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London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!

a travel blog by nucappy


Join me on my adventures around the world for the next 2 weeks.
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T - 5 days to go!

Chicago, United States


Welcome, welcome, welcome. If you're reading this, you've for some reason decided to live vicariously through me over the next few weeks while I'm Halfway around the world. Congrats!

As a primer for those who don't know or who've forgotten what it is we plan to do over there, we will be:

- Watching the US-England match from Stamford Bridge, home to Chelsea FC (they were the best team in England this year).
- Going on a 3-day safari in Kruger Park
- Attending the Mexico-France match
- Attending the US-Slovenia match
- Touring around Pretoria and Johannesburg
- Attending the Brazil-Ivory Coast match
- Exploring the Stellenbosch wine region of Cape Town
- Seeing the Cape of Good Hope
- Rappelling down part of Table Mountain and mountain biking down the rest
- Attending the Cameroon-Netherlands match

All that takes place over 13 days.

I will do my best to post any pictures and videos that I take along the way, provided this website allows that sort of thing.

All videos will hopefully show up here: http://www.youtube.com/user/nucappy


Pictures should be able to be posted in blog posts, as seen above.

Feel free to comment away, vent your anger at your team losing, or check in to make sure I'm still alive.

Posts may occasionally be backdated due to inability to access internet, but I will still try to write up summaries in order to have a full trip log.

Still can't believe this is happening, much less only 5 days from now.

permalink written by  nucappy on June 6, 2010 from Chicago, United States
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
tagged PreTrip, Welcome and WorldCup

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T - 4 days

Chicago, United States


The netbook has been purchased and this entry is being typed on it. It's got everything we need - an SD card slot for easy transfer of pictures to the computer, built-in wireless internet, and a 160GB hard drive to allow us to store any pictures and videos on it to free up memory card space. It's even got a webcam, which is a bonus.

If I can figure it out, I'll try to set up a ustream account so that people can see us to know that we're still ok (this is for you, Moms). I'm pretty sure it has its own chat thing too, so chances are if we do get on the horn, that it'll be sometime in the afternoon for those living stateside. I can only assume that ustream isn't Baxter-friendly, so I apologize for that.

Picked my seats tonight for our flight to Jo'burg and back to ensure that I won't be stuck next to a stranger or in the middle, which is worth $60 for almost 22 hours of total flying time, and wired away a bunch of money to the person who is generously putting us up in her condo for 3 nights to help us save money. Apparently international wire transfers take up to 10 days, which I can only assume is because they put the money in a canister and send it through a series of underwater tubes to [[South-Africa]]. So much for the 21st century.

I'll leave you tonight with a video from our time in Paris during the last World Cup. I can only expect our time at Stamford Bridge will be the same this Saturday:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW5MboUDGHc

See you tomorrow blogland.

permalink written by  nucappy on June 7, 2010 from Chicago, United States
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
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2 more days

Round Lake, United States


So I finally watched District 9 last night. Looks like I'll have to make a trip to the grocery store for some cat food before leaving.

I've been listening to South African "kwaito" music over the past few days in an attempt to find something good to listen to while we'll be driving down there. It's, well....different. It's somewhat like a combination of rap with African drum beats in the background. It's also not in English, so it makes it a bit difficult to sing along. No matter. There's also a style called "Afrikaans", but I really wasn't able to find anything I like there. I imagine we'll listen to the radio a bit and find some songs that we all like just like the last World Cup in Germany.

Less than 48 hours until the first match begins....unreal.

permalink written by  nucappy on June 9, 2010 from Round Lake, United States
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
tagged Music, Prawns and PreTrip

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Tomorrow, it begins...

Chicago, United States


Pretty unreal.

Tomorrow this thing actually kicks off. I'll be at the bar at 8:30 to watch the first game before coming home to do any final packing/cleaning items. Finally bought my US Jersey tonight, but I'm a little disappointed that the Nike store didn't have any with players names and numbers on them. Serves me right for waiting until the last moment.

I've spent all night listening to South African music and burning some CDs for our driving time. The kickoff concert for the Cup that was on earlier today introduced me to some artists I hadn't heard of before. The internet took care of the rest. Technology is great.

Speaking of technology, I may decide to do a webcam chat on a weekend afternoon or 2. If I end up doing one, you will find it at this link: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/south-africa-20101
At least, I think this will work. I really have no idea. But we'll try it out anyway!

In the meantime, here are a few more videos from the last World Cup.

First, the Wave as seen at the Spain-Tunisia game: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTivyhHetwc

And second, la piece de resistance, what the World Cup is ultimately all about - Scoring a Goal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQbfcWdY0wU

Finally, here are some more pictures from World Cup 2006:
From the France-South Korea match:


From the day of the Ghana-USA match:

From the Final....poor Zidane:

Let's get this party going!!

permalink written by  nucappy on June 10, 2010 from Chicago, United States
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
tagged PreTrip

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Here. We. Go.

Heathrow, United Kingdom


With the first World Cup game starting at 8:30 in the morning, I decided it was necessary to head to the soccer bar down the street to join in the festivities. I wasn’t the only one. Every table was full, with support divided roughly 50/50 between Mexican fans and people cheering against Mexico. In this case, that translated into cheering for South Africa. It was disappointing to see South Africa come so close to winning at the end and just missing by hitting the post, but the draw was acceptable.

Following the game, it was time to finish up all last-minute packing, dishes and laundry before heading out at 3 to go to the airport. Naturally, it would’ve been too easy to have everything go smoothly, and so we ran into the first problem of the trip before we even left. Our plan was to go to Chelsea’s stadium, Stamford Bridge, to watch the US-England match Saturday night. Well, as it turned out, the tickets, instead of being held at the stadium, were sent to Chicago. Only problem is that the post office declined to deliver them to Ryan. So Friday afternoon, as we were ready to leave, I had to try and pick them up from the post office since Ryan was leaving from work. After a 20-minute song and dance with the guy at the post office who told me he could lose his job if he gave me the tickets but that he wouldn’t necessarily not give them to me, I was able to get them and finally head off to the airport.

Between the hassle of the L, the shuttle at the airport, the process of checking bags and getting tickets, and then the security lines, we got to the gate with about 30 minutes before they closed the gate. Not too long after settling our bags down, I see a woman with 3 roller bags struggling to move them all over to a chair, followed by her yelling at…somebody. Turns out it was her husband and son, and it was merely a preview of what was to follow for the next 8 hours. These people were acting like they were at home – they didn’t quite understand how to act in public. Once we got on the plane, it was merely a matter of moments before the same commotion came into our area, and sure enough, the crazy family was sitting directly behind us. Fantastic. Carrying over from the gate area, they were unable to follow any directions from the flight attendants, dumped all of their trash under our seats, yelled at each other during the flight, kicked our seats continuously, couldn’t figure out the video system at their seats, the mother cried because her son was elbowing her yelling “This has GOT to stop!”, and so on. For 8 hours. Needless to say, I couldn’t be happier to get off the plane.

London, here we are.

permalink written by  nucappy on June 12, 2010 from Heathrow, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
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London is a series of tubes

London, United Kingdom


Our first glimpse of London outside the airport was its Underground. The Tube, as it’s known, is an incredible network of mostly underground lines crisscrossing the length and breadth of London, rivaling that of Paris and New York City. Well, at least in theory. What we were unaware of was the fact that weekends in London result in massive closures of parts of the Tube, that is, until we arrived at our transfer point to switch to the line that would take us to the hotel. Nothing starts a trip to a new foreign city off right like staring a big iron gate in the face. This would be a theme throughout the day.

Our hotel was up in the Regent Park neighborhood northwest of the downtown area. It’s a very residential area that is peaceful to walk through as it wound its way up towards the hotel. Being the one who planned out our time in London, I was eager to get going into the city to get a guided tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral, recommended to me as the best place to see all of London from above. Of course, when it comes to trips, it’s impossible to always plan everything perfectly, and people wanted to do silly things like “take a shower” or “eat food” first. And so, our first meal in the marvelous cosmopolitan international city of London was….McDonalds.

We did make it down to St. Paul’s eventually, although too late to get the guided tour. It is an absolutely beautiful place, with a towering dome covered in vast murals and the typical gold-painted, well, everything, often found in Catholic churches. Words can’t quite do it justice, however photography was not allowed, so words will have to suffice. Our main goal there was to get to the top, however, and so it was time for a bit of stair-climbing. 528 stairs to be exact, I believe. It started off easily enough, with the first 267 or so being wide, shallow stairs in a circle. That led to the whispering gallery, which is a balcony around the inside of the dome, and at which point I was yelled at for wearing my hat indoors (sorry God). The next set of stairs was considerably more narrow and more steep. This led to an outdoor area where we were able to see some of the cityscape, but with some obstructions in the way. Finally, we headed up the claustrophobic part of the stairs, where even I with my considerably, er…average, stature, had to duck to avoid smashing my head into the ceiling. At last, at the top, we had a full view of the city, albeit one in which the width of the balcony was roughly 1 person wide. It led to lots of shuffling around as we squeezed past one another in order to get our photographs before descending all the way down to the bottom. My calves think otherwise, but it was certainly worth it.

Next on the agenda was a walking tour of the city provided by London Walks, a company that will take you all over the city of London discussing a variety of specific things, such as the Beatles, Jack the Ripper, or Harry Potter. I decided we should take the highlights tour of the city, having only a day and a half to see it all. From the cathedral, it should’ve been an easy Tube ride to get to the meeting point, however, as I had mentioned above, iron gates were the theme of the day. Transfering between lines in the tube is not quite like Chicago, where you stay on the same track or maybe go upstairs to switch lines. In London, you walk. A lot. Also you go up and down stairs. In our case, we walked from one station, through a second unrelated station, and as we were headed towards our actual destination, found yet another iron gate blocking us, at which point we needed to walk the entire way back to get out of the underground. We were in a bit of a time crunch, so we grabbed the nearest cab. Our cabbie, smoking a Sherlock Holmes pipe and having teeth numbering in the single digits, got us to where we needed to be in time.

Our tour guide was a boisterous woman named Judy with the requisite dry British sense of humor. We began at the Tower of London, where we boarded a boat to take us down the Thames river towards Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. The boat was a bit late picking us up, because, as our luck would have it, today was the Queen’s birthday, and a 42-gun salute was being performed on the river, delaying all traffic. Our guide on the boat was an extremely sarcastic guy who was quick with the jokes while giving us some mostly correct facts about various buildings we passed along the way. I say mostly correct, because, as he told us, “I’m not part of a professional tour company, I’m crew on this boat, so don’t correct me on my facts because, well, I don’t care.” After disembarking, we began our walk around the Houses of Parliament and swung past Westminster Abbey, where all things royal (weddings funerals, etc) take place. We made our way around to St. James’ Park, which has a view of Buckingham Palace, then winding around to a large square where the Royal Horse Guard was being changed. Earlier in the day it had been the site of the processional surrounding the Queen’s birthday events. At last we walked up to Trafalgar Square, commemorating the battle of the same name and Admiral Nelson, who led the British troops. By this point, our legs were feeling pretty tired, and it was time to find some dinner before heading off for the US match.

We happened upon a small place that was showing the football match and had fish and chips. These were our 2 qualifications. As luck would have it, they also served Amstel Beer. Mind you, this is not Amstel Light, but regular Amstel. 4 years ago in Amsterdam on a 90+ degree day, Ryan and I had some Amstel in a bar and declared it the greatest beer ever. While the fact that it was so hot that even Budweiser would’ve tasted good probably swayed our opinion, the point is that it had been 4 years since we last had it and we were eager to try it again. The verdict: still decent beer, however, not the greatest in the world. With the required fish-n-chips meal devoured, it was gametime.

Following even more Tube difficulties, we made it to Stamford Bridge, home of the Premier League-winning Chelsea. While we had thought the stadium was going to be open with a big screen to watch the match, instead it was being shown in a suite. There were probably a few hundred people there to watch, and there may have been 3 other Americans aside from the 4 of us. Did I wear my US jersey? Yes. Did I stand up during the national anthem and turn around while holding up the crest on the jersey? Yes. Did I get roundly booed by everybody? Absolutely. As anyone who watched the match knows, the US got off to a horrible start in the 4th minute, and I feared we would be crushed. The team stiffened up and played much better after that though, and redemption came in the 40th minute at the hands of Robert Green. Lucky goal? Sure, but I’ll take it. Ending in a draw was most likely the best possible outcome of the night, as it kept the English fans from ragging on us while simultaneously preventing them from wanting to kill us had we won. Out on the streets, we were congratulated on the US’s performance and told to be safe on the streets by a guy who, in a random group of 15 people, would be selected as the man most likely to stick a knife in our side in anger. He had scraggly hair, tattoos all up and down his arms, and may have been missing a few teeth, but he was representative of the people we would see throughout the night.

Ryan and I decided to check out the bar scene following the match, expecting to see tons of people out and about, commiserating or celebrating the result. Maybe we went to the wrong part of the city, but it was decidedly quiet. We settled on a pub, had a drink, talked to a very drunk kid who spent the whole time telling us how he was going to root for the US and that England “was shit”. He repeated this many times. At that point, I was completely drained and it was time to head home.

I have to say though, that London went completely against all expectations I had in terms of soccer. I was expecting England jerseys everywhere throughout the day, people ragging on us for wearing US gear, and loads of people out drinking after the match was over. It was not to be. The most we ended up seeing were lots of car flags and one or two drunk people giving us a hard time, but mostly in jest.

More London tomorrow.


permalink written by  nucappy on June 12, 2010 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
tagged London and WorldCup

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A day to relax

London, United Kingdom


While my London agenda had been fully packed for the 2 days we were here, I failed to account for the effect of jet-lag on our desire to do and see things. We slept in, and so we missed the chance to see the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, but we did see the Horse Guard change yesterday, and it’s not like it would have been much different today. Instead, we checked out of the hotel, had them hold our bags, and went down to Hyde Park to walk around (it’s much nicer than Chicago’s Hyde Park). The park is massive, beautiful, and more like a forest than a park. Many, many trees, some open areas, and lots of wild, untamed growth.

We met up with a college friend of the girls who walked through the park with us, and took us to a place to grab some lunch. As it turned out, it was Guy Ritchie’s pub, called The Punch Bowl, and was quite nice inside. Then we saw the menu. Apparently, Sunday is “Roast Day” in London, and so the usual pub food was pushed aside in favor of rather exquisite-looking dishes with prices to match. Not wanting to just walk in and walk out again, we had a drink before heading out in search of a place with cheaper food and TVs to watch the football. We found one right near Piccadilly Circus, which is the closest thing to Times Square that London has to offer. If there is one word that describes London right now, it would be “construction”. I have to imagine it is all in preparation for the 2012 Olympics that will be held there in 2 years. It’s a bit unfortunate, as a good chunk of Piccadilly was covered in scaffolding being used for renovations along with many, many other areas around the city. I suppose perhaps this is the upside to Chicago not getting the 2016 games, although the city sure could’ve used the extra money to renovate certain things.

Following the meal, it was time to head back to the hotel to collect our things and head off to the airport, where I am currently watching Germany run circles around Australia as we await our 11-hour flight to Jo’burg.

I have to be able to get some sleep on this flight, right?


permalink written by  nucappy on June 13, 2010 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
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Pictures from London

London, United Kingdom



Welcome to London / getting on the Underground

Tower Bridge / Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in Panorama mode

The 4 of us outside Stamford Bridge before US-England

Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park / Buckingham Palace


permalink written by  nucappy on June 13, 2010 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
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Travel, travel and more travel

Johannesburg, South Africa


Alright, I’m officially sick of flying. 11 hours, very little sleep, and I think I’ve picked up a cold from all that re-circulated air. Miserable. First-class is really the only way to go when you’re flying on these long flights.

Our arrival at the airport was our first real taste of the World Cup. Everything at the airport was decked out in World Cup paraphernalia – columns, walls, people. World Cup sponsors were handing out free Coke, free chocolate, free visitor packets with ponchos. There were fans of various countries – Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mexico, USA, Netherlands – but none were as rowdy as the Chileans, who were already dressed in their jerseys, flags & hats, blowing their horns. Mind you, this was at 9am. There were a few scattered Vuvuzuelas being blown around the main atrium as we waited to pick up our tickets. Got our phone card during the wait too. After roughly 2 hours, we had our tickets, our luggage and our rental car, so it was time to head to Kruger Park and the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

So. The rental car. First off, it’s manual transmission, which eliminates me from driving it. Second, they drive on the left side of the road in South Africa. Third, we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, and so as we were driving during the middle of the day, I suddenly realized that the sun moves from east to west across the northern part of the sky instead of the southern. That threw me for a loop. We started off the trip right by missing the exit onto the first highway, so we had to circle through the airport before getting back to it. The highways are as nice as any American highway around Jo’burg, so it was quite easy travel for the first couple hours. We grabbed lunch at a Wimpy Burger, which appears to be a chain across South Africa. Eventually we made it to Nelspruit, which is a World Cup city. Due to a wrong turn, we were able to pass by the stadium, which looked quite nice, as did the rest of the city.

As we continued onward towards the park, it began to get much more local. The roads became one lane, and we started to see the locals out and about. There were signs all over the place for “High Accident Zones”, which weren’t necessarily for car-to-car interactions. People hang out on the side of the road, they walk on the side of the road, they cross the streets at any given moment. The women walk around balancing anything and everything on their heads – it is really remarkable. One woman was carrying a pizza box on her head! Many people waved as we went by. Eventually we made it out towards the park area as darkness was quickly approaching.

Things got a bit trickier once we turned off the paved roads. Each time we thought we were at our destination, we had more kilometers to go. We managed not to get lost up until the very end, when we were supposed to “follow the arrows” to the lodge. We did ok at first, until we saw a jackrabbit in the road right in front of us that started bouncing away. Eventually, it turned to the right, just beneath a sign that said “Deliveries ->”. Seeing no other signs, we went that way…and wound up at a fence. Fortunately, a staff member heard us making crazy car noises and opened up the fence so we could finally enter the lodge.

We arrived in time for dinner, which was absolutely fantastic. A full 3-course meal, with all of the lodge guests, in the round, with a fire in the middle. 5 people were from Argentina, 3 others from the US, and 2 Australians. Dinner was served earlier in the night than usual to accommodate the football match between Italy and Paraguay that was starting at 8:30. Everyone was very friendly and it was fun to be watching the match all together. Unfortunately, jet-lag caught up with us and we left at halftime.

Tomorrow, the real safari fun begins!

permalink written by  nucappy on June 14, 2010 from Johannesburg, South Africa
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
tagged Safari, SouthAfrica and WorldCup

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Pictures from Jo'burg to Idube - Day 1

Justicia, South Africa










permalink written by  nucappy on June 14, 2010 from Justicia, South Africa
from the travel blog: London and South Africa - World Cup 2010!
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