Monthly Archives: March 2014

Important Announcement

We interrupt this blog with an important announcement: we have officially applied for our Brazilian visa.

Unlike other countries we’ve visited before, Brazil requires American citizens to apply for a visa in order to be granted permission to enter the country. Brazil’s visa requirements are pretty simple: if your country requires Brazilians to have a visa (and the United States does), they require the same of your citizens. Reciprocal!

Typically, it costs your everyday American tourist $160 when applying for a Brazilian visa. Plus an extra $20 handling fee if you apply by mail rather than show up at the consulate in person. However, Brazil is granting special visas for the World Cup. And what’s special about it is that the special World Cup spectator visas are exempt of any fees.

That makes a girl feel a little better about the inflated hotel prices, you know?

In order to obtain a visa, you fill out an online application form (giving them everything from your birth date, to your employer, to your mom’s name), which you sign and mail to your designated regional consulate (being Detroiters, we sent our visas to the consulate in Chicago) along with a passport photo, a copy of your driver’s license, necessary supporting documentation (we had to mail copy of our ticketing receipts from FIFA) and your whole damn passport.

So that’s a little scary, mailing off your passport a mere 11 weeks and 2 days* before you’re due to leave the country.

Here’s to hoping for a smooth return of our necessary travel documentation. Bureaucracies, don’t fail us now!

 

*Not that we’re counting

 

Operation: Hotel, part 2

We didn’t restart our search for accommodations until October.

Deadlines are very inspirational.

You see, at that point, we knew the exact dates and locations of our trip. But the fans who follow their team wouldn’t learn of match locations, and therefore where they would need to book hotel rooms, until the draw.

We needed to get our accommodations booked before thousands of others were also looking for rooms in Recife. We needed a hotel before December 5. Time was of the essence. Katie took the reins. And scoured Airbnb. And sent emails. And otherwise navigated the same maze we had abandoned the previous spring.

This time, we had a few bites. Katie found a handful of flats that looked promising. The three of us exchanged many, many emails about the pros and cons of each. Untitled

Plus Alyson, who has an unfortunate penchant for paranoia, had read one too many horror stories about World Cup travelers who were booking apartments that were falling through when the proprietors got a better offer. Half convinced that they were going to sleep on the streets, she gave her blessing for Katie to go ahead and book the apartment.

And Lauren was in Mexico, drunk and willing to go along with anything.

So, Katie started the process with the kind and legitimate-sounding proprietor of a nice flat being rented to us for a fairly decent rate.

Nearly a month later, we still hadn’t gotten to the point where we could put down a deposit.

And we were just 16 days out from the final draw.

Operation: Hotel, part 1

One of the bigger headaches in planning our trip to Brazil was securing accommodations.

When you travel to the World Cup, you have one of two choices: book your accommodations through FIFA or go rogue.

For the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, we went rogue. Rates for rooms booked through FIFA’s hospitality arm, MATCH, were set at an obscenely high rate. Everything is going to be marked up for the World Cup, yes, but there’s a limit to what a reasonable person is going to drop on a hotel room and that limit is somewhere around 20 times the usual rate. Seriously.

In lieu of falling victim to MATCH’s hotel scam, we found a really awesome independent guest house and booked it right through the proprietor and it was all good until the place burned down. We ended up getting rebooked in a hotel that was originally offered up by MATCH, only to get all of its rooms returned because surprise, surprise: the rooms were so expensive that nobody booked.

Keeping all of that in mind, reserving a hotel via MATCH was not even an option for Brazil. We would bypass The Man and go rogue once again.

Easier said than done.

Our first attempt at booking accommodations came in May, 2013. A hotel that hadn’t been booked up by FIFA was impossible to find. Smaller Bed & Breakfasts or guest houses either don’t exist in Brazil or they don’t have a web presence. We’re not really the hostel types. And so that left us with the community hospitality websites, like Airbnb and VRBO, where we would be renting directly from the property’s owner.

airbbAt first, it seemed like it would be okay. The selection seemed decent, the prices somewhat reasonable. Many inquiries were fired out into cyberspace. But it was too early. A lot of the proprietors pushed us off until later. Others never responded. We were really hopeful to close a deal with an American man who owns an apartment in Recife. Until he set his rate.

The apartment you rent for $70/night is now $400/night? PLEASE. All accommodations costing $400/night need to feature a nightly turndown service and a spa on the premises. He most certainly found a group to over his apartment but that group was not us. He sucks.

More failed attempts at booking an apartment followed. So we did what anyone with common sense would do when faced with adversity: put finding an accommodation on the back burner and ignored the problem indefinitely.

Ticket Lottery: Round 2.0

At the conclusion of the first round of ticketing, a random draw, we were allotted tickets to three of the five matches we were hoping to attend during the World Cup.

At the conclusion of the second round of ticketing, where tickets were sold on a first-come, first-serve basis, we snagged tickets to our fourth match.

Heading into the third round of ticketing, another random draw, we had one match we still needed tickets for: the Round of 16 match in Recife.

Being that tickets in the knockout rounds are presumably harder to come by, being that we really wanted to secure tickets now instead of sweating it out in the subsequent ticket rounds (where all tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis), we decided to play the system a little.

Don’t tell FIFA.

We submitted two different ticket applications for the same match with the hope that one of us, but not both, would be awarded tickets.

So, of course, both applications were successful.
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Anyone need a few Round of 16 tickets?

In April, FIFA will open up a ticket reselling portal and we’ll list one set of tickets there. For a fee, FIFA will reallocate those tickets to some other soccer-crazed soul and we’ll be refunded the difference. Whatever that fee is, it’s safe to assume that:
a. it will be too high (as everything with FIFA is)
b. it will be worth it.

An Important Post about Fashion

Nike and U.S. Soccer released the 2014 home uniform yesterday.

I am not sure if you can find a person who loves an all-white kit with the passion that Lauren feels for an all-white kit. Her reaction? “I hate it.”Bh0Af1JCQAADJOl

Which is basically everyone’s reaction.

It looks like a team travel polo.

It looks like a golf shirt.

As sexy as an all-white uniform is, it doesn’t exactly help to distinguish you from your competition. Countries are still releasing their jerseys for the upcoming tournament so it’s too early to tell if the U.S. National Team is following the trend, but 14 other teams wore all white at the 2010 World Cup.

Not impressed.

And somewhat relieved to have absolutely no desire to own one of our own.

Happy 100 Day!

What better day to return to blogging than today: the day that marks 100 days until the start of the World Cup. Which means that we leave for Brazil in 107 days. And arrive in Brazil in 108 days.

Not that we’re counting!998466_10103015059593223_1407838331_n

Where did we leave off? Ah, yes. Three short months ago, on the day of the World Cup draw. What a glorious and magical day that was.

Since that day we have: brainstormed game-day outfits (spoiler alert: there may be sequins), planned trips not to the World Cup, submitted ticket applications to additional matches and been very busy with non-World Cup activities such as holding down full time jobs.

Now we’re in the home stretch and it is officially time to get planning. And to become increasingly obnoxious about our trip.

Which means we’ll be blogging more.

Prepare yourselves.