Monday, June 21
Another team I don't like is Portugal. I love the country Portugal - particularly its islands - as well as its people's laid back, down-to-earth attitude to life. I just don't have much time for Mr Cristiano Ronaldo, Carvalho and their mates. It is more bitter and twisted stuff from me that dates back to Portugal-England games of the past, where I feel we have been cheated out of tournaments by Portuguese gamesmanship.
I am explaining this because this is the background to Robin, Rich and I leaving Simon's Town in driving rain to return to Cape Town in search of tickets for the day's Portugal v North Korea match. Oh, how we would love to be there inside the stadium to witness the cheeky North Koreans dump the arrogant Portugal team out of the tournament.
On the 'fanwalk' to the stadium there's a surprising lack of tickets being sold on the black market. In fact, demand appears to be outstripping supply by a conservative 5:1. The one thing we have got going for us is patience. It certainly isn't the end of the world if we don't get in, and if we miss the first few minutes of the match stood outside trying to buy last minute tickets, then so be it.
Half an hour before kick off plenty of category 3's are being offered out at face value (560 Rand). But that's too much for us on our increasingly slim budgets. We want to get in for a maximum 20 quid.
Twenty minutes before kick off two South African gentlemen come over.
"Our two mates can't make it here. Do you mind giving us 500 for their two?"
"Is 400 OK?"
"Yes, sure. You can give us the money inside so that you know the tickets are genuine. You are now our guests"
Everybody is a winner...including FIFA. The stadium is nearly full.
The North Koreans start very well. They look well organised, play the ball on the ground and their number 10 looks better than most central strikers in the tournament. But when Portugal go 2-0 up you know it is all over for them. Suddenly the Koreans appear to be playing with three at the back and are about to get a thrashing.
So, I came here hoping to see Portugal lose and instead I end up privileged to watch Portugal put on one of the most complete halves of football in World Cup history. Sublime is an overused word but it must be applied to descriptions of this performance. Brilliant is another word that comes to mind. The game finishes 7-0 with gasps of excitement drowning out the increasingly headache-causing vuvuzelas. I still don't like the Portugal football team but I have to take my hat off to a truly inspiring second-half performance by the claret and greens.
Camper Van Nick is ready and waiting for us in Greenmarket Square. The road trip to Port Elizabeth begins.
120 kilometres out of Cape Town we pull in for the night at Hermanus, the 'world's best land-based location for watching whales'. After more good food and drink and a few giggles at Fernando Torres' expense at Cubana, on the sea front, we call it a night at The Potting Shed Guesthouse, where a triple is ours for 650 Rand between the three of us. It's a normal price for a very decent little B&B...and definitely beats sleeping in the van when we might need to do that in the coming nights.
Wednesday, June 16
After three days of fantastic hospitality Gary drives us to Durban's spanking new international airport, 30 kilometres out of the city.
Despite only booking the flight a day earlier we have managed to secure two one-way flights to Cape Town that don't break the bank. If you want a sense of how big South
Africa is then just consider the fact that it is a two-hour flight from Durban to Cape Town. Not long after reaching cruising altitude we cross the Drakensburg. The captain suggests we look out the window where, below us, parts of South Africa and Lesotho are covered in deep snow. Even many of the areas at lower altitudes are painted white.
Robin and I are also painted before reaching Cape Town as the Kulula stewardesses dawb English and South African flags on our faces shortly before landing.
Firearms can be deposited at Cape Town airport, according to one sign we spot.
There appear to be more staff on hand than there are tourists to ensure our safe passage to the city centre. Our 50 Rand bus soon passes a hard-edged looking township. It is quickly apparent that wealth and poverty live side by side in this city on a scale even more extreme perhaps than Joburg. It is also a city of extreme beauty: the magnificent Table mountain soaring 1,000 metres straight up from the sea below.
It couldn't be much easier or simpler to get into central Cape Town. Each arriving football fan seems to have five of his or her personal helpers to direct them to their intended destination.
Home for us is the Inn On The Square. It's an excellent three-star in cobbled Greenmarket Square with to-die-for views of Table Mountain. We seem to have left Africa and arrived in Europe.
In the evening Robin and I watch Bafana Bafana hit the wall against Uruguay at the Cool Britannia Arena. It's not pleasant seeing our hosts getting turned over 3-0 and knowing they are most likely out of the tournament.
Adjacent to the main hall is the beautiful sight of 'The Shirt'. Close on a hundred people of every creed and colour are crowded around taking photos and pointing excitedly at 600 shirts displayed in the main lobby of the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
It makes me feel extremely proud.
The night finishes with us witnessing the world swearing record being beaten. Afrikaans band Die Antwoord are currently one of the most popular bands in the country. If you thought Hip Hop had sold out and become mainstream then you need to spend an hour in the company of this bunch. Afrikaans is a colourful language at the best of times, but
Die Antwoord are something else.