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We Love You South Africa!

Mendoza, Argentina
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We Love You South Africa!

Well I think the header says it all. Thank you so much South Africa for one of the most unforgettable vacations of our life. Where to start? We loved your people, your incredible landscape, your amazing wildlife and of course the World Cup and all its trappings. Could you have built more beautiful stadiums… I don’t think so!

We got to Johannesburg on the 21st and made a stopover in an airport hotel (one of the only two negatives which I will explain later). The next day we were off to Polokwane in our rented car and we arrived in Magoebaskloof later in the day. Our guest house Bramasole, a converted farm house, was amazing and I know that some of my fellow Trip Advisor travelers will attest to this. This was our first real taste of South African hospitality. We were here for two nights and truly enjoyed the guest house and the forested area.

That night we had a game in Polokwane. After having a bite to eat (which dwrrn, aka David, so kindly invited us to) at Pebbles we walked down to the Stadium. The stadium was great, the views were good, probably the best of our four games. My husband knew the people behind us, which was a neat coincidence.

The 24th we drove to Pretoria taking a long route past the Blyde River Canyon, through Graskop and down the Panoramic Route, through Sabie. The views were outstanding and although it took us a while it was very worthwhile.

In Pretoria we stayed at Wings and Water in Silver Lakes. It was a bit far but well worth it and very luxurious. Once more our hosts and all those who attended us were outstanding. Johannesburg was much like many large cities but had a special World Cup vibe going on at interesting places all over the city. We had a great time at a fan park in Montecasino and as well during the US/Ghana game at Mojo in Melrose Arch. We also had lunch in a very colorful Newton and I even tried the Crocodile tail, although the Makopani (sp?) worms were too much for me!

Soccer City was amazing, although I don’t know where FIFA gets its definition of Category 1 tickets, lol. I really learned to play the vuvuzela that night and was the scourge of my block. I have my blue vuvuzela saved from that game and I will now blow it anytime Argentina scores. I’ve already taught my kids to play it. Sorry to all those who didn’t like them, but we ended up loving them!

We also saw Brazil/Chile at Ellis Park. I thought they did a great job of remodeling the stadium on the outside. I have to admit it was a bit scary getting to our nose bleeder seats as it is incredibly steep in the upper levels but we had a good time at the game and Brazil played an outstanding game. What an entertaining team they always are to watch. Although I had one little bet going this World Cup and that was that Holland would eliminate Brazil, which many people around me scoffed at, so I’ve had fun with that, lol!

After World Cup excitement in Johannesburg we were off to the Sabi Sand game reserve for three days. I can’t explain what an amazing time we had at Arathusa Safari Lodge. Our guide DeBeers was just incredible and even spotted a green chameleon on a very green branch at 7pm at night, going at about 30km per hour in our jeep. Wow. We also had a close encounter with an elephant roaming through camp one evening which I will never forget. All in all I think the safari was the most memorable experience of this trip for me.

Our last stop was Cape Town for five days. What a beautiful city and we were lucky enough to have fabulous weather the whole time and once more we had a marvelous guest house, An African Villa. The only thing to spoil our perfect arrival was Argentina’s loss to Germany. Germany played a wonderful game and truly deserved to move on, although that didn’t stop depression from setting in for a day or two. But Cape Town is so lovely and the World Cup carried on with more amazing games and dramatic endings to team’s hopes and dreams, and we were caught up in it all once more. I can’t say I shed tears for Argentina, although they’re the team of my heart, but I almost did watching the seriously choked up commentator after the Ghana/Uruguay game. Wow, that was probably the saddest moment of the whole World Cup for me. But then I nearly laughed myself off the bed when one commentator referred to Uruguay as the villain of the World Cup. Here in South America Uruguayans are actually very well looked upon. They’re like the much improved version of the Argentines (the nationality other Latin Americans love to hate, lol).

So after the marvels of Table Mountain and Cape Point it was time to call our trip to an end. I can only think of three negatives in the whole trip so I’ll get those over with quickly. The first was the owner of the A1 lodge at Johannesburg airport, who treated her employee in a deplorable manner, yelling at him that he was stupid and dishing out all sorts of abuse. I will be making complaints. We were also disappointed with the extreme inflexibility at Mango with regards to World Cup travelers and the baggage allowance.

Lastly, although my shark diving experience was amazing in itself, I could not recommend the company, Great White Shark Tours cc, in Gansbaii. Honestly, I felt they cared very little for the individual experience and that we were part of an assembly line of customers. They had us in a very uncomfortable bus, with no leg room at all, for 3.5 hours at the beginning of the day and 3.5 hours getting back. We were with them from 10 in the morning until 10:15 at night and the only thing we were given between being order and rushed about was some sandwiches and fruit and when we got back there was nowhere open to eat. Other than Brian, who was friendly and outgoing, they were probably some of the least friendly hosts that we had on our trip. I would highly recommend doing the shark diving but I can’t recommend this company.

The most positive thing I take away from our trip is the incredible warmth and World Cup spirit of the South Africans. This was what truly made our trip. It didn’t matter if they won or they lost they were enjoying the experience. I wish I could take this brand of football fanaticism, bottle it and give it to all those angry, violent fans around the world. Congratulations to South African fans and African fans in general, who showed us what the true World Cup spirit is about! We will be back.

durban
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1. Re: We Love You South Africa!

Thanks for the wonderful post and it the fans like yourselves who dared to come that made it just as memorable! Next time a visit to Kwazulu Natal. See you then.

www.kimssouthafrica.blogspot.com

Hazyview, South...
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2. Re: We Love You South Africa!

I am happy to hear you had a great time and managed "without" the map I sent that obviously never arrived!

Just a pity we could not meet in person as I would have loved to put a face to the writing!

Klaus

-Owner Abangane-

Hazyview

PS sorry that my team gave your's a hiding, LOL.

Edited: 10 July 2010, 18:59
Mendoza, Argentina
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3. Re: We Love You South Africa!

Yes, it feels as though Durban was the only missing link in this trip! We've already talked about a family trip not this February but the next, 4 days JHB, 4 days safari (kwazulu natal) and 5 days at the beach in Durban... hopefully it will happen.

Klaus, I'm also sorry your map didn't arrive. I was the gps in SA, and I'm sure it would have come in handy. You'll never know how close we were to stopping in on you at Hazyview on the way to Sabi Sand! Maybe one day you'll come to Mendoza? And Germany had it's well deserved day in the sun. My husband traded his Argentina shirt for a good luck Bayern Munich scarf with some German friends at our guest house in Cape Town so he was somewhat mollified. And what a semi-final today. I don't know if the final can top it, unbelievably exciting.

Dublin, Ireland
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4. Re: We Love You South Africa!

Ellie, Glad you enjoyed your trip. sorry to miss Pebbles. I left the details in my B&B and although I remembered the name nobody we asked knew it so we ended up in the fanpark for South Africa v France.

Note never buy Cat 1 seats if you have achoice. FIFA are very liberal with descriptions and the good ones go to hospitality and sponsors. If you buy late you might get a return but otherwise you normally get screwed.

Best to buy the cheapest ticket available. You can normally move anyway. Only problem is cat 1s are the easiest to get.

Off to watch the final soon on the big screen in Dublin's new Aviva stadium.

Argentina play in the first International match there on August 11th.,

Pretoria
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5. Re: We Love You South Africa!

Muchos gracias, Ellie

Long Island City...
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6. Re: We Love You South Africa!

Wow - we were at the African Villa at the same time. Wish I had known that - would have enjoyed the shirt exchange!

Mendoza, Argentina
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7. Re: We Love You South Africa!

Gary, no worries. I forgot my park and walk ticket for the Mexico/Argentina game at Soccer City, so I understand completely. I imagine you're going to Brazil 2014, so who knows. And thanks for the advice on the Cat 1s. We met up with various Argentina fans who bought their tickets last minute and had much better seats than us, so I guess it's better to buy in the latter stages. We'll try that the next time round! We will most definately be going to Brazil, although I'm a bit more nervious about that one as Argentine and Brazilian fans can be a lot more high-strung, so hopefully there will be no problems!

Ibreakforcoffee, unbelievable that we didn't cross paths! We were down for breakfast a bit late each day, around 9:30am. Were you there earlier maybe? We met some very nice people there from all over the world.

Mendoza, Argentina
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8. Re: We Love You South Africa!

Thank you, Navigator31, for all your help on this forum!

Dublin, Ireland
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9. Re: We Love You South Africa!

Ellie will definitely make Brazil in 2014.

Problem with tickets is trying to determine demand. Assuming FIFA keep their prices high then I can't see there being too much demand for non Brazil games. If so best to wait and buy late or better still outside the stadiums.

If England get 2018 every ticket will be highly prized and difficult to get hold of.

Loved the Argentinian fans in South Africa.

Detroit, Michigan
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10. Re: We Love You South Africa!

I couldn't have said it better myself, Ellie!

It is absolutely impossible to recap such an amazing experience in such an incredible country. We're so lucky to have made this trip...I've been back for two weeks and I'm still in awe of everything that I saw and everyone who I met. Every second of planning and every cent that I spent was completely worth it.

A special thank you to everyone on this forum who helped me with my plans or shared your own. It was key in planning such a successful trip.

A.

http://bargingin.wordpress.com/