Immediately on landing at Johannesburg, I am hit by a wall of “2010”. Everywhere you look there are billboards, adverts and sponsors proudly proclaiming that the World Cup is coming to Africa. There appears a real willingness among the residents to show off all the best parts of their country to the world. Everything is geared towards “Twenty-Ten”, new train lines are being hastily constructed to reduce the reliance of the car, the highways are being expanded to six lanes to cope with the increased burden they’ll have to support in June, but most of all, security is of the uppermost importance.
For the tourist, this is fantastic news, assuming your willing to pay the extra rand for the benefit. So keen is everyone to avoid the bad press that would follow any tourist trouble that you almost feel forbidden to do anything even vaguely dangerous, which includes taking public transport. So I in backpacker mode, trying to keep costs to a minimum felt obliged to take a taxi from J’burg to Pretoria for the princely sum of 350 rand (about £30), and even that had to be haggled down from 450. The very thought of me even considering any other option horrified the locals- “You can’t do that, you’ll be robbed”, they warned.
Whether this is just a veneer of concern for your wellbeing that vanishes as soon as you leave the confines of the airport remains to be seen, but certainly as first impressions go it was a positive, albeit a more expensive, one. How deep that 2010 veneer runs will be interesting to note as my African adventure meanders on…
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On another (more British) note, as my Lufthansa flight started to descend into Munich, the captain cheerily informed us that the current temperature in the Bavarian capital was -5°C! Did nooo get an agenda about that, kitted out as I was with about 4 pairs of shorts but nothing more than a light jumper on the keeping warm front.