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I’ve called Rio home for a week now, and my first impressions are as I remember it: a bustling city full of smiling people, the sound of laughing and a love for football everywhere you look.
As I sit in a café, a girl walks past with her bag open and its contents poised to empty themselves over the street. “Hey, hey, oi!” shouts the man next to me, “her bag is open”. It’s this kind of community spirit and friendliness that already makes me feel at home. Far from the tubes of London where eye contact with the passenger opposite you is seen as a cardinal sin, complete strangers are not only talking to, but actually helping each other!
One of the main reasons that I love to travel is meeting new people and in Rio, meeting new people is easy (even when you barely speak the same language!). Whether it is the parking attendant calling me “jogador” (“player” in English!), the locals desperately trying to convert me from following Flamengo to Vasco, or the drunk 75 year old intent on calling me “Dick”, you’re greeted with a smile wherever you look.
I couldn’t have really timed my arrival any better, as today is the day that the ultimate footballing spectacle begins, in the home of such greats as Pelé and Garrincha. My new home is a ten minute stroll from the imposing home of Brazilian football and host to next month’s World Cup Final: the Maracanā! There is no hiding that the World Cup is about to begin either, with Brazilian flags adorning the ceilings and walls of almost every bar and restaurant. The Brazilians are ready for the World Cup, and they are ready to win!
The more I sit here and think about it, the more excited I get. Your average day in Brazil is full of passion and colour; throw the World Cup in to the mix and I can only begin to imagine what I’m about to let myself in for…especially if Neymar and co lift “a taça” on the 13th of July!