Brazil was my third straight world cup. It’s a trip I look forward to for four years. It’s the best time to travel to a country, as everyone is happy (at least to start), people want to show off their country and you get to meet interesting people from all over the globe. I saw more matches and travelled more this world cup than the previous two and had an amazing time. All that said, I now completely understand why many Brazilians were angry about having the world cup. FIFA’s corruption really knows no bounds. See the rest of the posts below for the full story!
Games Attended: 10
- USA-Ghana – Natal
- Japan-Greece – Natal
- Italy-Costa Rica – Recife
- USA-Portugal – Manaus
- Netherlands-Chile – Sao Paulo
- Italy-Uruguay – Natal
- USA-Germany – Recife
- Costa Rica-Greece – Recife
- USA-Belgium – Salvador
- Netherlands-Costa Rica – Salvador
Distance Travelled: 14,676 miles (23,615km)
- Sao Paulo
- Brasilia (just the airport)
- For a neutral – USA-Portugal, Italy-Uruguay, USA-Belgium & Costa Rica-Netherlands.
- For a USA fan – USA-Ghana
Favorite Stadium – Fonte Nova – Salvador
The Fonte Nova stadium is a historic stadium in the middle of Salvador. It’s a short walk from the old city, the beach and has easy access from four directions. It’s a unique stadium, as its located on a lake right in the middle of a favela. On game days it seemed safe. Many of the locals came down to buy and sell tickets, beer, water and street food.
The stadium itself is a little big for my taste and some of hte seats weren’t that great, but the overall combination of the location, design and history makes it the best stadium I went to.
Favorite City – Salvador
Founded in 1500 by the Portuguese, Salvador was the original capital of Brazil. It’s got miles and miles of beaches. An old city filled with bars and live music and an historic, downtown stadium.
Most impressive individual player
It’s a tie:
Arjen Robben – A complete game changer. I saw him in person in 2010 and felt the same way. Say what you want about diving, but his skill, speed, passing and shooting really stand out as the best player on the field in person.
Alexis Sánchez – He’s only 5-7, but he makes things happen. The ball just sticks to his foot. He gets the ball, backs into defenders a foot taller than him and somehow keeps the ball and gets around them. really impressive player in person.
Most Impressive Fans:
Chile – Per capita, Chile had the most fans at the world cup, or so it seemed. They were the loudest fanbase of any that I saw. Plus finishing the national anthem a capella is impressive.
Porto de Galinhas, a small town about 30 minutes south of Recife, has everything you want in a beach town. Beautiful, warm water, good restaurants, bars and close enough to a big city to take a day trip if necessary.
I started out flying from Santiago to Sao Paulo on the 14th. I planned to see some friends and then fly onto Recife, then take a bus up to Natal to arrive in time for the USA game, but as I got off the plane in Sao Paulo, I realized I didn’t feel well. After the hour trip to the hotel, I was really feeling it and decided to take a nap. I woke up an hour later with the chills in my 75 degree hotel room. I pumped the heat up to 90 and proceeded to not leave my hotel room for the next day and a half. I really thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it to the USA/Ghana game, but thought to myself, there’s only a world cup once every four years, you have to go.
On the morning of 20th, we left Natal at 6am in our rental car, hoping to make it to Recife in time to grab a bite to eat and have a few pregame beers before the 1pm kickoff. We drove through sugar cane fields and beautiful rolling hills and made it to the outskirts of Recife by 10am, but quickly realized that things would be different as we got closer to the city…
After relaxing in Porto de Galinhas, I left my group to travel 5400 miles in three days to see USA/Portugal, Chile/Netherlands and Italy/Uruguay in Manaus, Sao Paulo and Natal, respectively. I left Porto de Galinhas with flip flops, shorts, a USA jersey, a sweatshirt, USA sunglasses and my tickets to the games, nothing more. My plan was to wake up at 4am, get to the Recife airport by 5 at the latest, then fly to Brasilia, then onto Manaus. But I almost didn’t make it…
After recuperating in Porto de Galinhas on the 25th, it was game day again. USA. Germany. It had been raining off and on on the 25th, but that night, the skies opened up with a torrential, tropical downpour. We called it an early night so we could leave early the next morning for the 1pm game, 70km away in Recife. We left Porto de Galinhas in a torrential downpour at 9am…
After watching Costa Rica advance to the quarterfinals, we set out to the south, aiming for Salvador, about 750km away. Every Brazilian we’d told we were driving south to Salvador looked at us like we were crazy and tried to convince us to change our plans. They said the road was terrible, there were frequent robberies, potential kidnappings, random objects in the road to get you to slow down so that people could rob you, and that many of the police were so corrupt that you weren’t even supposed to stop for the police if they tried to stop you…