Been home for over a month, so I figure it’s time to write this mess of a tour diary. This will be in chapters by city, so settle in for a whole lotta words. Photos, almost all unlabeled, are here; they’re in chronological order at least.
Now then, the first part.
PROLOGUE: A STARTING XI QUESTIONS YOU HAVE UP FRONT
1. 7 games, 7 cities. We were there from June 14-July 14. Trip officially started on June 13, though, and we got back home to Cambridge at about 2am on July 15th. Yes, I went to work the next day.
2. US-Ghana, US-Portugal, US-Germany, US-Belgium, Belgium-Argentina, Argentina-Netherlands, Argentina-Germany. We had a TST-7, a team-specific ticket for 7 games, bought in the first round of the FIFA lottery, and tied to the US’s outcome.
3. Okay, maybe we didn’t expect to get 7 straight US games out of that pack, but that wasn’t the point.
4. Natal, Manaus, Recife, Salvador, Brasília, São Paulo, and Rio. Air travel the whole way, for a total of about 18,000 miles round trip from Boston. Had the US either won the group or been knocked out first, the three cities between group and final would’ve been Porto Alegre, Rio, and Belo Horizonte.
5. Game tickets tend to be the cheapest part of this whole thing; plane tickets are the most expensive.
6. Except for a dumb “ugh here’s five bucks to get the hell away from me” street scam I should’ve seen coming, a paddleboard shop that charged us “ha ha you can’t argue with me in Portuguese” prices, and a now well-known pickpocketing, no real crime or unrest. Note the stuff we did get jacked on was, as expected, the kind of thing you’re gonna find in any World Cup host country. You get that many people together, someone’s wallet’s gonna walk off.
7. Loved watching: Jermaine Jones, Geoff Cameron, Ale Bedoya, Costa Rica, that first Netherlands game, England and Italy crashing and burning, Chile, Colombia, Algeria, the “immovable object vs irrestistable force” contest of Robben’s diving rep vs Rafa Marquez’s entire life story, Memo Ochoa, Keylor Navas, John Anthony Brooks. Did not love watching: Honduras CONCACAFing it up within 20 minutes, Michael Bradley picking the worst possible time to have a bad year, Argentina’s fans.
8. Two colds and one case of food poisoning.
9. Other than the Amazon tour, all accommodations except two were rented via AirBnB. The two that weren’t: one was through Wimdu, a German AirBnB clone, and the other was a group rental via HomeAway. Everywhere we stayed was pretty great.
10. No, we didn’t see any riots or violence or anything like that. Cops were everywhere, and we saw a couple folks arrested at gunpoint. If you think I hung around to find out more details, you’re out of your goddamned mind.
11. We did see plenty of “FUCK FIFA” or “FIFA GO HOME” graffiti. Brazil’s socioeconomic problems as they relate to the tournament and its funding are extremely complex. As a relatively wealthy white lady from the United States, my opinions on them are