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.