Monday, June 30, 2014

Day 30 - Match Day in Brasilia - allez les blues!

I woke up in my functional, relatively cheap, but basic accommodation near the airport in Brasilia to find that the breakfast was surprisingly good and that there were many other guests there. I tried to start a conversation with an Argentinian from a place near Terra del Fuego but he clearly wasn't in the mood for a laboured conversation with someone who didn't speak Spanish.

I ordered a taxi to my next AirBnB place in the city and, again there were a few dramas. The taxi driver seemed almost to refuse to take me because the AirBnB address didn't include a block letter. Eventually, I managed to persuade him that it didn't matter. Just take me there and I'll find it on foot. Honestly, what's the big deal?

Rafael and Danielle both work at Banco do Brasil and so were out when I arrived. They had given the doorman the keys and once I'd got those, everything went very smoothly.

Brasilia is a very modern city built with very grand designs. The main thoroughfares take the shape of an aeroplane and out on the wings are where the residential areas are. They're all named very logically - SQS 415 is mine - in a rather Soviet kind of way. But the suburbs are all very pleasant, with trees and parks everywhere.

SQS 415 Block E
The flat itself is lovely and clearly the loving home of a young couple with an adorable little boy, Benice, who is about one and a half years, who was at the crèche for the day. I felt a bit like an intruder arriving at their home alone, so I carefully left my stuff in my room and then set off to explore Brasilia, taking my match ticket with me.

I took a 10 minute walk to the nearest metro station and was whizzed to Centro where I got out to the place right at the cross in the middle of the airplane. This was the place featured in the SBS program "This is Brasil". It really isn't a very attractive place, a bit like a huge modern bus station but from there you get a really good impression of the way Brasilia is laid out. From the top left you can look down "the fuselage of the plane" to where the government buildings are. My plan was to walk down to the famous modern church, designed (like seemingly everything here) by Oscar Niemeyer. That is a spectacular building, particularly rom the inside. The stained glass is stunning. Next to it is a modern art gallery, again shaped in an ultra modern way.

I must admit that I'm not really into this style of architecture or modern art, so I got on and walked down towards the "tail" past a big "Eiffel" tower structure towards what is definitely my kind of modern architecture, that fabulous renovated National Stadium of Basil.

My new favourite stadium

On the way there a street sales men managed to persuade me to part with R$35 for a small model of the World Cup which I used as a prop in a few selfies.

I wanted to maximise my time in the ground, so I went there straight away and found my seat - the best view so far. The game itself was quite a tense affair and Nigeria looked like they might pull off a shock before France gradually started to dominate. As seems to be a recurring pattern in the round, the group winners eventually won quite comfortably in the end.

I supported France - as I think they have a better chance of beating Germany than Nigeria and because I know my nephew Dary would love to have been there. So this one's for you, Dary! "Allez les Blues!"

I was sat next to a typical World Cup group. An Indian guy to my left, a beautiful Bolivian to my right and a sprinkling of Brasilians all around. It did feel a bit weird to be congratulated by Brasilians when France took the lead, but I'm taking any reflected glory I can from this World Cup!



Happy with my Sony Cybercam - It can take these

... and these

What it' all about

Allez les blues

Big crowd but...

Too many corporate seats empty

After the game finished, I took time to walk around the emptying stadium to take some photos from different angles before heading off back into the city.

There was a great party atmosphere outside the ground with Brasilians and Argentinians making fun of each other and people from all over the world just enjoying the friendly atmosphere. A huge guy in a Nigeria shirt spotted my three lions and, in a lovely London accent, asked "is that an England shirt I spot there?"

Ade, of Nigerian parents, had lived in England for years before emigrating to - you've guessed it - Sydney, Australia, was with his American friend (also of Nigerian descent) Bobby. I tagged along as they went from group to group joining in with the revelry. Ade bought a new shirt from a group of Nigerians as we headed off to a restaurant to watch the Algeria v Germany game.

Unfortunately all the tables at the nearest restaurant were already taken and I got into a bit of a panic about missing the start of the match. Ade was keen to go to this particular restaurant (Fogo Do Chau) so I decided to skip off in a taxi to somewhere else. Nice idea, but the place the taxi took me to was also busy  and with the national anthems being sung, it seemed I'd failed in my task.

There was a guy eating alone on a table with a good view so I boldly asked if he minded if I joined him. He had a Germany short on but Sashid was an Indian lawyer, again specifically over for the world cup, before getting married later in the year. We chatted about the world cup and how the game might be improved and I bought him a couple of drinks for allowing me to join him.

I had a fabulous steak but the beer was really poor. I asked for Budweiser (hardly the best choice) but they kept bringing me Heineken. Yeuk. Anyway, I ended the night with a Caiprinha as I chatted to a group of Scots on the next table about the upcoming referendum. A group of intelligent guys, these, they gave me a very well-balanced assessment of the issues being faced and, to a man, said they'd be voting "no". If this is the result, apparently it'll be the first time ever a population with the opportunity to get independence have turned it down.

Ade is a cool dude who now lives in Sydney

Very difficult finding a place to watch Algeria v Germany

Fantastic Mignon

Caiprinhas - better than beer sometimes

Anyway, after that I got a taxi back to the apartment where Rafael finally met me. A very nice and friendly chap. We chatted about work and travel before I saw Benice and his wife Daniella.

Eventually, I had to crash out, still not feeling 100%.

But it was another great day.


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