Gautrain Bus: The Calm Before the Tempest

July 1

Drove from Elna’s to the airport this morning to return our car to Tempest. The guy inspected the car and gave us a good to go, so we headed off to the Gautrain. On our walk through the airport we stopped by several shops to see if there were any sales on World Cup memorabilia. A few had French and Italian apparel on sale, but that was about it. I guess we have to wait until July 12 for the real sales.
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Our Preparation for the World Cup Second Round

Another fine night’s rest at another splendid B&B (based on the pricing of backpackers and B&Bs, the outrageous exploitation of the backpackers means the difference in cost is less than normal, and the amenities and hospitality at the Afrikaner B&Bs have been top notch). We were up early as we had to return the car to OR Tambo as our booking had run its course. However, with our change in venues for the Round of 16 match for the US match, we now needed another car as public transportation would not be feasible for getting to Rustenburg. After experiencing the organization of Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, and the stadium in Bloemfontein, it made much more sense to us when South Africans refer to Rustenburg as a small town. I wonder how games at Polokwane and Nelspriut were taken in as they are both small towns compared to the big cities of Durban, Cape Town, and Joburg. However, both of those towns had brand new stadiums, and looking at the layout of the security on our booklet from FIFA with our tickets, it looks like the design makes much more sense in terms of getting in and out. Rustenburg has hosted four more matches since England and the United States opened up on the second day of the tournament, thus hopefully they will have gotten their act together, as making the front page of a national newspaper for having fans walk 3k+ (like we did) to get transport must have not gone down well with organizers.
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Underwhelming ticket sales? Not when it comes to finding Accommodation

Finally had time to start booking accommodation today. I immediately regretted taking nearly two months to start looking. I was definitely not expecting such long term planning by those who had partaken in the ticket process. For months, I had heard anecdotes of people who had turned back tickets or who did not know how they would get to South Africa. This definitely lulled me into false sense of having no urgency in booking places to stay.

That sense was reset today as Alisa and I went down the list of backpackers and hostels and Bed & Breakfasts in the areas located near in the host cities (Rustenburg, Joburg, Bloemfontein, and Pretoria). Granted it was only one day, and I have been able to map out our first 10 days, it is no where near as affordable as we had once thought. I had figured 50 USD per day including food, but we are looking are more like R450 (60 bucks) only on lodging. This is going to significantly impact our budge, but seeing as its only a 16 day stretch that we need to be near match locations, hopefully we can balance it out by staying at some lower end places later on our trip. Many of the more affordable places were predicably already booked, so we’re having to go more midrange, but even that doesn’t help considering most places are raising their rates by 400%. I knew rates would be higher than when we were there in 2007, but this is quite the extreme. We can only hope that rates will come back down once the world leaves ZA in mid July.

In more uplifting news, we got a great rate on a car for a 15 day period between the 10th and the 25th. We went through Tempest Car Hire, who far and away had the best rates. Seeing as Alisa, nor I, have much experience driving with an automatic (our ‘privileged’ upbringing playing a part), we decided to simply stick with an automatic, and we were able to secure a Toyota Corrolla (or like model) for less than 1,000 USD for that period (R6300 to be exact). A significant amount of coin, but this is the most critical period for getting around, and not making it to a match because of transportation delays would simply make any money we saved worthless in the end. If you’re looking for a car hire in South Africa, definitely check those guys out. We looked at Avis, Thrifty, Aroundabout, Budget (who require international drivers licences), Imperial/Europcar, Kenning, Kulula, and 1First. Europcar was the closest by R500.

We’ll be sure to let you know the service and support that they offer for their discounted rates.

Hopefully tomorrow will see finalizations on the lodging part as Alisa and I are waiting for South Africans to wake up right about now and start writing us back….