Get on your boots!

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Flag of South Africa  , Gauteng,
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It was a bright and early start to catch our flight from Nairobi to Johannesburg, though many of our fellow passengers did not seem too bright….it seems that a large number of them were transferring through Nairobi and had recently flown in on the overnight flight from London. World Cup fever has hit all of Africa it seems and even the airline we flew into Kenya with two weeks ago now has the fever, playing theme songs during boarding, giving away goodie bags to the kids and holding an in-flight raffle for balls and t-shirts!

Landing in Jo'burg it’s clear that they are ready; huge banners everywhere, greeters, and most impressively masses of customs officers on duty such that despite the influx of flights we made it through immigration remarkably fast. At the baggage reclaim area we were greeted by the Coca-Cola representatives giving away "Welcome to South Africa" cans of coke. Our baggage soon arrived and everything was looking rosy, but the next question was whether we could collect our match tickets at the airport? Sure enough on the second floor was a bank of ticket machines and despite having to queue for a while to use the machines there was no problem getting our tickets; Holland Vs Denmark, Spain Vs Switzerland and Portugal Vs North Korea. Our application was made last March in the very first application phase before any teams had actually qualified and so was based purely on time and location of each game. Watching the draw in December was an exciting occasion to find out who we’d drawn and we weren’t disappointed. It would have been neat to have drawn an African or South American team and Sarah had hoped we’d strike the jackpot with an England game, but the ones we have look pretty good on paper….fingers crossed that they come through. Before the tournament gets underway, let’s get it recorded who each of us have chosen for eventual winners. Derek feels Spain could win, Sarah has England (of course), Alex likes Holland (or at least their bright orange colour), and Lauren chooses Brazil (not a risk taker our Lauren).

The accommodation in Jo’burg was expected to be a small guesthouse, however when upon arrival we discovered that the Dove’s Nest Guesthouse has about forty rooms! There seemed to be some confusion over our booking and we were shown to a room which had just two small single beds – not what we were expecting for $200/night! The front desk staff were great and soon found us another room with four beds, a bathroom and three toilets … a feature that would have been very handy in India! By the time we had our room sorted we only had time for a quick dinner before it was time for the England Vs USA encounter. In the garden of the Dove’s Nest they had thoughtfully erected a large marquee style tent with a big screen and lots of seating and so we settled in to watch England kick off their World Cup campaign. For those of you who didn’t watch it, it was a rather disappointing performance from an English perspective and a horrific goal-keeping mistake from the England keeper resulted in a 1-1 tie… or as the New York times celebrated “U.S. win 1-1”.

Our expectation that South Africa would be an expensive country compared to most of the other countries has held true in some respects. Accommodation is astronomically priced as are taxi fares, but some things are quite reasonable or even downright cheap. We had hoped to spend our one free day in Jo’burg seeing a little of the city and maybe visiting the apartheid museum, however with a taxi fare of almost $70 each way for the museum, a little shopping at the nearby mall and some more football on the big screen seemed like a better idea!

Game number 9 of the World Cup was our first live game; Holland Vs Denmark at Soccer City, venue of both the opening game and the eventual final and we left the guesthouse at 10am for a 13:30 kick-off. The return taxi fare cost the four of us about $120 for a mini-bus with four other people! The drop-off was still 2km from the stadium and it was almost 12pm by the time we entered the arena. One of the highlights of seeing these two teams play is that the fans of both countries are high-spirited and flamboyant displaying their support through crazy hats, costumes, face paint, etc. and so the walk was very entertaining. The most appealing set of fans though as far as Derek was concerned was a group of about forty young Dutch women all wearing matching orange mini-dresses. It turns out that Derek wasn’t the only one interested in this group of ladies as they made the headlines of the newspapers the following day after being arrested and evicted from the stadium because of said dresses. Apparently there were too many old men needing medical treatment (kidding). In actual fact, the dresses are given away in Holland with the purchase of Bavaria beer and FIFA are accusing the ladies of an ambush marketing campaign…. we think that maybe Budweiser (the official beer of the world cup) were not happy about the presence of a real beer brand! In all likelihood the action taken will have backfired and provided more exposure (as it were) for Bavaria beer … had you heard of it prior to this blog? There you go!

Once inside the stadium the party atmosphere intensified and we thoroughly enjoyed the build-up to the game. Alex has become quite an accomplished vuvuzela player and happily joined in with the masses blowing the plastic horns that seem to be the trade mark of this tournament! The game didn’t really match the build-up and not surprisingly the Dutch came out winners with a 2-0 scoreline.

Things are heating up in the World Cup with a few unexpected results and we’re all looking forward to our next game when we’ll see the opener for Spain, who many people are expecting to be champions in a month. Next stop: Durban!
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Joe on

Hope you bring good luck to Portugal. They need it.

Shirley on

I'm so jealous!! There was quite a lot of talk about the ladies in orange and lots about the vuvuzela's. The games seem to be on everywhere here and all you can hear is that constant buzz. Cheers!! Go England!!!!

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