By Paul Alan Levy
Nancy and Paul woke up early on our last day in Cape Town and headed off to the Kirstenbosch Gardens while Sam and Joe enjoyed a lazy morning. The gardens enjoy a lovely spot on the slopes approaching the eastern side of Table Mountain. We could see where Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine, the recommended routes up and down the mountain from that part of the area, were located (see photo), and Paul resolved that if we ever get back to Cape Town, we should try those routes. The gardens contained an enormous variety of cycads, proteas and other distinctive South African plants (photos), as well as a small conservatory that was truly packed with rare species (see photos of cycad with an unusual flower, protea, and other plants).
We rendezvoused with the boys and headed to the City Bowl where we wanted to see the old Slave Lodge, where the Dutch East India had housed its slaves. The exhibit about slavery in Cape Town was excellent, but I was disappointed because little of the original Lodge was involved, other than the outer structure. We then had a quick lunch at Masala Dosa, a neat Indian restaurant run by an Israeli family (the sweet dosa with chocolate chili is especially recommended), then we all walked over to Green Point stadium, hoping to find some tickets we could afford. Thousands of fans joined the fan walk (photo). Our plan was for Nancy (who was looking forward to some time for herself assuming Sam, Joe and I got into the game) to play the bad cop in negotiations with scalpers but we were lucky not to have to find out if that strategy would be successful, because we found three tickets whose sellers were asking only face value.
Sam and I had excellent seats in the midfield, 25 rows off the field, beside the two people from whom we had bought our tickets, a Dallas-area Mexican-American family that had bought the Mexico TST (but part of the family had already gone home). Joe was more in the nose-bleed seats. Sam had bought an Argentine flag to drape and indeed the support in the stadium was overwhelmingly for Argentina (photos). That didn't stop Germany from running all over Argentina on the field. It was an exciting game to watch but we were sad to see the Argentine beautiful game so badly crushed - one of the local papers summarized with the headline "Blitzkrieg!" Argentine fans near us could been seen sobbing in distress - the World Cup is a big deal. As we walked back to our hotel from the game, we spotted a cutely attired pro-Argentine local family (photo). But as we got further from the stadium, most of the locals were calling "Germany, Germany" at us.
We tried to go back to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront to watch Spain play Paraguay over dinner, but the traffic was so bad that it took us over an hour to give up on driving in, park nearby and walk in only to find that all the local watching locales were completely jammed even inside the Victoria Wharf mall. So we drove back to Sea Point and feasted on seafood at a local chain. We were afraid to root for Spain (our chosen teams have not been doing very well in the single elimination rounds), and indeed the game could have gone the wrong way had the referee not made two key mistakes (calling back Paraguay's perfectly good goal by Valdez, and failing to spot the Spanish encroachment on Cardozo's missed penalty). But we were thrilled when Spain won, and will be looking forward to watching the Spain / Germany semi-final after we get back to DC.
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