I’ve been back home for a few days now and just wanted to post a few post trip thoughts from my time in Brazil. In the end, the trip was pretty exhausting – I slept for 12 hours straight the day I got back, and this is after getting six solid hours of sleep on my flights home (and no appreciable time change). Aren’t the best trips always like that?
The World Cup as a Sporting Event: Must See
If you’re a sports fan, I think you should put the World Cup on your bucket list. I’ve been trying to think about what sets it apart from the Olympics and I think it’s two things. First of all, the Olympics has all these random sports that very few people in the world watch normally – even track and field, one of my favorite events, is not something I’d watch regularly. Secondly, soccer is a team sport which to me makes things much more inherently interesting. Combine that with the fact that it’s the most watched sport in the world and you get an amazing atmosphere at a World Cup.
While Brazil definitely added to the magic of this World Cup, I’d hazard a guess that all World Cups are like this. The foreigners who invaded Rio were there for just one reason – to watch soccer and to support their national teams. That provided a palpable excitement in the streets every day. Plus, when you have daily games in the group stage, there’s always someone screaming in joy and someone shaking their head in despair. The fact that national pride is on the line ratchets everything up just a notch. Anyway, even if you have to travel to freaking Qatar – put it on your list. You won’t regret it. Well, maybe you’ll regret Qatar. In the summer. Stupid FIFA.
Rio de Janeiro as a City: Wish it hadn’t been the World Cup
The reality is, I didn’t get to see 75% of the things I wanted to see in Rio. What was different about this trip was that I was going as a sports fan, not a tourist. Sure, I ended up in all the touristy areas, and I was subjected to touristy situations like getting my money stolen by an ATM, but the only truly touristy thing I got to do was visit Cristo Redentor on Corcovado. Which means I missed out on going to Lapa, getting up Sugarloaf, or even biking around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (which was a five minute walk from our apartment). Or all the other things I never bothered to look up because I knew I wouldn’t have time.
All that being said, I don’t think Rio is going to be at the top of my list of places to visit (unless Jess has a major hankering to go). I saw the one thing I wanted to see and am not keen to pay the reciprocity fee (visas were free for people with World Cup tickets). Some day I hope to be back…just not anytime soon.
Overall, I thought the World Cup in Brazil was a resounding success. I got to celebrate with one of my best friends, saw some great soccer (on TV not live), and checked another wonder of the world off of my list. I even saved a boatload of money on my plane tickets which made it just a bit sweeter. Sure, I wasn’t able to flush toilet paper, but them’s the breaks in South America. Now to gear up for our trip to Germany! Who knows, maybe we’ll get to watch Germany in the World Cup Final in Germany – that’d be something.
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