BY MICHAEL LEICHNER
After a long day of travel, we finally made it Rio. The threat of airport stress was thankfully overblown, at least for Brasilia, which was in great
shape, and Rio, which has ongoing construction but wasn’t a problem for us on this visit.
We did encounter large numbers of fans on our trip down, led by the large numbers of Brazilian, Colombian, and Mexican supporters in full gear. It was great to immediately get in the spirit before even leaving the U.S. The gate agent on our flight leaving Atlanta even made a point to recognize each country during boarding.
Our first day in Rio was spent on or near Copacabana Beach where fans and locals could interact and stop by the FIFA Fan Fest to watch on a large screen and buy merchandise. Most countries in the World Cup were represented by small or large groups of fans.
With a game locally on Sunday, the largest and loudest supporters were the blue and white clad Argentina fans. They seemed to be everywhere. There were also some boisterous fans from Mexico who celebrated their slim victory earlier in the day by blowing whistles and cheering on the streets.
The highlight of the day was soaking in what a Rio World Cup is like by sitting down to watch the Spain-Netherlands match with the beach in the background.
The game result was completely unexpected, even for the Dutch fans who weren’t hard to identify in the celebrations following, but it was the setting that stood out to me. Sitting and watching matches with fans from around the world with the beach just behind us was pretty impressive.
Attending events like this create the perfect avenue for meeting people from all over the world or just connecting with people from all over the U.S.