Posts tagged vuvuzela
So far, our Amateurs in Africa interview series has introduced us to Benny and Mitch and discovered some of the highs and lows of their African adventure. As we wrap up our interview this, the last part of the series, we get some advice from the Amateurs on exploring Africa and find out what they miss most about Africa, now they are back in Europe.
Back-packing through Africa to be a part of the World Cup takes some commitment. Was this your first World Cup experience and how would you rate South Africa as a host?
South Africa took our World Cup virginity and did it in a way that was not only unforgettable but totally satisfying. We loved everything about the World Cup and yes – blow your vuvuzelas!
You mentioned in Part I of our interview series that you exceeded your budget. Did you find Africans obliging when it came to accommodation, transport and the like when funds were running short?
We were running short of funds when we reached Southern and Eastern Africa but luckily it was also a lot easier to find help in these areas. We presume this is because there were just many more tourists and readers in these parts of the continent that were interacting with us.
When money was tight, we were tighter so it was street food and local transport all the way. This was always cheaper and travelling with locals was always far more exciting than when you travel with corporate companies. Eventually, we decided it wasn’t real transportation if there weren’t at least 2 live animals and 5 too many people on board. Locals were always quick to help out and point us in the right direction, which is definitely something we’re missing back in the west.
We’re sure that after 130 days in Africa, you’ll have picked up some great tips on back-packing. What advice can you share for other travellers wanting to back-pack in Africa?
If you’ve ever thought of travelling Africa or are wondering what Africa might be like, just book it, do it and experience it for yourself. We can’t recommend West Africa highly enough. There are things you can do and see here that you could only imagine elsewhere. For the most part its dirt cheap, none of your friends have been and unlike some places, you won’t be bombarded by other tourists.
We believe it’s one of the few parts of the world that is still truly original and authentic. This makes it both challenging and pretty special. Everybody thinks of South Africa and safaris when it comes to travel in Africa but we’re trying to change that and if you ask us – the West is the best. Actually, if you’re going to travel Africa, there is a great website with everything you could want to know. Yes, it’s our own website, http://www.amateursinafrica.com. We think you should check it out.
Do you have any recommendations for travellers to Africa on places to avoid or must-see places?
Avoid Nigeria and avoid Mozambique police (see Part II of this interview series).
If you miss out on Mali, Burkina Faso or Ghana, you’re dreaming. These 3 are a great mix of West Africa and are relatively easy to travel through. Cameroon, Benin and Togo are also amazing and if you venture to Mauritania you must stow away in the Iron Ore train. It’s seriously the most epic train ride in the world.
On the other side of the continent, in East Africa, Kenya is outstanding, as is Zanzibar. It’s practically paradise. We could go on forever and we haven’t even mentioned Cape Town or Timbuktu but that’s because Africa is full of great places and great people. We’ll leave the rest up to you and hope you’ll share your stories with us.
Living out of a back-pack for 130 days must leave you craving some of your creature comforts. What’s the first thing you did when you got back to “civilisation”?
Africa is home to some of the world’s oldest civilisations. In some ways, the way most Africans look out for each other and the way Africans interacted with us was far more civilised than in many other parts of the world. When we did eventually make it back to Europe the first thing we did was invite all of our mates to an Australian bar. From there you can probably guess the rest.
We’re guessing it has something to do with parties and alcohol. Now that you’re back home and out of Africa, what are you missing most about being on the road?
In terms of what we miss not being in Africa, a lot. We could start with the prices, the people and the places. It’s raining in Berlin as we speak and I know many beaches in Africa that would be heavenly right about now. Most of all we miss the resilience of the African people, the strength of African women and knowing that as you walk past someone in the street they’ll stop to ask how you are doing and offer to help you out.
It sounds like Benny and Mitch had, for the most part, a fantastic experience in Africa, and it’s good to hear that they’re already missing the continent. We hope you’ve enjoyed this three part interview series and, more importantly, we hope it’s encouraged you to investigate your own African adventure!
If you have yet to attend your first live World Cup match in South Africa, at one of our 10 stadiums, here are a few handy items you’ll want to pack in your match-day backpack:
If you can’t beat them, join them. There’s no way you’re going to beat the vuvuzelas, so you may as well head down to one of SA’s local supermarkets and pick up your own for R30 ($4). If you pay more than this (particularly in Sandton City or the V & A Waterfront), you’ve officially been ripped off. Practise blowing your own horn before you get the stadium, it can be tricker than you realise. However, if you can’t bring yourself to buy a vuvuzela for the stadium, you want to remember…
If you’ve got particularly sensitive ears or you’re going to be in one of the fully enclosed stadiums (like Soccer City or Cape Town Stadium), you might find a set of ear-plugs handy. A stadium like the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg is mostly open (only one part of the stands covered), so the noise of the vuvuzelas escapes and you can hold a conversation with relative ease. In Soccer City however, the roof over the stands serves almost as a lid which keeps the noise in, allowing it to reverberate around the stands. Don’t bother even attempting a conversation.
Coca-cola bottle tops
All drinks sold inside the stadiums are sold in plastic bottles with their lids removed. Thus, if you’re buying multiple bottles to keep you going through the match, you’re going to have to be pretty careful not to spill the 3 bottles that you’re not yet drinking from. An easy solution is to take in 3 or 4 screw bottle tops from screw-top (500ml, 1L, 2L) Coca-cola bottles or from Bonaqua mineral water bottles (the brand of soft-drinks and water sold inside the stadiums). Budweiser, the official beer of the 2010 World Cup is sold in 475ml plastic bottles, also with screw lids removed.
VISA card and cash
With VISA being the official (proud) partner of the 2010 World Cup, only VISA credit cards or cash are accepted inside the stadium grounds, so leave your Mastercards, AMEX and Diner’s Club cards at home and make sure that if your credit card is not a VISA, that you have enough cash with you. With 500ml soft drinks and waters selling for R15/bottle; Budweiser at R30/bottle; Boerewors rolls at R30 each; hotdogs at R25 each and supporter flags, shirts and paraphernalia selling for a few hundreds of rands, you’ll need a fair whack of cash to see you through the game.
Camera and video camera
Attending a live game will be a sight and sound extravaganza you won’t want to forget. Take in your camera and your video camera if you have one, and record as much as you can. SLR cameras are fine to take into the stadiums, and you can probably get away with a telephoto lens of up to about 300mm. Tripods and monopods might not be allowed past security, so it’s probably best not to even try.
If you’ve been watching any of the games on TV, you will have noticed that in the evening games, the fans are bundled up in layers, and layers, and layers of warm clothes. When the substitute players are sitting on the bench with a blanket over their legs, you know it’s winter in South Africa. That means sub-zero temperatures in the evenings and early mornings and, if you’re in Cape Town or Port Elizabeth, rain and wind. You won’t be too warm at the 4pm games with a warm jacket and at the 8-30pm games, pack your woolly hat, gloves, scarf and heavy jacket.
Pack the above into a small backpack (space under stadium seats is limited or non-existent), organise your transport to and from the game ahead of time and, above all, embrace the African World Cup experience!