World Cup Football 2010: A new South Africa ready to welcome World Cup

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World Cup Football 2010: A new South Africa ready to welcome World Cup
South Africa has undergone many changes over the past decades, changes that have brought it to the point of hosting one of the world’s largest events in the shape of FIFA World Cup 2010.
Of the cities hosting matches, none symbolizes the nation's transformation more vividly than Johannesburg, where battleground slums are becoming historical and cultural landmarks, and Cape Town, where jaw-dropping beauty is finally emerging from the long shadow of unspeakable cruelty.
Johannesburg, South Africa's bustling cultural and business engine, and Cape Town, with its gorgeous playground by the sea are both very different in their own rights. Yet both cities radiate an air of hope; even as troubles continue in a country that is overcoming it’s racial and economic divide faster than any nation in history. Together, they offer a nearly complete picture of a destination with much more to offer than history lessons on racism.
And, with the government having poured in millions into improvements to prepare for a month of unprecedented global attention , better transportation, infrastructure and security, both short and long-term travellers will benefit from the efforts long after World Cup fans have gone home.
Johannesburg's metamorphosis from an urban jungle to a cultural cradle began in Newton precinct in the heart of the city; an area that not too long ago was practically off-limits to travellers not wanting to get carjacked, mugged or murdered. Originally settled by mining workers after gold was discovered near Johannesburg in 1886, Newton emerged as a vibrant commercial and cultural area until it, along with most of downtown Johannesburg, became rundown and dangerous in recent decades. Then, a few years ago, local authorities began a series of ambitious urban renewal projects along with added security cameras and a remodelled police force.
Today Johannesburg is very different from what it used to be, a beautiful city with much to offer its citizens and people coming in as travellers. Even better, venture beyond upscale, gated communities such as Melrose Arch, Melville, known for its trendy nightlife, and Sandton, Johannesburg's bustling commercial hub, and head for Soweto, the country's largest township on the edge of Johannesburg. Once a violent, poverty-ridden slum, Soweto is today a modern city with suburbs, shopping malls, playgrounds, parks and golf courses. Middle-class brick bungalows line quiet, tree-lined residential streets.

Cape Town is another very beautiful and historical city in South Africa. Cape Town's Alcatraz is among the many similarities between South Africa's premiere tourist destination and San Francisco. Both cities are renowned for their physical beauty, regularly included in the list of the top 10 most beautiful cities of the world. Each occupies a rugged, hilly peninsula jutting out into a majestic bay. Even their breezy climates are similar, as are their hilly, compact, pedestrian-friendly downtowns. The rugged, windswept coastline where those slave ships once sailed resembles parts of California as well.
There's a decadent Malibu vibe to seaside enclaves like Camps Bay, with its powder-white beaches fringed by palm trees, and Clifton, where luxurious cliff-side houses offer panoramic ocean views. Chapman's Peak Drive, a vertiginous scenic route skirting the rocky coastline, resembles stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur.
Then there’s the legendary south-western tip of Africa, the Cape of Good Hope, an hour's drive south of Cape Town. This vast, empty moorland bordered by treacherous cliffs, sandy flats and storm-swept beaches is home to more than 250 species of birds and indigenous flora, as well as herds of eland, bucks, ostrich and zebra. Then there are the baboons, notorious for their brazen daylight raids on unwary tourists.
Named by the Portuguese for the good fortune they hoped would follow the opening of a sea route to Asia in 1488, the Cape of Good Hope remains a powerful metaphor for South Africa's efforts to overcome a turbulent past. Many can't help but believe a similar sense of hope is behind the perception of a modern, traveller-friendly destination that host cities such as Johannesburg and Cape Town trust that visitors will take away during the World Cup and long after it's over.



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