Saturday, June 21, 2014

Day 21 - Half time in Salvador

It's amazing how quickly this holiday is whizzing by now. Today I'm already half way through and I felt really sorry for a group of Leicester City fans who flew home tonight. At least I have some more time before that happens.

So, from Recife last night to here, in Salvador. I am beginning to lose track of where I am. I got up nice and early (again before my alarm went off) and did some careful double checking before going down to checking out. The cab came pronto and within five minutes I was at Recife airport. The thought did cross my mind that I should have got there a little earlier but the check in and security all went smoothly. I had an aisle seat and did a bit of yesterday's blogging - just to try to catch up.

Not the best view from the hotel in Recife (Boa Viagem)

Bus ride just for the Sao Paolo guy and me.
Recife to Salvador - 670km

First impressions of Salvador

On arrival in Salvador I went to the taxi stand to enquire how much it would be R$120 seemed a bit steep, so I opted for the bus at R$28. In the end there was only me and a guy from Sao Paolo on the bus so it might as well have been a taxi as he took me straight to the street I was on. (Brazilian acts of kindness 15 - Acts of dishonesty 0) After a bit of confusion, I called Selma, my Air B&B Host and she came down from the flat to wave me in.

A very nice and intelligent lady she is, and what a lovely apartment she has: Kind of like a hostel / home combination. In the brief time I've been here I've already met four other guests, including three Swiss and a girl from Belper who works for what was Marston's Brewery.

Having caught up on uploading photos I went out to explore. Salvador, like pretty much every Brazilian city I've been too, is a smorgasbord of contradictions. Beauty next to ugly. Impressiveness next to shambles. Rich next to poor, etc. My first port of call was to get some food and watch the Argentina v Iran game. After a few disappointments I ended up at a café where I ordered meat and pasta and salad, a seemingly obvious combo here.

Argentina v Iran with Salad, Pasta and spicy meat

Crystal Beer - not as good as it looks

At one point I looked to my right to see a familiar face, Jack the Leicester City fan, and his two mates who are brothers. I'd met them in Fortaleza and we shared our feelings of sadness at England's early departure, but agreed that Roy Hodgson hadn't done anything wrong, it was really just a matter of close margins.

The meal was nice but Argentina laboured to beat the Iranians who were unlucky not to have a penalty awarded and score a couple. In the end another quality goal from Messi won it for them. If only England had a player like him.

Then, I wandered around a bit, getting lost in the windy streets of old Salvador, and getting a hair cut, before bumping into the Leicester fans again. They told me the fanfest wasn't open, so my plan of watching Germany versus Ghana there was scuppered. Just in case I did stroll along to discover that, exactly as they said, the whole thing was closed down. Only in Brazil, eh?

The haircut was entertaining but the girl who did it seemed to understand my usual, simple request. I must say I was impressed. Hair cut and shampoo all for R$30.

Haircut Sir? Sim. Obrigado.

So, I ended up watching the first half of Germany v Ghana in a pretty mediocre café s couple of blocks away. I had a couple of tinnies before leaving at half time. I strolled around the impressive fort at the very corner of the isthmus which Salvador is placed upon. That is a very spectacular site indeed and I was so impressed I almost forgot about the football.

I watched the second half in a pretty swanky bar restaurant and what a half it was. 0-0 at half time soon became 1-0 to Germany, then 1-1 and then 2-1 to Ghana before (inevitably, yawn) Germany equalised. I resigned myself to the usual German winner but it never quite happened and so, Germany dropped a point, making the group still, theoretically at least, wide open.

After that I was going to walk back to the flat but bumped into (yet again) the Leicester fans. We had a nice chat before they sadly had to leave. Not just me, but Brazil. Their Brazilian adventure was about to end and the thought made me very sad.

After they went, I noticed a guy sat at the next table in Ghana shirt. So, World Cup etiquette dictates that in such situations you must fire up a conversation. The guy (embarrassingly I forgot his name even though he told me twice) was an ex-journalist from Brisbane and soon he was joined by two fellow-aussies, also from Queensland. I couldn't help having a dig at them about Berisha's diving but I also said how jealous I was of the Suncorp Stadium, so that was ok, right?

The journalist guy agreed with my assessment of the over-negativity of the media and he said he'd resigned from the job, maybe partly because of his frustration with all that.

After Nigeria won 1-0 to send Bosnia home in a relatively dull game, it was time for me to walk back to the apartment, alone through the streets of Salvador. No problems.

Upon arriving here a few minutes, who should I hear but Selma with a new guest, Kate from Derbyshire, that she'd just picked up. After a lovely cup of Tetley's (that Kate had brought over) I went to bed while they went out on the town, apparently.

So, another great day over. I am very tired and need some sleep. At last tomorrow is a no travel day so I plan to have a bit of a lie-in and then wash my clothes. Selma has a washing machine - luxury!

The coast by Salvador

FIFA fanfest closed in Salvador - Local shops/cafes apparently objected
Ghana Impressive

Leicester fans and me

Brisbane Roar fans and me

Walking through Salvador at night - not as scary as it looks

Argentina 1 Iran 0
Apart from another excellent goal from Messi, Argentina looked so ordinary Iran can count themselves unlucky not have won this. I thought they had a clear penalty in the second half and created several good chances. Football, eh? If only the goals were bigger.

Germany 2 Ghana 2
Another classic, at least in the second half. Possibly the best half of football so far. Germany, as always, found something not to lose but Ghana gave them a really good go and could have won it.

Nigeria 1 Bosnia 0
Nigeria found their feet in this match to send Bosnia home, the 5th (out of 32) to be out.

Here's the 'table' so far... (teams shaded grey are out)

Team Group P W D L F A Pts GD
France E 2 2 0 0 8 2 6 6
Netherlands B 2 2 0 0 8 3 6 5
Chile B 2 2 0 0 5 1 6 4
Colombia C 2 2 0 0 5 1 6 4
Costa Rica D 2 2 0 0 4 1 6 3
Argentina F 2 2 0 0 3 1 6 2
Germany G 2 1 1 0 6 2 4 4
Brazil A 2 1 1 0 3 1 4 2
Mexico A 2 1 1 0 1 0 4 1
Nigeria F 2 1 1 0 1 0 4 1
Croatia A 2 1 0 1 5 3 3 2
USA G 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 1
Belgium H 1 1 0 0 2 1 3 1
Cote d'Ivoire C 2 1 0 1 3 3 3 0
Ecuador E 2 1 0 1 3 3 3 0
Italy D 2 1 0 1 2 2 3 0
Uruguay D 2 1 0 1 3 4 3 -1
Switzerland E 2 1 0 1 4 7 3 -3
Korea H 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0
Russia H 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0
Ghana G 2 0 1 1 3 4 1 -1
Japan C 2 0 1 1 1 2 1 -1
Iran F 2 0 1 1 0 1 1 -1
Greece C 2 0 1 1 0 3 1 -3
Algeria H 1 0 0 1 1 2 0 -1
England D 2 0 0 2 2 4 0 -2
Bosnia F 2 0 0 2 1 3 0 -2
Australia B 2 0 0 2 3 6 0 -3
Honduras E 2 0 0 2 1 5 0 -4
Portugal G 1 0 0 1 0 4 0 -4
Cameroon A 2 0 0 2 0 5 0 -5
Spain B 2 0 0 2 1 7 0 -6

Tomorrow we finish off the 2nd round games which brings us technically to the half way mark of the tournament, with 32 out of 64 games played.

Portugal should beat USA and then in Group H there's the clash of Belgium versus Russia and South Korea versus Algeria. Both are difficult to call bit I'm going for Belgium and South Korea both 2-1.


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