Three months from now you’ll either be enduring or enjoying throngs of screaming, sweating, nationalistic soccer fans singing out of tune. You’re either going to be a part of or balking at fights over penalty kicks and blind referees. How could you forget… three months from now, you’ll be in South Africa for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, whether you want to be or not.
For steadfast soccer (or football) fans, this jaunt to the southern-most point of the African continent means soccer matches uninterrupted except by screams of national pride. Then there are the innocent travel companions for whom the name Messi means nothing. Whichever category fits you and your level of enthusiasm best, there will come a time when the nearest match is, say, between Japan and Cameroon and you’ll decide that instead of hunting down cheap beers and pizza, it’s time to explore the cultural and culinary landscape of this diverse, vast, and gorgeous country.
When you decide to venture away from foods in which grease is the main component, you’ll be met with a vast array of international cuisines. In Cape Town, make your way to 95 Keerom, one of the city’s most time-tested restaurants for impossibly chic atmosphere and delicious Italian fare. Drink away your team’s losses at From Cape To Cuba or Polana bar. If you only have one lunch outside the stadium, take in the view of the ocean at the Twelve Apostles Hotel – unforgettable.
Cape Town – For the ultimate in luxury, book yourself a room at Cape Grace Hotel situated on the waterfront. From the moment you check-in, it seems the entire staff knows your name. The Mount Nelson Hotel is likewise, shockingly luxurious and beautiful with much more of an countryside feel. Other boutique hotels to check into are modern Kensington Place and the gorgeous Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa.
Find Panama hats, antiques, and bohemian boutiques while shopping along the beach in Kalk Bay. Hit the Victoria and Albert Waterfront for a shopping mall featuring local brands and labels you’ll recognize, oceanside dining, and street performers. Don’t miss the De Waterkant area – filled with shops that have nothing to do with malls. If you’re adept at bargaining, hit Long Street for local artisan wares and street vendors.
Just a small sojourn from Cape Town, you’ll find serenity in the wine-soaked hillsides of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Make a stop at Webersburg Winery in Stellenbosch or La Petite Ferme in Franschhoek. It’s also well worth the trip to see the penguins just chilling on the sand at Boulders Beach. If you’ve got a green thumb and a passion for flowers, don’t leave the country without a stop at the Kirstenbosch Gardens. It may be filled with tourists, but taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain is where you’ll find the most stunning view in Cape Town.