Saturday, July 5, 2014

Day 35 - Belgian Disappointment, Dutch Courage

I had a great night sleep in a lovely warm bed last night. Very cozy. My hosts are so sweet and are looking after me like a set of long lost parents. After a rather sickly sweet coffee (I haven't got the heart to tell them I don't like it like that) and a cheesy bread thing I set off to explore Curitiba by day and caught the tourist bus. The hop-on-hop-off format is a good one and I thought it would be a good way of seeing Curitiba.

Tourist Bus

About to see the Botanical Gardens

I got off at the Jardim Botanico only to find it a bit disappointing. For the first time, in Brasil, something was not as good as I was hoping it was going to be. The park is nice enough but the "Crystal Palace"/"Kew Gardens" style greenhouse was rather tiny and underwhelming. Some of the other sections were closed. So, I got back onto the bus and walked around the city centre for a while before walking through another nice park with an aviary. There were some pretty spectacular birds there, including a Macaw.

Sweet coffee

Curitiba place

Looks better than it is


Curitiba is pretty in places

After a bit of a wander around I finally decided on a German bar to watch the Argentina v Belgium game. I was really looking forward to this game but it was a huge disappointment. Argentina scored after about 8 minutes - just an opportunist strike from Hugain and Belgium didn't have enough quality to threaten. Argentina scraped the bar and so deserved their win but it was a typical scrappy affair. As these tournaments get closer to the final the more cagey and defensive they get. The overall goals/game average has now dropped below 2.6 and the last 8 games have averaged just 1.125/game. All the time I was praying for a late Belgian equaliser to break the pattern, but no, Argentina held on to surely set up the second totally predictable semi final : Holland v Argentina.

I thought I'd ordered a nice meal - a pot of herrings with some black bread. Nice and light, right? Wrong. Another gargantuan meal for a whole family. Really, it's beginning to piss me off. How much food do they think individuals eat? I seriously get it that most people go out in groups and so most restaurants are catering for that crowd, but surely sometimes there is an individual who is going to eat on his/her own. Surely, the chefs can calculate that such individuals are not going to eat a football teams' worth of food. I feel ripped off that I had to pay R$90 when I ate less than a quarter of the food they gave me. The herrings were lovely, the salad was a treat but there was just far, far, far too much. I had a bowl of cheesy chips that would have fed six people.


... After (see any difference?)

Anyway... as you can tell from the tone here, I think I'm finally ready for this World Cup to be over. I'm really missing my darling and I'm feeling a bit fed up with it all. Most of all, I'm sick of the fact that practically every match I've taken a keen interest in has gone the boring, predictable way of the big fancied robotic team and never my own particular fancy. I might as well adopt German nationality, call myself Sigfreid Von Baden Baden, support Bayern Munich, eat sauerkraut and sausage every day and drink Weiss bier and go "Jaaaaaa!!!   Hurrrrrraaaaaahhhh!!! when Mueller or Klose score another dodgy goal.

Some faith was restored in football tonight, although I was beginning to think it was all going to go against fair play again towards the end.

Holland were by far the better side, showed more skill, positivity and desire to win. They hit the woodwork three times and had a number of near misses. If the score at 90 minutes would have been 4-0, no-one could have complained. By the end of 120 minutes, even more so. Of course, everyone likes the underdog and Costa Rica were the big surprise package in this World Cup but surely, a Holland v Argentina semi final is more appealing than a Costa Rica v Argentina one. The guys in the bar (Jokers again) were just starting to annoy me with their support of Los Ticos as they seemed to be edging towards a robbery but justice was done in the end. What an interesting move to bring Tim Krul (reserve goalie) on just before the final whistle. His two saves made all the difference so one has to credit Van Gaal for that.

So, at least one of the four quarter finals showed a clear difference in quality that was rewarded with a win, then. It certainly was a dramatic night and I must say, after three bottles of "Way" Red Ale (brewed here in Curitiba) I am feeling a lot better about it all again.

Jokers has some good beers

Way to Go

Not many Jokes @ Jokers, though...

All that early talk of the highest scoring World Cup ever, earlier on, is looking a bit silly now. The last seven games (first 90 minutes) have produced just 5 goals and the overall average goals per game is now down to 2.55.

It looks like it'll only keep getting tighter.

Looking forward to my mountain train ride tomorrow and then an overnight bus ride to Santos, where Pele made his name.


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