Previous stage: Dragoman - Livingstone to Cape Town

Three Weeks in Cape Town during the World Cup

16th June - Cape Town Day 1

Cape Town has gone mad. The South Africans are so excited, everyone you talk too is bouncing. Shop staff and waitrons (believe me it's the word they use here) are exactly as the Americans try to be. They are enthusiastic, genuinely pleased to see you, chatty and fun. The bars are rocking, the streets are buzzing and the vuvuzelas are trumpeting everywhere. Today did a big walk around. My hostel is at the bottom end of Long Street, so I walked the length of it and over to and around the waterfront area. On the way I picked up all my tickets. An added bonus I'm going to swap my England Slovenia ticket for an England Algeria one so I don't have to get across to Port Elizabeth.

In the evening managed to get into one of the busiest bars on Long St for the Bafana Bafana game. What an atmosphere, we were on the balcony so had the noise from the bar and the street. The whole place was jumping, I can't imagine what it would have been like had they won.

Interesting thing, the coloureds here love their football and talk knowledgably about it, but the whites haven't got a clue but it doesn't stop them shouting whatever rubbish comes into their brain.

17th June - Simon's Town

Weather great so decided to have a day at the seaside. Headed down to Simon's Town one of the oldest settlements in Cape Town. It is really quaint, with lots of old buildings, curio shops, surf shops, bars and restaurants. Most importantly it has only attracted a few of the fans that have thronged to Cape Town. My main reason for heading down except the scenery are the penguins. Between Simon's Town and Bounder there is a large breeding colony of African (Jackass) Penguins. A few years ago the colony was almost gone but with limits on fishing in the area and strict conservation measure there are now more than 5000 of them.

The strip of land between the sea and the built up area isn't very wide but with the natural dunes and hundreds of nesting boxes they seem to be thriving. The area has many wooden boardwalks for visitors to get right amongst them. They are close enough to touch but they don't seem to take any notice of us at all.

Another top wildlife spot to add to the many others before on the trip.

18th June - England v Algeria

A whole day leading up to the England v Algeria game. Cape Town is full of the English with the odd pocket of Algerians dressed head to toe in the team colours and making lots of noise. Add to this fans from Germany, Holland, Spain, Mexico ... plus of course the South Africans and you have a really big party. The whole of the waterfront is full of people. English fans getting their photos taken with the Algerians everyone talking to everyone, really miserable looking Germans (ha ha), everything is perfect.

Then we head off to the game, people everywhere, everyone's in high spirits, everyone expecting a great game and most people an England win. It's a new stadium and looks great both inside and out. We get in and find our tickets are the 3rd row back from the pitch right on the corner flag. Maybe it was because we were next to all the England fans but the vuvuzelas weren't a problem at all. You could hear them but it just added to the atmosphere. Then they kicked off and it all went down hill form there. England were terrible, sitting so deep, giving the ball away, no heart, no pressure, just terrible. We were asking each other is it just me or are they really playing that bad?

For most the game the England fans were singing and shouting, great support given what little encouragement the payers were giving us. But at the end they were booed off by the main England area and they pretty much deserved it. It wasn't the fact they played badly, but they just didn't look like they were trying. Cappello took off England's two best players Heskey and Barry. How bad does Fat Frank have to be to get taken off or better still dropped?

19th June - Cape Town

Cape Town is buzzing, the locals black and white are so excited. Something special is definitely going on here. I guess now nearly 20 years on today's generation have only known a multi-racial South Africa. South Africa is definitely making sure the whole event goes off safely. The main streets from the station to the fanfest and to the stadium, as well as Long Street and the Waterfront are full of police, tourist help, security and anyone else who owns an orange vest. In the shops and restaurants everyone wants to know if you're enjoying yourself and what you think of South Africa. They are so worried that people aren't going to have fun. But Cape Town is great, the atmosphere, the setting and bars and restaurants, fantastic.

I'm staying at the end of Long St, which is the main backpacker and party street. Loads of bars and eateries, internet cafes and shops. A lot of colonial buildings with big balconies over hanging the pavements. It looks great, though not that African. But Cape Town is a big mix. Dutch for so long with street names like Buitenkant, Herrongracht and Strand (beach in Dutch) Street. Although well inland now this was the beach many years ago. You have to love the Dutch, wherever they go they have to reclaim land from the sea.

20th June - Cape Town

21st June - Portugal v Korea DPR

Portugal v North Korea. Woke up today to rain. First wet and dismal day of the trip. I knew I brought my rain coat for a reason. Finally its time has come. I've got all the tickets for Cape Town now up to and including the Quarter Final, so today is match day. Portugal v Korea the 13:30 game.

The whole town has gone red and green and although North Korea also play in red they didn't add much to the early atmosphere or the total attendance. They had a small pocket of well choreographed fans and that was it, although I think most of the Dutch, English and South African fans who made up the numbers here were supporting them.

First half North Korea fought hard, but once Portugal scored their second in the 53rd minute the flood gates opened. Fair play to Korea they kept going forwards but that just left more gaps at the back. So the 50,000 or so Portuguese were ecstatic, blowing their vuvuzelas for all they were worth.

So I've now seen some goals (and some) pity it wasn't from England. Bafana Bafana play again tomorrow so Cape Town will be really buzzing again tomorrow.

22nd June - Table Mountain

Time to see a bit more of Cape Town and know what I'm seeing rather than randomly wandering around. So time for the Red Bus Tour. Got up early to beat the queues and headed to Table Mountain. The cable car to the top has a revolving floor so you get a 360 degree view as you travel up and quite a view it is back over Cape Town and the harbour. The weather today started out looking great blue skies everywhere and stayed good as I wandered around the flat top to the mountain. At the beginning there's a roped off path but it soon opens out and you can go wherever you like. It's pretty rocky with a fair bit of vegetation and lots of rock pools. The views are amazing along the Table Mountian National Park, along both coastlines and straight down. There's no fence and at quite few points it really is straight down. Even idea was walking with my weight firmly away from the edge.

The picture on the left shows Cape Town far below and the new Green Point Stadium which was built for this World Cup and is a really lovely bit of work.

The 12 Apostles. Why is it whenever there are more than 3 or 4 of anything in nature that they are called the 12 Apostles. Here there are actually 17 of them!

As I got towards the end of my wander around the mist / fog started to rise from the ground and formed a table cloth cloud right over the mountain. Lucky I went up early, those arriving an hour later had no view of Cape Town at all. Don't go to Table Mountain in the mid to late morning. It was clear again by early afternoon. From Table Mountain the bus headed out and around the Atlantic coast. Some beautiful towns (suburbs) in each bay. But land prices here depend both location but also shelter from the Cape Doctor, the cold South Easterly which blows for half the year. Today it was blowing and the waves were crashing. Looked beautiful, but cold.

Next the V and A Waterfront. Victoria and Alfred (Queen Vics son) Waterfront named after the two quays. From here into the city proper. Colonial buildings, churches and mosques. Markets and museums and then the most striking area District 6.

In 1969 the Apartheid Government decided they could not allow the area to continue, it was home to a mix of races, descendents of slaves, Cape Malays (mainly Indian and Indonesian) and drop out from the white community. So they demolished the whole area despite a lot of internal and International pressure. This area is right next to the main business area. But due to the pressure the area was never redeveloped, so still today it is 90% overgrown rubble. The new multi-racial government made great promises to redevelop the land after 1991 but until now only 24 houses have been built.

23rd June - Cape Town

The big day, England v Slovenia, the country expects. All we have to do is beat Slovenia by a bigger margin than the US beat Algeria and we get a pretty easy route to the Semis. How hard can it be? After a day wandering around, through the Constitution Gardens and around a couple of museums I headed down to the FanFest. BTW in Cape Town at the moment there is a Horse or probably Zebra Parade hence today's pictures.

The FanFest is a huge area sponsored by Coca Cola and MTN. Everything to do with the World Cup is sponsored. I think to Fifa the football is just a means to an end and the end is to make money. At Fifa outlets you can only use Visa, at the stadium you drink Coke or Bud. MTN (mobile) is everywhere along with their annoying Ayoba! advert. Anyway, the Fanfest, can hold about 35,000, today probably less than 10,000 but still a good atmosphere. Huge screens, lots of fans, outside in the sunshine, perfect.

Pity the same can't be said of the game. A win, just, gives us Germany followed by Argentina. On the plus side if they beat Germany I have a ticket for the Argentina game and that would be one hell of a party.

24th June - Netherlands v Cameroon

Time to hit a few museums. I'd intended to go to the District 6 Museum but never made it that far. Hopefully I'll tie that in with a Township Trip. Anyway first up the Slave Lodge. In my couple of year old Lonely Planet it had a very unimpressive write up but did say the emphasis was changing, it was free to get in so I gave it a go, glad I did. The permanent exhibition is focused on the slave trade in The Cape. Mainly through the VOC (Dutch East India Company). Slaves were brought in from Mozambique and Madagascar as well as India and Indonesia. At one time there were more slaves in the Cape than free men. Lots of pictures, info, maps and antiquities, interesting.

Then there was a temporary (I bet it becomes permanent) exhibition on Mandela. Pictures, video and lots of propaganda. He is worshipped in these parts and he does seem to have done a hell of a job since coming out of prison. Who says prison doesn't work. He is the perfect advert of making prison a whole lot tougher. Go in a terrorist come out President!

Netherlands v Cameroon. Not a lot resting on this game but a great atmosphere all the same. 50,000 of the 60,000 in the stadium were in orange and expecting goals. Game OK, far better than the England one but never truly got going. I wish the same could be said of the crowd. 50,000 drunk Cloggies with vuvuzelas, if there was ever an advert for the banning of those things (Cloggies or vuvuzelas) then this was it. What a bloody racket. When I first got here I thought the vuvuzelas were OK and added to the World Cup, now they are just annoying. At the England game there were very few, England fans actually watch the football and sing, shout or occasionally boo, but at least they watch the game. With vuvuzelas it isn't supporting a particular team it's just a noise for noise sake.

Anyway I've got a headache, time for bed :-)

25th June - Cape Town

Just a quiet day walking around Cape Town. Checking out the markets, wandering around the harbour and enjoying the gorgeous weather. The middle of winter and it's 20 degrees and not a cloud in the sky (apart from those forming now and again on Table Mountain). Left are the statues in Nobel Square. The 4 South Africans who won Nobel Peace Prizes during the 40 years with led up to the end of Apartheid. Luthuli, Tutu, de Klerk and Mandela.

Another great find today the Eastern Food Bazaar. A food market selling Indian, Chinese and Turkish food at a bargain price. I went for mixed Indian starters, Chicken Curry with rice and a Garlic Naan and all for less than £4. They warned me the curry would be hot. It was perfect, 'English Hot'.

And the football worked out perfect too. The Last 16 game I have in Cape Town will be Spain v Portugal. Marvellous.

26th June - The Winelands

Time to try the South African wine. So did a wine tour of the Stellenbosch and Paarl vineyards. Off on a mini-bus, hit our first vineyard and have champagne in our hands by 10:30. Our group is 8 Americans and 3 Brits. When I heard that there were more Yanks coming to the World Cup I didn't really believe it but it's true, they are everywhere. So after 6 tasters we move on, we have an early lunch and then enjoy the sunshine and the wine and if you like cheese then cheese as well. The wine wasn't really to my taste. Reminded me of the New Zealand wines, all quite dry. I guess the more northern, warmer vineyards produce sweeter wine. But not to worry I still drank it and drank it and drank it. It improved!

We headed back at about 5pm and Robbie our driver bought 2 more bottles for us to share on the journey back. Afterwards I joined the Americans in the Mitchell Brewery Bar for the evening. The US lost but I don't think anyone really cared :-)

27th June - Cape Town

Hung over! The picture shows the big screen in the auditorium area in the Waterfront. In the background to this as with most photos is the every present Table Mountain. As it frequently is it's covered by a thin veil of cloud, the 'Table Cloth'.

Was still not feeling great so watched the England Germany game back at the hostel. So glad I did. What a terrible performance by England, as bad if not worse than the previous games. They got what they deserved, they got stuffed. I hope the bunch of overpaid primadonnas get booed at every game for the whole of next season.

28th June - Robben Island

Another one of the must dos today, Robben Island. Robben Island is about 10km off the Cape Town coast and has had a long a chequered past. Dutch provisions post, military base, leper colony, colonial prison and most famously a prison for the anti-apartheid campaigners / saboteurs / terrorists. About half and hour over on the boat and then we transfer onto buses for a tour of the island. The guide (Yasien Mohamed) once secretary for the Pan-African Congress in the western Cape and obviously an important part of the struggles. He was very entertaining. He said he is the guide who does the tours for all the VIPs. He name dropped a lot, but some bloody impressive names. He'd met Mandela 14 times, Obama, Hilary Clinton, Queens of Sweden and Denmark, Helmut Kohl and the names went on and on. He waxed lyrically by the one-room prison built for Pan-African Congress founder Robert Sobukwe (once regarded as the most dangerous man in Africa). Obviously a man he thought very highly of.

He told stories of the buildings and people associated with the island. A little bit of politics but steered away from anything too controversial.

We then did a tour of the prison, this was with an ex-inmate. He was a student activist who became disillusioned with peaceful protest and went to Angola for military training. He was an inmate for 7 years. Whenever he mentioned any other prisoners including Mandela he called them comrade. So it was Comrade Mandela, Comrade Nair. They were trained and financed by Russia and China so it makes sense.

The tour was good, but hurried. Once we finished we had 10 minutes to get back to the boat. There wasn't even time to hit the gift shop. I'd like to have had an hour to wander around, see more of the island and check out the penguin colony.

29th June - Spain v Portugal

Been very lucky with the weather so far, but today it was wet. Very wet for most of the day, thankfully it cleared up before I needed to head out for the game. First a bit of a moan. I know this is a stupid question but do FIFA care at all about the fans. The answer I know is of course they don't. Now they have installed airport style x-ray machines on all the gates into the stadium. All it has succeeded in doing is double the time it takes to get into the stadium. It resulted in me and a lot of other fans missing the start of the game instead of having half an hour to soak up the atmosphere as with previous games.

The second thing they've done is all but stop the showing of replays on the screens at the game. They get one wrong showing the Tevez offside goal now they are showing nothing. What's the point of the screens if you're not showing replays? You're not looking at them for the live action. They didn't even show Vila's goal tonight.

Anyway, Spain Portugal. Arrived 5 minutes late, might as well have missed the whole first half. Portugal sat back and Spain didn't bother attacking. Apart from booing Ronaldo (there were a lot more Spain fans than Portuguese) there was bugger all excitement. Second half was far better. Better for Spain anyway. They woke up and looked great. They must be favourites now. As classy as Brazil but without the diving and hacking. The atmosphere during the second half was great. The Spanish band started playing (well the drummer was drumming anyway), we even had a go at Viva Espanya.

The Cape Town stadium really is good, the fans are close to the pitch (apart from the tickets I had for the Holland game) and it really holds the sound. But a lot of Cape Townians are really worried about what the stadium will be used for after the tournament. Football will never fill it, be a real pity if it isn't used.

30th June - Darling

No football for 2 days so I decided to get out of town. Hired a car and headed up to Darling (queue the Blackadder jokes). So up the west coast into a farming area. Rolling hills, Atlantic coastline, cows in the fields, heather on the moors and big white guys driving around in 4x4s, just like home. The vineyards, ostrich farms and truck loads of black workers being shipped in and out not so much like home. The towns are a bit weird. Old colonial buildings in the centre form the main (white) part of the town. Then on the outskirts just far enough from the town is an area of newer more temporary looking buildings for the (black) workers.

In the evening I went down to the town 'Bistro' for something to eat, a fantastic and huge lamb shank. Got talking to the locals at the bar, had a good night. They were really interesting. Talking about the wineries, farming, their travels, how things were, how they are now, very interesting.

But the main reason that I chose Darling for a couple of days away is Evita se Perron, 'The Most Famous White Women in Africa'. Evita Bezuidenhout is the creation of Pieter-Dirk Uys, an African Dame Edna but with an added dose of liberal politics. Evita was a thorn in the side of the Apartheid government and has continued to satirise the politicians since Apartheid ended. He's actually got a range of characters at the show he did FW de Klerk and Pik Bohta as he's been doing since the early 80s. Now instead of spouting Apartheid ideas he has them 'laughing' at the Reconciliation process. A homeless gut wondering where the new promised land is and even Sep Blatter as a nod to the World Cup. He did an anti-Aids sketch which he has taken around schools in South Africa. It is estimated a million kids have seen his anti-Aids show. It's now the cause he's fighting hardest for. There is a lot of politics in the show but it's also funny. Satire is a powerful weapon.

Evita se Perron (Evita at the station) is the name of the theatre where he now performs. It's in the restored Darling Station, can seat about 160 and is usually sold out. He's converted the building into the theatre, shop and museum which contains lots of artefacts from the Apartheid years, a lot of correspondence between Pieter-Dirk and politicians in SA and letters of thanks from leaders around the world. He seems to have made a lot of waves, I'm sure him setting up in a small town in the Afrikaans heartland was no accident.

1st July - Paternoster

What a great night's sleep. My first night in a big comfortable bed in a quiet room in 9 weeks. Followed this up with a real lazy day. Some driving around and some time down by the beach at Paternoster a nice little (but growing) seaside town. A big practically deserted beach, waves breaking, the sun shining, gentle on-shore breeze. Wandered up and down and had a long lunch at a beachside restaurant of fresh fish and shell fish. Just what I needed. This holiday has been great but there hasn't been much let-up. Moving on, things to see, things to do. I'm not one for wasting days usually but today was really good. This time next week I'll be headed for the airport. The holiday is nearly over.

2nd July - Table View

A lazy slow drive back to Cape Town along the Western Cape. Stopped off a few times along the coast for a walk along the beach. Long deserted beaches fringed on one side by the Atlantic and on the other by sand dunes. At of this with the every present Table Mountain in the distance. Beautiful.

3rd July - Cape Town

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, Über alles in der Welt. My last game and by far the best. Germany were fantastic and Argentina thrashed :-) I knew I would be supporting Germany over the team managed by the cheating druggie but I didn't realise quite how much until the first goal went in. I was jumping and shouting more than the Germans around me!

Thank God for the early goal though. In the half an hour leading up to the game the Argies were really winding me up. Shouting and blowing their vuvuzelas, a lot of them around me actually made a point of sitting down during the German national anthem. But the early goal shut them up and from then on each goal made them grimace and me smile all the more.

Below: Argentina about to put the ball in the net, I shout offside, luckily the linesman thought the same.

The atmosphere from then on was all black, red and yellow. The second half just seemed like one way traffic. If only England could play with the same pace and commitment as the Kruats. When the final whistle went the crowd went mad and I was so thankful I went to the game and didn't sell the ticket as I had momentarily considered doing earlier in the day.

4th July - Winelands

Out of Cape Town again. Hired a car and headed East. Although headed for the coast I decided to take a detour through the Winelands. I only had a blurred view of the area during the Wine Tour so I went back for a second look. It is gorgeous. Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschoek. Hundreds upon hundreds of wine estates all perfectly manicured, white-washed walls and elaborate iron gates. Rose bushes, fruit trees and acres of vines. Franschoek is a beautiful old colonial style town. It has a French influence but we can't hold that against it. It's supposed to be known as a foodie's paradise.

From here the road climbs up through and over the Simonsberg mountains. The wound its way up, hairpin bend after hairpin. Apart from the dozens of motorbikes racing through in the opposite direction it was idyllic. I must have stopped 4 or 5 times to take photos up through the valley.

5th July - Cape Agulhas

Not quite the end of my trip but today seemed like the symbolic end. A trip to the very bottom of mainland Africa. Not Cape Point or Cape of Good Hope as many people would think. They are like Land's End in England, at an extreme but not the furthest south. I went to Cape Agulhas. (That'll earn you a couple of points at a pub quiz one day.) There's actually not a lot to see apart from a monument, the crashing waves of both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and bright blue skies. There were very few people around, it was great. I've made it from Nairobi to the very tip of Africa.

6th July - Hermanus

For the last few days I've been staying in the seaside town of Hermanus. A nice little town set overlooking a large bay. But people really only come to Hermanus for one thing, the Southern Right Whales. This place is described as the best place in the world to view whales from the land. Between July and January they come in their hundreds into the bay. There is a coastal path to wall, lots of seats to sit on and whales to search for. Even now right at the start of the season there are some swimming around. On the day I arrived I watched one swim right past the town not very far off the shore. It would surface every 30 seconds or so and now and again dive and raise its tail in the air.

Today I watched at least two, maybe three playing in the breaking waves. They were spinning onto their backs, splashing their tails and generally having fun (or maybe they were in distress trying to get away from the shore?) They are huge animals and great to see. At the height of the season there can be as many as 30 or 40 in the bay. I was told it's quite common to be able to see 10 or 12 at the surface at one time.

But now it's back to Cape Town for my last two nights. Being away was great but I only realised what the best part was once I was back. No bloody vuvuzelas!

7th July - Langa Township

Today took a township tour with Sam's Tours. First stop the District 6 Museum. The more observant amongst you will remember this was an area that was cleared in the 60s because it was a mixed area. The museum commemorates the destruction and celebrates the people who lived there. There are pictures and stories along with some history on Apartheid and how this lead to forced resettlements and the townships. From here we went to the Lana Township, the oldest of the townships. After a lot of work with the community leaders it is now used by all the tour companies. The community is one of the safest and we went on a walking tour through the area. It was interesting, in the township there are all classes of people from the poorest in corrugated iron shacks up to professionals in big brick houses. We were told those who choose to stay don't get any trouble and are actually treated like royalty. Local guys done good.

We saw a community group the Happy Feet Gumboots Dancers. A youth group where working hard at school is a prerequisite for joining. It was fun to see them dancing and we had a little game of football. Throughout the townships if there is some open ground and a few people a football game seems to have broken out.

8th July - Cape Town

My last day in Cape Town. It's going to be strange not walking up and down Long St anymore, not seeing Table Mountain around every corner. I've really enjoying Cape Town. The weather has been great, the people, the scenery and plenty to do. It's also been very safe, the people in Cape Town hope the same level of security is maintained after the World Cup but they doubt it will. Today I went to the aquarium which was OK but not as big as I had expected. But I guess comparing it to Aquariums like Barcelona is a little unfair. After this I did some last minute shopping. A few people have put in orders for vuvuzelas (is there no escaping those things?) also some more stuff for my nephews. I wish everyone was as easy to buy for as they are.

Then it was time for the taxi to the airport. A nice meal and an 11 hour flight back to Heathrow. It's now Friday morning and I'm on the train down to Devon. My London flat is sold, the purchase on the house in Bideford completed. Beyond that I've no idea what comes next ...