Mon 16 Jun
Thursday 12th June
We weren't going to the World Cup, we decided the most common sense and sensible thing to do for FanChants would be to work it from the UK and watch the games there. On Tuesday morning we decided we had to go - its turned out the best idea of the year so far. Sod sensibility, thats for Emma Thompson.
A 55 hour journey then ensued: Thailand - Dubai - Amsterdam - Madrid - Sao Paulo
I picked up my partner in crime Giles AKA 'Bertie' (due to the rather amusing middle name he has of Albert) in Amsterdam. We took a 5 hour refreshment pit-stop in Amsterdam city centre before getting on an Air Europa flight to Sao Paulo (£600). Not the best airline, but if you are on a budget its worth considering. We arrive completely exhausted - it’s a good job we're in Brazil, great coffee!
The organisation here is poor at best, I went to Germany for the 2006 World Cup and this is completely different. We arrived at 5.30 am and had a 2 hour queue for immigration followed by an hours queue for the only working ATM in the airport. It is the World Cup, you would think it would be expected that people would need cashola. You’d also expect a ticket of a few hundred dollars per match would include a 40 cents journey to the stadium, things could run a lot smoother and quicker here that’s for sure. But that's FIFA though isn't it?
But, in the end it doesn't matter a jot, it's the World Cup in Brasilia! And, as we later find out, the hospitality of the people more than makes up for these annoyances.
A 50 quid taxi into the centre also gave us forewarning that this trip is going to be costly, but it's a once in a lifetime trip to Brazil, so sod the consequences :)
Top Tip: If you are coming here download a podcast and learn some basic Portuguese, it'll help you no end. The menus, for example are all in Portuguese only - unless you’re lucky.
We're using AirBnB.com. It’s a great site that enables home owners to rent out a room or their whole house. The Brazilians have certainly embraced it with lots of options at reasonable prices. It's a far more personal experience than a hotel because you actually get to stay with a local. We've used the site on many occasions all over the world and our experiences have definitely been made the better for it - you get a local’s tips and knowledge as well as learning more about what it’s like to actually live there.
Our first place to stay was in a well to do area of Sao Paulo - a one bedroom apartment, small with a sofa bed and perfectly adequate for our needs. Lucas, our host, gave us stacks of info, which we completely forget as soon as we stepped outside!
Tonight’s accommodation cost is equal to £65, which was good value for the place and the area (and the time).
Our bags safe inside, we head out. As you know the first game was Brazil v Croatia. We've come here with no tickets and no plans other than to see as many games as we can. Plans are changing constantly to accommodate whats available. Organised chaos to say the least. There wasn't any point in trying to get tickets at the ground as they’d inevitably cost too much
We decide to go to the to the fan park to check it out. It turns out to be a detestable place and immediately we want to get away - we're really suffering from lack of sleep (3 hours in 3 days) which doesn't help the mood. All the beautiful buildings are covered in FIFA advertising b*llocks, jobsworth stewards telling us what to do and expensive beer, no - obrigado but we're off.
We decide to sort out our phones with Brazilian sims. Again no Ingles is spoken. I lived in Buenos Aires so speak a little Spanish which definitely helps. Portuguese is similar to Spanish, Italian, with a few English type words, so i wrack my feabily tired bonce for the old Spanish I knew and we're starting to get somewhere.
We spend an hour in the phone shop, eventually finding out they can't help today. The mood is getting a bit dark by now, this is going to be a tricky trip.
It's wierd, I've been to a Copa America, two World Cups and two European Championships and the first day is always a nightmare for us; fake tickets or a lack of tickets being the main sticking points. I say this to myself and try not get too disheartened.
After the phone debacle we decide to go to the Corinthians ground where they are showing the game on a big screen in the stadium. We get there and the atmosphere is awesome and completely changes our moods, we're off, the World cup starts here!
We cant even get tickets for the game on the big tele inside, but the vibe outside has got us going. It seems every nationality is here soaking it up and everyone’s mingling, laughing, joking, taking pics - its a party atmosphere. After a couple of hours we decide to head back to the apartment to watch the first game and rest up.
Plans go awry again as we miss our metro stop, so we walk the rest of the way. We come accross a small square surrounded by bars and full of locals watching the game on loads of teles located all around it. It's absolutely buzzing and too damn good to leave. The energy in the air is amazing and we get our second, third or fourth wind - I forget now! We're plotting here, no doubt, and take in our first beer 'chop'. I like it but it seems most Brazilians (say they) don't like it, however they seem to drink it by the bucketload.
Everyone wants to talk to us and we're starting to get the Brazilian friendliness vibe big time. Half time arrives and its 1-1. The music starts up and there’s a 15 minute samba party, bloody marvellous, this is what we came for. Best place to watch the game! Our mood completely turns around.
Its a public holiday in Brazil today, a proper fiesta and we're gutted when its over. We start to make our way home...
But it isn't over! We ask a couple of Goth/ thrash metal looking type dudes which way home is and they say ‘You ain't going anywhere, you are coming with us, we've a house party going on around the corner'. They turn out to be fine individuals. Bloody marvellous! We walk with them having half English, quarter Portuguese and quarter Spanish drunken conversations; all smiles and belly laughs. We can hear their party as soon as we get to their street and when we get there we're just overwhelmed by the friendliness and warmth of these people, everyone tries to speak to us. We didn't know it then, but this is the way it has gone since arriving, makes your hairs stand on end to know there are people like this, love it.
We roll out of there and pour ourselves into a cab at around 1am Friday morning, stopping at the local bar for a nightcap.
Its official, we love this place :) since monday night we've had around 6 hours sleep but all is well and what started as a bit of a 'mare turns out to be a cracking day.
Bed at last.