3 days before heading out to Brazil I managed to snag a couple tickets to the Russia vs Algeria game in Curitiba. This was handy as I was looking at ways of going to Curitiba at some point anyway to catch up with an old friend of mine whilst working for Disney Cruise Lines.
So in order to get there from Rio we had to get a 12 hour overnight bus with Itapemirim. The seats were massive and quite comfortable, and it was well air-conditioned. However the roads were absolutely horrific and the feeling was like seasickness. For the first couple of hours my insides were absolutely destroyed!
We got into Curitiba on the 25th of June in the early hours so we were able to get to our hostel at a decent time. We stayed at the Curitiba Backpacker Hostel, which was a nice hostel. The beds were very comfortable and it was a secure location. I didn’t find it brilliantly accessible and there weren’t many shops in the direct vicinity, which was a shame. So we did have to do quite a lot of taxing about.
Our first stop was to go check out the Curitiba Fan Fest. We had been to the one in Rio countless times so thought we would see if it was any different. It may not of been on a beach, but it was still cool. It was a lot lot quieter then Rio which meant the Bar still had all the Brahma cups available… so we took full advantage and stocked up! The people in the Coca Cola tents were also a lot more generous with the freebies!! It was also a lot easier to get on the big screen. We were also probably the only Brits there so we kept getting put on the big screen and had locals come up to us constantly to take pictures with us which was nice – made us feel like celebrities for the day!
After Fan Fest we went back to the Hostel and I had a message from my Uncle mentioning that a charity he works with were currently in Curitiba on a project during the World Cup. The charity is called Lionsraw and they tie a lot of their projects in with football. We met up with them in a bar called Jokers and it was good crack. Was nice to see a group of English people for a change! They were actually featured on a CNN feature – the project they were doing was actually really good and impactful – not just a bunch of drunken tourists looking for a cheap way to go to Brazil for the WC!! It was a pleasure to meet them and find out a bit more about what they were all about. And it’s these kind of meetings which make a trip memorable.
The next day we met up with our friend Renata at the mall not far from the Stadium and had lunch. It was good to have a bit of a catch up and bitch about some of the bullshit from Disney – I won’t go into too much detail so I don’t get sued ha!! But it really was awesome.. the only shame was we couldn’t arrange it so Renata, our other friend Kirsty and ourselves, were all in the same place at the same time!!
So… to the actual game. It really was an experience, and I was pretty relieved that after going all the way to Brazil to get a chance to actually see a game! Absolutely amazing atmosphere. Surprisingly though – and people may be critical of me here – but after 90 minutes I found myself supporting Russia. I know they have a lot of bad press right now but all the Russian fans I met out in Brazil were fantastic. (Two treated me to a bottle of Cachacha following England’s exit in my hostel) And they were true to form in the stadium. In comparison the Algerians were… there is no better way to say this… absolute ass holes. I’m sorry, it is a little brash, and I know that not all of them are or were…. but unfortunately there was enough to give a lasting bad impression. First they didn’t take part in the Mexican wave…. I’m not sure why, just rudeness I think. Second they started a bunch of fights in the Stadium with both Brazilians and Russians – and probably just about anyone. Thirdly – Algerian fans directed lazers on the Russian goalkeeper before their equaliser- which I found appalling to be honest and I still can’t understand how that goal was allowed to stand – considering the keeper could have been blinded. Fourth – they set off a bunch of flares, which just isn’t safe – one they set off was even blue and yellow coloured smoke – the colours of Ukraine. I’m not going to get in to a political debate here but I firmly believe that football and any sporting event for that matter IS NOT a place where political demonstration or points should be made. I even had an Algerian chant in my face back at the hostel because they though I was Russian – he was subsequently kicked out. And if this wasn’t bad enough… THEY STOLE THE CHILE CHANT. I mean really!!! Some originality please! And I’m sorry but AL AL AL GEE GEE GEE just doesn’t have the same ring as CHI CHI CHI LE LE LE. It just sounded like they were chanting allergy…..
Anyway… Rant over…. The next day we met up with Renata again and spent the day with her before catching the bus back to Rio. It was good to get a chance to get to see a bit of the city. Unfortunately the buses were on strike so we couldn’t do the tour bus but we still managed to walk around the city centre, see the cathedral. We then went out to the Botanical Gardens which were beautiful. My Girlfriend loves flowers and birds so we were there quite a while! We then went to the Oscar Niemeyer museum, which was a really interesting building itself and the museum was cool – usual type of mueseumy stuff but it was good to learn some more of the history of Brazil and the area. I didn’t really get some of their art though…. We also got to meet Renatas family which was really sweet, and we were cooked some original Brazilian dishes which is always nice. As we don’t get to eat much being on such a tight budget!!
Unfortunately we then went back to the Bus station, which was a mission as because of the bus strikes the taxis were really busy so we almost didn’t even make our bus which would have been a disaster! But we made it and then spent another 12 hours of my insides being mashed about!! Brilliant trip. 4 days well spent!!