2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil — Are you planning to attend? Well, there are many sites, including the official website of FIFA and Wikipedia, which detail its structure, the states where games will be held, team matches, organization, tickets, etc, etc… But FBTY is going to tell you lots of things that they won’t!!! World Cup!
As a native Brazilian, I know my country, culture, and people well. I am so excited for you to have this chance to visit Brazil and experience its warmth, beauty, and fascination firsthand! But in this post be prepared to hear a few things that may not be pleasant to your ears — nor to mine. Of course I am not trying to dissuade anyone from going to Brazil. Actually, if I did not have obligations here in the U.S. preventing me, there is no way that I would miss out on attending the World Cup. My only intent is to better prepare you for this event, or for any other time that you intend to visit Brazil. OK, ready? Here are some important things that you need to know and to be prepared to possibly encounter there: World Cup!
1. Linguistic and Cultural Differences
These seem obvious, but their implications in real life can be more serious than one might imagine. World Cup!
Brazil’s official language is Portuguese. Only a small percentage of the population speaks a second language such as English, Spanish, or others. The Brazilian government has been offering language courses to volunteers and military personnel so that they will be able to communicate with soccer fans, the media, and tourists at airports, near stadiums and at the matches, as well as at public transportation terminals. But honestly, if I were a foreigner attending a massive event like the World Cup, I would not completely rely on this. I would bring along a pocket dictionary and expression book just in case people cannot understand a word in English or your own language. Yes, unfortunately there will be some hosts unprepared linguistically to communicate with you!!!
Your ways are not necessarily our ways! Depending on where you come from, be prepared to encounter culture shock — especially if you have not visited Brazil before nor informed yourself much about it. This is a huge topic. My advice to you is to read as much as you can about Brazilian culture. Google it! It would be impossible for me to cover everything here at once. Learn about what I call the ABC’s of Brazilian culture and tips: World cup!
A) Don’t be biased!!! Do not assume that all Brazilian women are loose.
B) Yes, there are jungles in Brazil but most people do not live in them. 🙂
C) Most people do not live in slums, and most of those who live there are not associated with the drug traffic.
D) Racism, pedophilia, and drug traffic are crimes in Brazil.
E) Portuguese is not the same as Spanish. While there are similarities in structure and even many similar words on paper, the spoken language can be challenging and occasionally impossible for speakers of one to understand the other.
F) Do not argue about soccer with Brazilians. This is a sport that we are passionate about. In addition there are a few fans that could respond with violence.
G) Brazilians are very friendly in general, but they can also be short-tempered as well. 🙂
H) We are a rising economy, so don’t assume that we all live in poverty and are uneducated (you might be surprised, big time!).
I) Avoid wearing expensive watches and real jewelry on the streets. Unfortunately, you may become a victim of robbery.
J) If you have a friend there and you are invited to an event at his/her home, please don’t show up in shorts and sandals. People love to dress well and expect others to do so. Wd cup!
K) There is no such thing in Brazil as personal space! 😉 By this, I mean we stand and talk closer to each other, looking eye to eye, and depending on the situation, we greet people by either shaking their hands or “air kissing” once on each cheek. This can initially be a bit disconcerting to many visitors from English-speaking countries, who are generally accustomed to a somewhat wider invisible “bubble” of personal space before feeling encroached upon.
L) Avoid if possible leaving your hotel in the evening or at night because of street crime. Try to do your activities during the daylight hours– such as watching games, shopping, and tourism. World Cup in Brazil!
M) Seek information only from officially-identified people in the airports, streets, hotels, etc. Brazilians love to help others, but among us there is a small percentage that may try to take advantage of the situation to commit crimes (e.g. robbery, rape, and kidnap).
N) Public transportation: keep your wallet and purses in sight all times (as well as your luggage at the airport) and only take officially-designated taxis and buses. Avoid at all costs unofficial vans and unidentified transport vehicles.
O) Many restaurants are open until late. Most restaurants don’t have a hostess, so you don’t need to wait to be seated. Restaurant servers only bring a check when asked, and a 10% gratuity is already included. If you want to give more, hey… don’t be shy! 🙂
P) Breakfast is included in the daily rate of most hotels. Take advantage of a plenteous breakfast and experience local dishes and especially unique fruits and fresh juices. Wld Cup!
Q) Don’t be shocked if you see panhandlers asking for spare change near traffic stops. If you decide to hand something to them, don’t open your wallet wide in front of them.
R) Everything costs more in airports and at the beaches.
S) Clothing and shoes tend to be more expensive in Brazil than in many other countries. If you buy something, give preference to local art or to something handmade which would be unique from there 🙂
T) June and July (the months when the event will take place) is considered “winter” in Brazil. Depending on the city that you are going to, it could either be hot and rainy (e.g. Recife) or cold (e.g. Porto Alegre). Try to get info about the local weather and plan your clothing accordingly. Also be aware of dengue fever and how to prevent it.
U) Brazil is full of different subcultures, so there are lots of variations of accent, expressions and slang, and food as well.
V) The A-OK hand gesture (circle with the thumb and index finger) has a different meaning in Brazil than in the U.S.A. — and not a good one. In Brazil use the thumbs up sign to signal agreement or approval instead. World Cup…
W) The usual police number is 190. However, in the cities hosting the Cup you could also dial 911 or 112, which are more familiar emergency numbers to North American and many European visitors, and this will transfer you in to the emergency system.
X) Most Brazilian cell phone carriers use GSM phones, as do AT&T and T-Mobile. If you have a GSM phone you should be able to use it here if your phone is unlocked. You can use your GSM phone with a Brazilian carrier by buying a local pre-paid chip. Otherwise, if you try to use the your home service with international roaming, it will cost you dearly. Avoid this if possible, unless you’ve made prior arrangements. For making telephone calls at a public pay phone (Brazil’s famous orelhão or “big ear” dome-shaped phones), phone cards can be purchased at newsstands, drugstores, or post offices.
Y) Voltage in southern Brazil (Rio & São Paulo) is 110 volts. In Recife and the northeast it is 220 volts. Check whether chargers or electronics devices you’ll need to use are 110 or 220 volts. You can bring a voltage converter if necessary.
Z) If you intend to rent a car, you can do so using your home country’s driver’s license, but be aware that certain traffic rules are different. For example, in contrast to the U.S., in Brazil it is not permissible to make a right turn after stopping at a red light while the light is still red. If you see a traffic light flashing at night, it means that you are to pause just briefly enough to make sure that no cars are coming in the intersecting direction and then proceed ahead. Do not make a full stop there because it means that that place is dangerous and a focus of robbery. World Cup!
2) Be prepared for possible delays!
The structure of Brazilians airports is by all accounts not prepared for an event of this magnitude. Expect delays in your flights. Living in the U.S. since 2002, I have gone back to visit Brazil several times — always experiencing delays at least once during each leg of the trip, even in the low season. I cannot imagine how it will be when so many people will be arriving there at one time from different parts of the world.
In fact, about 800 flights have been already cancelled on days and times that soccer games will be taking place. Please, check with your airline company to see if yours was among them. World Cup in Brazil!
Here are a few travel tips from a friend who travels often to/from Brazil:
1. Make a note of your six letter flight locator code, which should be on your ticket (like QCCXFD). In the event you lose your printed ticket, that will get you through. It is a great idea to keep it on a post-it note in your passport.
2. Be sure your destination address is on both the outside and inside of all checked and carry-on bags. World Cup!
3. Keep valuables (cameras, watches, electronics, laptops) in carry-on luggage. If it’s valuable and you can’t bring it on your person or in your carry-on, don’t bring it. While in airports or any public place, keep your belongings close. It will keep you safe and keep someone else from temptation.
4. Try to check in for your international flight at least 3 hours ahead. For national flights within Brazil be sure your carry-on weighs no more than 11 pounds and will fit under your seat. For international flights you’ll have a better carry-on limit. Check with your airline. (American Airlines has no carry-on weight limit.) 2014 World Cup!
5. Those on a tourist visa may bring in items of a personal nature without restriction (including tablets, cell phones, cameras, notebooks, projectors, small amounts of computer parts, etc.) although personal effects above a certain value, animals/plants/produce/etc., and cash above R$10,000 must be declared. On the flight to Brazil the flight attendants distribute a customs declaration (“Alfandega”) form. This can be filled out on the flight. You can also fill out the form at electronic kiosks in the terminal, or online on your laptop or tablet even before leaving your country (see this): Select English in the pulldown menu, input the scrambled CAPTCHA code at bottom right, and then select New Declaration.
6. Also on the flight, you should receive and fill out an immigration form (“Cartao de Entrada / Saida”). This needs to be filled out, using block capital letters with no erasures or scratch-outs.
7. On arrival in Brazil you will first go through Immigration (Policia Federal). Have your passport and the “Cartao de Entrada / Saida” ready. Make sure they date stamp your passport and the “Cartão de Entrada /Saída” with the correct date and you get your passport back along with one of the copies of the “Cartão de Entrada / Saída.” You are required to surrender that copy on exit from the country, so hold on to it. After going through immigration you proceed to the baggage area and customs (“Alfândega”). world cup… and the world cup!
8. If you have any lost or damaged luggage try to speak to an airline rep while still in the baggage area. If that’s not possible, proceed to the airline counter and file your complaint as soon as you leave the baggage and customs area. If you are traveling on, you will have to give them the address where you’ll be staying. Keep a copy of the lost or damaged luggage form along with your baggage claim checks. world cup
9. As a tourist you generally will have nothing to declare in the customs area (“Alfândega”), so choose the “Nada a Declarar” line. If you don’t know which line it is, just tell them you’re a tourist and they’ll guide you. In the unlikely possibility they ask to see your bags don’t take it personally, you just became a statistical sampling. Be friendly but quiet, let them do their jobs, and you’ll be fine. Once they see there’s no coke paste or guided missile parts they’ll wave you on.
10. Once through customs, check in to any connecting flights immediately, even if it’s hours away. If connecting directly from an international flight to a domestic one you should not have to pay for your second checked bag. They may try to charge you for it, but show them your international ticket and explain you are still in transit.
The street traffic will be chaotic. Ask anyone who went there for the Copa da Confederações, a smaller event compared to the World Cup, and you will hear a lot of complaints. The World Cup will be held in 12 different cities, so expect the traffic in some be worse than in others — e.g. São Paulo’s traffic compared to Natal, in Rio Grande do Norte. Try to leave your hotel well ahead of the match time– depending on the distance, perhaps even a few hours ahead of time. Actually, if I were you I’d try to book a hotel not far from the stadium where you will be attending the soccer match. world cup
3) Expected protests in the world cup
Last year, people took to the streets in many cities to protest against corruption, lack of basic infrastructure such as public transportation, public health and education, and many other grievances. It was a massive outcry. There is a significant portion of the Brazilian population that takes issue with the World Cup due to the huge monetary investment in it while the general public suffers from lack of basic services. These same people might take to the streets again, causing traffic issues. Stay as far away as possible from the protests. Most of the protestors are peaceful, but one can never be totally sure of the outcome. World Cup Brazil
4) Water and Local Cuisine
Most people in Brazil have access to treated water. In general, travelers become ill simply because the pathogens in the water are different from what their immune systems are accustomed to. The best way to protect yourself is to avoid local tap water, always preferring bottled water. Restaurants only serve bottled water, and only when the client asks for it, because it is charged on the bill. For obvious reasons, don’t ask for ice. If you order coffee or tea, make sure it is hot because then most of microorganisms will be neutralized. World Cup Brazil in 2014…
Food is one of the best things Brazil has to offer! In so many ways, it is a unique experience that no one should miss out on. Whenever I travel I expect to sample the local cuisine, and you should too. In all of the 12 states where the World Cup will be held, there are many culinary delights to seek out. World cup in Brazil!
Going to the World Cup in Porto Alegre? Don’t miss out on the best churrasco (Brazilian BBQ) that you can have, wine tastings, or an ample café colonial (colonial breakfast) whose many delicacies were influenced by German immigrants. If your destination is either Salvador or Manaus, experience the two most unique cuisines of Brazil, one influenced by Africans and the other by native Indians. Do you love Italian or Japanese cuisine? São Paulo can give you a different perspective on these by incorporating local ingredients. If you would like to experience Brazilian cuisine at its fullest, visit the restaurant Brasil a Gosto which serves dishes from several regions. Ahhhh…what to say about my hometown Recife? Try the regional delicacies such as carne de sol and tapioca crepes, abundant seafood, and exquisite fruits. To find out more about great eateries in Recife (and its sister city Olinda), read this article. In addition, if you would like to experience a traditional, superb event, Festas Juninas, go to Caruaru, a city about 2 hours by car from Recife. Recife also hosts this festival with typical dances and food, but nothing like Caruaru (from June 1-29, 2014). In Rio, don’t miss the famous feijoada and caipirinhas. In Curitiba, try dishes such as the Azorian Barreado and the Pierogi with Sausage. Fortaleza is well known for its fish dishes. Pay a visit to the legendary Alfredo, O Rei da Peixada. Natal has a great and vast production of shrimp, so try dishes such as fried shrimp with butter and garlic, and tapioca crepes stuffed with shrimp. Brasília, the capital of Brasil, can offer you a taste of the exquisite cuisine of the cerrado with interesting ingredients as the bitter guariroba palm, pequi fruit, and baru nut. Meanwhile, Cuiabá is ready to delight you with dishes made of fresh fish such as mojica de pintado from the rivers of the pantanal. Finally, in Belo Horizonte you can find the best pão de queijo, Minas cheese, galinhada, and feijão tropeiro, among its many other famous dishes. world cup
5) Tourism, Activities, Shopping, Eateries, and Other Info
Here are a few must-see, do, buy, and/or eateries — among other info, in each one of the cities that will be holding the World Cup Brazil:
1) Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, 2) Brasília, Distrito Federal, 3) Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, 4) Curitiba, Paraná, 5) Fortaleza, Ceará, 6) Manaus, Amazonas, 7) Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, 8) Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, 9) Recife, Pernambuco, 10) Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro , 11) Salvador, Bahia, 12) São Paulo, São Paulo.
Where will you be traveling to in Brazil?
Wishing you safe travel and also a great time in my imperfect yet gorgeous, beloved Brazil! May you return with many priceless memories to share…
World Cup Brazil
World Cup Brazil…The world cup in Brazil will be held this year…enjoy the world cup in Brazil. Viva, the 2014 world cup! If you are going to the World Cup, you have to… Yes, the World Cup!
** Both logos (featured image and in-post) are from FIFA, which have been used in compliance with its informational/editorial use guidelines.