Day 3: Lazy Sunday
On Day 3, after getting back at 4:30 AM from the USA England game, we decided that Lazy Sunday would be necessary in order to keep going the rest of the week. We proceeded to the local mall in order to refuel at lunch with Preston, Andy, Wes, Cammy, and myself. For Luis Berga, this is the most important part of the trip as I was able to get a hold of a schwarma out here in Africa. The dream!
We then proceeded to the liquor store, where we stocked up on five 24 racks of Castle, Castle Lite, Castle Stout and some Black Label. The rest of the night, we played beer pong and baseball, introducing our South African hosts to the levels of drinking that our group is accustomed to in the States. Wes and I dominated as Team Manpri. Somehow Wes had the same 3/4 pants as myself, and the matching uniforms propelled us to several victories.
Day 4: Soccer City
Monday started with an early game of pick up soccer on the local pitch by the creek. The San Diego Crew took on the Tulsa group. However, due to sickness, Colin's lack of defense, and people still being drunk from the night before (Ben and Ryan), the SD crew dropped a 3-2 decision.
Ali, Ben, Wes, Preston, Andy, Bill, Cammy and myself headed out to Soccer City in JoBurg to watch the Netherlands take on Denmark. The stadium was amazing. Absolutely huge and a world class stadium. The Dutch ended up knocking in two crap goals and won the game, which was the deserved victory.
The Holland fans were absolutely amazing and lived up to their billing as the best national fans in the game. The best of many costumes seen throughout the day were 3-4 gentleman dressed as pilots but in all orange, complete with orange rolling suitcases. Another crowd highlight happened around the 15 minute mark when a large group of seemingly Denmark women fans stood up around the half line and starting singing. Halfway through the song, the women started stripping to reveal that they were actually Holland fans. Needless to say, everyone in the stadium forgot about the game and started watching the crowd.
Those of us that didn't go to the Netherlands-Denmark game (Colin, Pat, Mitch, Ron) figured we'd have an easy day and go to a fan park up in the Sandton area (read: upscale/business area) to watch said match. What ensued was over an hour of pointless driving, ridiculous directions, language barriers, and a complete disgust of FIFA organization.
The fan park would not allow us in the entrance we found because we didnt have a parking permit. The gate worker said to go up the road a bit, park, and walk in. There was nowhere to park. We turned around and asked a police officer what he recommended. He said we needed a parking pass and told us in very vague terms where we could find a "media center" to obtain this pass. After a couple of u-turns we managed to find this media center. Mitch and Patrick went inside while Ron guided me to a successful parallel park on the first try (recall the steering wheel is on the other side of the car).
Apparently this media center was for press pass credentials, and we left empty handed. So we went back to the same police officer and explained this to him, and he told us to go in an entirely different direction. This new direction happened to be the correct one, and when we finally approached the entrance to the fan park, we were directed by traffic cops to keep going just "a couple robots ahead." (Robots are South African for traffic lights).
This turned out to be about 6-7 robots until we found a dirt and rock parking area with about 20 of the locals offering to watch our car while we parked. We decided we'd like to keep the rental car safe, and at that point I was so incensed at the day that we packed it up and went home.
On top of the fiasco that is the City of Rustenburg, the disarray of fan park accomodations and the terrible (and vague) directions given by local South Africans (our hosts excluded, whose directions are to a tee), our group is pretty disgusted with FIFA's arrangements. Not to mention that many of the less-than-marquee games are being shown around the world with thousands of empty seats, often times because they are in such inaccessible locations (Rustenburg, Bloemfontein, Polokwane, Nelspruit) that most of the fans are locals, and most of those locals cannot afford the VERY expensive tickets.
But I digress.
We finished off the night by going to the "Italian Club of Johannesburg" (shoutout to Nic DiLoretta) at the recommendation of our hosts. This was one of the better choices our group has made so far, with a small but packed fan park (a few thousand people) watching Italy-Paraguay. Prior to the match, Ryan was able to get a shoutout for our group and a special request for Miley Cyrus, "Party in the USA." This made 15 out of 4,000 people happy. Unfortunately a few unnamed individuals complained about being cold, and we left at halftime....
Much of the group will be in Cape Town tomorrow, so Ryan can tell you about their adventures there. The rest of us (Colin, Bill, Ben, Ron, Allie) will be hanging out in Johannesburg.