When FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, announced the 2014 FIFA World Cup would be held in Brazil, they meant all over Brazil. 32 teams will contest each other in no fewer than twelve venues spread around the country. The smallest stadium, the Arena de Baixada, is in Curitiba, southwest of Sao Paulo, and the largest is the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. This is further evidence of soccer’s incredible popularity.
Brazil’s official language is Portuguese. It’s not a bad idea to brush up on a few common Portuguese words and phrases before your visit.
Those who are thinking about or planning to attend part of the massive event, be assured, there’s no substitute for planning ahead. The currency of Brazil is the Real with an exchange rate of 2.25 real for every U.S. dollar. There are plenty of hotels around Brazil. The hotels in the larger cities range from five star on down. A recent check on Priceline revealed limited rooms still available in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo with prices ranging from under 200 U.S. dollars to over $2000 per night during the opening week of competition.
Brazil has a delightful native cuisine as well as many specialty restaurants around the country that serve international dishes. A typical Brazilian meal consists of some combination of beef, rice and beans and a salad of some kind. The national dish is feijoada, a hearty stew made up of black beans, beef and pork. The stew has a strong flavor that’s not spicy. Fried bananas and cassava are especially popular at lunchtime. The national cocktail is the caipirinha that’s made with cachaca, a liquor distilled from sugar cane. The Amazon River and Atlantic Ocean provide a vast array of types of fish. The incredible biodiversity of the rain forest provides a large quantity of fruits that are rarely, if ever, seen in the United States.
The largest concentration of art museums is in Sao Paolo, followed by Rio de Janeiro. The museums showcase art from pre-history through contemporary works. Two of the most popular are the Sao Paulo Museum of Art and the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art.
Rio’s Copacabana Beach is one of the world’s most famous expanses of white sand. The beach, in the city’s south zone, is a beehive of activity when the weather is favorable, and a great place to get a taste of the Rio way of life.
Flights to Rio and Sao Paulo are available from most major metropolitan cities in the United States. From Rio or Sao Paulo, numerous flights connect to the host sited in Brazil’s smaller cities. Buses are a big part of public transportation all around Brazil, and they’re less expensive than taxis. There are subways in many of the larger cities.