Friday, June 18, 2010

Back on Track, in More Ways than One

After the previous full-on World Cup & drinking session, the next day was more sedate. Monday was to be our last full day in Cape Town, plus we had another live game to attend, so we dialled it down a few notches and took it easy.

Personally I lounged around the apartment for the morning, making the occasional effort to start packing some of crap up, but in reality I probably spent more time communing with the couch and watching football re-runs on the TV. Around midday we had the notion that we might want to have some lunch out somewhere, which was just a thinly veiled excuse to find a place to eat that was also showing the next match, which happened to be Denmark v Holland.

We did not get too adventurous and maybe went a block or two along Somerset Road to a bar we had seen before and checked its credentials by asking whether they were showing the match, they were and we therefore duly grabbed a table. The beer was not going down as well as it had been the day before and the football was nothing to write home about, but at least the food was good. I’m not sure why the Holland fans were celebrating their 2-0 win over Denmark so delightedly, as the game lacked any real flow, the Dutch were lucky recipients of a deflected own goal and they squeaked what I thought was a lucky second, and this from a team that were supposed to be one of the favourites. I dunno, call me disaffected, but I expected more.
We cruised back to the apartment on the pretext that we would do some more packing, but again, it was an excuse to watch the 2nd game of the afternoon, Japan v Cameroon. All the pre-match hype was around Cameroons credentials as one of the quality African teams, only to find themselves 1-nil down after some sloppy defending and some cumbersome attacking. So far, apart from the Germany game, the football has flattered to deceive, thank goodness we are in South Africa where the local’s infectious spirit has gone a long way to making up for it. Time to do some real packing I think.....

Would our next live game, Italy v Paraguay, be a more exciting affair...? Well, the Cape Town weather was now conspiring to bring us down as well, as it had been raining on & off all day, but we kept our fingers crossed that we would be able to make it to the stadium without getting a drenching. Wrong.... Three quarters of the way down the Fan Walk, the heavens opened and massive stair-rods of rain, and even some hail, opened up on us, and by the time we reached the relative dryness of the Stadium, we were both wet & cold. Oh well, it would not be my first cold and wet football match, but I don’t think it was what Yates or Fiona had signed on for.
The good news is that we got to see our first live goals at this World Cup, scored against the run of play by Paraguay. Actually, let me correct that statement by saying that Fiona & I saw our first World Cup Goal, as Yates had chosen the exact right moment to nip to the bathroom...!! Anyway, this was only a temporary glitch for the Yates’ter as Italy pressed hard and got the goal they needed to salvage a face-saving draw. The game however was not without some merit, it was quite an open encounter, Paraguay looked like they wanted it a bit more than the notoriously slow-starting Italians, and once the opening goal had been scored, the Italians did at least make an effort to claw themselves back into it. Mind you, after having sat through the dour & disinteresting France v Uraguay game 4 days earlier, waterboarding would have been more entertaining.

Today we were up at a very early hour in preparation of our transit up north, where we would be spending the rest of our time in South Africa at a Lodge called Abloom, near Pretoria. Before I say more on our travels north, I wanted to say what a great city Cape Town is, and how well we had been treated and how much we had enjoyed it. I think we spent the time there very well, taking the time to see the city and it attractions and some of the nearby towns, plus adding in a little football. All the scare stories and ‘urban-legends’ about how unsafe South Africa is, were unfounded, and we did not feel uncomfortable or worried at any point. I would go as far as recommending that if you are ever in this neck-of-the-woods, you should take the time to check the place out, it’s wonderful.
Instead of traipsing through another soulless airport to take the plane and flying up north, we booked ourselves onto a luxury train, (, and we are taking 26 hours to travel through the stunning African scenery. At this very moment in time I am sitting alone in the lounge car writing this blog entry, with sweeping views somewhere north of Worcester about 200 miles north of Cape Town. We have already had a 3 course lunch, (and wine) and I am looking forward to High Tea at 4pm, and our Evening meal at 7pm. Did I pack my Tuxedo...?

As there is no internet available on the train, I will not get to upload this blog post until tomorrow at the earliest, maybe later, so if you don’t see anything from me in the next couple of days, you’ll know why...

Waiter...., I think I’ll have my Gin & Tonic now please....!!

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