Argentina v South Korea, June 17-Soccer City

July 3, 2010 — by Larry

An Argentina fan

Having been warned by both our inside guy at FIFA, and the owners of our B&B, we leave for the park & ride at 9:30 am for the 1:30 pm kickoff.  It is also quite cold, but sunny, so doubled up on socks and tshirts, have the hat, gloves, and sunglasses.  After a half-hour ride in toward the city itself, we get out at Gold Reef City.  An amusement park celebrating the history of gold mining in the area.  And on the other side of the street, it is a casino.  Instead of chaos at the drop-off, we walk around the bend, into a nearly empty line, get right onto a shuttle, which spends 15 minutes driving us to the stadium.  It is now 10:15.  I guess the people who had trouble tried to get there right at kick-off, a feat which makes no sense to us who value the whole experience.

Along the main access road, the locals are just setting up there food stalls, providing sausages, chicken, salads, sandwiches, and drinks for anyone who walks along the main road from the dropoff toward the stadium.  Only a couple are ready for business at this time, but all have on vests and ID proclaiming their fitness to handle food.

Soccer City inside

Many fans mill about, as the gates have yet to open.  Way more Argentina than South Korea, but that is expected.  Lots of locals on the side of the Argies, including the locals with the curly wigs, earmuffs, tights, and jerseys.

South Korea buys our loyalty with an additional layer in the form of a free t-shirt from their government sponsored school in Swaziland.  They also brought in a student group who perform a Korean drum ceremony as fans dance and snap photos around them.

Once through security, but outside of the the ticket-taking, we stroll over to the sponsors area where we come across friends.  Not unexpectedly, of course, as I certainly figured they’d be around for tomorrow’s USA-Slovenia match at Ellis Park, so hitting this match makes complete sense.  After a chat, we have even more time to kill, so we wander over to the Bud beer garden.  We sit with 4 locals at a picnic table, and we begin the usual exchange of information.  Very nice people, and they want mostly to know our impressions of South Africa both before we arrived and now.  Finally, we leave them behind, and head inside.

Soccer City is a fantastic setup.  Brand new of course, but impressively compact, tight feel to the seating bowl for its massive capacity.

The swap

Just before start, now there are 2 small and one large sections of South Korea fans, but 2 very large, multiple-section groups of Argentina supporters in the lower bowl.  Fairly entertaining match itself, even if all 3 first-half goals were a bit sketchy.  Higuain’s hat-trick could not have been easier, as Messi dominates play along with the affections of the crowd.  Can a player be named the MVP of the World Cup without scoring a goal?  I’m guessing he can.


No longer lovely, vivacious, or in South Africa

July 1, 2010 — by Larry

That is what 28 hours of traveling from Durban, through Johannesburg and Atlanta, to Chicago will do to a person.  Sadly, circumstances prevented consistent access to webbernet facilities, so I had to return before continuing this activity.  Apparently some worried that bad things had occurred.  Rest assured, no problems, except for my lack of vigilance in note taking for the remainder of the trip.  I shall endeavor to recreate the remainder of the trip in its roughly chronological order.

Picking up the story, we left Cape Town having done virtually zero of the important local activities.  Our visit to the District Six museum showed a nasty part (one of many) of the Apartheid era.  The government declared a large, multi-cultural neighborhood to be Whites-Only, shipped the residents to projects on the other sided of the mountain, and leveled the area except for places of worship.  The outrage over this proved immense enough within South Africa to delay any development long enough for the system to change.  Today the whole area remains virtually undeveloped, with streets and streets of bare grassland providing mute testament.

District Six today. Lion's head in the background.

We scalped our first Robben Island experience to German journalists willing to pay double, then the winter weather canceled the ferries for our other attempt.  Which meant not riding up to the top of Table Mountain on day two proved a mistake as well.  Alas, reason to return.


Dispatch from Cape Town: Rowan Flad on FanFest, USA-SLV, ENG-ALG

June 23, 2010 — by Suman

We just received via email a dispatch from South Africa: friend, former teammate, and archaeologist Rowan Flad on watching the US-Slovenia game last Friday at the FanFest in Cape Town, followed by watching England-Algeria live:

Today [Friday, June 18] we (me and my wife In Paik) attended our first live match of WC2010 – England v. Algeria.  We spent the day exploring Cape Town a little more, after having done Table Mountain and some other sites yesterday, first going to a sweet little coffee shop in Observatory (Obz), the part of town where we are staying, called “Queen of Tarts,” and then heading into the City Bowl area where we had a lunch of African tapas at a joint called “Africa Café.”  We then headed to the District Six museum, which was only a few blocks from “Fanfest” – the designated viewing area where a huge screen had been set up outside city hall for people to watch games.


Dispatch from South Africa: Well that was a wet one…

June 14, 2010 — by Larry1

Sometimes seats above the roofline are a good thing.  But, first, let’s rewind a bit.  Winter found its rhythm today, managing sun, wind, rain,and hail, rotated nicely about every hour til the sun went down.  The other three left him behind without missing a beat.

Visited the & Union for the Netherlands v Denmark match.  It’s the brewpub of sorts for a South African craft brewer, but, strangely, their product is actually brewed in Germany according to their bottles.  Both the Amber and Dark Lagers were perfectly drinkable, yet lacked depth, leading to quick finishes.  Sadly, in a bid to maintain some sort of sanity and coherence, I had to cut back, and those were the only beers tried.


Dispatch from South Africa: Days Two and Three

June 13, 2010 — by Larry4

Obviously, there was no way anyone could expect SA to keep up that pace. Needless to say, by morning, the hangover was in full effect, and there was hardly a vuvuzela to be heard before 10. The actual onset of winter weather (for here) has not helped, creating an extremely gray day. At the fanfest for the Arg/Nig first half, the crowd split fairly evenly, Messi v Africa, but far more of black South Africa participated than in the bars in around Long St.

We managed a side trip to see some endangered African penguins. The metrorail train took us right there, skirting the coast of False Bay, to a sleepy, sleepy, off-season Simons Town. Very relaxed atmosphere on board, groups mixing and mingling easily, unless the vuvuzela was blown.


Dispatch from South Africa: Opening Day

June 11, 2010 — by Larry1

Thus begins our series of on-the-ground reporting from South Africa courtesy of the lovely and vivacious Laurence Weinstein

Just a huge, big, gigantic first day.

First, the easy. Cape Town, with the sun shining, absolutely beautiful. Hop the topless tour bus (the bus is the one lacking a top), ride it around. Stunning views from above the city, and great town for lunch on the other side of Table Mountain in Camps Bay. Maybe we are too familiar with the Paulaner restaurant, but don’t want to discount a quality place for German food and drink. The Irish place around the corner from the flat becoming another easy destination.

Too, too easy.