48 hours of fun?

2010-03-17 12:30

Robyn Von Geusau

So there you are just gaining speed on the N2, windscreen wipers whipping left and right, when you spot them. A herd of Dutch tourists, fortunately very visible in their distinctive bright orange soccer supporters' gear, trudging along the emergency lane. You are used to bergies with trolleys but not tourists with brolleys.

While fairly outrageous traffic scenarios are a daily occurrence on this extraordinarily busy stretch of Western Cape highway this is definitely out of the ordinary. You deftly gather your wits and engage taxi-driver bravado: cut across three manic lanes and pull over to a grinding halt.

"Goedemorgen!" they bellow good-naturedly in unison. Turns out they are strangers in a strange land, merely following the official FIFA website's advice to World Cup tourists. Wanting to get as much out of their short time here as they chased their team cross-country, they had clicked on the "48 Hours in..." under the "Host Cities" link.

Here's how Fifa suggest they start their 48-hour sojourn in the Mother City:
"In the morning, it's worth taking a walk to Century City and Canal Walk Shopping for a Cape Town shopping experience..." Now, for those in the know, don't knock yourself out as you fall about laughing. For those initiates into the Cape Town mall landscape know this: Canal Walk is situated alongside one of the busiest highways in the province, if not country.

Let's say you are staying in the vicinity of the glorious Cape Town stadium (which as we go to print is being prettied up with the brightest of purple flowers). You decide to kickstart your day, on the advice of FIFA, with a stroll to Canal Walk. It will take you about 45 minutes to negotiate your way to the start of the N1. If you have got this far well and good - it means you have survival instincts, are tenacious, enjoy shopping and have excellent road sense. Now give yourself another two hours to get to Canal Walk. Bear in mind you have to skirt around the harbour and cross several off-ramps and remember to keep whipping your head around to keep an eye on those taxis that make liberal and illegal - though who would have thought? - use of the emergency lane.

Tiring tours

Once there you better make quick work of your shopping in this supersize-mall, because FIFA has loads more planned before you head to an evening in Long and Loop streets, the hub of Cape Town nightlife.

They suggest that post-shopping you treat yourself to a ferry ride to Robben Island (now "treat" is not the word that springs to mind considering the current damning state of our ferries) followed by a trip up Table Mountain after which, gasp, you can finish the first 24 hours at Bang Bang Club in Loop St.

Sleep tight because the second day involves taking in a clutch of townships, starting at Langa for breakfast, Gugulethu for lunch, onto Khayelithsa and finishing off "at the famous Cape Flats". Let's hope they get some clarity on just where to go in the Flats as they stretch from Mitchell's Plain to Elsie's River and beyond, a fair stretch of land...

The Swiss and Japanese contingent of tourists in Durban should also make sure they take a good few slugs of an energy drink on waking. The website cheerily mentions, with no hint at irony, that: "Travel tips are important to guide you whenever you are in unfamiliar territory." Yes. Quite.

So, here we go, big breath, tally-ho and all that: "Day two should be more fun and should include adventure. After breakfast, make your way outside the city. If it's an African adventure you're after, Durban is within driving distance of an array of attractions. Just an hour away, Shakaland offers you the chance to learn more about the culture and history of the Zulu nation, one of the most famous African tribes in the world. Interested to learn more about the Zulu history? Then make your way to some of the famous battlefields, such as Isandlwana and Rourke's Drift, names that live on from the Anglo-Zulu War as testimony to amazing feats of courage, while those interested in the Boer War can visit Ladysmith, Spionkop, Colenso and other sites.

"Then the afternoon should be dedicated to more adventure. And, there is no better place for that than the Drakensberg or uKhahlamba, as it is known by the Zulu-speaking people from Durban. As the night dawns, make your way back to near township like uMlazi and look for the nearest "sheeben" or a "tarven" where you will spend your evening.

Now, let's not even mention the spelling of the drinking establishments. I am more concerned about the utter exhaustion facing these poor folk as they dart between Durban/Rourke's Drift/the Drakensberg/Umlazi, a round trip of a good many hours, with precious little left for sightseeing, hiking or imbibing.

Trying to help

It would probably be a good idea for them to head to Polokwane for a rest. After all, the activities suggested are a whole lot more restful. A visit to the city centre malls for breakfast followed by a trip to "the calm Lakde Fundudzi and the Thathe Vondo Forest". (Lakde? Lake surely?). After the calmness you can take a drive north to rural villages nearby to experience the Venda culture. And then it gets a bit complicated: "As night dawns, make your way down to the Meropa Casino and Entertainment World which is situated only five kilometres away from the city."  Now is that sunrise or sunset? At which stage precisely does sunrise dawn?

I could go on and on, from city to city, but frankly I am now exhausted by the very thought of it.

I really don't mean to be picky. But truly, I have tried to be of help. I have spoken to someone in the marketing department who curtly moved me on to someone else whose voicemail refused to let me leave a message. I then waited for a month while the world was merrily festive over the Christmas (are we still allowed to say that?) season. And then I tried again. And tried. A FIFA contact gave my details to three people in the communication and online departments. That was about five weeks ago.

And still this nonsense remains online. I'm thinking that tourist information was provided by the various host cities to A lot of it got lost in translation. Let's hope that's all that gets lost and that FIFA itself is not responsible for tourists literally wandering the highways and byways of this lovely land in search of their 48 Hours of Fun.

Send your comments to Robyn

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  • Donald Paul - 2010-03-17 14:35

    Wonderful piece, Robyn. The website info is Kafka rendered by Monty Python. With al their marketing millions, they still think it can be done on the cheap.
    Ho hum. But what a laugh it affords.

  • Babs - 2010-03-17 14:54

    Ha ha ha - o my word!!! We are all in for a very interesting time over June & July. I would think that the likes of SATSA should be involved in this to help send the right information to tourists. Have you tried contacting them for assistance?

  • Robyn - 2010-03-17 16:25

    Babs, I didn't think I needed assistance, but rather Fifa. I tried to get hold of the relevant people there but after complete lack of response from them I thought: "what the heck..."

  • RB - 2010-03-17 16:45

    FIFA; SATSA - Do something about this! It is YOUR responsibility to give accurate information to our Guests during the SWC. We don't want frustrated tourists! We want happy soccer supporters on our shores... ecourage them to visit the nearby attractions on the days surrounding the match, and then spend some time enjoying the further attractions at leisure. Are FIFA dumb, or what?

  • bev - 2010-03-17 19:30

    I think the tourists will be "Lost in Translation" I was hard pushed to follow the directions/instructions! Did Cape Town Tourism not help with info? If they did it is appalling. Poor soccer saps.

  • RobinUSA - 2010-03-18 03:32

    Just read through the 48 hours in Durban - it ends with the comment "....township like uMlazi and look for the nearest ‘sheeben' or a ‘tarven' where you will spend your evening."

    JaWellNoFine - just wondering what the next days headlines will say!!!

  • Dave - 2010-03-18 06:41

    "Finish off the evening at a shebeen in Umlazi".....Ya right. Have fun.

  • Susan Hayden - 2010-03-18 08:52

    Hilarious, Robyn! Laughed out loud many times. Well written!

  • claren - 2010-03-18 13:53

    Why'Why'Why' must you go and pick on Dutch Tourists. ??? Why can it not rather be the silly British walking in the rain !!

  • Jetgirl - 2010-03-18 15:30

    I think the info was cut-and-pasted directly from random travel sites on the internet. Am utterly without words...

  • Guy McLaren - 2010-03-19 06:46

    I wrote about this in December

    The Mpumalanga directions are scary. You can just choose a camping site in the Kruger

  • Nan Green - 2010-03-20 15:11

    What we need now is Zapiro to get in on the act.

  • peter frost - 2010-03-23 20:24

    The good folk at Touchline (me) are, as we speak, trying to get Dutch tourists off the verge. Look out for the guide soon...

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