My priority today was to get my ticket to Ouro Preto tomorrow and do a bit of shopping. Anything else was a bonus but I hoped to see a bit more of BH.
I had a nice chat with a fellow roomie from Singapore, who is also here for the World Cup, before setting out. Luckily the bus was at the stop already so I legged it to catch it and the conductress was very kind to make sure I got off at the right stop. We went past some pretty grim-looking fevalas, so Belo Horizonte is clearly not so well off to avoid those.
At the bus station I found the right queue to join very quickly and bought return tickets to Ouro Preto no problem at all. Job 1 done easy: Bargain! So then I setoff to find the Mercado Central, a famous market that everyone told me a had to see. I was not disappointed. Amazing. At least 400 stalls selling everything from potatoes to parrots and cool Brazilian tops, which was one of the things I wanted to buy. I had a good walk around before having lunch there, as advised by a lovely girl who spoke excellent English, trying to flog Sugar Cane Liquor.
|Catching the Green Bird to Ouro Preto|
|The Mercado Central sells everything...|
|...from potatoes to...|
|...puppies and ...|
|... Amazon fruits and spices|
|... and cool yellow & green equidistant hooped shirts|
The meal was very tasty, but again, too much and too much in the way of carbs. I mean: Rice and chips, with pork scratchings in a medioc stuff, two slabs of grilled chicken and a bit of egg plant. An Arsenal fan joined me towards the end and we shared our views about England and the state of football before, bizarrely, a television crew came up to ask me what I thought of Brazilian food. So, on camera, I told them what I just told you.
|Best restaurant in the market|
|My choice - nice but just too much|
After that, I decided to do a bit more shopping. I had three more items on my list: Firstly, I wanted to buy a pair of jeans as I will soon be heading south to places quite high up where it will be a lot colder. I haven't bought a pair of jeans in years and I've been planning for ages to buy some here, so that all went very smoothly. I also wanted to buys some new shoes. The ones I took with me cost just AUD$15 in Perth and I've been wearing them practically every day since I got here. They'd just about had it and the soles had started to wear through so time for some new ones. I got a cool pair of grey daps for about R$60. The other thing was some new laces for my boots as I'll be doing some walking in them soon.
|Watching Argentina v Nigeria on the street|
|Pleased with my new Brazilian top, jeans and daps|
Whilst doing this, I watched Argentina edge past a rather impressive Nigeria to top the group. As Bosnia beat Iran, there was no-one to take second spot from Nigeria.
All good, I got a cab ride to a bar I'd heard sells the best beer in BH. Unfortunately it wasn't open when I got there so I went across the road to another place to watch France and Ecuador come to a very exciting and close fought stalemate. I struggled to keep my eyes open at times, as I haven't been getting much sleep but I was soon woken up good and proper.
As I sat there, a group of English "lads" (= men in their 30s - 50s) who were on tour for the football, came over and I started chatting with them and ended up having a meal and a few beers with them.
They were largely Ipswich fans and, as they are used to disappointment, agreed with me that England's performances had not ben too bad and that "margins" had done for us again.
I went over to the fancy bar to try their beer selection only to find that only one of them was on and that was just yet another bland lager-type beer, yet again. How disappointing. So then Andy (who was also curious about the beer and joined me) and I went back to the first place for some very delicious steak and some cheesy chips and garlic rice.
Again, sensible Victor stopped my going for more beers after they all went off to bed (early morning flight to Rio for them) and I got the cab back here safe and sound.
|Albanos Bar Disappointing that it opened late and only sold one beer - some micro brewery that|
|The boys from East Anglia|
So Groups E and F finished today
Argentina 3 Nigeria 2
Another high scoring game saw Argentina win a ding-dong battle. 1-0, 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2. Again marginal, again Messi gave them the edge. Nigeria still go through in second place though.
Bosnia 3 Iran 1
I didn't see any of this one (even though I might have actually gone to it if it hadn't been for getting the England ticket) but I'm not surprised at the result.
France 0 Ecuador 0
France apparently rested a few of their players for this one so one shouldn't draw too much from it. It was actually a great end-to-end game, despite the scoreline. It was too much for Ecuador in the end, who needed to beat France well to make sure they qualified.
Switzerland 3 Honduras 0
Again, didn't see this one but no surprises there. So It'll be Argentina v Switzerland and France v Nigeria (a match I am down to see in Brasilia) in the round of 16
Tomorrow is the last of the group stage games with Group G (for Germany) already all but decided. It is tempting to imagine Klinsmann and Loew will have secretly agreed that the game will end a draw to guarantee both go through but if Germany do beat the USA by two goals Ghana need only beat Portugal to get through. In Group H, Belgium have already qualified so it's all down to the clash between Algeria and Russia. It's a simple matter of a must-win game for Russia. Any other result and Algeria will go through to play Germany. Belgium versus USA appears to be a likely other clash in the round of 16.