Well, I’m here now. But, it was not easy. The first 15 hour flight to Dubai was not too bad. Watched some TV, a couple of movies, read a little bit, took my Ambien and slept. That was the quickest 15 hour flight I have ever been on. It is also the only one. Emirates is a great airline and the food was actually pretty good.
It was interesting that we flew over the Arctic ice caps, over Iceland and Greenland and then down over Europe to get to Dubai in the middle of summer. Dubai was hot. And, dusty. There were quite a few other soccer fans on this flight and they also had the same sadistic travel coordinator with the layover. A few of them were heading into Dubai to check out the nightlife but the prospect of a proper bed and shower proved to be too much, and I opted for sleep, shower and another meal.
Now, we were off to Johannesburg and it was much the same as the first leg: movie, reading, eating food and Ambien, and a little sleep. The flight was almost all soccer fans which was kind of cool- Brazilian, Nigerian, South African, Mexican and American fans made up the majority. Upon touch down a loud cheer went up and you could feel the excitement building. As we walked through the airport in Jo-Burg, the excitement was palpable. And audible. The Vuvuzela horns were blasted in the airport by fans and airport workers. And the enthusiasm: every worker in the airport was wearing a South African jersey and banners are everywhere. The South Africans we talk to are very hospitable and very, very proud to be hosting the World Cup to show off their country and culture.
Quick flight to Durban on a Southwest-y type airline and we were all set. The opening game was an hour away, and people were going crazy. We rented a car and had a 15 minute drive to our bed and breakfast in the north part of Durban, Umhulanga. Reminds me of Hermosa Beach, San Diego and Hawaii with a little bit of Mexico’s third world flavor thrown in. We watched the game in a little plaza and we were the only foreigners there and only people that weren’t in a yellow , Bafana Bafana(South African team nickname-the Boys) jersey. Crazy atmosphere with the horns blaring throughout and cheers going…although after the game, no one was really into the France-Uruguay game.
Today, we are heading into Durban-proper to check out the fan zones and to watch the Nigeria-Argentina game and find a spot for the USA-England game. Two more of our travelers join us today from Kruger National Park.