Tag Archives: Joburg

One year in Joburg

This Sunday marks one year since Alistair, Boo and I packed up our Cape Town lives for the bright lights and big city of Jozi. Well, bright lights isn’t completely accurate due to regular power cuts, although the spectacular sunsets more than make up for it.

The first six months were a bit rough on my Capetonian sensibilities, but I grow to love Joburg more every day. This city has tested and stretched me in so many ways. It’s made me tougher, more honest with myself and, oddly, less spoilt. If you’d told me in Cape Town that I’d have to drive 40 minutes to work every day, I would have said “Never!”

I’ve had a few unlucky experiences, almost like the city was testing me:

  • 1 x smash-and-grab
  • 1 x bribe request from JMPD
  • 1 x truck landing on my car with me in it
  • Really crappy summer weather

However, the good stuff has been really, really good:

  • Lots of amazing new friends
  • 3 x very close girlfriends who I adore
  • 4 x fantastic trips to Zim, Moz and Clarens
  • 2 x great jobs with super-talented people
  • Book launches, dinners, music and wine

I haven’t been to Cape Town since February and I think that’s helped. Living between cities may sound glamorous, but a little commitment goes a long way. In fact, after saying for the past year that “I won’t buy property in Joburg”, Al and I have now bought a beautiful 177m2 flat in Killarney.

Many Capetonians have blinkers on when it comes to Joburg. They want to stay where they’ve always been, whereas living in Joburg makes you want to go everywhere – and the rewards have been worth it. I feel like I’ve become a grown-up. I’m more confident, less melodramatic and stronger as a person.

We will return to Cape Town one day. If I have kids, I want them surrounded by family like I was. But until then, I’m really looking forward to three or four more years in Jozi.

Win tickets to Whisky Live & a bottle of Highland Park 12 Year Old

“The day you enjoy whisky for itself, your whole world changes.”

That’s what Gerry Tosh, Head of Brand Education for Highland Park, told me earlier today and I couldn’t agree more. I eased myself into whisky-drinking by mixing blended whiskies with ginger ale or appletiser, which is perfectly acceptable according to Gerry. Then, once you’ve gradually acquired the taste you can move onto the magic of single malts.

Gerry Tosh hard at work

Like most men, Gerry started drinking whisky to impress his girlfriend, but it ended up becoming his passion and career. He is a very down-to-earth Scotsman with no time for esoterics. “Whisky is simple. People make it complicated,” Gerry says in his Gaelic lilt.

That said, Highland Park has won numerous awards and is regarded as one of the top five single malts in the world. So it’s quite impressive that Gerry, who is only 35, has already been made a Keeper of the Quaich (the youngest male keeper), a society that educates and promotes the whisky industry. Interestingly, a woman is the youngest keeper, and Gerry says the number of female drinkers is growing globally, especially in Taiwan, Greece and France.

So what does it taste like?

Highland Park uses American Oak sherry casks which impart vanilla and butterscotch flavours. The distillery is on Orkney island, pretty much as far north as you can go in Scotland. Because the climate is so harsh there aren’t many trees, which means the peat used is less woody and therefore less smoky.

This is what makes Highland Park such an aromatic and well-balanced single malt whisky. But don’t take my word for it, rather enter my competition and try it for yourself.

All you need to do is email me (amandasevasti@gmail.com) your whisky story – when and why you fell in love with “the water of life” – and if I like it I’ll give you a set of double tickets to the Whisky Live Festival in Joburg tomorrow night and a bottle of Highland Park 12 Year Old.

You have until 10am tomorrow. The winner will be announced at noon. Wow me.

Joburg Drivers vs Cape Town Drivers

We all know the popular South African aphorism – “Joburg has better drivers than Cape Town.” Even staunch, I-could-never-live-anywhere-else Capetonians say this. I certainly have.

We embrace our crappy driving and wear it as a mark of pride. There is no need for a sense of direction when you can just look up at the mountain to figure out where you are. Hurry? Why hurry? It’s not like anything is that far away. Indicate? Why indicate? You can only go one of three ways.

After six weeks of driving extensively around Joburg, I’ve noticed that Cape Town drivers are actually better in three ways:

  • Freeways: In Cape Town people moan if someone ‘sits’ in the right-hand lane. That doesn’t exist here. Joburg drivers have never even heard of “Keep Left, Pass Right”. It’s just “Pick A Lane, Any Lane”.
  • Traffic circles: I keep getting hooted at when I go through traffic circles. Why? Joburg drivers treat them as 4-way stops. The concept of “Yield to the right” has not trekked north yet.
  • Manners: Road users are more, er, “assertive” in Gauteng. The only people who let me in when I’m stuck behind a truck are the taxi drivers. Although I am driving around with a CA licence plate so maybe that has something to do with it.

All that said, Joburg still wins the Better Drivers Award for the following reasons:

  • A green light means go immediately – not 10 seconds later.
  • Indicators aren’t decorative.
  • Suburban roads are expertly navigated, despite enormous potholes and a million badly marked speedbumps.
  • There are less POSs* on the road and consequently less breakdowns blocking the freeway.

*POS – Piece Of Shit

Joburg vs Cape Town

In winter, I think Jozi wins. The shopping is better and you can have a picnic in May.


  • Customer service is always brilliant. No uber-cool, hand-on-hip sighing when you ask for black pepper.
  • The air is painfully lip-cracking, nose-bleeding dry in winter. On the upside, the sun shines all day.
  • The massive weight of traffic has created two black holes called Boksburg and Kempton Park.
  • The 3-series BMW is considered an entry-level vehicle.

Cape Town

  • Five confectionery salespeople lolling behind the counter, oblivious to your desperate need for Smarties and popcorn before you miss Star Trek.
  • The howling rain moves horizontally and mocks your feeble umbrella, turning it into an objet d’art.
  • Even though it pours down every year, Capetonians always forget how to drive at the first sign of precipitation. Chaos and fender-benders ensue.
  • The 1987 Ford Datsun is considered an entry-level vehicle.