My first world cup match

Earlier this week – I watched my first world cup match. I guess I should throw a disclaimer out there – I’ve never been a huge soccer fan. I almost never watch soccer although I did play it when I was in high school. Before I get started – there’s one other thing. People would always correct me as an American – calling football soccer. Except – here in South Africa – they call it soccer . So there! No more paying attention to the folk who keep telling me to call it football!

We did the fan walk to go to the first game. It’s basically a 30 – 45 minute walk from downtown to the Green Point stadium. Along the way there’s music, food, and tons of little stalls. I’m still planning to do it one more time so I can get a pimped out vuvuzela. It seems the best ones are sold there. I was shocked at the police presence in Cape Town. It’s not just a few extra police – there are thousands of them. They walk in groups ranging from 3 to 10. You see them on horses, on bikes, on foot, in cars, etc. Some walk around, some are stationed, and some are handling traffic. It’s actually quite amazing to see such a heavy police presence.

I went to watch the Portugal vs. North Korea match earlier this week. We had regular tickets in the stands. We ended up sitting amongst a group of Portuguese fans.  Everyone wants to see goals when they watch a match. In this match, Portugal destroyed North Korea with a devastating 7-0 score in their favor. Everyone jumps to their feet when a goal is scored. There were so many scored in this game that it felt like doing a squats workout.

The game was well attended – approximately 63000 people in attendance. I was worried about the vuvuzelas and the potential noise. Everyone was talking about how horrible they are and how loud they are. I honestly think this is just bias. I had ear plugs but I really didn’t need them. As long as someone doesn’t blow one near your ear – the sound is fine. The ambience in the matches is pretty cool. The people with vuvuzelas have sort of sound offs. One group on the other side start a beat with theirs and the vuvuzelas on the other side start blowing with a counter beat. That goes on and off all through the matches. As a team begins to gain momentum – they start blowing to the beat for that team.

And then there are the waves. I’ve seen waves in a stadium – but somehow these seemed to have a life of their own. For starters – it’s awesome to see over 60000 people join in a wave. As the wave approaches, you start beating your feet on the ground to create a thunder sound. The feeling is amazing – it vibrates through your whole body. Once it’s upon you – you jump up wave, blow your vuvuzela if you want, then go back down. The waves  circled the stadium over and over and over.

So I have only a few gripes about the experience. First is the lack of food in the stadiums. McDonalds is the official food for the stadium so there are a few lonely McDonald’s stands. The only other food available is ice cream. Now who wants ice cream at a soccer match in the winter? Budweiser is the official beer – but no one drinks Bud in South Africa. So there isn’t a lot of drinking going on. Half time is literally 15 minutes long, so the bathroom lines are insane at half time. In fact, all of the lines are insane at half time. They did have some folk walking through the stands selling beers – but they really needed a lot more.

When the match was over, we got up and headed out. I was expecting long lines and a miserable process getting out of the stadium – but it was actually painless. We basically had a nice leisurely walk out of the stadium. People were still blowing their vuvuzelas, recounting the awesome 7 goals we saw, and basically behaving like crazed fans. We did the fan walk back to the city and decided to go bar hopping for a while.  The bar hopping is actually pretty nice. Cape Town is renowned for Long street and its bar life. Add thousands of tourists to it – and it’s a bar hopper’s dream. Everywhere we went – people were clad in their national colors and flags. Since no one was drinking at the stadium – people went straight from the stadium to the bars and started loading up. There was a nice celebratory mood across all of the bars and lounges. It was nice to see all of the excitement, national pride, and patriotism, without any of the angry violent behavior that can ensue. All in all it was good times.

Emergency Landing on a Commercial Flight

I never thought I’d have an emergency landing in a plane. In fact, I never really paid any attention to those safety cards. Yes, we read them and make sure we know what’s there, but every time we get into a plane, we assume that it won’t apply to us. Well, a week ago, we were coming from Johannesburg to Cape Town and actually had to use what was in those safety cards.

For starters, we had been awake for about 3 straight days. We were catching our flight back to Cape Town in the afternoon. Our flight was delayed, because the plane couldn’t land in JHB. The plane circled for a while and was redirected to another airport to refuel. Finally the plane arrived. Once it arrived ( and 5 gate changes later) we boarded and were ready to roll out. The weather had turned horrible. A storm formed and the heavy rains started. Despite that, our flight took off. The first oddity of this flight was the fact that we actually flew low for a long time until the pilot found a hole in the clouds. Once we started ascending, a flurry of lightning crashed around the plane. Once we got above the clouds, I was convinced that the worst was over. About 40 minutes before landing, the pilot came on the speaker,” Ladies and gentlemen, we are having problems with the landing gear. We will have to prepare the cabin for an emergency landing and emergency evacuation of the plane. The crew will be coming through the cabin to brief you on the procedures and please cooperate with them.” The woman next to Peter kept asking if this was really happening. I told her “I know this is horribly philosophical, but we can’t stress over what’s happened – since we can’t change it. All we have now is to change the way we react to what’s coming next.” I’m not sure if that gave me any comfort, but it felt like a painful reality.

At this point people started seriously reacting. One woman across from us simply broke into tears. People started praying. The flight crew asked people in the emergency rows if they were still willing to open the doors. One woman simply threw her hands up and walked away from the seat. Now this is just me being pissy – but frankly speaking – shame on anyone who asks for an emergency row because they want more room but when push comes to shove, they aren’t willing to fulfill the role. The flight crew found people who were willing to open the doors and briefed them thrice on how to open them. As well as reminding them that if they saw flames or smoke, not to open that door, but to exit on the other side. The flight crew then swept through the cabin, removing all personal items and stowing all of them. They instructed us to leave all personal items. At this point, I started to realize that this was a very bad situation. Then the crew started teaching us how to do the brace position for an emergency landing. The pilot said ,”This is just precautionary, and we’ll only give the command if we need it.”

When we started descending, we noticed that this was not a normal descent. The plane was dropping so fast that our ears were popping. Suddenly the crew started shouting over and over, “Brace Brace – Put your head down! Brace Brace – Put your head down!” At this point it hit me that we might not make it through this. People were saying their final goodbyes, praying, and some just sobbing. We put our head’s down and waited to see if there would be sparks or flames or something. Fortunately we landed ok. People cheered when the plane touched down. The captain came on and said that we landed ok but our steering mechanism was shot, so we would have to be towed into the gate. Needless to say, I don’t know if I’ll ever feel comfortable on a plane again – but I NEVER want to go through an ordeal like that again.

Chapman’s Peak Drive in Cape Town

Chapman’s peak drive is some of the most scenic drives in Cape Town. It’s a blur of hair pin bends , beautiful backdrops, mountains coming out of the ocean, etc. I thought I’d share some of the pictures we took when we were there in 2006.

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Cape Town vacation

We have visited Cape Town several times over the past few years. During our visits we visited several tourist destinations in Cape Town. Some of the places we visited are Seal Island, Table Mountain, Muizenberg Beach, and The Strand Beach.

Here is a collection of photos from these visits
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