Some of us may already be sipping Caipirinhas and taking in some samba lessons in downtown Rio. And some of us may be wondering what to pack on our impending flights to Brazil. While some of us will be sitting glumly at our office desks wishing we were heading over to the biggest sporting event of the year – The World Cup!
Needless to say, I will be one of those glum people.
The World Cup is an event that is dear to me for one simple reason – I LOVE FOOTBALL. Add in the fact that I was in South Africa 4 years ago, and you may understand my dismay on not being able to go to Brazil this time around. I shall spare you the unnecessary details on why I shall not be samba-ing in Rio (hint: it’s all FIFA’s fault!). So, instead of being all Ms. Negative about it, I will instead focus on helping others prepare for this amazing trip. Well, I’ll try anyway.
If you’re already lounging by the beaches of Brazil, you can stop reading right now. If you find the whole experience of heading to an event of this scale rather daunting, please read along.
Re-confirm your accommodation
With such a big event like this, it is only natural for accommodation to be scarce; football fans from all over the world will be coming in droves during the months of June and July. The best thing to do is to re-confirm your bookings with your respective hotels, hostels or home-stays before heading over there. I did just that and was told that my initial booking was never confirmed because I did not wire over a deposit. So, I not only lost a place to stay, but I also lost my booking fee. Thank you, fine print! Luckily enough, I was able to find a hostel but it ended up being a bit of a nightmare. Well, that’s a story for another day.
Pick up your match tickets as soon as you can
I’m not too sure how it would be in Brazil, but we managed to collect our match tickets from a kiosk at the airport once we landed in Johannesburg. This made it so much easier for us and at least we had one less thing to worry about. Keep them close at hand and never leave them about your room either. The last thing you want is to misplace your tickets and miss an important match.
Book your internal flights, bus rides, car rentals in advance
I was lucky enough to rent a car last minute, even if it was manual transmission with no GPS. But, to make things easier for you (and cheaper too), book your rental cars in advance – one with GPS preferably. This will be so much easier when you’re trying to get to and from your park-and-ride facilities near the stadiums.
If you are planning to travel from one city to another, make sure you have all your flight or bus tickets booked beforehand. You just wouldn’t want to take a chance and miss a match due to transport problems. Once again, the huge amount of visitors is something that you need to take seriously. Book, collect and relax!
Research the route to all your matches
Match days are always a lot of fun; there’s a buzz in the air and everyone is in a great mood. So, do make sure you plan your day properly to avoid getting all stressed. If you are planning to drive, make sure you are aware of where the park-and-ride spots are and get there early. It will always be easier to get a shuttle bus to the stadium from there and back. Also, make sure you have directions on how to get back to your accommodation if the match is ending late at night. My lack of GPS had my friend and I driving around in circles before we finally got back to our farm in Magaliesburg at around 4:30am. Not. Fun.
Bring a big dose of positive attitude
Things may not always work out the way you plan or hope for, especially in a place teeming with people. Things will be chaotic, driving might be a bit hellish, the hostels may be over-booked, getting into the stadium may be a pain and security may not allow you to bring your flag into the stadium as it is attached to a stick (a.k.a. possible weapon to throw at under-performing players). Whatever the scenario, be angry for a bit (if need be) and then let it go. Embrace the fact that you are at one of the most amazing events of the year; take it all in stride and don’t ever let the frustrations take over.
At the end of the day, this is the World Cup – full of moments to cherish, football arguments to be made over beers and delicious local food, wrong turns made while driving, toes stepped on while getting half-time beverages and loads of lovely people to meet. Smile, be nice to the locals and go forth with your team colours. Most importantly, have the best damn time your life!