6/23/14

Finally! The day that our favorite Brazilian donuts returned to the breakfast menu!

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These fried delights were at breakfast our first morning and we assumed we would be joined by them every morning but we were not. So, when they reappeared at breakfast, we were excited. There may have even been a euphoric text message notification sent from our early riser to her travel companions who were still in the room.

We were attending the 5:00 pm Mexico/Croatia game, so it wasn’t the get up/get dressed/get fed/get to the stadium rush that we’d had for the 1:00 pm start Italy/Costa Rica game.

After eating our weight in Brazilian donuts, we headed into Recife Antigo — Old Recife — to find FIFA’s Fan Fest.

There was a big to do about the Fan Fest in Recife. FIFA wanted the government to pay for it. The government didn’t want to pay for it. The location was changed. It was downsized. And, actually, when we took a cab to the Fan Fest we weren’t really all that clear on where it was. Our cab driver was approximately 93 years old (and drove like it) so eventually, we just had him drop us off and followed some people who looked like maybe they knew where they were going.

We were sidetracked when a couple jumped out of their car to get their pictures taken with the girls in the Croatia t-shirts. Maybe they thought we were Croatian?

We aren’t Croatian.

We made our way to Fan Fest just in time for it to start raining. After making a quick loop around the offerings (big screen that shows matches, a few sponsor-run activities, beer stands) we took refuge at Deltaexpresso, a coffee shop that was nearby. Bonus: free wireless. We had lunch and coffee and waited out the rain.

When the rain died down and our coffee ran out, we headed back to Fan Fest. Then it started raining again and the mall that Fan Fest was sitting beside became very, very desirable. We took a few laps, browsed in a few stores, made another attempt at watching Netherlands/Chile on the big screen (we would go outside and it would start raining, basically) before finally giving up and staking out a table next to…the ice rink.

Yes, the ice rink. Appropriate, no?

We were tempted to join the Brazilians who were stumbling around the rink but too cheap to do it, so instead we watched with equal parts horror and amusement.

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Then we met up with our fellow Midwestern misfits — the guys staying in our hotel — and we all traversed to the train station. The guys had walked from Fan Fest to the train station before, and Katie has stellar map reading skills, so we made our way to the train station without incident.

Unless you count Lauren stopping to purchase a pair of spandex shorts for $1 an incident.

But, really, it was more like a Major Life Victory.

We also dragged the guys inside the prison market (Casa da Cultura, that is) in our attempt to culture them. Also because we had a few minutes to spare.
Anyway. When we were done with all of our important shopping, we bought our tickets to the stadium and jumped on the Metro for an easy and affordable trip to Arena Pernambuco. (If any trip that consists of Metro to bus to lengthy walk can be labeled as such.) Let’s give it up for mass transit, boys and girls!

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After the typical milling about outside prior to the match, we hopped into the security line, found our section and bid the boys adieu.

To say that by choosing to support Croatia we were outnumbered is the biggest understatement of, like, ever. A Mexican we ran into at the beach the day before told us that half of Mexico was in Recife and, you guys, he was not kidding. Mexican fans were everywhere. And they were rowdy.

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Which we expected. Having attended Mexico games at the 2010 World Cup, we knew what to expect. Filthy cheers, beer showers, the works. There was a reason that we weren’t supporting Mexico and it wasn’t because we don’t appreciate a good margarita: it’s because Mexico fans are unbearable.

As a group, anyway. Individually, everyone we encountered was your run run of the mill passionate but respectful soccer fan.

The Mexico/Croatia game was each team’s third game of the group stage.
Unlike in the first two games of the group stage of World Cup matches, the third games in the stage aren’t staggered — both games in each group take place at the same time so that one game’s result doesn’t determine how the other game is played.

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Unfortunately, the Mexico/Croatia game meant that we missed the Brazil/Cameroon game that was taking place at the same time. Fortunately, the score was always very apparent. The cheering Brazilian fans who were taking in Mexico/Croatia were also tuned in to their countrymen’s match.
Mexico bested Croatia, 3-1. Which means that we were showered with beer three times over. It was very pleasant. Really added to the experience. Mexico fans, don’t change.

And while we’re not changing our offensive behavior: keep on keeping on, Croatia fans. Don’t think we didn’t see the fights in the stands.

After the match, we took the Metro back into Recife and a taxi from Recife to our hotel in Olinda. We were mostly exhausted and smelled as though we had showered with beer, so we settled for dinner at our hotel with a couple of Canadians and a brother-sister duo from Virginia. We enjoyed our meals and sat chatting for quite some time. Eventually, we made it back to our room and it was time for non-beer showers for everyone followed by an early bedtime.

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