, United...
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2. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

My husband and I came out here earlier this year to spend a year living in Pretoria (my friend are very exited about coming out to visit me in January).

There are quite a lot of things to do in the Pretoria/Jo'burg area. Having been out here as a tourist several times prior to this I would definitely recommend going to the Lion Park which if I'm correct is around half way between Pretoria and Jo'burg.

The town of Hartebeespoort is around 60 minutes drive away and its one of my favourite places in South Africa. Very picturesque and there are a few nature reserves including Glen Afric where you can walk with elephants.

Its generally quite safe to go out alone at night if using a car - just pay attention to what is going on around you and keep your car doors locked at all times. In comparison to European cities there isn't much public transport.

There's a fantastic variety of restaurants and bars - it is generally much cheaper to have a night out that in most European cities.

What my husband and I love doing is going to the different food markets. We regularly go to Hazel Food market in Pretoria, we've also been to Arts on Main in Jo'burg.

There is plenty to do out here, I calculated the other day that my husband and I have only had 2 week-ends where we haven't had any plans since we have been here.

Helsinki
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3. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

Thank you so much for your replies!

I'm not sure I will get a company car. What are the taxi services like?

Also if you have any suggestions as to areas to live that are close to "everything", that would be much appreciated. Is there any apartements downtown or are most located outside of the center?

I will definitely take these tips when I plan my trip! Keep 'em coming :).

Pretoria, South...
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4. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

Hi Satu V,

Just for background, I was born in Pretoria, grew up in Durban and have been living in Pretoria again the past 20 years, so I know a little bit about this city! :-) First thing: get your own transport, else you will feel restricted and be bored; public transport is not an option if you are going to be here for 3 months (this is true for South Africa in general, by the way.) Car rental companies offer special deals on long-term rentals so try a few of them, you could spend more on taxis than on renting a car, especially if you are going to travel a lot (yes, really!) In terms of things to do, Pretoria is close (50km) to Johannesburg and in SA's Gauteng province, which accounts for 2% of South Africa's area but about 35% of the GDP so this province is a bit like the "New York" of South Africa, in a 3rd World way. Here is a good article, and do follow the links as well:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gauteng

So Gauteng is a dense urban environment and you will find lots to do, look in the local media regularly, there are many events, which due to our great climate are outdoors whenever possible. Feb-Apr is autumn in SA and a good time to visit, it is not as hot as midsummer in Dec-Jan and not yet as cold as May-Jul, and in fact Feb is often our hottest month, with a daily maximum temp of 30-35 degrees or more. Even in April it is still comfortable (especially for someone used to Finland's weather) so you can safely leave all your jerseys at home and pack only jeans and T-shirts for the 3 months! Safety-wise you must remember this is not Europe, but it is also not a war zone: just be sensible, don't walk in the streets alone at night, don't drive around dodgy areas and do try and take a companion whenever possible, remember that criminals prefer soft targets like old people and single females if they do have the intent of stealing (or worse) but this is true all over the world, so just be sensible and trust your gut feel: if an area looks and feels unsafe, don't go there. You do have to be a little more aware of petty crime than in Finland, e.g. don't leave your handbag or wallet or cellphone on the car seat when driving alone, smash-and-grab thefts at traffic lights (or "robots" as we call them!) are common. You will have to travel around to see everything though, try and get to Cape Town and the Kruger Park and the KZN North Coast for your minimum touristy things, but there is so much more than that if you have time. Are you here for work or holiday, and who is paying, yourself or your employer or your parents, and do you have a budget? This would of course make a big difference to your planning. You will make friends easily, South Africans like to think we are friendly and welcoming (OK you get assholes all over the world but hopefully you won't meet too many of them in SA) and we are always eager to show foreigners around and offer them advice. Overall, I am sure you are going to have a great time, this country has a lot to offer and is big, diverse and fascinating if you go about seeing it in an orderly and planned way.

Pretoria, South...
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5. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

PS: I didn't read properly - you do say you are coming here for work mainly. but in any event it does not matter, you would want to see the place and travel. In terms of accommodation, in which area will your offices be? Forget about living "downtown" - it is not a good part of town. There are a number of large malls in Pretoria, so depending on where you are going to live or work you would probably be close to one of them. Accommodation costs vary greatly depending on location (as always...) so you should balance distance to the office and cost of accommodation, depending on location.

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

A bit late for posting but I hope this helps. My husband and I are half way through our 3 months in Pretoria for his work so I hope my info is useful.

Firstly you will definitively need a car, no questions asked, this should be a mandatory requirement of your employer. And a GPS so you don't get too lost and have to worry too much about map reading. Depending on where you work, you might want to consider living reasonably close to your work, it makes it easier to get around, and you will probably be located around your work mates too. We have found Sth Africans to be incredibly generous, open and welcoming to us so once you arrive (and probably before you even get here) you will be inundated with invitations to dinner, lunch, golf etc, and my advice would be to say yes to everything! We decided to live on a golf estate and that has definitely made it much easier to meet people, be social, and for me to be comfortable when my husband is away. The is also a thriving ex- pat community here too that seems to fit seamlessly and be absorbed by the locals which is great.

While my husband is working ( often out of Sth Africa too) I am here on my own and travel around mostly on my own, driving. You need to be mindful that you are in Africa, and sensible about the places you go. However most of the places you will want to go will be tourist areas and have security. Once you get here ask a local from your office to give you basic advice around driving safely, getting around at night, personal safety etc. it's nothing too overwhelming but you do need to be aware of the local ways of doing things. Personally, I don't walk at all, but drive. For me the biggest issue is the lack of sidewalks in my area, I have already seen one person hit and killed walking along the road so I wouldn't suggest it to anyone. Having said that I have a friend in Waterkloof and she happily walks, but theY have sidewalks.

For us the things we have most enjoyed are: food and wine ( fabulous and very cheap), it's great to be able to eat at the best restaurants and drink the best wine, this is VERY unusual for us, we are from Sydney where everything is extortionate. The animals ( parks are everywhere and easily accessible) , we took a few days off and did Kruger the way the locals do (self-drive) which I would highly recommend when you have visitors - it is an honor to be so close one of the greatest national parks in the world. Golf courses are beautiful and plentiful, trout fishing in the highlands, local history both recent and older. All of this being said, I think we have enjoyed meeting the locals and making heaps of new friends the most.

If you love to travel and are curious about the world you will have an outstanding 3 months in this incredibly interesting country!

Johannesburg, South...
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7. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

Hi Satu

Don't know into what age category you fall but I'll give you some pointers from a younger womens perspective, mid to late twenties.

I grew up in PTA and moved back the beginning of this year after 9 years in the Cape. Pretoria is in my opinion the friendliest city in SA and you'll have now problem meeting new friends. I agree with the other posters that you'll need your own transportation but no problem driving after dark, just be sensible in the areas you drive in and avoid pretoria's CBD. The only public transport that I use is the Gautrain but this service only runs until 20:30 and won't help much for evenings out. The best place to stay in order to use this service is the east of Pretoria or Centurion. Where is your works offices?

As for activities etc. One of the most popular activities for young people these days are mountain biking and other outdoor sports and this is a great way of meeting people if you enjoy doing sports. Other than that we tend to enjoy having a braai (barbeque) at a friends house or go to a nice restaurant. We also often go to Sandton, Greenside, Parkhurst, Merlose Arch in Johannesburg as it is a bit more vibey.

As for connecting with people, I think you are well on your way by just posting on this forum (-:

Pretoria, South...
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8. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

hi Satu.

Please let us know where your office will be,as that can help identifying good neighbourhoods near to the office. Hatfield, Menlyn and Brooklyn are areas you might enjoy, most nightlife and good malls are situated there.

Transport wise: I think long term rental cars would be best for you, if you do not get a company car. Public transport is either unregulated and unsafe for tourists or the almost non-existant.

You are more than welcome to send me a message if you need more specific guidance to my wonderful city.

Helsinki
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9. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

Wow, for some reason I had not received notifications in my email that you guys have so actively replied my questions, great to pop by and notice so many useful replies!

The office is in the Metro Park Building 351 Schoeman street. I will ask about the rental car or for a possibility to loan a company car for the three months. The thing is that I am not a very experienced driver even in Finnish standards – and our traffic is extremely slow and quiet compared to bigger cities and more populated countries. I have had my lisence for two years now, but as here we have excellent public transport and safe streets, there really hasn't been many reasons for me to use my car. Also one silly question: is the traffic right-hand or left-hand?

And yes I am actually a youngish woman in my early thirties and really looking forward to going out, meeting new people and experiencing the culture and vibe of SA and Pretoria :). I enjoy good food and wine, so great to know that these are plentiful there. And a backyard barbecue sounds like a blast!

I have jotted down that the Kruger national park is a must visit. Other than that I love nature and the outdoors, and hope to experience as much of that as possible. Johannesburg is also a must-see. I don't yet know how much spare time I will have, as I most likely will be working office hours from Mon to Fri.

And sorry for not replying sooner, as I said I had not received any notifications and was also on a three week vacation in Thailand :). Hope you all still read the topic and have time to reply!

Darwin, Australia
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10. Re: 3 months in Pretoria

hey satu

in answer to your driving question - south africans drive on the left side of the road ...so vehicles are right hand driven! which is opposite i believe of finland..

i have also recently relocated from nairobi, kenya to pretoria so have found this thread informative...

i find the infrastructure mind-boggling! despite having the traffic lights/robots being green, you sometimes have to wait for on-coming traffic to pass before you can go ahead... so be careful!

but road names, speed limits, sigs are all very clearly marked and it really is a pleasure to drive here (compared to nairob!!)...

a word of caution:

house break-in's are very very common so get a safe and drill it into your cupboard/floor board and put all your valuables there....i was here one week and had done this but when they broke in i did loose my laptop, camera, and alot of jewelery that could not fit inside the safe! please note i stay in a 'secure' complex.

the police investigation was a real waste of time but .....

pretoria is a very beautiful city and the country in general has the best of everything so you will certainly enjoy it!