Having flown and not taken a bus we've decided that it's quite nice to arrive somewhere only a few hours after leaving, instead of sitting on a bus for hours on end! Out host for our Porto Alegre stay, Paulo, had said to get a taxi from the airport for at about 45 Reais ($22), so we inquired at one of the taxi booths. They said that if you have cash you can pay the driver, if you want to pay with card you pay at the booth but it would be 58 Reais eitherway, what?!?
We headed to the tourist info to see about other ways of getting to town. Having already realised that Spanish doesn't help a lot in a Portuguese speaking country (even though a lot of words are spelt almost the same the pronunciation is completely different!) we asked if anyone spoke English. One girl, after asking which country we were from, informed us that she did. Perhaps she had decided that she could only understand certain accents? Good thing we're not Scottish!
Long story short(ish) a taxi would be the quickest and easiest way in to town, though the tourist info people were surprised by the amount we were quoted. They told us that if you pay by credit card you won't get ripped off by the cab driver. After more discussion they thought that being a Sunday and because there were road closures around our accommodation due to the game on that day that maybe the price was only a little bit extortionate. So we accepted that we would be paying the tourist World Cup Price.
We arrived at our Pousada (a nice guest house) and were greated by Paulo and his colleague Milton (the live in help) and they showed us our room for the night, though we were to change rooms for the rest of the stay.
We were hoping to sleep in a little the next day, but as breakfast was outside our door there wasn't much chance of that. We got up and joined the busy breakfast area, to be pleasantly surprised by what was on offer, something to look forward to each morning!
Our first task for the day and most important one for Brasil was to get to the ticketing centre and pick up our WORLD CUP TICKETS! We were greeted by volunteers at the ticketing centre, and told them we were there for our collection appointment. With limited English they asked if we were there to buy tickets? That seemed a little odd, so we said again we needed to collect tickets. It turned out having an appointment was not necessary at all. The line for people with appointments took longer than the line for people without, though we had tickets in hand within about 5 minutes! The excitement started to hit!
The next thing was to try and find some Aussie jerseys, scarf or at least something Aussie related. The shopping centre we tried had a few sport shops and even a Nike shop, though no one sold Aussie jerseys, or anything else Aussie for that matter. Some shops assistants smirked at the thought of having Aussie gear. They had what seemed to be every other country competing in The Cup, and to make matters worse there were plenty of Dutch jerseys. On that note we decided it was time to go and watch a game, Alemanha (Germany) Vs Portugal.
We asked at the ticketing centre of a good venue to watch and were told that every hosting city has a FIFA Fan Fest (trademaked) area set up with a big screen that would be showing all the games, so after safely dropping the tickets back at our accommodation off we went. When we got there we found the FANATICS (an Aussie tour group) had the same idea, which along with everyone else made for a big crowd watching the games. The FIFA Fan Fest was a fenced venue in a park that had a stage, a big screen above that and speakers that would put many festivals to shame! A pretty great venue all in all.
We found some space on the gravel (not a great flooring option) and settled in for the game. Possibly a very surprising result with Germany smashing Portugal 4-0?!? We then decided to stay on for the Iran Vs Nigeria game. The masses had left to party elsewhere, so we were able to leave the gravel for a slightly more comfortable plastic chair, which was good for a nil all draw. We left after the game and watched the big upset of USA Vs Ghana 2-1 in our room. (We were later to find out that Ghana had previously knocked the USA out of the last 2 World Cup's so they have a little history).
The next day revolved around getting to Fan Fest to watch Brasil Vs Mexico. We made sure that we got there early, which was good as it reached capacity and they stopped letting people in. We had no worries about things getting heated though, as the riot police were already waiting for anything that might eventuate! With an uneventful game ending in a nil all draw everyone was well behaved. Many of the Mexican's dressed in wrestling gear were even loving a nil all draw to Brasil. We left them all to go and party and we headed home to have an early night before Australia's big game!
The gates to the venue opened 3 hours before the game, so being very keen we got up nice and early and joined the Aussie's in our pousada (with a few Dutch) for breakfast, before walking the 10 minutes to the stadium. With about 2.5 hours to kill before the game we found very little to do. We tried for an Aussie jersey in the offical supporters store, but with the main sponsor being Adidas and the Aussies being sponsored by Nike we guess that wasn't possible. Good work FIFA, Adidas, Nike and the Australia Football Federation for supporting the Socceroos at the World Cup! We therefore stayed in our Hahn Super Dry jerseys that we got last World Cup (thankfully there were at least 1 or 2 other supporters wearing the same).
We got to our seats, 2 rows from the back of the stadium, at least we had a birds eye view of the game, and what a game! With pretty much everyone expecting Australia to be thrashed (even with some statistic stating it was our greatest chance of winning, at ~15%) we gave the Dutch a run for their money! The Dutch scored first, with a drop of defence allowing Robben to run away with it and put it in the net. Thankfully Cahill quickly answered back, remarkably with his feet not his head!
First half over things were looking good! Early in the second half we were in the lead when we received a penalty in the box and Jedinak put it past the keeper into the net. However the excitement didn't last too long with Van Persie drawing the game level. We still had hope for a little longer, before Memphis sealed the game for Holland, 3-2. At least Australia didn't disgrace itself, though Cahill getting his second yellow in 2 consecutive games for a stupid late tackle will definitely hurt us against Spain! Time to go and celebrate!
We met up with Mel and Igor, 2 Aussies we'd met in Buenos Aires on the graffiti tour, and headed for a pub/restaurant in the trendy part of town. On entry we questioned the 10 Real cover charge, but we're told that it was only after 8pm. We spent the afternoon and evening sitting there watching the remaining day's games and chatting away with nibbles and drinks. Unfortunately Chile beat Spain sealing both the Australian and Spanish elimination from The Cup.
When we decided to leave it was close to 11pm, though we weren't sure how it got that late. We paid the bill and Fergus was given a slip to say that all had been paid so we could leave, however the doorman only let Fergus out the door, the rest were stopped and asked where their slip was. After some dispute it was discovered that the 10 Real cover charge was if you left after 8pm, as you'd no doubt enjoyed the music, which was being played in a completely different room to where we were seated! Oh well home time.
We didn't make it far before we ran into a massive street party! We tried to push through, but the going was tough and when we passed a hot wine stall (all alcohol was being sold on the curb) Mel convinced us that we must try it, so we joined the party with our STUPIDLY hot wine (we all burnt the insides of our mouths). The rumour goes that the younger locals are out for gringos and as both Igor and Fergus had their bums squeezed (thankfully by girls) and Mel and Lindsay were asked for kisses there is probably a lot of truth to the rumour!
One girl latched on to us as she said her friends had run away from her. She was quite young and very drunk and decided we were her new best friends. Her friends, possibly even her mother, eventually found her and started yelling at her in Portuguese. We tried to say it was ok and she wasn't bothering us, but we were quickly scolded and told it wasn't ok. We then realised it was more likely she had run away from them.
We decided on one more wine before leaving, but our wine cart had obviously run out and had packed up and left. We took that as our cue to leave. Then for the fun part of pushing through the crowd. While doing so we noticed a car driving through the crowd! Crazy, but I guess if you live on the street and you need to get in or out then you've got to push through.
It took about half an hour to get through the crowds, and when finally out we decided to make the 45 minute walk home. Halfway home and at 1am in the morning we passed a news crew in a park filming, what must have been a live feed, otherwise why 1am in the freezing cold?
The following morning we had a sleep in, missing breakfast. We decided that we should finally look around Porto Alegre, so we headed off to the historic area and the port. Not really sure of where the port was exactly we managed to find a trendy market place on the water and walked around it for a bit, before finding a little area that a tourist ferry leaves from. In the end we decided to give it a miss and save our pennies.
We went from there to check out Farroupilha park, which was absolutely packed with families, people drinking mate, and even a group of people practising juggling. The England Vs Uruguay match was on that afternoon which we watched from a cafe in the Cidade Baixa area.
Afterwards we met up with Igor and Mel for dinner who brought along Bruno, a Brasilian guy they'd met a few days before. He drove us to a cheap buffet restaurant, which at 10 reais each (a discount of 2 reais for being at the end of the buffet service) was great value and good food.
Afterwards, Bruno decided he'd show us what had been described as the most beautiful street in the world. It was lovely with overhanging trees and cobblestones but, sorry Brasil/Porto Algre, probably not the most beautiful in the world. Having stood in the cold chatting for an hour or 2 Lindsay decided she was cold enough for the night and suggested we leave. Bruno was kind enough to drive us home, so thanks heaps Bruno for your hospitality!
Our final full day in Porto Alegre and we decided it was all about seeing the sites, however after Bruno told us there wasn't much to see in town, only several kms out of town, we didn't have high hopes. We did start off by heading to Farroupilha park again and the first micro brewery in Brasil. The brewery was shut, but we had a backup plan - a famous hot dog stand, Cachorro do R, for lunch.
It's been in the same location since it opened in 1962, though not a very convenient or central location for us to reach it. The guide said don't worry about the queue, as the hot dogs only take 10 seconds to make. We did manage to luck next to no line, which was good as we fumbled our way through ordering one, with the 'cook' demonstrating how to do it. You selected the size bun, hot dog or pork sausage, which of the 3 salsas and finally both tomato sauce and mustard? We chose grande with everything! Wow absolutely HUGE hot dogs, how does one fit it in their mouth? We managed, with only small amounts over the face and dropped onto the ground!
It was time to have a better walk through the historic city centre and through the markets, then onto the port again to think about a ferry trip. Having got to the port we decide to sit and watch the Switzerland Vs France game. The weather was getting colder so we enjoyed a hot wine as we watched the game. When it finished we just caught the end of the sunset and headed for our posuada for our last night in Porto Alegre.
We woke and enjoyed our last breakfast and then headed early to the airport, so that we could watch the Argentina Vs Iran game at the airport before boarding our flight to Curitiba.