Once again, I scheduled myself in Manaus to watch the World Cup, this time for the two final matches. After their embarrassing defeat in the semi-final, the hosts looked to claim some honour in the third place playoff against the Netherlands, who only got knocked out by penalties to Argentina. To cause an almighty upset in neighbouring Brazil, the Argentines would have to overcome mighty Germany, so it looked to be a final to truly relish. I enjoyed three fun nights with my new American friends and lazed around my hostel waiting for my boat’s departure to the Colombian border where I would continue my South American adventure.
My initial two night stay in Manaus was geared towards watching both World Cup semi-finals and organising a trip into the surrounding Amazon Jungle. A dream Brazil v Argentina final was still possible but the hosts faced Germany as significant under-dogs with captain Thiago Silva suspended and star player Neymar injured. The second semi-final pitted my other favourite team Holland against South American giants, Argentina. Was it to be a surprise or sadness, cause for celebration or catastrophe?
Belo Horizonte was hot, Rio was hotter, but heading North to Salvador felt more like tropical Brazilian climate. I ended up spending 5 nights in the state capital of Bahia, visiting the old town of Pelourinho, watching the scintillating World Cup quarter final ties and trying to soak up some sun. My visit didn’t go exactly to plan but I will describe my changing fortunes…
Back in São Paulo. Was 9 days not enough? Probably. But I achieved just as much in the centre of the city in this 36 hour period as anyone visiting São Paulo needs to: a night in Vila Madalena, a visit to the excellent ‘Museu do Futebol’ and a stroll along Paulista Avenue. More importantly, I met up with some friends (both old and new) and had a blast!
The atmosphere of the World Cup in Brazil was unbelievable and I really want to convey this by telling an uplifting story that was told by the two English guys I met in Ouro Preto. This capped off an inspiring day of so-called solo travelling, where I escaped the madness of the World Cup in the big cities of Brazil.
Hardly one of Brazil’s top tourist destinations, the country’s 3rd largest city found itself on many itineraries this month for hosting 6 World Cup matches in its 58,000 seater stadium, Brazil’s 2nd largest. For me and my 5 English companions, this included England’s pointless game against Costa Rica, where England were already eliminated and Costa Rica had already progressed to the 2nd Round. But was it worth the 2-day trip? Was there enough to keep me entertained? And ultimately would I recommend anyone to visit Belo Horizonte outside of the World Cup festivities?
Tucked against the north-eastern tip of Argentina, and breaching the borders of Brazil and Paraguay, lie the legendary Iguazu Falls. Stretching 2.7km /1.67 miles (that’s double the width of Niagara Falls) across 275 individual waterfalls that are mostly around 64m (210ft) in height but as high as 82m (269ft), Iguazu is generally regarded as the most impressive in the world. For more facts and some particularly beautiful photos, check out this brilliant summary. The falls are accessible from Puerto Iguazú on the Argentinian side or from Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu and most sources rightfully advise travellers to visit both sides. It is generally agreed that Argentina offers the close-up experience while Brazil provides more of a panoramic view, but you will have fantastic views from the Argentinian side and you’ll get close enough to get drenched under the Brazilian falls. Let me tell you more about my comparisons…