For four lads on a student budget, the 2014 Brazil World Cup was no more than a distant possibility that had been created following the hype of New Zealand doing so well in the 2010 South Africa competition. It was at this time we decided were going to start saving for Brazil. The main reason being that the next two world cups after Brazil were to be held in Russia and Qatar. Out of the three possible destinations Brazil was definitely the most appealing to us, and it was from this decision that we started to put away $20 a week into a savings account.
Three years on, it was only a year out from the competition so we popped into House of Travel to start our journey by booking our flights. As we were a wee bit too eager there were no flights available yet for the dates we required, however it was not long before we were back in again requesting the cheapest route possible to Brazil (or as close as we could get) and back. The idea was to leave straight after our first semester exams and get back early in the second semester, giving us a month off Uni to enjoy a taste of South America and all it had to offer.
It couldn’t come soon enough, exams came and went and the excitement kicked in. Four lads were about to set off on a trip of a lifetime. After driving to Christchurch from Dunedin we embarked on a two-day journey, travelling via airplane to eventually arrive in Argentina. Upon landing it was time to step foot on South American territory for the first time. From this point onward – with one of the lads already hopping into the wrong side of the taxi – we experienced new cultures, new ways of living, new food and most importantly new people.
Starting with a night in Buenos Aires, Argentina, we made our way up the southwestern coast of Brazil by bus, stopping in Porto Alegre, Florianopolis, Curitiba, Sao Paulo, and our final destination of Rio de Janeiro for the World Cup finals. We were able to get tickets to two games along the way, Algeria vs. Korea in Porto Alegre and Algeria vs. Russia in Curitiba, however there was never a lack of football viewing platforms especially with the fan zones in each major city. We definitely got our moneys worth with six goals (five down our end) in the first game and an unbeatable atmosphere in the second. Additionally we managed to cruise across to the boarder of Brazil and Argentina to the Iguazu falls. A down pour of rain prevented us from seeing the Argentinian side and jet boating under the falls but nevertheless the Brazilian side was an amazing sight in itself. After the final we were also able to travel two hours south of Rio to the island of Ihla Grande, a perfect getaway for some leisure, relaxation and recovery after some hectic world cup adventures.
As a whole, it is hard to describe the excitement, fun and adventures had in such few words. The great weather, interesting foods, accommodating and friendly people and much more made the trip an unforgettable experience. A huge thanks goes out to Tony Boomer and the team at House of Travel for getting four poor Uni students to Brazil for an awesome world cup experience!