It was always going to be the case that the World Cup in Brazil was an event of a lifetime.
When we arrived in Manaus, the city was ready to welcome the tourists, with streets decorated in true Brazilian fashion. And before the shocking meltdown of the semi-finals, the atmosphere was very relaxed.
We watched the opening ceremony and first match in the main square in Manaus. The atmosphere was great, and the powerful sign-along of the national anthem set the scene for the rest of the tournament.
We then flew to Belo Horizonte, where we saw two games: Colombia v. Greece and Belgium v. Algeria.
Colombia v. Greece was great fun, with thousands of Colombia fans creating a loud party atmosphere at the stadium.
For Belgium v. Algeria we expected an easy Belgium win, but the Algerians went ahead to make the game more interesting – and slightly compensating for the fact that Belgium didn’t really deliver to everyone’s expectations.
There was lots of talk before the competition that Brazil wouldn’t be ready to receive the World Cup. But what we saw in the stadium was excellent – even the queues to get in were quick and organised.
The problem with anything in Brazil lies elsewhere: many people were unhappy with the political context and as ever, Brazilian infrastructure is appalling at the best of times. Being Brazilian, I can’t help to agree with musician Tom Jobim, who said “Brazil is not for beginners”.
But for us, our experience in the World Cup was great, we had a truly memorable time that lived up to the expectations.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Tickets: All major sporting events require lots of planning. We applied for tickets through FIFA at the first possible opportunity and were lucky to get all the tickets we wanted.
- Money: Again for any major event, you’re likely to pay premium prices for flights and accommodation. Plan and book everything months in advance – I’d say six months is the minimum to ensure you get your selected options at a reasonable price.
- Do: Getting in the spirit of the event ensures a trip like this is really worthwhile. Check out what the locals are doing and join them – there’s no better introduction to Brazilian culture than watching football in a local bar!