The 7th Continent part #1: JBurg

To start: this was my first trip to Africa, the only continent I hadn't been too. In the time between this trip (July '10) and Athens for the IOI (2004) I've walked on every continent, not even including family trips, something not many 23-year-olds (nor diabetics) can say! I'm very grateful for the position I'm in, here's hoping for many more travels. Now that small tidbit of info is complete, on with the Africa trip,

After a long wait, finally an update on my South Africa World Cup trip! This update is the first of two, covering the Johannesburg half - the schedule was for 5 days in JBurg, including two football matches and two days of exploring before the flights to Cape Town. Having just returned from 3 weeks work in New York, Katie was experienced at (read: sick of) airports by this stage, and we had no trouble on the way over, even grabbing a lot of sleep on the long leg and managing to pick up all our game tickets in the airport on arrival.

Unfortunately, we made the mistake of leaving the airport without hiring a car - you see, JBurg is a very sparse, widespread city - it has lots of people, but equally lots of room and no high apartment blocks, so getting around takes some time. Add to that the constant warnings of walking on our own, plus the added expense of taking safe transport (e.g. the 15 minute taxi trip from the airport was $40), plus the cheap cost of car rental, and you get the advice: If you travel to Johannesburg, rent a car.

On with the trip - after some jetlag and exploring our surrounding area, our first venture the next day was to Soccer City Stadium - JBurg's showcase football pitch built specially for the World Cup - to see the favoured Argentinians take on South Korea:

It had been a long time since I'd seen a live soccer match, and I must say, Soccer City was a great place to watch one from. The whole process of getting in, seated, getting food, the view etc. were all obviously done knowing that a lot of people would be watching, and despite our match having over 80,000 attendees, and us having tier 3 (the lowest of the 3) seats for this match, it still was a great spectacle.

The next day we visited a wildlife park around an hour or so out of town - it was famous for raising families of lions, and particularly, for the cubs abandoned by their mothers, they raised them by hand and opened the pens up for visitors to pat the cubs! As demonstrated:
The park also included zebras, full-sized lions, springbok and hyenas visible from a jeep tour, plus close-up access to less dangerous creatures like giraffes and meerkats. While it still felt a bit zoo-ish, it was nice to get closer to them and see them in conditions slightly closer to their natural environment.

The next day was taken up in seeing the second match, Australia v Ghana. It was held in Rustenburg, a much smaller city we reached by a 2hr organised bus trip with fellow Australia and Ghana supporters. The atmosphere in the stadium was great, there were a number of local supporters for Ghana getting really into it, vuvuzelas and all.
It might not look it on the pictures, but the further inland you got (e.g. Rustenburg in particular), the colder it got during the day - so while it seems sunny and clear (and was, we had no rain in JBurg), the temperature was about 10 degrees in all these shots - it even reached -5 when we arrived.

It's probably because my impression was altered slightly due to being there during the world cup, and not having a car, but most of what I wanted to do in JBurg I managed to see in the few days being there (with the exception of seeing Soweto and the Apartheid museum), so I don't think I'm likely to go back any time soon, but getting the JBurg view on life was certainly a different way of looking at things.

Part 2 will hopefully be coming up within the next week, Cape Town! stay tuned...


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