A Travellerspoint blog

Day 9

Nelspruit - NZ vs Italy

sunny 22 °C
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Sixhour coach ride from Pretoria to Nelspruit. Great to be back in the countryside. A bit like home but also areas like the Pilbarra area in topography and colour - just more grass. Beautiful day -about 21C sitting in the stadium. Expect it to get much cooler when the sun goes down. Greatnew stadium here - much like our Olympic stadiu
constructions - easier to get in and out of unlike some of the older grounds.

Posted by grobarry 06:07 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

Day 8

Soweto Tour

sunny 18 °C
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Back on the coach to again travel back through Jo'burg, past Soccer City Stadium and on to Soweto. Drove through the streets of Soweto and experienced the contrasts of the squatter settlements and shaties (which still exist without power and water) and the quite urban areas with sealed roads etc. Mind you many of the houses are actually three houses in one numbered A, B and C in which three families live within three rooms (main bedroom, second bedroom and kitchen). For this the people pay up to 3000RND per month. Others have four rooms including a dining room for which they pay up to 5000Rnd per month.
Our tour guide described how she had been raised in a four room house. Her parents had one bedroom, she and her two sisters had the other bedroom and her four brothers slept in the dining room. That was until one of the brothers married and brought his wife in to take the girls room; they moved into the dining room and the boys other boys slept in the kitchen.

We visited the houses where Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu grew up. Walked down the street the the students from West Orlando High School marched on the fateful day and visited the Hector Petersen Memorial. Again a very well done museum with just too much information for a quick visit. Incongruously we then drove a couple blocks through more of the "middle class" sections of the city to have lunch at a bar/restaurant over the road from a primary school.

A very challenging day for me; there is no doubt that the freedom of the people from oppression is priceless but if things are better now than they were in 1976 I shudder to think what it must have been like in the shanty towns. I cannot understand how thinking adults can continue to have children in the numbers they do to live in such squalor. At the same time they have a pride that I do not see in our Aboriginal people. Everywhere you look there are people trying to turn a rand or two. Produce and curio stalls, second hand and new clothing stalls, hairdressing "tents", welding and mechanic shops appear on the side of the roads or inside house yards. With unemployment at 80%there are plenty of unoccupied people on the streets.

The kids are all on holidays for the World Cup and they are quite expert at tugging the heart strings. On the other hand we have had very little overt begging for money - even in Soweto.

Game day tomorrow!!!! Pray to your god for a miracle.

Posted by grobarry 10:20 Archived in South Africa Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

Days 6 and 7

Pretoria

sunny 17 °C
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Flew back to Jo'burg from Victoria Falls. There was a problem with a burst water main (apparently) so we were not able to book into the "very classy" hotel in Pretoria that had been booked for us and finished up in a very interesting hotel on the outskirts of Jo'burg. The place hada very British name "The St. George Hotel" but was very Grecian in all other respects. It was a very large hotel/conference centre on the top of a hill and must have covered half an acre. Big wide corridors, ball rooms decorated like they were ready for wedding receptions and all buildings finished with cement render and painted white or blue. Columns and marble mosaic pathways. Wings and restaurants all had greek names such as Doric, Dorian, Santorini, Mykonos. We went looking for the Elgin marbles but it was too cold to be outside too long. Had very eclectic group names on the tables with visitors from Rwanda and Mexico. Bars appeared in all sorts of places and were full of the most amazing memorabilia. all the staff were of course African - just to complete the universal appeal of the place. It was undergoing renovations and rooms were about half star standard but warm and beds were comfortable.
The next day became a travelling day as we were in the middle of nowhere. Put opur bags on the caoch and drove across the other side of town to the Apartheid Museum. We could only visit the museum for about two hours before it was time to hop on the shuttle bus to the game venue for the Argentina vs Sth Korean game at Soccer City Pretoria.
The museum is very well done with video, audio and written record displays fo the history of SA in relation to the development of apartheid and the rise of the ANC. You could probably spend six hours in there if you wished to do all aspects of the story justice.

We were pleased that it only took us 50 minutes from the time we hopped on the shuttle to be in our seats. Much better crowd management than at Durban. The game was very special as you probably saw on television. While Argentina were fairly dominant they did loet the Koreansback into in the second half before closing it out. Messie was spectacular every time he touched the ball. Mind you there were times when he looked like he was out for a stroll in the park.

Out of the ground pretty quickly and then back onto the caoch for a trip back across Jo'burg to our new hotel in Pretoria called the Manhattan Hotel - very nice!! Looking forward to our three nights here.

Posted by grobarry 09:52 Archived in South Africa Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Day 5 Victoria Falls

Walking with Lions

sunny 25 °C
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Walking tour along Zimbabwean side of Victoria Falls this morning. Fairly easy walk of about 2.5 kilometres on pretty flat terrain. Some 72 steps at Devil's cataract. Falls are quite amazing geographically. The river above is wide (about 1.7Km) and relatively shallow; it falls over six cataracts into a single gorge. which is no more than 50 metres wide and runs parallel to the falls. The river than zig zags off to the South.
The spray and mist from the falls has created a low tropical rainforest along the Zimbabwean side in what is I imagine generally a mediterranean climate.

Then had 15 minute helicopter ride over the top to get a really good perspective.

Quick bite of lunch and then off to the outskirts for the Lion Experience. Spent about two hours with four lions and their handlers. Two 13 month old males Jabari and Jelani and then two 7 month old males Mvuthu and Monde. They are part of a program here and across in Zambia designed to prevent the extinction of lions. Population of these magnificent animals has fallen over 80% in the last five years or so. The cubs are very tame and it is really a tourist promotion to get money to support the real work of the group. Program has only been running for three years so unknown how successful it might be. Still fun to be so close to these big cats.

Boma Dinner with Kudu, Warthog steaks, crocodile tail and buffalo spare ribs. Chef's challenge to eat a Mopani worm was accepted by everyone in our group.

Posted by grobarry 01:04 Archived in Zimbabwe Comments (1)

Day 4 Victoria Falls

Walking with Lions

sunny 25 °C
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Flew into Victoria Falls from Durban via Jo'Burg (again). Welcomed at customs with the news that despite what we had been told, we would have to pay $45.00 USD before we could enter the country - just another example of redistribution of wealth in practise. Transported to The Kingdom Hotel and Casino. Not bad - opened by Mr Mugabe in 2005. Sort of Las Vegas back street tacky but comfortable. Service and food great. No one in the casino because no one has any money to spend.
Sunset cruise on the Zambesi River up stream from the falls. Hippos, elephants and birdlife visible on banks.

Posted by grobarry 00:54 Archived in South Africa Comments (0)

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