At the weekend the article below, about my experience at the World Cup, was published in the Brasil Post. Below is an English translation.
At the beginning of this year I moved to Peru for work and in almost no time at all I developed a profound sense of saudades for São Paulo. It wasn’t that I disliked Trujillo, a small city on the northern coast of Peru, it was just that after two years living in Sampa, this monstrously beautiful city had started to feel as much like home as Londonhasdone throughout the rest of my life – a sentiment probably best exemplified by how I repeatedly found myself telling people in Peru about excited I was to be “returning hometo Brazil”for the World Cup.
Unashamedly excited, I should add. As June approached I regressed in age by about thirty years;like my five year old self at Christmas I started counting down the days, thoughnot in anticipation of Santa but of the opportunity to fulfil a lifelong dream: attending a World Cup. The fact that it would take place in country known as the ‘spiritual home’ of football – and that which I now call my second home – as well as my fortune in being able to buy tickets for myself and my best-friend of twenty years who was flying over to join me, only further increased my giddiness.This was truly going to be the best month, ever. Continue Reading
Even at an early age I was hooked on just about everything to do with football, and my addiction become an obsession when I received a huge encyclopedia about the beautiful game one Christmas.
From it I devoured its history, as well as old statistics and stunning overhead shots of various stadia around the world. One in particular that always stood out was of the Maracanã in Rio and not only because it was the home of the great Brazil teams that my father had told me about, but also because to a young me it just looked so huge – largely, I guess, because it was.
Amazed, I read about how almost 200,000 people (although probably far more) filled it for the 1950 World Cup final and wondered how on earth it was possible to fit almost the entire population of my town in South London into one stadium.
The Maracanã in 1950
At the weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Campos do Jordão in the interior of São Paulo. It was largely an excuse to visit the Baden Baden microbrewery although this isn’t the city’s only highlight.
It could almost be the Andes.
Known as Suíça Brasileira (Brazilian Switzerland), Campos do Jordão is largely a touristic city since its mountainous landscapes and cool temperatures (relatively) make it a novelty in Brazil. At a height of 1639m it is also the country’s highest city, and the abundance of German / Swiss styled architecture all add up to making the place strangely deceptive of the fact that you’re actually in Brazil at all. Continue Reading
Coming from the Northern Hemisphere it still feels a little strange that I should be enjoying summer between the months of December and February. Frankly, given that I from the UK it feels strange to be enjoying summertime at all.
30 degrees at Christmas? Jumping into the sea to celebrate the New Year? What’s that all about?
This time of the year should all be about bleakness: horrific weather; short, dark days (sunset at 3.30pm anyone?); no more holidays until Easter; Celebrity Big Brother, etc.
Remarkably, the only other time I’ve spent Christmas away from the UK was when I was travelling in 2007. My buddy and I headed to the beach in Uruguay anticipating sun we instead found British rain, wind and cloud cover. Bloody typical.
British Christmas in Punta del Este (2007).
Anyway, summer holidays during (my) winter have become just another life adjustment now. Besides, summer in São Paulo is basically all year round anyway, apart from May which is just thoroughly mild. Continue Reading
Before I became more familiar with Brazil I didn’t even know that Minas Gerais existed. To be honest my knowledge of Brazil, like most unknowing gringos I’m sure, was pretty much limited to Rio, São Paulo, Salvador, the Amazon and the cataratas (waterfalls) at Foz do Iguaçu.
However, the more people I spoke to about Minas the more I liked the sound of it, especially as many of those same people also said that it was their favourite Brazilian state.
Intrigued and with a free week to kill, my wife and I decided to visit. The following is what we discovered.
Minas Gerais literally means ‘General Mines’ – the reason for this will become clearer below.
When you look at a map of Brazil the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo look quite close – well, they’re next door after all.
São Paulo (Yellow) & Minas Gerais (Beige)
However, let’s put this into context. Brazil is BLOODY MASSIVE.
The state of São Paulo ALONE is bigger than the United Kingdom. As such, the bus we took from the city of São Paulo to the capital of Minas – Belo Horizonte – took 8 hours. That’s a distance of about 580km and so it’s basically like driving from London to Glasgow.
That’s how close your neighbouring states in Brazil are (i.e. not very). Continue Reading