A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: wc2006

Day 25 - Last Day in Brazil

It was a good run - and now it is done...

sunny 75 °F
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We stayed up late just chatting and taking silly pictures. We knew today would be just about packing up and killing some time until we head out. It is Sunday, so very little will be open either. And I did a good job of sleeping in - nearly to 7am, so about an hour later than usual. It will be nice sleep in a softer bed again.
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A quick stroll through the markets again...
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We decided to get that final nice meal (lunch) before heading out for the airport (we had Brazilian Reals that were eating holes in our pockets). We went to Places Restaurant - we had been there before for a game, but were too full to eat that day (we had tried to go there last night). It really was a good place - Ivan raved that it was probably the best food he had had in Brazil.
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We walked through the park one last time to work off some of the lunch - the fountain was off, so that was a different view - and Ivan we just had to photo bomb one more camera crew (I did too while they were filming).
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With some creative suitcase packing followed by some creative taxi luggage package we manage to all get into a single cab back to the airport. We are heading out pretty early - we thought we could shop and spent the last of our Reals - but we would later discover that everything is really on the domestic side, not the international gates. We were so early, the gates weren't even open for check-in. We were "exhausted" at the end of this long trip.
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It has been a great trip of course. But we are also ready to get home as well - we miss our families and even our "regular" lives. I feel like I've packed on 20+ pounds but there is no scale here, so I'll have to wait until I get back to see for sure. But 3+ weeks of beef, bread, rice and french fries will have to have taken its toll. Brazil was quite different that I had envisioned - which is the beauty of traveling and visiting other cultures - to get your own perspective of a place. The different cities that we visited were also a great sampling of the country as well.

We were once again convinced that the News "Fear mongers" were totally out of whack. In total, we heard of one pick pocketing and saw one fan scuffle with the police - much less than a single NFL game. We were cautious of course, but other people were not - flashing large bags, jewelry and such - without any issues (that we knew of).

We had the best seats that we have ever gotten to World Cup games and saw some great matches. It paid nicely to get tickets early and for certain venues. Naturally, one of the best things about this trip was spending quantity/quality time with our friends that we don't see that often anymore. It was fantastic to experience all of this together.
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Who knows what the future holds, but no one is excited about Russia 2018 right now. But something tells me everyone will feel differently - 4 years is a long time away - but of course, the planning would start in just a couple of years - and the savings needs to start right away :)

Take care - thanks for following us - see you in four years!
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Posted by wc2006 17:57 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 24 - GAME DAY - Arg v Bel

Quarter Finals - Last day in the stadium

sunny 77 °F
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Just a couple of days left, but we are out of cash, so back up to the shopping mall to hit the ATM. Oh, yeah, this is the view from my hotel window (of the mall).
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It is our final day of games and the final game in the stadium - lots of lasts today - our last night in Brazil as well. We head out to casually get to the game early - by the markets and enjoying the fans. It seems like everyone is in Argentina gear - we are a little surprised as there were so many Belgium supporters in Rio.
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Inside however, we really the crowd is split more equally - there are tons of Belgium supporters - albeit, some are really Brazilians supporting Belgium against Argentina. Some sections were amazingly divided. The stadium is incredibly loud - loudest we have experienced so far.
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Messi! (even though he missed a breakaway, it was cool to see him in a real game)
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We got a lot of action on our end, including the goal and celebration.
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A good game and a good way to end the cup. But we are sad it is our last game and we have no more games to go to (no one has ever accused us of being good actors).
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Cab to another new place - Chopperia Maracana - supposed to be a great place to watch the games. We get there and there is a cover charge - urgh - but we spent $10 on the taxi ride, so $20 for all of us to get in isn't horrible, I guess (besides, Ivan paid :) ). They did have a lot of screens, but nothing huge. But we were unpleasantly surprised that they continued the Samba music through the game instead of turning on the game sound.
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But we were pleasantly surprised that the food was good and we basically got a dedicated screen. It was good to have some fans cheering around us. It was funny to hear a Dutch fan earlier say the Argentina wasn't any good - only scored 1 goal...
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The Ticos did a good job - attacking not sitting back - and taking Netherlands to PKs. It was quite unusual to see a Goal Keeper sub just for the PKs, but it paid off. Good cup for the Ticos and probably a just result as the Netherlands did have the best chances/near misses.

We checked out the band for a minute - and at least Ivan and Diana could say that they finally danced in Brazil.
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We headed out for a late for dinner, about 10pm on a Saturday night. However, we were shocked that everything was closed nearby. Everything else for the Kebab place/gas station. A fitting last meal in a country that we didn't quite figure out right. It was so "good" that we nearly forgot to take a food photo...
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Posted by wc2006 05:03 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 23 - Start of the Quarters

Return of games and struggle to watch somewhere

sunny 80 °F
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We definitely need a soccer fix - and luckily there are two Quarter Final games today. From here on out, I have a team to pull for in every game, so that is good. We were trying to decide between multiple different places that we could go. We have to find something that is A) open today, B) has good TVs, C) might have supporting fans, and D) has people, but not be overcrowded. There is the fan fest as well - but it might be a bit overcrowded and hot to stay out there for the whole day... And we know it will be unpopular to cheer against the host team (which we haven't done up to this point, but Ivan is from Columbia, so we are really cheering for them, not against the host).

We found a place that advertised a big screen TV and would have been a great place for the USA games, but weren't sure about it for today - but we thought we would give it a try in honor of Phil and the 4th of July (it would have been nice to find it when he was here). We arrive pretty early, and the place is dead.

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We only see some small TVs, but we talked to the American owner, Steve, and he says he will setup the big screen TV for us. So we decided to wait and see (not knowing what that meant to "setup it up for us"). This was an adventure in and of itself. Steve has been here 15 years and doesn't read/speak Portuguese. He had to move the TV projector (from outside to upstairs) and after a while, we go up to check it out. The wires are all taped to the ceiling and it is "on" but the picture (menu) is upside down (and in Portuguese). We struggle with him to get the screen right side up, then put the menu into English. But then there is still there is no signal - we continue to help troubleshoot it, check the wiring and connections, etc.
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We decide it is too late to go somewhere else and the food looks good, so we go downstairs where the regular TVs are to watch the game.
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The food is good and we keep getting updates on the screen. It appears the cable connector is bad (no place is open today to fix it). Luckily Germany eeks out a W and my bracket is still alive. They finally get it fixed somehow as we are about to leave (but it is not that great of a picture anyways).
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The place is really dead and we wanted to find some Columbian fans to watch the next game with. There were lots of Argentinians that came in to our hotel area for the game tomorrow. Argentina and Brazil are quite rivals (we didn't really remember that before we came here) - so we figured even if they weren't Columbian fans, they would cheer against Brazil. We head to the Brasilia 21 area - yep - it was all dead, except for the Hookah lounge - which is where we were headed - they have a big screen TV. We were please to see several fans in Columbia garb that greeted us warmly.
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It would have been nice to see what would have happened if Columbia's first goal was not incorrectly called back. I guess FIFA really wants Brazil to advance :) - but Columbia did not play very well either. But they were building some momentum towards the end and it should have gone to overtime. As you can imagine, Ivan was disappointed (albeit, it was a good run for them).

I had accidentally left my small backpack and had to back to get it - it had my Germany jersey that I had switched out of between games. I realized how horribly out of shape I am in as I trying jogging a bit. When I got closer, I started to realize that I didn't know any useful Portuguese words or phrases to help me ask for my bag (and my Portuguese pocket dictionary was in my bag as well :)). Luckily, the guy recognized me and my struggle to communicate and pulled the bag out from the back. We had a bite to eat at our hotel that evening and learned of Neymar being really hurt - that is really unfortunate.

Posted by wc2006 20:27 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Day 22 - A second rest day

Starting to have withdraw symptoms...

sunny 80 °F
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Ok, so it is probably good to start weening off of soccer - after all, the Cup will be over in a couple of weeks. And we return in a few short days. But for now, we head out to the National Park of Brasilia. It is promoted as have a swimming area, wild animals (monkeys), nature trails and some water features.

We had an inkling that we were in trouble when we had to show the taxi driver where it was on the map. We drove past some areas that we had not ventured to yet, and tried to grab some snaps from the car. The Os Guerreiros sculpture was much smaller than we had imagined.
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And when we arrived, it was a pretty bleak looking place - though not deserted, certainly not what it was boasted as. But we got out, not knowing how we would get back. We asked about where the trails were and such - but only got back that it was beautiful (and it started outside of the fenced area).

We walk for quite a while on a paved road - questioning ourselves all along the way. We keep seeing some signs that there could be animals (anteaters, foxes, etc.) along the way, but the fields were dry and kind of drought like along the path. We hiked for a good while before we find more directional signs and some old buildings.
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We did see this large ant hills - and there were signs about anteaters everywhere, but not one to be found. Perhaps they were only out at a certain time of day or something.
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Finally, as we are nearing desperation, we find the sensational water that we were looking for... (ever see the movie, History of the World, Part 1?)
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We about to give up and just head back when we try one more path. It looks promising as we start to enter a forest-like area. We finally find the forest trail and walk the loop. Lots of decently interesting wooded areas, but no wildlife other than a few tweeting birds.
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We hear the distinctive knocking of a woodpecker - which is the end of the excitement for the nature hike. Can you even see him? I think the video (with sound and movement) might be better.
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This is the closest we could find to a monkey:
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We head back to the pool. The water is a bit stagnant and very cold. Ivan braves it, but it does seem worth it to Diana and myself. After a quick swim, Ivan gets out of the water and a group of kids starts up a conversation. They tease him about Brazil being Columbia and me about cheering for Belgica (Belgium). It was all quite fun (you'll have to see the video sometime).
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We did run in some Argentinian people that said they wanted to buy our extra tickets - so maybe the trip will be worth it? On to a locally acclaimed restaurant, Mamgai, it is quite interesting from the outside. As well as another restaurant just next store.
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Food befuddled again, we get a quasi-decent buffet meal - we thought we could order off of the menu, and we were apparently there right before closing time (so things were on their last leg). It was very interesting place inside as well, but the food was not exceptional (but perhaps we did it wrong again).
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Back to the hotel to rest up some and see if the people show up to buy the tickets. They do and they are very glad to get them, nice to have that done already. We use a different book for a recommendation for dinner - we head out to the not-yet-explored North side of town. The taxi takes us to yet again, a mostly deserted looking area (we sat in the car while the cab driver made sure it was the right place). It was a cozy little place. The waiter tried to be helpful/friendly - but told us he did not speak Spanish or English. The food was very good - but it was really surprising that this would place would make it on a list of 3-4 places to go to in Brasilia (they had to call us a cab to get back home).
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Posted by wc2006 07:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 21 - No games? That Changes Everything

Something else besides soccer in Brazil?

sunny 80 °F
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"That Changes Everything" is a line that Ivan has been promoting (churning) the whole trip and so finally it makes it into the blog. We are now down to only 3 as Phil & Kate left late last night. We get a later start this morning before we get going. I decided to cut my hair short now that the USA is out - perhaps the beard is next?
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A quick trip through the park to the local markets again to do some souvenir shopping. Not as many places are open and certainly it is not very crowded. In fact, we thought this was a single restaurant before - now we can see it is really a bunch of smaller ones all together.
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Something else that comes in bottles from Brazil? These were really cool, but too heavy/big to carry back (but I got a little one)...
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We get a few recommendations for the next couple of days without any soccer - and we decide to check out another temple: Templo Da Boa Vontade (the Temple of Goodwill). It is promoted as one of the Seven Wonders of Brasilia and boasts one of the largest pure rock crystal in the world.
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We are a bit disappointed when we learn that they really enforce the no shorts rule (most places only cared about short-shorts or mini-skirts). However, we are pleased when they offer us free cover-up pants so we can get it.
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We enter through an electric set of memorial pieces. It includes items from royals, ministers, etc. as well as a local football club and a New York City club - an odd mix indeed. But we are pleased to find out that Jesus was a soccer fans as well (I hope that is not too sacrilegious to anyone). We are not really getting what this place is about yet.
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We find the gift shop next, and are told that they offer these WC shirts that help the children. The shirt is signed by famous Brazilian footballers - old and new alike. We buy a few of them.
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We drink from the Sacred Fountain that has filtered water that has passed under the crystal and is supposed to have healing powers.
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Next we stumble into the really interesting Face of Jesus display.
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And then to the Mandale and memorial to the founder of the temple.
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We decided to skip the Art Gallery (it seemed unready as well), but had trouble finding the actual temple/pyramid/crystal. We back track and realize we have to go through the Art Gallery to get to the others parts. Finally, we arrive at the Noble Hall and start to comprehend this place a bit more. Here the walls are lined with headshot murals of famous promoters of peace and good will from all over the world - for example, MLK jr.
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Also here is the entrance to the Egyptian Room - only one photo of the entrance, no pictures allowed. It is a serene place, no shoes allowed; a meditation chamber room adorned with Ancient Egyptian paintings and sculptures. We briefly meditate in the squeaky wooden chairs and start to appreciate their goal of peace, good will and humanitarianism.
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When we finally reach the temple (the Nave as they call it), we are greeted by a guide (who spoke English). She explained that the crystal was in the roof at the peak of the pyramid. The granite floor has spiral paths of dark and light stones. One follows the dark path representing mankind's difficult journey in the search for balance. At the center, directly beneath the crystal, illumination occurs. The light path represents the discovery of light and the beginning of a new journey.
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At the end of the path, is the Throne and Altar, which is a generic representation of god - as each person's faith or beliefs may be. It is represented by nature's basic elements - fire, air, earth and water with the saying "Every day is the day to renew our destiny."
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We are fortunate to be here on such an uncrowded day. And as per form, Ivan is interviewed for his impressions when departing the temple.
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And we grab a more detailed picture of the crystal, now that we know where it is.
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From here we head to the Park Shopping mall - near the suburbs - it is one of the largest malls in the area. It is massive. We have a quick lunch (albeit it a late one, about 4pm) and head out to find some more gifts. Mostly only locals here, as it seems that few tourists make it out this way. We find a store selling their World Cup stuff at half-price and Ivan literally buys the last one of a style they have (they strip the mannequin for him).
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Ivan gets enamored with mannequins then, and has the gall to try to pick one up - right in front of his wife.
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Back to our hotel area, some blog updating, and then back out to find a place for a late dinner. We heard about a hotel with a rooftop pool and go to check it out. Turns out they have a rooftop restaurant as well, with spectacular views of the city as well.
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A fine ending to a day without soccer in Brazil - a day that changed everything. And I have a confession to make to my wife and everyone reading this blog. I apologize in advance, for my ways and for misleading you... I did not really cut my hair.
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Posted by wc2006 14:15 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 20 - Last of Round of 16 games

Can the dream stay alive?

sunny 80 °F
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We walk to a different area of town this morning to reach the Cathedral (but it is an adventure in and of itself to find a sidewalk) and cross some busy streets. But the sights are interesting and we feel like we are seeing the more local Brazilians for a while.
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The Modern Museum (Museu Nacional da Republica) is right by the Cathedral. There is this interesting signage regarding the creation of the city that captivates us for quite a while (we are slow readers).
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The Museum figured out how to lure in World Cup fans like many other places here.
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It sits on a large open square that makes the building itself a piece of art (as are most of the buildings in Brasilia).
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It was very interesting and spacious inside (much larger than it seemed from the outside). Though just the Brazilian art from 1950 to now (not World Cup art).
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Although there were about 3-4 football (soccer) related pieces.
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Across the street is the Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de Brasilia). It is quite interesting from the outside. And Phil was beside himself with the actual Money Changers right outside of the Temple.
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But even more beautiful from the inside - it seemed like a peaceful ocean side or something. It was a quite impressive work of stained glass. The inside walls were curved as well and quite interesting themselves.
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When leaving the Cathedral, we finding see the political (police) rally that we had heard from some time. Until we got close enough, we had guessed it might have been preaching or some protest against the cup or something.
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We also bumped into a Fox Sports Brasil crew about to interview an Argentinian-American family about the upcoming matches today. We joined in the fun (and are now Famous Movie stars in Brasil - or so we think). We did an excellent USA-USA-USA-USA-USA chant.
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Back to the Lago area to catch the early game - and luckily (barely) Argentina does their part to keep the dream alive.
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Phil and Kate are leaving tonight to return home, so we all head back to be near the hotel so they can make a quick get away afterwards, especially if the game goes long. We find yet another local hotel restaurant to catch the game at.
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Well, I guess you know the answer by now. Despite an all-star from Timmy (or Chimmy as they say here), the USA failed to keep up with the second part of the dream. Disappointing to say the least. We just wished that we had not bunkered in for 90 days, only to try and play in overtime. But it will be a pretty nice consolidation prize.... to watch Messi lead Argentina in a Quarter Final match... (and now we can root for them).

A bittersweet outcome - reminds me of playing golf - if I was always really bad, I could just quit. Or if I ever just shot Par, I could quit as well. But instead, there is just enough good shots here and there to keep me coming back for more...

Safe journey back Phil & Kate!

Posted by wc2006 20:40 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 19 - Game Day - Fra v Nig

Europe vs. Africa for both knock-out games

sunny 80 °F
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Today is our Round of 16 game, France vs Nigeria, should be a good one. Do you know Phil? What is so special about this picture?
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We have some extra tickets to sell, so we head out to the stadium early - but there are plenty of people out already.
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We are walking distance (maybe 1 mile?) from the stadium. And we travel past the TV tower and the markets to get there. In the market, these kids were doing some gymnastics on the concrete - no mats/nets...
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We also see these interesting/large ants (ok, maybe we are a bit too goofy)...
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Unfortunately, there seems to be many more people selling extra tickets than people buying. And there are lots of cops around as well as (false?) rumors of undercover cops as well. Ivan does see some people being hauled off by the police; perhaps they were trying to make a profit? We sell an extra group of 4 tickets at half-price to a group of young guys (Phil and them walk away from the stadium and crowds to make the deal). And we decide to just eat the other tickets as we are not even sure if selling them for less than face value is legal (though we would prefer for fans to get), just not worth the risk.
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Lots of fans and long lines to get into the stadium, but it goes pretty quickly and we are inside in no time. Lots of people everywhere and we have to find our entry gate. We get a long walk around the stadium to our section, but arrive in plenty of time for pre-game photos.
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Our seats are fantastic, three rows from the field. The game was intense, as was the crowd - it is definitely the next level when you win or go home. We were lucky that both of the France goals (as well as the one called back on Nigeria) were scored on our end, right in front of us. If you looked in the crowd, you might have seen us as well?
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And when the corner kicks were on our side, the players were close enough to reach out and touch.
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It was a great game, great seats and great friends to share it with!
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A quick trip back to the hotel to change into my Germany jersey. We walked through the nearby Brasilia 21 area, which was typically dead so far - but it was a happening place today, with live music and dancing.
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Still, we had an idea of where to go near our hotel. Unfortunately, when we arrived there, it was packed (only limited seating). So we headed back towards Brasilia 21. However, it was getting near game time and people were tired of walking, so we hit a small place closer by (Phil noticed the game on from across the street). It was a fine place to watch Germany advance, the food was pretty decent - and really cheap for a change.
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Posted by wc2006 15:57 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 18 - Tourist stuff in Brasilia

Second day of knock-out games

sunny 80 °F
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We head out to walk some of the local area before trying to catch the day's games. We are near the TV tower and the open park area which includes this cool fountain and some sculptures. The area is really expansive with lots of people strolling, riding bikes or having picnics - a popular place with the locals on a Sunday.
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We wait in line for the elevator up to the terrace.
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The views from the top are even more spectacular.
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The need for a restroom drives us to the balcony cafe - but it also housed some tourist information and we found a new area to taxi to and explore for the first game (we heard that the fan fest was very hot - all sunny as well).
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A quick trip through the local markets and then back to the hotel to catch a cab - and unfortunately, drop off Kate - she is not feeling great - maybe a cold or something.
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The Lago area is quite nice and we catch the early game at Bierfass. Lots of interesting drinks including Ivan getting a popsicle in his and this strange orange mountains that someone ordered. The restaurant is nice, but a bit too touristy - we don't get as ripped off as Mexico did, but still not a great deal...
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We strolled the area and enjoyed the promenade area before heading back to check on Kate.
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And Ivan just couldn't resist doing a Suarez impression.
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Kate is up and ready to go, so we head out to catch the next Concacaf game. We struggle again to find a place to watch, so we end up in a different hotel lounge that we have to ourselves (at the start of the match). The Ticos seem to have a referee that is bias against them, but luckily end up prevailing against them by nailing all 5 of their PKs. Another gut wretcher.
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Posted by wc2006 03:46 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 17 - Knock out games

Brazil & Columbia - First real day in Brasilia


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So Brasilia feels quite different than Rio or Salvador. The capital was built in the middle of nowhere in the 50's & 60's. So it is spacious and open - reminds one of a more western city - long straight highways and tons of huge buildings. Ivan gets a transformer for a few of their non-electronic items, and this is what he gets - he swears this is the same model that he worked with in school - about 30+ years ago.
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Also, Ivan finally gets a Columbia Jersey, instead of just a t-shirt. And he is proud of it obviously...
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We consider trying to go to the Fan Fest today, but it is a 30 minute taxi ride and with Brazil playing today, we figured it would be completely packed (and we might not get in). We later saw pictures on TV and we were right. However, it is a holiday here as well when Brazil is playing, so many places were closed for the day. We go exploring trying to find some place that is open where we can watch the game.
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This entry includes a "quiz" - guess what type of building this is???
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(The answer appears at the end of the blog.)

It is quite common to be stopped for photos with others as well - especially when sporting team jerseys...
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We find a place that is open, or will be in by noon. We stroll the streets waiting for it to open. It is very interesting, there seem to be about 20-30 stores that are all the same - small little drug stores - in fact, only a block apart, there are two of the exact same store/brand as well. I guess the pharmacies are close to the hospital, but it is quite odd.
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The restaurant has some decent TV screens, and opens earlier than noon to let us get setup. It is a buffet style place - where you pick whatever you want, they weigh your plate and charge you by kilo. It turns out to be a pretty good place to watch - a local hangout of sorts.
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Here they are making fun of Luis Suarez as Dracula. This is a picture of the TV screen and it is is probably hard to tell, but these are giant paper mache figures that are probably 20' high. The other ones are local broadcasters, but how they got the Suarez one so quickly is hard to say. Who knew that Brazilians were into paper mache?
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Typically, the place is only open for lunch hour (and then later for dinner), but of course, they don't kick us out during the game.
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And when the game goes to penalty kicks, all of the kitchen/staff come out to watch. Obviously, they were very pleased with the result.
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We pay up and head out to find the next place - to watch the Columbia game. People are all cheering and shooting "Bra-sil" on the streets as we walk back towards the hotel - learning the neighborhood and looking for a place. Again, because of the holiday, much is closed down. But we find a hotel lounge (same one a yesterday actually) that has some big screen TVs....
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And another positive result - with James for Columbia really beginning to shine.

Quiz Answer: The building is a hospital - but it makes us wonder why it seems to be geared towards keeping people in...

Posted by wc2006 12:00 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 16 - Day of "Rest"

Rest meaning no soccer - travel day

sunny 75 °F
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We leave Rio and head for Brasilia today - no games to interfere, so it should be somewhat relaxing, except for the packing up and such. Leaving the hotel in Rio - we had a nice time here...
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Thought it might be a good day to show a few plain Jane local shots as well. Rio is really crowded and the drivers (in each town we have been in) seem to find their own lanes - motorcycles often riding the lines between the lanes...
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An interesting bridge in Rio on the way to the airport.
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Silliness at the airport, while Kate struggled to get her boarding pass (problem with her data in TAM airlines, I guess).
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This is our last domestic flight (and the last one with all 5 of us). Our experience is that all of the landings in Brazil are very rough (they hit hard, strong and brake quickly). But the flight was fine...
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And we were happy to be in Brasilia. Not sure if this picture really comes out well, but this artwork is actually on t-shirts pasted to a wall...
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Phil and Ivan exchanged some money from USD to Reals using an automated machine as well. Then we took our taxi rides to the hotel...
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Our new home is not quite as nice as the place in Rio, but is about 1/2 the price.
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It's about 4pm when we arrive and no food since breakfast (yes, I am feeling better). We head out about 5pm - we remember where Fogo De Chao was from our previous day visit here. Unfortunately, we have to wait until dinner time, because they don't open until 6:30pm. We found a little hotel lobby lounge to wait it out.
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Fogo De Chao is just like in the states - I guess - but perhaps the meat is even better over here? It is one of the most recommended places to eat and Ivan has been craving some "good food". We try our best not to eat ourselves sick, but are only marginally successful...
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On the way back we stroll through the mall to try and work off some of the meal. Just had to snap a shot of this store...
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Posted by wc2006 16:25 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 15 - Could not get there

Had to sell back my USA v GER tickets

sunny 83 °F
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We just could not find any flights that worked - as it turned out with the weather, we probably would have had too much trouble trying to get there (and moving to Brasilia tomorrow). The TV stations were showing cars stuck in the flooded streets and we would have had to take our luggage with us - lose several hotel nights, etc...

We did a bit of souvenir shopping in the morning before the game. Don't ask me why Ivan needed this...
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So we decided to go back to the craft beer place nearby to watch the game. It was very interesting, the street that seemed like a ghost town yesterday was bustling and noisy today. The place was packed with locals - seemed to be mostly just there for their lunch hour - some watching the game (and us) and some just eating.
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Surely you know the result by now, USA played ok, lost, but moved on! We survived the group of death.So the dream is still alive - USA v Argentina for our Quarter Final game. The Concacaf and the Americas are well represented this year, will lots of European "powerhouses" sent packing.
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We were so excited that we made it through, that we missed the late games today. We were celebrating at the rooftop bar, pool and sauna. Walked the nearby park...
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Tomorrow is a rest day - for the players and for us. We will travel to Brasilia and take it easy - to prepare for the Round of 16 in a new town. Ivan is sad to be leaving town, just when Columbia is arriving for their R16 match, but changing all of the plans and acquiring game tickets, etc - it is just not doable.

Posted by wc2006 06:46 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 14 - Redemption

Dean's last day with us - then there were 5


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Dean headed back to Salvador early in the morning for his departure tomorrow. Even though there are knock out games today, we wanted to visit the Christ the Redeemer statue, so we had to take the time could get, which was during the first game.
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We wanted to get there in plenty of time, so we had some minutes to kill waiting for our trip up.
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The train ride was quite interesting, through neighborhoods, forests, up the mountain side. A couple of stops along the way, for the trains to pass each other on the way up/down.
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The views from the top were quite astonishing - not only of the statue, but also of the surrounding city.
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The five of us packed into a single taxi to get back -
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We are surprised that almost everything near our hotel is closed. The best we can determine, it is because there is a game match here in RIO today (so it is a holiday - and maybe many of the people are working the game or attending it). We did find "Pizzalandia" open, no customers, we headed in with some reserve...
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The food was great and they had some Brazilian craft beers as well. Along with a big screen TV, it was a great place!

And today was a great day for me personally - no illness at all! Hopefully, I'm done with that...

Posted by wc2006 12:39 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 13 - At the Copa, Copacabana

That's about a nightclub, but still kept coming up...

sunny 78 °F
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We headed out early so we could see the the beaches and maybe still catch the early game (ITA-URU), figured we would be back here in time for the COL-JAP game. We took the subway, well, because we could. It was pretty cheap R$3.75 pp each way as well. Although the guy working on it did not instill a great deal of confidence.
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We took it to the end of the line, and walked through a cool local market to get to the beach.
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Arriving at the beach at Ipanema, everyone regretted not bring their swimsuits - it was beautiful - and we were blessed with a gorgeous sunny day as well. I think the pictures will speak for themselves.
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Walked the beach (and several blocks between Ipanema and Copacabana). Looked like the bike rentals would have been a cool option - but as we have discovered here - there are always some "extra" steps to everything. You have to register online in advance, etc.
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At Copa, Phil noticed this makeshift set of studios which were set up over the road to get a good view of the beach.
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There were some nice restrooms along the beach as well - it is amazing what R$2 will buy you. Yeah, I'm still battling my stomache ailments - but I'm not photo-documenting any of that...

We attempted to get into a rooftop place that Ivan had read was a good recommendation - but it was now an exclusive Budwiser Hotel - hotel guests only. But the hotel restaurant was open outside, with both the ITA-URU game and the CRC-ENG game on.
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The food was good, and we were obviously hungry, so we forgot to photo-doc our meal, but someone else's looked cooler anyways...
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We continued along the beach/boardwalk/bike lanes towards the Fan Shop and Fan fest. The shop was huge, but didn't have that much cool, unique things (just a lot of things) - and they did not have the cap that I wanted - nor any USA stuff either.
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We decide to stay and watch the Columbia game at the Fan Fest. The Fan Fest area was huge and it was cool that it was on the beach itself. They had the typical zipline activities as well. No surprise, the crowd was virtually all Columbian supporters. We didn't have any Columbian garb, but were supporting them nonetheless. The old thing was that the crowd wanted to sit during the game - we had never seen that - but then again, we had never been to a Fan fest on the beach either...
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The other side of the beach fan fest was the cleaning of the shoes on the street afterwards.
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We took the subway back. And decided to try a little place that we had skipped/ignored before (right by our hotel). The food was excellent and they had craft beers from all around the world - including some from Brazil. Finally, some Brazilian beer that was really good - most of the regular beer here needs to be cold (if that tells you anything).
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End of a long day, too exhausted to blog much...
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Posted by wc2006 04:21 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

Day 12 - Start of Double Games

Last of the group games

sunny 75 °F
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We get up early to do some sightseeing before the games today. Ivan appears to have the lucky 1 day version of being ill (I'm still working on mine :( ). We decide to explore on foot and see some what is nearby - luckily we were really close to some interesting areas. The weather cooperated as well - very nice but not too hot either. Even though the high temps seem to get near what it was in Salvador, the lower humidity (where we currently are at least) makes it much more pleasant. We find the Arcos da Lapa (an old aqueduct which was obviously recently repainted as it was much older looking in the tourist books):
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The Sao Sebastiao Metropolitan Cathedral which you can see looked like a big cement cone from the outside.
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But the inside was quite remarkable:
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Some sites as we wandered the city... Busses were everywhere. Bike delivery guys were common - with huge shock/springs. Some interesting street art and small merchant stands.
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Unfortunately, Kate is the next victim and needs to back to the hotel (so Diana and Phil are the only ones not affected yet - knock on wood). We had not seen any liquor stores (liquor is stored in regular grocery stores), but this was really more of a wine specialty store.
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But the best part of visiting it, was that it helped us stumble into the Salvador Dali exhibit. We knew it was here in Rio, but had no idea where the exhibit was. The museum lived in a former bank, complete with huge safe/vault doors as well. We were pleasantly surprised that the exhibit was free and not very crowded.
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On the walk back, we saw this guy sleeping in the middle of a busy square. Sadly, you see people sleeping on the ground quite often here, but not typically in the middle of the square...
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Since the last games for each group start today, there will only be 2 game times (1pm and 5pm here). And we have to find the game that we want to watch as well. For the early game, that is NED-CHI, which is no problem because that is the same for all and we easily found the game out. However, we thought that the fight between MEX-CRO would be better than the BRA-CMR game, so we decided to watch from our hotel room - where we could also flip back and forth between the games. Fireworks are legal here - but are mainly just noise makers - and echoed via the streets whether Brazil scored, so we knew when to switch back to see the scoring. They lit up the Christ the Redeemer statue in green after the Brazilian victory, but you'll have to use your imagination to see this...
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Posted by wc2006 02:58 Archived in Brazil Comments (1)

Day 11 - GAME DAY - Bel v Rus

And there were 6, Gwen's last day

sunny 72 °F
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We have a limited number of tickets to the historic MaracanĂ£: it's Ivan & Diana and Phil & I that go to the game. Gwen, Kate and Dean head out to try
the Sugar Loaf again.... More about that later....

We have a nice breakfast at the hotel buffet, and see a really tall guy (seems 7' tall) - Ivan happens to walk behind him and is Ivan's eye level is at the guy's lower back - kind of funny. But not nearly as funny as us all going down into the subway to catch the train to the stadium. We get a floor down before we realize we entered a parking garage instead of the subway station.
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When we resurface, the nice attendant asks "metro"? Smiles, and tells us that it happens all the time, and gives us directions to find the real entrance. The subway/metro ride is just fine and spills us out right at the stadium. There's a large crowd of people which swarms me when they realize I am selling a game ticket (to the R16 in RIO - we only got 1 ticket to that game and it would cost us a ton to change flights, hotels, etc.)
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The short walk from the subway to the stadium was interesting as we had to walk through 4 lines of guards towards the stadium - each time, having to show our game ticket to get through. Afterwards, we turn down the steps to the ground (to get to our entrance gate) and the area is completely open (did not make any sense in regards to the entry from the subway). The stadium was really unimpressive from the outside.
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We are really early because we had thought that the subway would have taken longer than it did. There were plenty of festive outfits and a surprising number of USA fans as well. Ivan was trying to photo bomb anywhere he could. ESPN Brazil was there taping and interviewing - Ivan and I photo bombed the interview (we could be famous now - on Brazilian TV?)...
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Whereas Diana went for the straight-forward approach...
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One of the guards, stopped us and ask "Landon Donovon?" - "He is your best player, why is he not here? Injury?" - Phil told him in Portuguese, the the coach wanted to prove he was the boss/chief.
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The inside is much nicer, Phil did another one of his impressions - this time a white British fan sun bathing...
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Game Photos:
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The subway was crowded on the way back - more reminisce of the experience from Germany...
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Team Sugar Loaf: They got to go up - no lines - but unfortunately it was foggy as well.
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They also head to Copacabana area to check out that area - found a large fan store and did some shopping.

We all met up again to prepare for the USA game and have dinner. Gwen says her good-byes and head over to the airport for her return flight. Pretty weird to be staying behind without her. I finally have the Churrasco (Brazilian BBQ). The US played much better - but such heartbreak to let Portugal tie at that 95 minute... Oh well, so more work left to do...
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Posted by wc2006 18:19 Archived in Brazil Comments (0)

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