07.07.2010 - 10.07.2010
The Semi-finals had been pretty good as semi's go, and the result was that we would have a new winner's name on the trophy – the 8th nation to do so and in addition, either Spain or the Netherlands would become the first European team to ever win the World Cup outside of the European continent . Within minutes of the second semi ending, I had received the offer to beat all offers: A free ticket to the final, with full hospitality and VIP privilege. On the open market, it would have been several thousand USD, but sometimes, being owed a large favour can get you the most amazing opportunities. I agonised over it, but in the end had to accept that logistically I just could not do it. It was absolutely gutting. Under my originally plan and cargo ship, yes. But my changed plans mean't my stay in South Africa was going to end the same way as it started: truncated, and frustratingly missing out on a potentially wonderful experience. It pretty much summed up my trip, and led me to wish again for the freedom of years past.
But I had no choice, and reluctantly had to turn it down. Besides, it will be a terrible game – finals almost always are. And hopefully when the favour is finally paid back, it will be in an even better way than this!
With that decided, and also taking the decision not to get a ticket to the 3rd place game (which was possible and would just about have been logistically feasible), I headed off for a couple of days. I had ended up with a car – a really sh1tty car - for 3 days, which always felt liable to break, but somehow survived almost 1000km, and allowed me to fill in a couple more gaps of places that I wanted to see. Thus I took in Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope, the South-Westerly most point in Africa, before going back to Hermanus to whale-watch. I then had a pleasant day wandering through the mountains and ending up in the Cedarberg, an area I had driven through on day 1 and liked the look of. At that, the traditional Cape winter had suddenly kicked in, leaving me with a final day of rain storms, thick fog on the mountain passes and a much chillier temperature whilst I wandered around St. Helena Bay (somewhere I had wanted to come based on the name alone) and slowly made my way back down the West coast to Cape Town.
Looking out from underneath the old Cape Point lighthouse to the new one, much lower down, and thus less prone to being covered by the regular thick sea fog that decends. The low layer of mist (not particularly obvious in this photo) gave the cliffs on the far side of the bay a strange and beautiful ethereal quality, and almost looked like a painting out of a fantasy novel as opposed to a real life view
With that behind me, I reflected on the fact that I had at least managed to see pretty much everything that I had missed last year, but had wanted to see. My time here is shortly at an end, and that will require another large mental readjustment. Europe is apparently in the grip of a long term heatwave, a not unexpected development given my record: Every summer I am away from Europe, it is hot and glorious. Every time I am there, it is, erm, very definitely not. And I'm sure it will end a few days before I arrive. But before that, there is still small matter of the World Cup final. Sure, sadly, I won't be in Soccer City, but Cape Town is rarely a bad place to be, and even though I am predicting a dire game, I can't wait.