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Tuesday, November 10, 2009
ESPNsoccernet: February 24, 10:24 PM UK
Green Point Stadium

Nick Bidwell

Name Cape Town Stadium
Year completed 2009
Cost US$330,000,000
Capacity 68,000 (13,000 temporary)
Home to To be confirmed
Trivia During the planning stage, it was referred to by some as the African Renaissance Stadium and was then called the Green Point Stadium. The 37,000 sq m roof weighs 4,500 tons

The Cape Town Stadium, one of several venues built specially for the World Cup, has not had an easy birth. From the off, the project was mired in controversy, with protests that it was located in a predominantly white part of the city, and work was delayed several times by strikes over low wages paid to builders. Nevertheless, it was completed well ahead of schedule.

The stadium itself is touted by the hosts as one the most modern in the world, with the centrepiece a retractable glass roof that allows more natural light onto the pitch, and 360 inner spotlights. The fašade is made of stretched fibre-glass mesh, and the entire venue adheres to strict green conditions regarding reusability of resources and light pollution. It will be surrounded by a 60-hectare urban park.

Cape Town Stadium will host five first-round matches, one second-round game, one quarter-final and one semi-final.

Where to go, what to see

It's little wonder that Cape Town, or 'The Mother City' as it is known locally, is the most visited tourist destination in all of Africa.

Located on the Cape Peninsula mountain range, at the heart of which is the iconic Table Mountain, this fascinating city benefits from some stunning sights. With inviting sandy beaches, attractive forests and vineyards in its hinterland, it is an appealing architectural mix of the old and the new, featuring great food and a buzzing nightlife to ensure there is something for everyone in Cape Town.

Throw in eight games of top-level international football and you have something close to nirvana, but there is just one snag: the weather. For most of the year, this city is bathed in a Mediterranean-like climate, but June and July are slap-bang in the Capetonian winter, with precipitation on a par with Manchester and temperatures hovering between highs of 18 degrees Centigrade and chilly lows of seven. Hardly Scott of the Antarctic conditions, but the sunscreen is generally redundant.

Even without the feast of football on offer at the 19th World Cup finals, this multi-ethnic conurbation of 2.95 million would be worth getting to know for the wide range of culinary goodies alone.

Inevitably, given its proximity to the ocean, the seafood is top-notch, with the prawns, oysters, crayfish and snoek (a mackerel that has worked out) especially good. You'll find hearty Afrikaner fare such as spicy Boerewors sausage, spicy peri-peri chicken, dried beef and venison - not to mention the local Cape Malay specialities that successfully marry Asian and Dutch influences: 'bredies' (stews of meat and fish with vegetables), 'sosaties' (a Cape kebab) and the delicious semi-sweet Indonesian curries are all worth a try.

Whatever you choose to satisfy those hunger pangs, it is hard to go wrong in Cape Town. The quality of the dishes and service invariably leaves nothing to be desired and, in contrast to the prices demanded in Europe and North America, it's freebie time. Expect to pay around 50 rand ($7) for a main course at an inexpensive eatery.

An excellent place to seek out a meal is the Victoria and Albert Waterfront to the north of town, the revitalised harbour area comprising shopping malls, an outstanding aquarium and an abundance of restaurants and bars. Cynics might dub it a tourist trap, but for wonderful meals and a picture-postcard view, it takes some beating. Check out the fantastic sushi at Willoughby & Co on the lower level of Victoria Wharf or the classy, innovative Emily's, where the mussels and rainbow trout will have you coming back for more.

The Waterfront is plain-sailing to reach. Golden Arrow city buses frequently take you there from outside the train station on Adderley Street and the City Sightseeing Bus begins its circuit at the V&A Waterfront, which is also the departure point for ferries to Robben Island, the maximum security prison where Rainbow Nation founding father Nelson Mandela spent 18 long years in captivity.

For Cape Malay cuisine, head for Noon Gun Tearoom and Restaurant on Signal Hill in the Bo-Kaap district, while an authentic taste of this continent can be savoured at the extremely-popular Africa Cafe on Shortmarket Street in the central City Bowl quarter - and be aware that their second, third and fourth helpings come at no extra cost.

In the Sea Point district on the Atlantic Seaboard, Posticino is a welcoming and high quality pizzeria, while Nelson's Eye on Hof Street in the Gardens quarter is a great straight-down-the-line steak house. Huge T-bones and sirloin and large piles of veg are guaranteed.

Those who want to put together a DIY meal and have no problem with cash-flow should peruse the excellent Melissa's chain of delis (notably at the Waterfront and in fashionable Kloof Street). Budget picnickers, on the other hand, need supermarkets such as Pick 'n' Pay or Checkers. Both are found at the Victotria Wharf and the Gardens shopping mall.

What better to accompany your meal than a glass or two of locally-produced wine? The city is within striking distance of some 200 distinguished Cape wineries and their bottled elixir rightly stands comparison with the very best from France or Australia - and doesn't break the bank, either. The whites (chenin blanc, chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc) always hit the spot, while the signature grape of the region is the robust, fruity Pinotage.

An out-of-town wine tasting excursion is a must and a number of companies organise tours to the nearby towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl or Franschhoek. One of the best is the full-day outing laid on by Bruce Story at African Story.

In front of the City Hall, the Grand Parade, once a military parade ground, will be the venue for the city's Fan Park, the place to go for public viewing, food and drink concessions, art and craft stalls and all manner of other events. Another supporter park will be set up at the Bellville Velodrome, an indoor sporting arena in the Northern Suburbs that is a 25-minute drive from CT on the N1 freeway. A Fan Mile will run from the train station through Riebeeck Street and Somerset Road to the magnificent brand-new World Cup venue, the Cape Town Stadium.

The partying will be equally hard and fast in other parts of Cape Town, especially in the watering holes of the entertainment hub that is Long Street and the beach bars at Camps Bay on the Atlantic coast. Try the laidback Neighbourhood Restaurant, Bar & Lounge on Long Street or the Dizzy Jazz Cafe on Camps Bay Drive, a five-star venue for live music. However, be warned - the most-popular local beer, Castle, has plenty of kick.

A couple of up-field punts from the Atlantic shoreline and you will find the 68,000 Green Point arena, which is nothing short of an architectural marvel and probably the most striking of all the South African World Cup grounds. With its shimmering glass-fibre membrane, it is sure to provide the signature image of the tournament. It is in close proximity to the Waterfront, just a ten-minute walk away. Shuttle buses connect the train station, Waterfront and Grand Parade with the stadium.

Independent travellers determined to make the most of their World Cup experience and get out and about will no doubt want to hire a car and this option is good value at $42 a day. Avis, Budget and Hertz all have desks at the airport and the journey to the city centre along the N2 freeway will take around 20 minutes. A non-shared taxi from airport to town will set you back $27.50.

Buses are an option, too. The main station is found between the Golden Acre shopping centre and the Grand Parade. The services to the Waterfront and to the western coast (Sea Point) are the most frequent and reliable. Single tickets, bought from the driver, will cost you around 66c to $1.10.

A cheap and fast way of getting around the city is a minibus taxi, which can hold up to 16 people. Privately-run, they can be hailed on the street or boarded at the taxi rank of the railway station. There are two drawbacks: they can be incredibly crowded and some drivers tend to adopt the reckless, stock car approach. Enjoy the ride!

Before you leave, make sure you climb Table Mountain, the 1,087-metre flat-topped massif that dominates the city. Serious hikers love it but, should you want a less energetic ascent, there's the cableway, with cars departing the station on Tafelberg Road every 20 minutes from 8.30am to 7pm. An adult return costs $20, a child travels for $10.50. Incredible views are guaranteed from the revolving car and at the summit.

Memories of Cape Town to last a lifetime.

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