By Sarah Brown, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL – It is hard to find someone that does not know the World Cup going on, and Brazil has been pushed into the spotlight as the 2014 FIFA tournament host. Now is a perfect moment to visit and explore Rio, one of the world’s most famous cities, either before or after catching a match at the spectacular Maracanã Stadium.
Aside from the typical tourist attractions in the Cidade Maravilhosa, here are some tips to explore a different side of Rio during the World Cup:
Visit Flamengo football club: Flamengo is a local football team in Rio that by far holds the largest supporters. With its distinct red and black stripes, it proudly boasts “O Mais Querido do Mundo” (the most loved in the world) and is followed by fiercely loyal fans.
Located in the charming neighborhood of Gávea, there is space available to rent inside the club to enjoy an outdoor barbeque Brazilian style, football (soccer) pitches, beach soccer, as well as other sporting arenas. Events can be booked on the official website.
A bite to eat at Cervantes: All this football talk, cheering and playing will leave even the strongest of fans needing a pit-stop. There are few places better to go than Cervantes, a boteco (typical Brazilian bar) that should not be judged by its simple appearance, but rather by it’s sandwiches.
These brick-like sandwiches come packed with a choice of meat, each with a signature slice of pineapple. Cervantes has won various awards over the years, making it one of the best botecos in Rio.
Stay at Ronaldinho’s house: Brazilian footballer, Ronaldo de Assis Moreira (also known as ‘Ronaldinho’) is renting out his rather luxurious home on airbnb to visitors during the World Cup. Located in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) neighborhood of Barra da Tijuca, his house boasts five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a swimming pool and a zen space, not to mention the jacuzzi, gourmet kitchen and wine cellar. This is not for the budget-oriented though with a cool asking price of $15,000 per day.
Learn to play Futevôlei on the beach: Futevôlei (footvolley) is a Brazilian sport that blends two of their biggest sporting passions – football and beach volleyball. Rules are similar to volleyball except only feet are allowed to touch the ball.
It is a challenging sport but in true Brazilian style, it really is all about the fun. There are many Escolinhas de Futevôlei (Footvolley schools) dotted all the way up the beach for those interested to learn. A popular one is found at Rodrigo´s Caffé at Posto 6 at Copacabana beach. Normally the lessons are either in the morning or evening but can vary. To check for times and dates, Rodrigo can be contacted on (21) 6929-2341 or (21)7395-3351.
Go camping at the Football Fan Campsite: Located west of the city, the Football Fan Campsite in Recreio offers an alternative accommodation option for those staying during the World Cup and a chance to meet other like-minded travelers and football fans. For those with match tickets, the campsite is 25km away from the Maracanã stadium with good transport links.
Fans without tickets can watch the games on the campsite’s big screens while soaking up the electric atmosphere of supporters from all corners of the globe. Recreio has plenty to offer with idyllic beaches, great surfing points, mighty rainforests and a good selection of bars, clubs and restaurants.