The Football World Cup was just about to arrive for the first ever time in Africa and there was somewhat of a buzz around the place. We were en route back to Cape Town with a stop off in Keetmansdorf (old town, full of weirdo’s) and then onto Stellenbosch for a day or so to do a wine tasting tour and then onto Cape Town to watch the opening match and wait for a friend to arrive. This was going to be a busy month, covering a lot of miles and trying to fit as much in as possible.
Stellenbosch is one of the oldest towns in SA and one of the prettiest too. Sitting just a short ride from Cape Town Stellenbosch is the official home of the SA wine empire. The soil was first used for agriculture back in the 1700’s Dutch farmers soon turned their interest to more alcoholic activities and the first vineries soon sprung up. The high sloping hills and soil made the area an ideal location for wine making. The wine empire here now boasts a production capacity of over 1,000 million litres of wine annually as well as a dedicated University in the pursuit of Viticulture. We booked on a wine tour and embarked on a lesson in wine making and tasting round 5 vineries.
The wine was excellent, slightly higher grade (in nose, body and price) than the boxed wine we had become so well accustomed to but we succumbed to buying a bottle or two. A very educational afternoon indulging in a bit of drinking is always a pleasure! We moved on after a day or so to locate a campsite in Cape Town which proved harder than usual as most were either being refurbished or closed. We settled in for a few days in watching a few matches (disappointing matches vs USA and Algeria) in the Fans Fest and touring the Cape of Good Hope.
Cape Town was now awash with England supporters up to and after the Algeria match and soon most left disenchanted and disillusioned. As soon as Mark arrived we spent a day in Cape Town before stopping off at Addo Elephant Park to see some nellies on a short drive through safari, before driving along the beautiful Garden Route to Port Elizabeth to watch our first live game of the tournament. We arrived at our campsite in PE to see a field of red and white St George flags and after setting up base enjoyed a few beers with some fellow supporters.
Like most match days in SA the excitement was built up from the sounding of the first Vuvuzelas at dawn until well after the final whistle. We found a nice spot along the sea front to enjoy a few pre match beers before heading onto the stadium which was awash with England flags. The match was pretty dull and frustrating but eventually England came out victorious and they were through to the final rounds.
You may have heard the noisy vuvuzelas and the backlash to them back home, but this was nothing compared to the deafening sound in the stadium. Every World Cup is different and this was a truly African experience and although there was no signing round the grounds it certainly was not quiet! England were not in the least bit convincing and the early contenders had to be Germany, Argentina, Brazil and Spain at this point. England were about to face arch rivals Germany and with the arrival of my old friend Ian we hoped that fortunes would soon change!
We arrived in Bloemfontein and luckily managed to find a crowded but nice enough campsite just a few km from the outskirts of the city. Ian arrived late that night and enjoyed his first Brai washed down with some excellent boxed wine. The next morning (Match day) we were all rudely awoken by a lot of crashing and banging outside only to find 3 or 4 TV crews setting up right outside our motor. Within half an hour we were making tea for them and then being interviewed for Sky Sports News, Sky News and Channel 5. We were very minor celebrity pundits for the next 2 days whilst they interviewed us time and time again! The atmosphere outside the ground was electric and everyone in high spirits and hopes with tons of singing and jibes at the Germans, only for them to have the last laugh. We were quashed by a mighty German side that caught us on the break too many times and a goal that was well over the line and would have surely changed the game. For us the World Cup was over and although upset we could now set our sights on doing what we wanted rather than follow England around. Sad to see England go out but it enabled us to travel more independently and also to indulge on some big time adrenaline adventures and get to see some more gorgeous SA.