O.R. TAMBO International Airport near Johanessburg. Its 7.30 am and bursting at the seams. My Egypt Air flight from Cairo was packed with Mexicans, Chileans, Dutch, Serbians, Germany, English, Americans, Argentinians, Danes, Hondurans, Italians and even Egyptians supporting Brazil. I had spent two nights at the splendid Pension Roma in Cairo with its friendly staff and interesting cast of guest characters from afar.
REALLY efficient passport control, baggage delivery and no customs as the mass from many flights tumbled into the plaza. Hundreds of signs for chauffeurs, rent cars, hotels, bed and breakfasts.. WE line up to get our local SIM cards, change money and get the first ever day of GAUTRAIN. It goes from the airport to Sandton in 15 minutes for R100. The rest of the system to Pretoria and Johannesburg doesn't open until next year.
At Sandton Station, seemingly a mile underground like a gold mine, escalators take you up to the fresh air 100 meters from Mandela Square and the FIFA World Cup H.Q. and the giant Mall and shops, and restaurants. I walk past Sir Bobby Charlton and other immortals.
The streets are full of South African supporters and people stopping cars and selling flgas, vuvuzelas, souvenirs and car ornaments. Bafana Bafana the national team rode in an open top bus which gridlocked the streets.I am off to Pretoria, the jacoranda city and the highway is very slow. I am at the University of Pretoria campus. FIFA Match Hospitality had blocked 4,000 beds at high prices, promising to fill them-they sell 28!! and leave UP to scramble to fill the rest at the last minute. I am they first fan to arrive and get a warm special welcome. I am the ONLY one spending this first night! Hotels have also put up prices. Holiday Inn Express was R600 a month ago, now R2,000. I have however found a gem of a place. More info tomorrow.
Its very hot, and after a nap I go out at 7.00pm and its dark and cold on the High Veld. From a short sleeve shirt to a long woollen one, a scarf, a jacket and a coat. At Hatfield Mall it is bedlam. All the students have finished their term and they are drinking, dancing, eating and partying big time. Herr Gunters 2 for 1 drinks, Angel Fire, Chillis, Oxford Old English Pub, Cheeky Monkey, The Ohio Spur, Flair, Drop Zone, Barcelo's, Oppi's. Lots of live music.This will be party central even more so for the next month as thousands of foreign fans arrive, though none are here yet. We are a few hundred yards from Loftus Versfeld the World Cup Stadium.
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