How to Survive the World Cup in Brazil
You’ve slipped on some sunscreen, you’ve slapped on a hat and most importantly, you’ve set your heart on travelling to Brazil to watch the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The beach at Ipanema is calling – but before you bust out that itsy-bitsy swimsuit, it may be worth taking a look at a map and figuring out just how much you’ll need to travel to support your national team in Brazil.
“Big is best” seems to be the mantra of the tournament, because the 2014 World Cup will be the biggest on record – in every way imaginable. The largest country in South America is home to 12 World Cup venues, stretching from Porto Alegre in the south, all the way to Manaus in the heart of the Amazon. So before you crack out the beach towel, now’s the time to consider some jungle-based contingency plans.
Get used to flying
Ah, nostalgia! It’s hard not to get all wistful about the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where you could wander around the old town of Heidelberg until mid-morning, hop on a high-speed train to Kaiserslautern and still be seated comfortably in the Fritz-Walter-Stadion that afternoon. Even South Africa four years later had the advantage of geographically clustered games, with Pretoria just a short trip up the highway from neighbouring Johannesburg.
Think you can drive to games in Brazil? Think again. You’d be on the road for days if you tried to drive from one end of the country to the other, so given the short turnaround times the only logical solution is to fly. And that means getting used to the inside of crowded airports.
Pack for the weather
Balmy Brazil’s a great place to work on your tan, right? While that’s true if you happen to pitch up in Rio, the temperature in the southern city of Porto Alegre in June 2012 dropped to a brutal -3° Celsius! Contrast that with steamy Manaus, where the average June high is a sweltering 31°C and it soon becomes clear your wardrobe should probably run the gamut from skimpy to sub-Antarctic.
At least the World Cup gives international visitors the chance to explore some forgotten corners of Brazil. Ever heard of Cuiabá? It’s located at the exact centre of South America and will host four group stage games. Cosmopolitan Curitiba is one of the country’s liveliest cities, while capital Brasilia is home to some of the world’s most striking modernist architecture.
Consider a base
Let’s face it though, you’re not travelling to Brazil to gaze fondly at modernist architecture. You’re there to watch some football, and when it comes to organising your time, why not follow the professionals’ lead and base yourself in one city? The obvious choice is Rio de Janeiro – the stunning beachside home of Christ the Redeemer and the gargantuan Maracanã, which will host the World Cup Final.
The atmospheric São Paulo is the next obvious choice, but wherever you decide to set up camp to commute from, the key point is to have some fun. For all the planning involved, what the World Cup is really about is meeting fans from across the globe, enjoying a few drinks in a new location and with any luck, celebrating some wins on the pitch. Vámonos!