Dave’s World Cup Blog II – Welcome to Cape TownHow’s it,
One of the funny things about being on the road and using other computers is that you inevitably end up sitting beside someone doing something weird, in an internet cafe or the computer room of your hotel.
As I write this blog I have been treated to my near neighbour looking for a series of obscure late 50’s to early sixties surfy pop songs on You Tube.
As I write I’ll give intermittent updates of the songs he is playing – not through earphones mind you, but so everyone can hear.
At the moment he is treating us all to “I want to go, Oh Oh, back to Oh, Oh, Oh, O-Hi-O” – it’s not a classic.
So today is the big day for Bafana Baffana and the party mood has been steadily rising since I got to Cape Town on Tuesday evening.
It’s an absolutely spectacular city which is wedged between the ocean to one side and the almost un-realistically imposing Table Mountain to the other.
The mountain itself is just one of those things that you can’t look away from.
In the very early morning it is always covered in huge clouds which gradually dissipate and by 9am or so the clouds have disappeared altogether and the mountain is visible in all its glory.
The first thing you notice about Cape Town is that all the place names are still in Afrikaans and the streets have retained names like Jan Smuts Drive or WaterKant Road – In Durban a specific effort has been made to re-name everything and the streets signs even include the former names of streets –from the Apartheid era – with a Red line through them.
In exploring the City there are two main areas that appear to be the centre of World Cup partying – Long Street and the V&A Waterfront.
People had jerseys, flags, scarfs hats and (unfortunately) vuvuzellas in every team’s colours from Chile and Uruguay to Nigeria, Australia, Switzerland, Mexico and everywhere in between.
The atmosphere at the Waterfront was almost a cliché of what you would hope it to be – all nationalities represented, a different language being spoken at every table, proud South African’s joining in the festivities and no hit of hooliganism or poor behaviour at all.
The literally thousands of Police and security officers will ensure that if any trouble does flair it would be stamped out quickly – be it street crime or drunken brawling.
A taxi driver has told me that there are absolutely no Police at all in the outlying areas for the next month as they have all been drafted into the World Cup venues.
Controversially, school kids have all been given an extra two weeks winter holidays, to cover the entire world cup which sounds like a brilliant idea at first but the driver told me that people outside the towns are really annoyed because the combination of no Police and every 6-17 year old with a month of holidays to fill could be a recipe for disaster!
Music Update – I think that’s the Beach Boys now – or maybe a Beach Boys cover Band – I hope he’s not looking over my shoulder – I’m only joking if you are...
The Stadium set up in Cape Town is absolutely perfect and an object lesson to the genius who chose the venue for the Sydney Olympic Stadium.
The Waterfront is no more than a 5 minute walk from the brilliant new Green Point stadium and about 20 minutes from the centre of Town or Long Street.
Along the Walk from the City Centre or Long Street there are also numerous other bars, restaurants, hotels, shops and dozens of wooden sheds that will be used to sell merchandise, food, drinks and souvenirs.
Last night there was a “kick off” concert in Jo’Berg with the Black-eyed Peas, Alicia Keys and an emotional speech from Bishop Desmond Tutu about how far the country had come and what was possible not just in S Africa but in the whole continent.
He really appears to have caught the mood brilliantly and all this morning’s news has been about not just his speech but how everyone needs to make this event a springboard for the country to improve.
They better beat Mexico!!
The fan fest was officially opened last night for people to watch the concert and Long Street was absolute bedlam – totally blocked off by people spilling out of bars, singing, blowing vuvezells and dancing.
In one of the bars we were in the local South African’s supporters, in all corners of bar, joined in an amazing song where they all sang, clapped and then stamped their feet in unison – the only thing I could compare it to was the War Dance from the movie Zulu.
The sound of their feet all hitting the floor at exactly the same moment was astonishing and the singing was inspiring.
The whole bar – which was packed – gave then a massive cheer when they finished and if they can make that kind of noise at Soccer City today it will unbelievably intimidating.
The Vuvezellas will probably drown it out.
Just a quick word on them – Vuvezellas are the plastic trumpets that every single S African seems to have bought and they are blown incessantly – cars driving past, people walking down the street, inside the airport, in bars, in restaurants, everywhere – its non-stop.
It will be interesting to see what the atmosphere is like inside the grounds, particularly during the Australia v Ghana game as all the locals will be supporting Ghana.
It will likely drown out any chanting, singing, samba bands, real trumpets or any other noise and as we are basically banned from taking anything except your wallet and phone into the game if any are thrown onto the pitch – particularly if Mexico score – FIFA may have to change their stance on allowing into stadia.
There are a hundred more stories like the 4 English guys who spent part of the afternoon with 5 page three girls who are here on a tour and had an afternoon to kill - to the 6 Irishmen who have come to the World Cup and bought tickets to every France game in order to boo Thiery Henry for his “Hand of Frog” cheating but I’d be writing all day.
So the Day of the First games has arrived – its Bafanna Bafanna v Mexico in the opener – A South African win will create an explosion of excitement and the tournament and cities will go off - so I’m hoping for that.
Then my two least Favourite teams – my Australian half hates Uruguay and my Irish half hates France so I am hoping for a draw in that one with a series of tournament ending injuries on both sides
Bye for now.
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