On Saturday I decided to take in some of the World Cup atmosphere by watching some soccer at the MTN Fan Zone at Montecasino. With it being a bit chilly we decided to watch the 1.30pm game between the Netherlands and Japan before heading into the warmer Gourmet Garage for a meal and the 2nd game between Ghana and Australia.
The MTN Fan Zone is reasonably priced. Entrance is R50 and the price includes a free drink and beef/chicken/pork roll. You also get a soccer ball shaped hat, which keeps the sun out your eyes and alienates your girlfriend if you wear it outside of the fan zone. Alcoholic beverages (which go incredibly well with soccer) are R20. Beef/chicken/pork rolls cost the same. When you consider that at stadiums revellers are being charged R30 for one beer and even more for a 100g packet of biltong, the Montcasino offering is awesome value.
The merchandising stand is also reasonable by comparison. A store inside the casino charged foreign guests over R300 for two vuvuzelas, which could be bought at the official merchandise stand for R40. I can understand people wanting to use the World Cup to make some money, but it is totally unacceptable that visitors should be ripped off. What will they think of us when they go home? That South Africa is an over-priced place to holiday in the future.
There were food and drink stations round the fan zone, so even when it did get busy you never had to stand in queues. If I want to waste time in queues willing myself to die I will go to Home Affairs. The speedy service at the fan zone was welcomed. The drinks were cold, the food was warm, the security was tight but polite. There was also entertainment between games. There seems to be a pretty decent line-up of performers throughout the tournament.
The atmosphere was great. The Dutch fans (some of them sporting the short Bavaria Brewery dresses that irked FIFA) were in full force and cheering loudly for their national team. I was, however, humiliated by a young boy who seemed to have a better grasp of vuvuzela blowing than me. Do you have any idea how much it dents your ego when you are out-vuvuzela’d by a ten year old? I wanted to mute his by stuffing it with a sock but his rather large dad seemed to be on to my plan and gave me the beady eye. Also, the thought of wondering around with one sock for the rest of the day would have been more humiliating than my poor vuvuzela blowing.
- The MTN Fan Zone at Montecasino fills up quickly – book in advance.
- Arrive early if you want to get a good seat. This applies to any viewing area, from a fan zone to the local pub.
- Check out prices where you can – there are bound to be unscrupulous types who hike prices unreasonably. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t mind people trying to make a quick buck but if my local pub trebles prices for the World Cup I will be forced to find another local.
- It was good to see people not trumpeting away and making noise during National Anthems. Let’s keep it that way.
- It may seem like strange advice, but take sunblock and warm clothes for outdoor viewing areas. A few folks burned during the mid-day game and I have no doubt that those in short skirts would have frozen as the sun set. I certainly did. Not that I was wearing a short ski…er…nevermind.
- Be sure to see what other entertainment is on offer between games.
- Practice blowing a vuvuzela. It’s not as easy as it looks.
- Don’t sit near kids who look like they have mastered the art of using a vuvuzela. Unless you think you can cunningly sabotage their efforts without being pummelled by their gorilla sized dad.