Home > South Africa 2010 World Cup, Travel > Escape from Soccer City

Escape from Soccer City

I have managed to escape the World Cup (somewhat) over the past few days. You see despite the vuvuzelas and the friendly South African stewards, the World Cup is it’s own self contained kind of city which can be transported to any Coca Cola drinking, McDonalds eating or Hyundai driving location. Having said that the Mexican wave seems to be going the opposite way – something to do with being in the southern hemisphere maybe! So it is good to get away from it for a bit. Sunday saw an eye opening trip to Soweto and then followed on with a trip up to Kruger National Park over the past few days.

We left the novelty Irish hats behind us on Sunday for the trip to Soweto but a bunch of eight Irish guys strolling through Orlando east is a bit of a novelty. As was being wished happy fathers day by a number of kids during the morning! We used local combi taxis and some shoe leather for our visit. Our guide brought us into her “house” where herself and her husband live with her 13 year old daughter. Let’s just say that my bathroom is bigger than there house. 13 corrugated shacks are squeezed into a plot of land behind a small brick house. One communal toilet and tap serves the 39 people living in the area. But there is a mix of wealth. On the same street the owner was out washing his fairly new BMW.

Everybody gave us a hearty hello be it the auld WANs on way to church or the guys on the corner selling toilets. Lots of local enterprise on the streets with outdoor barbers or lads pushing shopping trolleys with their wares (think Bubbles from the Wire having a whitey sale).

We took in the hector Pieterson museum which tells the story of the Soweto student rising of 1976 through the story of Pieterson who was shot by the police for demonstrating against the move to educate through Africana rather than English. We cooked up our own lunch in a local buy and braai. Tasty stuff.

The game that night was in Soccer City adjacent to Soweto so we got a local combi bus to take us. But it is all about park and ride so the taxi couldn’t get anywhere near to the ground leaving us with a 30 min walk which eventually took us past the ESPN and ITV studios which over look the stadium. As we were getting some photos of the spectacular sunset beside the stadium George Hamilton wheeled up his RTE suitcase to say hello. Eventually Andy spotted former Rangers and England international standing beside him so there were more handshakes all round.

With all the inverted Irish tricolours for cote d’Ivore on display outside and inside the ground it was almost like Ireland had made the world cup (if we had I’m sure Trap wouldn’t have let us make an embarrassment of ourselves like the French did).

As it turned out The game was probably one of the less interesting games we’ve been at with Brazil coasting through the game with a helping “hand” from Fabiano. Only a late Drogba goal raised the energy but Brazil won 3-1.

We blagged our way into the media area which was right beside out seats. Goggs spotted the Arsenal manager and when he pointed to him Arsene Wenger gave us a wave. He wasn’t the only Frenchman to notice the invading Irish supporters. Former international and world cup winner Kristian Karambeu (like so many we have met) told us the Irish should have been in the tournament and went some way to help relationships by posing for a team photo with us followed by handshakes all round. We settled in the BBC commentary position with the headphones allowing us to listen to Alan Hansen back in the studio. When the man from the BBC arrived we cleared out.

The last three days have been spent on safari up in Kruger park. It has been mornings up before 6 each day to spot the animals but has been well worth it. I joined up with a group of 5 others ( a Scottish Rangers Aussie and his Aussie Peruvian girlfiend), an American from NY and a spurs supporting dad and daughter). We managed to see 4 of the big 5 with lions, buffalo, rhino and hippo plus elephants and giraffe. No real escape from the football as even on the night drive we were getting updates on another French capitulation.

I’ve managed to get my hands on a cat 4 local ticket for face value of €15 for Italy v Slovakia tomorrow. Should be a good one…

  1. Goggs
    July 8, 2010 at 21:40

    Good man Mac…some good reporting there. But you forgot to mention that our TV3 impersonations would surely have made Trevor Welsh very proud!

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