As the clock continues to run, we now approach the 30-day countdown for the much-anticipated 2014 World Cup in Brazil. After anxiously waiting for over four years, national soccer teams and fans from all around the world will congregate in São Paulo for the opening match of Brazil versus Croatia at the Arena Corinthians to take place Thursday, June 12th.
The latest ticket numbers for the 2014 World Cup show that Brazil has the highest ticket sales with 1,168,896 tickets; followed by United States with 187,063 tickets; Germany with 58,885 tickets; England with 56,219; and Argentina with 55,524 tickets rounds up the top five highest World Cup ticket buying countries.
Although it has been a whirlwind journey leading up to the World Cup, all of the hard work Brazil has put into preparations will make the tournament and its many attractions worthwhile. Even though Brazil can easily exceed 30, in spirit of the 30-day countdown, Embratur (the Brazilian Tourism Board) presents the 30 things to look forward to in and around the twelve host cities of the World Cup:
1. National Teams United in Brazil
Soccer in Brazil is a way of life and people breath, eat, live soccer day and night, rain or shine. To unite the world’s most decorated national teams of 32 countries in the “heart of soccer,” it will be a World Cup for the books. The USA National team has already started training in São Paulo and head coach Jürgen Klinsmann among other players are pleased with the state of the art training facilities offered by Brazil.
2. Brazil versus Uruguay
During the last World Cup in Brazil in 1950, the country was disappointed when it lost the final match to Uruguay by one point in the last moments of the game. The team has since then changed its national uniform to the infamous green, yellow and blue and has won five World Cups. This World Cup especially brings an inner drive for the Brazil national team to achieve their dream of winning a World Cup at home.
3. Amazon Rainforest
When traveling to Manaus for the World Cup, visitors will have the opportunity to cross off exploring the Amazon Rainforest from their bucket list. Brazil contains about 60% of the Amazon Rainforest and the city of Manaus is the heart of the rainforest. Visitors can make the most of this experience by staying in luxurious jungle-themed hotels and resorts and sign up for guided tours into the Amazon.
4. Cristo Redentor
Another bucket list item to cross off is hiking up to the 98 feet tall statue of Jesus Christ, the iconic symbol for Rio de Janeiro and one of the Seven Wonders of the World. 223 steps lead visitors to the observation deck that holds one of the best views of all of Brazil.
5. Sugarloaf Mountain (Rio de Janeiro)
A view that can compete with Cristo Redentor is that of Sugarloaf Mountain. There is a panoramic 360-degree view on top of the mountain and a photo opportunity no visitor wants to miss. The adventurous traveler can even take the experience to the next level and rock climb Urca and Sugar Loaf.
6. Foz do Iguacu (Iguazu Falls)
The Iguacu National Park is a grander scale of the North American Niagara Falls with breathtaking landscapes and incredible rolling waterfalls. Located where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay’s boarders meet, the Foz do Iguacu is far from the host city Curitiba, but visitors cannot pass up the opportunity to witness first hand one of the seven landmarks of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The New 7 Wonders of the Nature list is composed of votes worldwide from the first global voting campaign.
7. Street Soccer
Welcome to the heart and soul of soccer, Brazil! Visitors will witness the sport at its finest from professional players taking the field to raw talent playing soccer on the streets of Brazil, like in the city of Manaus. There is an inspirational display of passion for soccer among people in Brazil. At any age, any socio class there is an opportunity to play soccer and hopefully, even be discovered like the iconic players before them.
8. Culinary Haven
A combination of an abundance of seafood and a mixture of influencing cultures makes the many cities of Brazil a culinary haven. Must try dishes include tutu de feijao (seasoned steak stew with vegetables), Moqueca (salt water fish stew in coconut milk and other ingredients), pão de queijo (cheesy bread), feijao tropeiro (bean casserole), to name a few. Each city has its specialty dish, but visitors can expect fresh food and delicious dishes inspired by different cultures that settled in Brazil.
9. Eco-friendly & Sustainable Stadium Solutions
Brazil is an advocate for conservation and sustainable living and, therefore, many of the renovated stadiums use techniques to keep the stadiums green. For instance, the stadium in Belo Horizonte, Mineirão, is capable of supplying 1,200 households with its 6,000 solar panels. Other sustainable techniques include collecting rainwater for toilets, efficient lighting, recycling and reducing waste.
Forro is a genre of music and dance native to the host city of Natal, but that can be found in many places in Brazil. The rhythm is a combination of regional Brazilian beats and dances, in addition to influences from European, African and Native folklore. It is a mesmerizing dance and visitors will have a hard time removing their gaze from the fast-moving, talented street dancers.
11. Teatro Amazonas (Amazon Theater)
This lavish landmark located in Manaus has 36,000 ceramic tiles painted in yellow, green and blue like the Brazilian flag. The inside of the dome displays hand painted frescos throughout all of the walls and an enormous mural painted on the ceiling. There are four levels of seating and the curve of the ceiling from the dome creates a magnificent warp of lights.
12. Estadio do Maracanã (Maracanã Stadium)
History lives in the Estadio do Maracanã; it is where Pelé scored his one-thousandth goal in 1969, where the World Cup in 1950 final was held and where the 2014 final will take place. When not attending the World Cup matches, visitors should explore the incredible museum located in the stadium. The museum displays a “Sidewalk Hall of Fame” that displays the footprints of Brazil’s principal players.
13. Oscar Niemeyer
Beautiful cities like Brasília are touched by the innovative and beautiful architectural designs of internationally well-known architect, Oscar Niemeyer. Visitors have a long list of must-see Niemeyer buildings to visit around the country, including: Monumental Axis (Eixo Monumental), Palace of Dawn (Palácio do Alvorada), Museu Oscar Niemeyer (Museum of Oscar Niemeyer), Square of Three Powers (Praça dos Três Poderes) and many more.
Capoeira is a dance native to Salvador that incorporates art and athleticism. It originated from African slaves that once rebelled against unbearable living conditions by the Portuguese. Now it is an expression of freedom and happiness among local dancers. Although it can be intimidating to try, visitors are welcomed to join in and liberate themselves from holding back in trying new experiences in Brazil.
15. Beaches in the City
Ipanema, Prainha, Barra de Guaratiba, Copacabana, Leblon and Diabo are just a few famous beaches in just Rio de Janeiro. There are plenty of fabulous beaches in Brazil with postcard-perfect views of the ocean, relaxing sunbathing spots, romantic paths to walk and great entertainment to be discovered.
16. Night Scene
Known as the “Bar Capital,” Belo Horizonte is a city with over 14,000 bars available year round, and during the World Cup, this is an excellent place to mingle and drink with locals. This is just one of the many destinations in Brazil that make its nightlife incomparable to the rest of the world. With year round events like Carnaval, local festivals and New Year Reveillon, the party never really ends in Brazil.
17. Bossa Nova
Visitors can go back in time to the birthplace of the Bossa Nova and listen to “The Girl From Ipanema” being played from local bars. Rio de Janeiro is a perfect example of the great influence music has on Brazilian cities and its people.
18. Teatro Jose de Alencar (José de Alencar Theatre)
The Teatro José de Alencar is very difficult to miss in the city of Fortaleza, especially due to its eccentrically colored glass windows and its smiling and frowning theatrical masks that welcome the crowds every night. This gigantic theater holds six stages; two in the inside and four in the outside Burle Marx gardens.
19. Farol Da Barra (Barra Lighthouse)
Being the first lighthouse built in the Americas, Farol Da Barra is magnificent, iconic landmark in the city of Salvador. Its seafront charm attracts people from sunrise to sunset. It is a majestic place for visitors to take in the ocean view and the stunning city of Salvador.
20. Jardim Botanico de Curitiba (Botanical Garden of Curitiba)
The luscious Jardim Botanico do Curitiba is free of admission to the public and it revolves around a 4,930 square foot greenhouse inspired by London’s Crystal Palace. People can take strolls around the park and admire the exotic species of flora and fauna preserved by the State of Paraná.
21. Mercados (Markets)
A great budget tip is for visitors to immerse themselves in the Brazilian culture and explore the many local food markets located in or around the host cities. The local markets sell fresh foods and intricately handcrafted souvenirs at a reasonable price.
22. Parque Turístico Ecológico Dunas de Genipabu (Ecological Tourist Park Dunes Genipabu)
The city of Natal is well known for its huge golden sand dunes, and therefore, the Parque Turístico Ecológico Dunas de Genipabu is an attraction every traveler must explore before leaving Natal. Whether it’s camel back riding, beach buggy or donkey riding, exploring the picturesque sand dunes is a fun, memorable activity to do with family and friends. Another popular activity among locals is “esquibunda,” which is when a person sits on a board and rides it down the sand dune and into the lagoon.
Brazilian BBQ is national delicacy savored by travelers and locals alike. A true Brazilian gastronomy experience includes choosing from about 30 different meats and pairing it with a traditionally mate tea. Each region in Brazil varies in how the churrasascarias are prepared, for example in Porto Alegre, the meats are directly roasted on charcoal to perfection.
24. Parque Ibirapuera
Sao Paulo’s own Central Park, but with several structures, most of them designed by Oscar Niemeyer. Similar to Central Park, Ibirapuera Park is host to many events throughout the year and will surely be a great place for fans to celebrate during the world cup.
25. Ecotourism and Wildlife Conservations
Fuleco is more than a charismatic Brazilian mascot for the World Cup. This armadillo embodies to two important things in Brazil, “ful” for futbol and “eco” for ecology. Eco-tourism in Brazil honors the organic experience in traveling around the country without disturbing the existing habitat. Ecotourism isn’t something visitors will just see surrounding the Amazon Rainforest, this is present through out the country.
26. Ópera de Arame (Wire Opera House)
The Ópera de Arame in Curitiba, the capital of Parana, is an elegant and translucent building outlined by white cast-iron. The opera house is located in the Parque de Pedreiras (Quarries Park), which serves as a scenery for the theatrical plays, musicals and operas that take place within the building.
27. The “Brazilian Venice”
With a total of 50 bridges connecting small surrounding islands to the main city, Recife resembles Venice, Italy, and, therefore, it is nickname the “Brazilian Venice.” This charming city by the water provides visitors and locals with an endless activities and water sports to enjoy alongside locals.
28. Urban Parks
As a city initiative, most destinations have urban parks where locals meet to play soccer, volleyball and other athletic sports with equipment provided by the park. For instance, Curitiba has government policies that helped create 30 sustainable parks and forests within the city in order to improve the quality of life among residents. The United Nations Environment Program took notice of Curitiba’s efforts and specifically its recycling waste project and rewarded the city with a prestigious award.
29. Viewing Parties
Inside or outside the stadium, visitors have the unique opportunity to experience the exhilarating thrill of watching the World Cup matches surrounded by the best, most devoted fans from around the world. For those who do not have tickets to all of the matches, there will be crowded viewing parties that surround the big screens scattered throughout neighborhoods, local bars and beaches in Brazil.
30. Making History
Brazil comes full circle from the World Cup in 1950 to now. The differences between the two World Cups show notable proof of the major exponential growth and achievement by the sport, the organization and the country of Brazil. The international game of soccer has evolved and Brazil has been supportive and involved in its development. From being the first country to host the World Cup after the World War II to being the country with the most tickets sold to the World Cup to date, Brazil continues to make history.
I mean is there a lot to see or what? If you didn’t catch our countdown to follow USA’s Brazilian adventures, you can see Part 1 of Natal HERE Stay tuned as we’ll bring you Part 2- Manaus! Let the countdown officially begin! 😀