I did find one good beer that i enjoyed.. Antartica Original, usually sold in 600ml bottles and costing 12 Reis, or about $4-$5 at current exchange rates
Thursday, March 05, 2015
Saturday, June 28, 2014
The day of the game it was raining heavily in Recife and all in the area for the last day, in fact much of the city streets were flooded, but I guess this happens often in a city called the Venice of Brazil, transport to the game was easy with the Metro system working fine. The stadium in located way outside of town, sort of in the middle of nowhere. The initial plans during the hype leading up to the world cup was to develop with area surrounding the arena with shopping, housing, entertainment you know all the typical crap they talk about that makes new arenas so attractive. Heck in Brooklyn the area around the Barclays Center is still years away from the promises made, so its not shocking that in brazil nothing was done other than build the arena. From the closest metro station we all had to board shuttle busses for about a 4km trip, at the end of this trip we still had a decent 10-15 minute walk, which in the rain sucked, but at the same time for a 1pm kickoff it could have been hot and humid.
Entry to the stadium was easy, in fact probably too easy, I did not have to show that I was a ticket holder until right at the turnstile to get in. not at any of the outer checkpoints such as x-raying bags. There were vendors, probably unlicensed selling the variety of crappy beer from coolers, I am not sure how much they were charging as I randomly found my friends and was handed a pre-game beer to drink. The atmosphere outside was good but since I was soaked I went into the stadium early to dry off.
My seats were upstairs but by no means “nose bleed” seats, I had a great view behind the goal from Section 411, and these are the seats I usually enjoy most for games. The game itself was a yawn, both teams seemed ok to play for a draw. The germans had most of the possession early and shots, in fact I don’t think team USA had a shot on goal until very very close to the end of the game, yet Tim Howard as busy as always with 5 saves. The goal he allowed was from a rebound, he made the initial save, but the punch out was a bit too in the middle of the field and the defenders could not clear the ball..
With the score of the other Portugal vs Ghana game being monitored on the bench by Jurgen, and in the stands by the fans there was a sense of calm towards the end knowing we would be the 2nd place team, while level on points with Portugal ahead on Goal Difference.
This game is a big step for USA soccer in that now we have qualified for the knockout round in 2 consecutive world cups, and in groups with strong teams such as Germany, Ghana, Portugal and England (oh wait they are not that strong..). Hopefully in future world cups we will not be talked about as a placemat for teams when figuring out how many points they are going to get, and that some of the worldwide media will be talking about USA soccer. As for the fans, the USA fans have traveled well, been vocal and supported our team away and at home, but it is still hard to find any fans outside of the USA who will support our team, the world still thinks of us as joke, but let us go out and beat Belgium and make a strong run to the last 8 and convince people!
GO USA!! #USMNT #IBELIEVE
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Thank you Joao Pessoa for a great live music concert, now for me its off to Recife tomorrow for the USA vs Germany game. I will be there and expect it to be one of the best sporting events in my life, and with the right result of a USA win or draw, our world cup run continues. Something that spain, italy and England all former champions can’t say as they are on an early vacation.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Visited (18) Brazil. Croatia, Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Greece, Uruguay, England, Italy, Switzerland, France, Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, Portugal, USA, Belgium, Russia
Not Yet (14) Mexico, Cameroon, Australia, Colombia, Cote D’Ivorie, Japan, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Honduras, Iran, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Korea Republic
Croatia – A country I have visited twice, my 2006 trip was a bit of a disappointment as Pula in August is not setup for the backpacker. Yet I tried again in 2012 and had a total blast of a time in Zrce Beach on the island of Novalja. This was a party paradise running 24hrs a day 7days a week on a big island that had plenty of room for exploring, and even some sand beaches which are a rarity in Croatia. Still much of this nation that I have not explored including the walled city of Dubrovnik, the much talked about Plitvice National park and many of the 1000 islands off the coast. Again a country that is a must visit if you can.
Spain – I was in Spain for much of the run to the 2010 world cup championship and I must say it was an amazing time. Watching the Spain vs Germany semi-final on large screen TVs outside of The Santiago Bernabeu stadium was an amazing time with Pujol heading in the only goal in the game. This country is very popular for students doing study abroad programs and while I was never lucky to do this I have made it a point that if I’m anywhere close to Spain while in Europe to check it out. Barcelona is one of my all time favorite cities in the world and I still have some bucket list things there to get done including watching an FC Barcelona game in person. I have been to the lovely and unheralded Northwestern Asturias region of the country thanks to a good friend knowing that area. Madrid is a good landing spot and always can find a party, but finding a place to cool down in the july heat is a bit tough.. Never been to any of the Spanish party islands such as Ibiza or cities such as Valencia that have their own history and culture, so Spain you will see me again in the future!
Netherlands – this country always will have a dear spot in my heart as it was my first international trip. I don’t remember it as I was a 3 month old baby going with my family. Since that trip I have been back numerous times and not always just to Amsterdam where everyone flocks, but you have to check out other cities such as Leiden a great college town, the hague for the north sea jazz festival or Rotterdam for a change of pace. So much culture in the arts has come from Holland, along with the always favorite Heineken beer that is a solid goto in any country of the world where you are not sure whats in the local beer. I will always consider Netherlands one of my favorite places and any chance to go back I will take it, I suggest you do so also.
Chile – on my 2012 trip to brazil I decided hey why not hit 2 south American countries on the same trip. I enjoyed Santiago and Vina del Mar, but it was near the end of my trip and lets just say my stomach was not operating on all cylinders. I still have the “tourist visa” in my passport till expiration so another trip would not be more expensive than catching a flight. Many places here I would love to see including the Atacama desert, Easter Island, and if feeling very adventurous the Patagonia region at the bottom of the earth. Much to see, eat and drink in this skinny on the map but full of things to do nation. Heck skiing in the Andes during the USA summer, what could be cooler? Oh yeah I don’t ski and have never been on a mountain..
Uruguay – I went to Punta Del Este after a sort stay in Buenos Aires back in 2005. This was a great trip as my first time staying in a hostel and realizing how traveling solo does not have to be an alone proposition. I met some great people and shared cultural experiences such as a real South American cookout. The town of Punta was sort of “over” by the time I arrived mid Feburary but I was told that from Christmas until then it’s the place to be in south America, so next time I will have to time my trip better. Also I had one of the best steaks ever in my life here in Uruguay! Great undiscovered country check it out
England – A country I have been to many times, and have always enjoyed. While most of my trips involve London and the surrounding areas, when I finally got outside in 2012 to Manchester to see a USA Womens Soccer game, I realized as much as I enjoy London I have to get to see more of the English countryside. I promise next time I will, but will always remember watching 2010 USA vs England at a pub where I as a USA fan was outnumbered by 99.99%.
Italy – A nation that I spent much time of my childhood years, as the son of a jazz musician many of our summers were 2 months spent going around itlay for many concerts and setting up base in the town of Cesenatico and exploring the country. I have always loved the food, art, culture, fashion of Italy. My trip in 2012 allowed me to explore Sicily which had things I loved and hated about it. Still the one thing I will never come around to is the style of Football or the Azzurri. I was in attendance for the 2006 World Cup game Italy vs the USA and it was a disgrace to the game the violence dished out and the diving going on. So while I will travel back to italy to visit places I have yet to see, you wont see me cheering on their team anytime soon. With a country with so much connection to American immigrants and our own identity in the USA, its not uncommon to know why this is one of the most visited countries for Americans when traveling abroad.
Switzerland – I have only been here one to the lovely(but expensive) city of Geneva, I spent a night in Zurich before my flight back to the USA and a dorm bed in a hostel was 50 Euros, holy smokes. Still Geneva is lovely city on the lake, and on train trips thru the swiss alps I realize the summer is not necessarily the best time of year to visit. I am sure I will be back to hike, and explore the rest of the lovely country.
France – another country with multiple visits both as a child with family and then on my own as a tourist. So much to see, so many things to eat and drink, museums to visit and culture to soak up. The south of france has amazing beaches, the atlantic coast has plenty of history directly connected with the USA due to the D-Day invasion of Normandy in World War 2, probably the number one visited country for Americans and its easy to see why. More of this country is yet to be explored by myself, this will change in the future.
Argentina – ahhh a country that holds a fun place, such turmoil both policital and economic but such a culture between the dance, food, wine, music exists here. Due to the poor economic situation at this time, argentina is a bargain probably the best bargain for any American to visit as our currency is strong, and even desired on the black market. A huge country with multiple regions I was only in Buenos Aires so if I ever go back I must see more of the country. If you are a wine lover this is the place for you! Also for steak fans almost all the steak is grass fed so you don’t need to ask, and it is delicious.
Germany – Ahhh the host of the 2006 World Cup and probably the best sporting event in my life. My first true backpacking trip to Europe was as a result of getting USA TST-5 tickets for the games. With my trusty Eurail pass I was off on an adventure of a lifetime. The fans, the games, the cities all were amazing. Easy travel, modern facilities made for a great world cup. Still my only trip to Germany I was lucky to travel all over, but I do want to get back to Berlin a city I only partied for 12hrs before catching my next flight. Thank you Germany for being such a great host and showing me how easy it is to travel and forcing me to test boundaries on future trips.
Portugal – Gosh I sound like I am harping that all these countries I have visited are great, and well for the most part they all are. Portugal is a twice repeat visitor for me, in the winter in the Algrave and the summer in Porto, I will take Summer in Porto anyday! From the great desert port wines, the grilled sardines, the colorful houses. If you love shopping this is your place as I know my sister set world records for things bought during her visits there. Go see Portugal if you get a chance!!
USA – well I live here, so yeah I’ve been here.. in fact been to I think 38 states, only a few places left I have never visited that I want to go.. so Portland Oregon, and Memphis Tenn be on the watch out!
Belgium – Ahhh the beer! The chocolate! The mussels!! A great little country that I have great memories, at least the few memories still left in my head after a night of drinking Delirium or another triple... I remember being here in September as a kid and it being as cold as ever, but I was coming from Italian beaches so that is understood.. As many times I’ve been to Belgium, I have really never left Brussels except for a day in Antwerp, so next time watch out Brugges, just don’t let me fall into one of the canals.
Russia – This was a country only visited and this was years ago. I went on a 3 week high school exchange program to goto high school and live with a family, and they did the same sent their high schooler over to NYC to live for 3 weeks.. well naturally it had a bigger effect on those kids coming to America for the first time, and I think many of thing went on to attend college, so my host Slav Volkov and watching his eye open up at his first trip to an American supermarket will always be the memory of this exchange program. St. Petersburg is one of the great cities of the world, I’ve been told and since I’ve never been there I want to go one day.. Russia just has to get his political situation under control a bit.. who knows maybe the 2018 world cup will be the time I can get back to Russia
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Ok how to buy a Brazilian SIM card for your unlocked GSM Phone. Upon my arrival in Brazil this was one of my biggest concerns as I needed to get in touch with my friend who would be arriving the next day. No way was I going to pay T-Mobile outrageous roaming rates. At the hostel I was staying at they were very helpful and told me to visit the Botofogo shopping mall and look there. I knew I was going to get one from the carrier TIM as some previous research had told me it was the best pricing and coverage. Now as normal this is where the frustration sets in, after going to the TIM store, along with all the 3 other stores that sold phones in the mall, asking if anyone spoke English to which I got a resounding NO, I was able at least to point at the phone and they understood that I wanted a SIM card.. But wouldn’t sell it, and kept on saying Lojas Americanas, which was a store that I saw downstairs, eventually I ventured down there and it was intimidating at first as this place sold everything under the sun. The phones were right in the front and thankfully one gentleman spoke some English and with my pre-printed sheet and pointing at my iphone was able to figure out I wanted a Sim card. The card itself was cheap at R$10, my second concern was not having a Brazilian CBF number, the equivalent of their social security number. From previous reading I knew that TIM had some English customer service and would take my passport number as a way to register it. Seems the girl who helped me must have registered it with her CBF number, as I never gave them my passport or number. The card itself was R$10, but then I had to load up credit and just went with the smallest amount which was R$6.
Ok so now I thought I was in business but my initial attempt to call my friend failed, with the message in Portuguese and me having no idea of what they were saying it was back into the store again.. I showed them the number I was trying to call and it turns out I didn’t need the +55 for the international country code and actually numbers in Sao Paulo should be started with 041 instead of the city code.. with this change made, boom called and was able to talk and text my friend.. Plans were made to meet for new years eve and it was all good.. The service is good data plan with 3G, 3G sucks the hell out of the battery of my old unlocked iphone 3G, so I just go with slow edge or WiFi. So far I have not run out of the initial R$6 credit after using for 6 days… its been great to be able to have internet especially for the mapping with GPS features.
Friday, February 14, 2014
When We’re Dancing Close and Slow (Prince Self-Titled, 1979) This song is simply musically, but lyrically is just a masterpiece, here are just two of my favorite lines. This is from an album which hosts 2 songs in this list, a very performance from an early album that also includes straight out guitar jams, and a song that Chaka Khan would later make famous. If you don’t already own the full album, give it a shot as its in my top 5 of all Prince albums. Here below are 2 sample lines that are great.
“I feel your warm embrace, the softness of your face, tell me babe are We here alone?” “when we’re kissing, long and hard, I can almost taste the thoughts within your mind”
Amazon MP3 Download of the Single
Amazon Physical CD of the full “Prince” album
When 2 R in Love (Lovesexy/Black Album 1988) A song that appears on back to back albums, means it was just meant to be released, totally different tempo and feeling from the other songs on both Lovesexy and the Black Album it still deserves to be heard… my fave lyric from it
“Come bathe with me, let’s drown each other in each others emotions”
Amazon MP3 Album Download(sorry but single not available)
Adore (Sign of the Times, 1987) To some this is the ultimate love song, many wedding vows have used these lines. Its good that Prince has started to perform this song live as for many years after its release there was only some lucky people in a Vienna café who ever hears the emotion live and in person. To many this is his greatest showing of love in a song, to me there are so many lines to choose from.. here are 2 of my favorites.
“Until the end of time I’ll be there for you, you own my heart and mind I truly adore you” “Nothing could compare to your lovely face, do you know what I’m saying to you this evening…”
Amazon MP3 Download (well worth the buck and change)
I Love U in Me (1989, b-side to Arms of Orion and 1991 b-side to Insatiable) A song that it seems like was determined to be released, as it was a B-side(yeah you kid who never bought vinyl have no idea what that is) twice in a 2 years span. One of my best concert memories was him playing this song live at the 1995 Miami Birthday concerts that I attended. This is a gem and finally released for the masses on the Hits/B-sides 3 CD box set. My favorite lyric follows and people find the 99 cents under you couch if you have never heard it!!
“She took off her dress, I took a peek, while thunderstorms played hide and seek” I begged for a kiss, she gave me 7, our lips touched and it feel like heaven”
Amazon MP3 Download
The Beautiful Ones (purple rain, 1984) To me the iconic scene of the movie that made him a star to the masses, this song I have heard at countless strip clubs in the world, but they never do the emotional justice that it does in the film.. Wait you haven’t seen the film, yeah I know its 30 years old, so check it out, it might be considered a classic at some point.. but the song is just lovely musically and lyrically! Note that this song gets only 5 star reviews on amazon!
“what’s it gonna be babe, do you want him, or do you want me, cause I want you.. said I want you..” Amazon MP3 Download of the song
The Whole movie for those who have not seen a great soon to be classic
Space (Come, 1994) I am sure I will take slack for this, but this song just hits at me, and the fact it was remixed into an awesome maxi-single plus the cover photo of the album was shot in lovely Barcelona possibly one of my favorite cities in the world. The song has plenty of great lines but this is my favorite.. so when are humans going to Mars again? Sign me up
“if you and I were just 10 feet closer than I’d make you understand, that everything I want to do to your body baby I would to do to your head”
Amazon MP3 Download
With You (Prince ST 1979) The second single from the great album, this one is lovely in both a male voice from Prince and a women’s voice from the version done by the great Jill Jones 8 years later which is an album worth seeking out, I paid $50 for mine and had it shipped from Michigan back in the pre-ebay days and it sits proudly on my shelf.
“if at night if you’re not with me I’m scared you’re gonna leave”
Amazon MP3 Download
Do Me baby (Controversy 1981) This song just hits you from the beginning, this is what its about, and for the next 7+ minutes you know what is going on, its on like donkey kong! I wonder how many babies in the past 33 years have been made to this joint?
“here we are all in this big ole empty room, staring each other down, you want me just as much as I want you, let’s not fool around..”
Amazon MP3 Download
Scandalous Sex Suite – The Passion (Batman, 1989 maxi-single) This is a gem that hard core prince fans know about. 19 minutes of loving with Kim Basinger with honey supposedly found in places in Studio B that honey should not be found. If you wonder how Kim and Alec ”created” the lovely soon to be supermodel Ireland Baldwin, this would be a good starting point along with having great genes. Hard to find as a maxi-single my CD copy is precious and will never be sold, but only played many times.
“can we please do it, Lets do it by the mirror, so I can see what I want to see, be what I want to be” Amazon MP3 Download of the regular single (sorry remix is not in print)
Friend, Lover, Mother, Sister, Wife (Emancipation, 1996) For his first marriage Prince penned this song for his lovely wife Mayte Garcia, and I’m sure many men who are in love or in trouble with their wives need to use these words. I remember the first time playing this for a friend who then said “oh my god that is the best thing he has ever written”, well its been almost 20 years and I’m not sure he has topped it since then despite another marriage.
“air, food, water, love of my life” “and if I ever made you cry, all I have to do is think about it and I want to die”
Amazon MP3 Download of full 3CD set that has some great tracks, sorry single not available come on people 11 bucks for 36 songs!! Buy it!
Honorable Mention #11 If I Was Your Girlfriend (SOTT, 1987) Last but not least, and a song that I have heard performed live and yes it does make me move side to side, but somehow not on this top 10 list. Why? Well it would take years to break down as its from his greatest album of all time to me, Sign o the Times. oh I can see the arrows shooting at me... If you are just starting out to learn about Prince, this is a great place to do it! whatever the case listen to this one at some point in your life to understand both the male and female sex!
“We don’t have to make children to make love, and don’t have to make love to have an orgasm, your body is what I’m all about”
Amazon MP3 Download of FULL ALBUM(I say his best)
And to end thank you Prince for making this great music over the years, life and love would not be the same without it!
Thursday, February 13, 2014
The USA played Slovakia, a team that produces much current NHL talent, and in the past has produced greats like Peter Stasney, who now has a son playing for the USA. This was thought of as a tough game, being both the first game where the players were going to gel, fight off jet-lag/tired legs, and figure out the line combinations. Well the USA got off to a great start with a rousing 7-1 win, with Slovakia having to pull their starting goalie. It was necessary to run up the score, as one of the tie-breakers to win your group and automatically advance to the Quarter-final round is goal differential.
I was impressed by goalie Jonathan Quick, who in reality should have had a shut-out as the one slovakia goal was clearly off-side and missed by the refs. Also as a fan of the NY Rangers it was great to see Ryan Callahan get some good ice time both even strength and penalty kill. I can’t find stats with individual player ice-times, but I saw him and hear his name along with fellow teammate Ryan McDonagh called many times. Derek Stepan was a scratch, but hopefully in the weekend back to back games against Russia and Slovenia he will get to show what he can do.
Overall LET’S GO USA.. I have my jersey, and plan as of now to wake up early Saturday for the USA vs Russia game and hit a bar.. yeah its 7:30am don’t judge, its almost 5pm in Sochi and we know some Vodka will have been drunk!
Thursday, September 12, 2013
While it seems almost inevitable in the CONCACAF region with 3 guaranteed spots, plus a playoff spot and only 6 teams in the final group stage that the USA will always make it, it is always a good feeling and relief. Now for the next 9 months until June 2014 the USA can develop, harmonize, and bond as a team for a hopeful long run in the tournament. The next big obstacle coming up is the Final Draw, where all 32 teams will be paired into groups of 4, and assigned venues/dates for the games to take place. This Draw will take place on December 6th, 2013.
The USA will probably not be in the Pot A containing the host nation and the best 7 teams in the world, we will most likely be in Pot B. This means our group is going to contain one of the world powerhouse teams such as Brazil, Spain, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina, etc. Going back to the 2002 World Cup we had Portugal which at the time was a world best team, 2006 we had Italy, Czech Republic and Ghana. This 2006 was probably our toughest group in recent years. 2010 was the year we won our group featuring England, Slovenia and Algeria. For 2014 we can deal with a powerhouse team, and proven in the past we draw with them (England and Italy) or beat them (Portugal), the key team to make or break us will be who comes out of Pot C, this could be a really good up and coming team (Belgium, Bosnia, Switzerland).. Still there is a good chance for us to progress out of the group.
As for the game against Mexico itself, I’m not a soccer analyst/coach/manager in anyway, just a sports fan but I know what I see. I see that Damarcus Beasley, who is one of my favorite all time USA National team players simply is not suited to play the Left Back position, we need to develop that. Without Michael Bradley who was out to injury we showed that our midfield was weak and lacking that controlling midfielder position. Jermaine Jones is highly rated by his club and national manager, but I find he turns the ball over too much, takes bad fouls and is a yellow card machine.. I would prefer to see someone else in this role. Players who I would love to see more of include Mix Diskerud, who provided the vital assist on the second goal after only being in the game for a few minutes. Also Eddie Johnson who scored our goal, and had our best chances hopefully he can have a productive year with Seattle Sounders and be in the best form for 2014, remember we took Robbie Findley and Edson Buddle to South Africa and those names have not been spoken again in terms of the US National team.
Friday, August 02, 2013
Some of my favorite beers I’ve had from around the world, and I make sure that every country I visit I attempt to have a locally brewed beer. My first trip to Bratislava, Slovakia in July of 2006, I ate at the Slovak Pub restaurant(Obchodná 613/62, Bratislava - Staré Mesto) I ordered their house beer .5 liter draft and the price was 20 kourna. At the time the exchange rate was 30 Kourna for every $1, so this beer was 66 cents. To this day that is still I think the lowest I’ve ever paid for a beer while sitting in a classy place!
My second trip to Slovakia in 2010, I wandered into a garden of the pub and ordered a Bernard Pivo(http://www.bernard.cz/en/). This was a tasty wheat beer, just perfect for a hot day. The country had converted to Euros by then, but the price was still a very reasonable 1.35€ inflation a bit, but well worth the less than $2 USD cost. Here is a picture of the Bernard.
A country that has a big craft beer movement is Brazil, while during my only trip I initially drank much of the mass produced, flavorless crap beer, I eventually found some good stuff in both Sao Paulo and Paraty. In Sao Paulo, the Cerveja Paulistania Premium was a great tasty choice, I don’t remember the price but it was probably “expensive” as we were in a premium beer garden. But this was one of the first YUM taste of beer during my trip. (http://www.cervejapaulistania.com/Paulistania_Beer/The_Beer.html)
In the city of Paraty, known for its cachaça sugar cane rum, it was still possible to find great beer at places, one of my favorites was the Colorado Indica IPA, a decently strong beer it was done in a true IPA style and very refreshing, later on in the night as the samba music player it was Caipirinha time all the way.
Currently in NYC, one of my favorite IPA beers that I’ve encountered is Henry Weinhard IPA. I’ve only found it on tap at Smithfield NYC(215 West 28th Street, http://www.smithfieldnyc.com), one of my favorite soccer bars in the city. According to the website for the beer, its roots are in Oregon but it is currently mass produced. The distribution in the area is not that great as it was suppose to be available in a local supermarket near me, Best Yet Market in Harlem but searching the racks of their self proclaimed Beer World I’ve found nothing. As long as Smithfields keeps it on tap they have a returning customer every once in a while..
Ok its past 5pm, its HAPPY HOUR TIME.. Enjoy your beers on this International Beer Day
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
FIFA move this world cup from Qatar 2022. The entire voting process of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups were controversial, from England which thought it was the favorite (but they think they are the favorite for everything…) receiving only 2 votes in the 2018 voting.. to Qatar winning the 2022. After Qatar wins, it seems all of FIFA except his Holiness Sepp Blatter either quit, was suspected of taking bribes, expelled from English soccer. With CONCACAF losing its former corrupt headman Jack Warner, and his second in command Chuck Blazer turning whistleblower on his boss but eventually realizing he was unwanted and stepping down.. to the former Qatar head of Football and want to be president of FIFA candidate Mohamed bin Hammam also being accused of bribery and going away..
But yet the most recent reason for Qatar to not host the world cup came this weekend with Ecuador national team player and bright star, Christian Benitez died after playing his first game. While it is being reported today by some news sources like CNN that it was heart failure, how sure are we that the heat did not have an effect, this is a player who grew up at the high altitude of Quito, Ecuador and played hundreds of games there and in Mexico. Also it should be noted the quote was released from the Qatar club Al Jaish, and while not saying they are not being truthful, the fact they paid $10 million dollars just a few weeks ago for the transfer of the player, and insurance issues could have something to do with their determination.
We have seen many players in multiple sports who had congenital heart defects die or have heart attacks when playing both soccer(Marc Vivien Foe in 2003) and basketball (Reggie Lewis, Hank Gathers come to mind). I’m not a doctor, I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night but the fact that the game Sunday the temperature in Doha was over 100F (41C) from 9am to 5pm. In best case the players will have great doctors, cooling fans/machines, defibrillators available for them but what about the spectators, the vendors, the workers in the stadium will they be treated as well?
The new plan proposed by genius Sepp Blatter to host the world cup in the “winter” months of November. This will upset domestic leagues all over the world including the end of the MLS season, and the start of European leagues..
Its time just to move the world cup to a country (and I am all behind my home the USA getting it) that is not incredibly hot and does not have to build the infrastructure from scratch. Lets put this this way, Qatar basically has 2 cities, Doha with a population of 340,000 and Ar Rayyan with population of 270,000. These 2 cities are about 30 miles apart, so basically the whole of the country live in suburbs of the two main cities. What are the plans for locations of the 8 stadiums needed, where are people going to stay, how to get around.. Hosting the Asian games is one thing, the FIFA World Cup is to a whole another level in terms of fans traveling and games to be player. Yes plenty of time before 2022 and this is a country so rich with natural gas/oil that the financial cost will not really be a burden.. but its geography is what the problem is.. MOVE THE WORLD CUP!!
Friday, July 26, 2013
I have not written anything in this blog in over a year. I figure this is a great time to start back writing as the initial origin for this blog was my 2006 trip to the FIFA World Cup in Germany. Since the ticket prices for the 2014 FIFA World Cup being held in Brazil were just released and the opening game is less than 11 months away why not start a countdown. My every intention is to travel to Brazil for that World Cup. The US Men’s National Team are currently atop the standings in the CONCACAF Final qualifying stage and looks to be a lock to be one of the 32 teams going to Brazil. I went to Brazil in January of 2012, so I already have my travel visa and a little knowledge of the country and how to get around it.. So lets start planning the trip here with hopefully more regular updates for others interested in the perspective of an American planning a trip.
I know from attending past Olympics and World Cups that tickets are expensive and there is a price premium attached compared to a similar sporting event. I found my 2006 invoice for the TST-5 (Team Specific Ticket 5 Games) that I purchased that allowed me to attend all 3 of the USA games, and then due to the USA failure to advance the next 2 games I followed the winner of the group (Italy, and eventual champion of the world). These 5 games cost a total of 402 Euros (before crazy high 25Euro delivery charge). At the exchange rate in mid 2005 when I was charged for the tickets, it was 1.30Euros for $1 USD, so the tickets in dollars cost $522 USD give or take a few dollars. Now fast forward to the announced prices for the same Cat 2, TST-5 ticket in Brazil and its listed at $869 USD for the 5 games, with the assumption your team does not play in the A2 slot, which is reserved for the opening game vs Brazil in Sao Paulo, which has a higher premium. So this is a $347 increase in ticket prices over the 8 years since the last world cup or a 66% increase. WOW this is higher than any inflation rate/stock market return around.. If FIFA was a stock, it would be worth investing in as they know how to raise their top line revenues.
Lets look back at the 2006 and 2010 Draws for the USA. In 2006 we were in Group E, Slot 3(E3), and 2010 we were drawn into Group C, Slot 2 (C2). The distances and times in 2006 were much shorter as Germany is a compact country with First World A+ infrastructure in the form of high speed trains along with regional/discount airlines. June 12th game vs Czech Republic in Gelsenkirchen. This game was in the home of Schalke 04 team that plays in the Bundesliga. I stayed in Essen, the same city where the USA team set up shop, this was only a 10 minute ride on the rail. But other large cities in the area including Dortmund and Dusseldorf were less than 1hr away by rail.
June 17th game vs Italy in Kaiserslauten. This city K-town is close to the giant US military base at Ramstein and the area home to over 100,000 US personal and their familes. I remember I had to come here twice, the second time for the Australia vs Italy Round of 16 game, and I stayed in Mainz about 40 minutes away on high speed train. The accommodations were limited in this area but with the high speed rail it was easy to get around. But again in the 5 days between games I actually went to Amsterdam, Belgium and Luxembourg before heading back to Germany for this game.
June 22nd game vs Ghana in Nuremberg. This game was the further away from the last city, but still from the previous game, it was at most a 4hr ride on the high speed rail. In fact the longest high speed trip I took was from the far south of Germany in Munich to Hamburg in the far north. This was about 6hrs on the train. Again another reason why Germany was the ultimate host for the world cup. It had modern stadiums, great infrastructure, well organized helpers and security and easy to get around. Looking at how FIFA have awarded the rights since germany it seems no consideration is given to the fans and the difficult task of traveling to follow their national team. Brazil is huge, Russia for 2018 is huge and Qatar in 2022 well let me just say I hope it gets pulled and awarded to the USA. Even then the USA has horribly slow trains but its possible to get from one side of the country to the other in less than 72hrs by train/car/bus.
The 2010 Draw put the USA in Rustenburg, Johannesburg, and Pretoria. Rustenberg is listed as 125km from Johannesburg and about a 2hr drive. So these cities were easy to get between even within the contest of a game day. Pretoria is listed as 70km from Johannesburg again a simple day trip. The longest distance in south Africa is between the 2 main cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg, these is train service between these, along with airplane and bus service that can easily be done in less than the 5 days between games. Also anyone going to South Africa should visit these 2 main cities during the stay, see more of the country than just soccer stadiums.
So lets look at if the USA was drawn as an E3 for the 2014 Brazil cup. The games would be June 15th in Porto Alegre, June 20th in Salvador, and June 25th in Rio de Janeiro. Porto Alegre is the most south of the host cities and in June it is going to be “cold” that time of year with average temperatures of about 20C, or 68F. The distance to Salvardor is about 3,000km (2000 miles) and I don’t think any sane person would drive this who is not a local and given the condition of brazilian roads, so flying would be the next best option. Looking up a plane ticket for a trip 3 weeks from now in Mid-August 2013 I find a fare of $283 on Gol Airlines, with a stopover in Rio making the total trip 5hrs. We would have to expect that airfares will be higher and capacity limited during the World Cup. Salvador to Rio is about 1,500km, listed as an 18hr drive. There are buses that run between these cities as I know people who have taken this route before and it can be upwards of 24hrs travel time.
If the USA was drawn as a C2 the schedule would line up June 14th Belo Horizonte, June 19th Natal, June 24th Fortaleza. From Belo Horizonte to Natal is about 2,200km, or listed as a 28hr car ride. Again this is far and not something of interest to most travelers. Lets just say for those people who have not been to Brazil and think it would be like renting a car and driving from say Chicago to Miami which is about the same distance, lets just look at the cost of gasoline. In Brazil gasoline is about 2.80 Real for 1 Liter. I find on the Sixt rent a car site a week long rental of a Chevrolet Celta which is a ultra-compact but great gas mileage (5.4 Liters/100km or about 43 mpg). The gas would be 118 Liters, total cost of R332 or $150 USD. The cost of the week rental I come up with $350 or so. So at $500 this compares to the one-way airfare again found on GOL airlines for a trip 3 weeks from now.. but we can expect all these prices to rise, and I’ve never driven 2,200km in Brazil so I can’t attest to the quality of the roads but I don’t expect them to be USA Eisenhower Interstate quality. Getting from Natal to Fortaleza, now this is totally easy to do in the 5 days between games at a listed distance of less than 600km, or a time of 7hrs.
So I guess what I’ve been trying to say in the last few paragraphs is that traveling around to follow your team with a TST ticket will be difficult no matter if your team is USA, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, etc.. And you have to hope that your team does NOT get drawn in a group that plays in Cuiaba or Manaus, as these cities are in the middle of the Brazilian no-where land.
More posts to come about my planning for the trip to the 2014 World Cup
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
So this 2012 trip might be my last pure backpacking trip, at least to Europe as with the exception of a few countries (Denmark, Sweden, and a smattering of former Yugoslavia places) i've been to most of Europe at least once if not more times. I can still see myself if i ever get spanish language skills doing a similar trip in South America, or with French in West Africa. Now that i'm mostly done with my graduate school classes with only one project left it will be time to hunker down with a job... a job that hopefully will allow me to travel but also save money for those trips and places in the world i have not explored yet. My route for this trip is rather structured after the first 2 weeks. the first 2 weeks is where i hope to meet interesting people, wander to places not inititally known about and enjoy myself. I have booked a few inter country flights and since those are paid for and the dates set, i will have to be in certain places on certain days towards the end of the trip. Due to the fact this is probably my last of these trips i'm going to try my best to keep this blog updated. While the domain name implies some crazy drinking all the time, and i've not turned down many of the finest european beers, i will also take in plenty of culutral sights and catch up with friends who i have not seen in years. But beaches and beer will be a theme hopefully talked about during this trip, along with chants of GO USA! USA! later on during the olympics. I will be exploring new countries for me, with stops in Northern Ireland, and Ireland towards the last 7 days of the trip before returning to the USA on August 20th.
I will for the most part using my frequent flyer miles for the long haul international segments of this trip. I want to try to use as many of these miles as fast as possible due to the changing nature of the airline business. My worry of precious American Airline Aadvantage miles being devauled with a potential merger or bankrupcy issues has me booking my one way over for 30k miles. On the way home i'm using a new trick that i read about on one of the many blogs devoted to frequent flyer travel and only 12.5k British Airways Avios points to fly from Dublin to Boston, this is possible as the route comes in at 2997 as the crow flies air miles. This distance is just below the higher threshold that British Airways has for its distance based awards, so lets hope Aer lingus continues to fly this route as for a short trip from my home in NYC up to Boston, it can give me twice as many flights to europe. I encourage anyone who can take advantage of this "quirk" to do so. Ok.. American Airlines flight 104, on my favorite current plane the Boeing 777 awaits me. I've not yet flown on the double decker Airbus A380 so the triple 7 will remain my favorite. Even in the back of the plane, seat 37C you get a personal TV on the back of the seat with good movies and music. power ports would be nice, or USB powered ports as American still only has cigarette lighter ports and who the heck has that adapter for our electronics??? While this flight across the pond will not compared to my International First class flight.. trust me LIFE CHANGING that i took from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Santiago, Chile this past January 2012, the fact my flight is at 9pm at night and i've had little sleep today it doesnt matter as i should be knocked out..
Ok enjoy the ride, next update from beautiful budapest!!
Post flight update, i have to thank the flight attendants as my seat had a broken video projector, i moved further back in the plane to seat 41G. But i must say this is a great seat, its in the middle but there are only 4 seats wide, instead of 5 seats in most rows so you get a bit more space, plus the legroom is vastly improved. Also while the TV set pulls out of the side of your chair, i like the fact you can adjust it sideways for better viewing.. So on American's 777 if you have to be in coach row 41 is a good row to go for!!
Thursday, June 07, 2012
While I do love the World Cup held every 4 years, as I’ve been honored to goto the 3 USA group games in 2006 Germany, and have plans to get to Brazil 2014 to root on the USA team. Its been argued that the Euro Cup is the best soccer tournament around. The fact its limited to 16 teams and only takes place in a 3 week time span makes it fast paced and every point counts. This year we have some massive “groups of death” and should make for great watching. True that the south American players who have been so good this year such as Messi, Aguero, Falcao, and all the Brazilians won’t be playing there are plenty of good European players along with decades old rivalries that make this must watching viewing.. I mean anytime the Dutch and Germans met its not ever a friendly, and with 3 pts on the line in the toughest group you know that game will be super-competitive.
My initial thoughts were to try to goto some of the Euro cup games, but the host nations of Poland and Ukraine are getting a bad rap, and probably deservedly so if you can believe what you saw in the BBC documentary “Stadiums of Hate”, so I’ll sit this one out and watch on TV at the many soccer bars in NYC. The start times of Noon and 2:45pm can be rough but the magic of tivo and turning your damn cell phone off can solve some of those issues…
So on the eve of the tournament here are my thoughts of who is going to get out of each group.
Group A – Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Russia.. Ok this is the group that I really wont watch, and even Friday the opening day I might record the games, but unless the scoreline is dramatic I doubt I’ll watch these group games. As for who can advance, while Greece won the whole thing in 2004, I think they are a joke of a team, along with being a broke country that is going to take down the rest of the world.. so ZERO points for the greeks… The Czech Republic has Petr Cech in good form and confident off his champions league victory, so I’ll give them thru in first place. Russia will go thru in second place.. Poland despite the home crowds, sorry they will get beat up. First Place – Czech Republic, Second Place – Russia
Group B – Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Netherlands.. Oh boy the group of death for the ages.. all 4 teams are ranked in the top 10 of FIFA’s sometimes stupid but still relevant world rankings (remember when the USA team made it into the top 10 before the 2006 world cup to go out scoring 1 goal in 3 games.. yeah I do.. I was there..) This group will be must see live stop everything viewing. I will be supporting the Dutch, still got their Oranje jersey from back in the 2008 and my love for Robin Van Persie has not dwindled after his great year for Arsenal (now if he went to Manchester City or somewhere in 2013, love will quickly turn to hate). The Portuguese will be a test to see if slick back Ronaldo can continue his blistered form from the past 2 years at Real Madrid, but this team as always has questions beyond Ronaldo.. The Germans, well highly efficient is a term used about their cars and also their soccer players. Denmark I don’t know much about them, I’ll laugh at Nick Bentender as he tries to prove he is one of the world’s greatest players.. So in this group I have First Place – Germany, Second Place – Netherlands
Group C – Spain, Italy, Croatia, Ireland. Arguably another group of death here, I can’t ever root for the Italians (look at the tape of the 2006 World Cup game vs USA, boo still leaves a nasty taste in my mouth), and the last world cup they were horrible. Spain is just rolling on for the past 4 years.. Croatia has some great players and Ireland will be the beaten up dog wanting a Guinness and Jameson’s shot after the game. This again will be must appointment watching as some great skill players in this great. Gotta call an upset in this group First Place – Spain. Second Place – Ireland
Group D – France, England, Sweden, Ukraine. This group has a déjà vu feeling to it. The first group game between France and England is a repeat schedule of the Euro 2004 tournament. It was watching this game at the now defunct Nevada Smiths in NYC that I become sold hook, line and sinker for the game of soccer. Watching a bunch of rowdy way past their legal limit England fans singing their songs, waving their hands, toasting their drinks and then the combination of Zidene Zidane and my man crush Thierry Henry combined for a free-kick goal extraordinaire and then a well earned penalty.. game over England snatches defeat from jaws of victory as they seem to do very well in big games, and I was like wow I love this game.. Sweden has Ibra but can he step up? England without Rooney for the first 2 games will be lost.. Ukraine has a bunch of racist fans, no love for them.. I will be watching these games and looking for a good place with atmosphere for the Monday England vs France clash. My outcome for this group First Place – France. Second Place – England(barely)
Now onto the knock-out phase Quarterfinals – Czech Republic vs Netherlands – While the Netherlands went out in the 2008 Euros in the quarterfinals against a Russian team that introduced me to Andrey Arshavin who would then haunt me for most of his arsenal career, this time I have the Dutch going thru.. just too strong and lets keep the karate kicks out of this game, save them for the final! Quarterfinals – Spain vs England – With rooney back for this game, and England having just squeaked thru but the British press hailing them all better than 1970 brazil team, it will be an easy win for the Spanish team. Back to the drawing board England.. Quarterfinals – Germany vs Russia – hey just like World War II, this time the weather wont prevent the Germans from beating the Russians.. Germany thru fairly easily. Quarterfinals - France vs Ireland – oh boy why can’t Theirry Henry and William Gallas come back for this game, I know all the Irish would just love that!! We can play a decent game of Olympic handball. Ok this is a tough call, I will give it to the Irish on revenge and momentum, they will be pysched up to play the French again, and them coming in second place in their group will be a surprise to most and have energized the team, enjoy the victory while it lasts
Semi-Finals – Netherlands vs Spain – a replay of the 2010 epic World Cup Final. Will the dutch keep their feet down below waist level? Hope so, I gotta go for the dutch in this game but it will be an amazing game for sure, and could go to extra time and penalties. Save the date Wednesday June 27th, take off work now if you feel the need to, regardless of who plays this semi-final will be must see viewing. Semi-Finals – Germany vs Ireland – ok Ireland the leprechaun was hung-over from drinking too much and didn’t make the game to give you luck. Germany through.
Finals – We have a Dutch vs Germany final, just what I want!! I would love to be brave enough to throw on my Oranje jersey and head to Zum Schneider but with my flight to Europe scheduled for July 2nd the next day, lets be safe and watch this with the Oranje army wherever they are in NYC. Come on dutch, come on Van Persie.. Lets win a big trophy~!~!
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
this post is about the Amazon Kindle.. On my recent trip i took one, and trust me for long plane flights, long bus rides, long anything in a foreign country when you just want to read something in English this is the device for you. its thin and light, plus it hold more books than you can ever read on a single charge that last for weeks. So if i should like i'm in the bank and a shill for Amazon, well i am.. i dont own their stock as i wish when i first saw an ipod back in 2004 i had bought apple stock. Missed the boat on those but if you want one or were thinking of getting one dont hesitate. do it