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Posts Tagged ‘World Cup’

Brasil!

Brasil!

July 26, 2014

Well we’re finally back from our 35 day trip to Brazil to attend the World Cup so I thought I’d share some random thoughts on our visit.

The most common question I’ve received since I practically first set foot on Brazilian soil has been “How do you like Brazil?”. More on that one later.

I’ve been told by many people I’ve met over time that Brazilian people are some of the friendliest and nicest people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. For the most part I can attest to this. Just about everybody we met was very friendly and helpful. However, the dark side is most people don’t really realize how innately capitalistic Brazilians are. Sometimes the overly helpfulness is because they have their left hand in your pocket. I’m not saying this to be mean, just candid. This happens everywhere in the world and it certainly happens in Brazil. Just letting you know sometimes that smile is there because you’re being sized up on whether you’ll pay $50 or $100.

My goodness there are a lot of beautiful Brazilian people. You can’t stand on a sidewalk swinging a dead cat over your head and not hit 12 beautiful people with one swing. These are the people you see on your television back home. However, there are tons of people here in Brazil that are not quite as beautiful. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I’m the ugly fat Gringo here myself so I have nothing to say. But there are an awful lot of people like me down here. Stated otherwise, normal people.

On the heels of the above paragraph Brazil has some of the most stunning and beautiful landscapes you’ll see before you exit this spinning ball of ice called Earth. We saw mountain after river after ocean after waterfall after you name it. The Brazilians are truly blessed with some natural beauty you don’t see just every day. However, Brazil has a serious poverty issue as well. You can see equally ugly vistas around any corner. People living in a lean to, sleeping on a cot under a business door jam to avoid the rain, walking through two feet of water in their homes while you pass by on a brand new multi-million dollar subway line right above. This country has a lot of poor and a lot of squalor and without getting too political about this I think the government needs to step in and do something because sometimes only something as big as the government can fix something that is that badly broken. Enough said.

We were here for the World Cup and make no mistakes: soccer is religion here. Not only is it religion here it is religion for just about every country that played here during this tournament. These people take this very seriously. They will cry uncontrollably at a loss while the next guy in line will beat your ass because you’re wearing the jersey of the team that just beat his. So it is all fun, well and good but make no mistakes. This is a serious affair when you attend the World Cup and the deeper teams go into the tournament the more serious it gets.

If you really like pepper on your food then you had better bring some with you in your suitcase. Carry it around in your pocket every time you think you might be eating a meal. These people have a serious aversion to pepper. Something to do with trading with another country in their history and only receiving pepper in return. In any case, you’ll have a really hard time finding it on any table in Brazil and if you ask for it you’re going to get a small jar of pepper sauce similar to Louisiana or Tabasco or Sriracha.

Along the lines of the previous paragraph if you have a strong affinity for things like ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise then you might think about bringing those with you as well. If you ever find these on a table you’ll likely find a 1 gram packet of something that once upon a time might have resembled the condiment you’re seeking. Odds are pretty high it won’t even be there and if you ask for it you won’t get it. If you do, see above. It’ll be a 1 gram packet of suck.

If you are in a big city like Rio de Janeiro think long and hard about ever taking your cell phone out of your pocket while in public. The second you raise it to your ear I will just about guarantee you that you are now a made target waiting to happen. You might win, you might lose. In either case, I don’t think it is worth it. We saw this in action ourselves and it is quite fast and dare I say impressive to witness. If you really need to even carry your cell phone with you always step inside someplace to make or take a call or exchange text messages.

Along the lines of above plan on getting pickpocketed at some point in your trip. Take the necessary precautions to not get pickpocketed but plan on getting robbed at some point in your trip. If you do get robbed it’ll be done and over with and on you go. If you don’t, you’ll consider all things great and a wonderful vacation had. I don’t say this to be mean or negative but the reality is we stayed at several hotels across several cities and I heard several stories over the course of the trip of somebody getting robbed or pickpocketed. It just happens with a reasonable enough frequency here that you might get nailed so prepare for it and forget about it if it happens. All the normal rules apply. Don’t go anywhere alone, down dark streets, carry objects out in the open, wear any jewelry, dress flashy, etc… Same things you’d practice in any major city in the world. Some of the best advice I heard before this trip was “Don’t take anything with you in the morning that you want to bring back in the evening.”

If you’re flying inside the country TAM has made great strides in improving their fleet and service.  They are actually now part of the OneWorld Alliance they’re doing so well.  On the flip side Gol has fallen quickly and hard after their promising start.  I’d say avoid Gol at this point.  Azul is a bit of an outlier but I enjoyed both flights as they are a 2 by 2 leather seat configuration with plenty of room, live TV, etc…  Patterned after U.S. carrier JetBlue.  I also heard that if you can get it due to limited routes most Brazilians that want a quality experience use Avianca.

Brazilian drivers including your taxi driver love their cell phones while driving.  Make no mistake, everybody has a minimum of one cell phone stuck to their ear while driving, taxi drivers being professionals have two while they are driving.  Don’t fear for your safety.  They are properly distracted.  If they hang up the phone and see what you’re seeing while they’re driving they’d shit their pants in fear and kill you in a fiery crash.  Roll with it.  It is normal in Brazil.

So back to the original question. “How do you like Brazil?” The answer is I like Brazil just fine. It is a beautiful country filled with happy, tortured souls if that makes any sense at all. I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Rio, explore the Iguazu Falls and visit Florianópolis which is the one city I wanted to visit that I didn’t get to visit on this trip. There are also a couple of minor areas like Paraty. So yes, I like Brazil and would go back. I’m just not in a hurry to return. After all, I have two more continents to visit.

Hope to see you again soon.

Tchau!

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July 16, 2014

Today is day 36 for us here in Brazil. This is our final day in the country. Our bird back to the U.S.A. takes off a little after 09:30PM this evening. God willing we’ll be back on American soil first thing tomorrow morning.

There really isn’t anything to report for today. Today is what I can a dead day in traveling. We’re kind of in limbo. You have to be out by 10AM. You have to leave your bags someplace. You try to figure out something to do until it is time to go to the airport.

I probably won’t see you tomorrow but I will soon. I’ll try to put together a final wrap to the trip over the next day or so.

Hope to see you again soon.

Tchau!

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July 15, 2014

Today is our 35th day here in Brazil. It is our last official day of the trip. We’ll be here pretty much a full day tomorrow but our overnight flight home leaves at 9:30PM local time so we’ll be heading to the airport somewhere between 5-6PM local time.

Today was lazy butt day. I’m sure PURPLE doesn’t approve but we both slept late, she worked a lot, I worked some, we had an early lunch since we had no breakfast and we basically hanged really close to the apartment all day. Boo…but I’m exhausted and sick so I need it.

Dinner tonight was at Tremezzo. Another excellent dinner. Highly recommended.

Tomorrow we are homeless. We have to be out of our apartment by 10AM. There is another American couple on the way in as we speak. So our host will place our luggage in his extra room downstairs and we’ll try to figure out how to be homeless for about 7 hours before we head to the airport.

Hope to see you here tomorrow. I doubt it as I’ll be completely out of pocket but it is what it is.

Tchau!

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July 14, 2014

Finals Argentina v Germany

Finals Argentina v Germany

Today is day 34 for us here in Brazil.

Germany are World Champions! Deutschland Weltmeister! No matter how you say it like honey dripping off the end of your tongue. Four years of planning this trip with tons of go, no go decisions along the way and we’ve finally culminated with me not only attending my first and perhaps last World Cup Final but I got to see my beloved Germany take the trophy home. I really couldn’t be any happier. The crowd and environment were truly electric from the start of the closing ceremonies through the presentation of trophy. The stadium literally stood packed full of both German and Argentina fans until well after the trophy was presented. What a sight it was to see. I’m so glad I finally got to experience it.

Now onto today…

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

Today we’re up early and attum. We’re off to see Christ the Redeemer this morning. I made reservations Saturday morning and barely got a morning reservation for today! The place is hopping I tell you.

So our landlord called two taxi companies and none could provide taxis. Late already we headed down to the busy corner and tried to hail a taxi for way too long. None were available. Every taxi was occupied. Finally we decided to head across the plaza and see if we could catch one there. No success for way too long again. Finally a taxi let somebody out right in front of us and we snagged it. We were off to our appointment albeit it seriously late.

Then we hit traffic. A wall of it. There are two ways there so we u-turn and go the other way. Another wall of traffic. So we sit. And sit. And sit. Finally we get to our appointment about 45 minutes late. We’re a no show. However, they were kind enough (aka we got there early enough in the day still) that they rescheduled us for an appointment two hours after our original one. So we sit around for roughly half that before we finally figure out that yes indeed, if there is space on the train, they’ll take you regardless of your appointment. So finally around 11AM this morning we began our climb of the mountain to Christ the Redeemer.

Man oh man this sucker is up there! He’s much more imposing that close up as well. Has to be, being the son of god and stuff like that. The views of Rio are absolutely spectacular from this vantage point as well. Unfortunately, you have to experience this with roughly double the capacity of the place. Everybody and their dog is up there. They’re laying on the ground trying to snap photos from that angle. They’re doing selfies from every corner. They’re blocking the stairs down to the viewing area to take pictures of their friends below. They’re hogging every sliver of concrete rail available. This jesus dude is pretty freaking popular apparently! We did manage to muscle a view pictures before calling it Christ Almighty. Caught a quick drink in his cafe & bar overlooking the ocean before heading back down his mountain.

Then the fight for a taxi began again. We tried this side of the street. That side of the street. Up. Down. Thought I had one but self righteous taxi driver said get in the line across the street. Finally and literally 30 seconds later not so self righteous as long as the money spends taxi driver showed up right behind him and after dumping his previous patrons we were off to the races.

The races to sit in traffic. Jesus (sorry, I just saw you and now I’m using your name) this town is nuts today! So we sit in traffic where traffic normally isn’t according to our taxi driver. I believe these guys because they do this for a living and they hate sitting in traffic more than anybody else. Finally, around 2PM local time our taxi driver drops us off at the same plaza where we departed 5 hours earlier. We’re 7 hours into this day and we’ve done 1 thing that I thought we’d have wrapped up well before noon.

Lunch was at Terzzeto Cafe. It was good. I liked it despite throwing their food all over my shirt. This shirt has taken a beating on this trip.

The afternoon was lazy. I’m pooped and hitting my wall at this point. Hung around the room and did basically nothing other than screw off and nap a bit. Sometimes you just need that.

Dinner was a return trip to Felice Caffe. I really dig this place. It wasn’t quite as good as the first time but I still really dig it.

Hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tchau!

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July 13, 2014

Finals - Argentina v Germany

Finals – Argentina v Germany

FINALS DAY!!!

The day has finally arrived. Today is day 33 for us here in Brazil and the main reason we’re here has finally arrived. Today is FINALS DAY!!! Today we finally get to attend our first and perhaps even last World Cup Finals game. I’m so excited right now. I look at these tickets and they are like gold bars in my hands.

My beloved Germany takes on the boring Argentina team today. Hopefully Argentina will show up and decide to actually score goals today. If not, I hope they are suitably punished by Germany for not trying. I desparately want just a wee bit of excitement in my finals match today. Go Germany!

I’m finally decked out in my Germany jersey this morning. I even brought along my club team Bayern Munich hat to compliment the ensemble. Hopefully it will bring the German team a little good luck and a win for the cup.

Germany Uber Alles

Germany Uber Alles

Early rise today followed by an early breakfast and early preparations for a trip to the world famous and historic Maracana Stadium! Kick off is at 4PM local time but the closing ceremonies start closer to 2PM local time. Gates usually open 3 hours beforehand and it is roughly a 35 minute train ride with no hiccups so we’ll be out of here by 11AM this morning. This will be a full day commitment! I’m posting now in case I can’t make it back later this evening. If I can I’ll update this post later. In the meantime enjoy the glory that is World Cup!

Maracana

Maracana

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Tchau!

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July 12, 2014

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas

Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas

Today is day 32 for us here in Brazil.

It is Pity Game Day! Yes, Brazil and Holland get to duke it out for third place today. Poor guys. Why not just let them go home and get a few days holiday in before having to report back to league camp? Oh yeah, Sepp Blatter can’t sell more Budweiser tax free if he let them go home a few days early.

Still sick by the way. Well at least it isn’t raining. Yet.

Spent the day, mostly all of the afternoon, taking a long walk down the beach, up to and across the lake and then back down to the rental. We threw in a lunch at D.R.I. at the corner of Rua Vinícius de Moraes and Rua Barão da Torre. It was good. I’ll try to post a note later.

Quick beer stop on the way back to the rental then a couple of hours front of the boob tube to watch the pity game between Brazil and Holland.

Dinner was some simple pasta and soup here in the apartment. We’re both fully spent after four hours of walking today. Onto the morrow. That’s when the real fun starts.

Hope to see you here tomorrow.

Tchau!

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July 11, 2014

Ipanema Beach

Ipanema Beach

Today is day 31 for us here in Brazil.

…and I’m still sick…

…and it is still raining…

Today started slow enough. Roll over. Roll over again. Think about it. Roll over again. Finally sit up. Think about it. Think about it. Finally stand. Think about it. Walk. Start hacking up lung parts. Make coffee. You get the idea.

After hacking up lung parts and making coffee (priorities, right?) there was email to check, laundry to do, etc… So things continued at a slow leisurely pace throughout the morning.

So what do you do after a lazy start? Of course! Go to the beach!

The internet crapped out right after breakfast so it was time to head to the beach and work on the tan. I think we spent almost 3 hours on Ipanema Beach this morning/afternoon. Got back to the apartment a little after 3PM local time. It was cool. Nice and relaxing catching some sun, walking around a bit, people watching, etc…

Lunch was light and casual leftovers in the room.

Finished up the laundry, surfed the net a bit (I think Cindy was working) before heading out for an early dinner.

Dinner tonight was at Restaurante Fazendola. Simple pizza and empanadas on the plaza alfresco around the corner from the apartment. It worked. Hit the spot. Quick swing by the market on the way back to the apartment and a little more internet and TV and such and it is off to see sand man.

Hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tchau!

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