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We remember the last World Cup like it was yesterday. You knowSouth Africa, vuvuzelas, "tekkies," picturesque stadiums in a country that seems (and is) so very far away, and Spain's victory over the Netherlands. In reality, that was a whole three years ago and the world is quickly moving on to celebrate today as the one-year mark before yet another FIFA World Cup.
The soccer championship series occurs every four years, changing host countries in a wooing process similar to that of the Olympic Games. The last five destinations have been South Africa, Germany, Japan, France and the United States. For 2014, it'll be Brazil's time to shine as the major cities see their stadiums transformed into seething hoards of soccer hooligans wearing their team colors in every manner possible.
We understand that 2013 has pretty much just started, but when it comes to planning for something as big as the World Cup it pays to start as early as possible. We’re not surprised that the folks in Brazil have been putting in the overtime to ensure that everything is ready to go before the very first kick-off. What is a little surprising is that the prostitutes are also getting ready as well, but for them it’s all about studying.
Prostitutes want to be prepared for all the tourists heading to the country in little over a year, so they’re signing up for English language courses. After all it’s a little bit easier to negotiate the terms of a deal when you’re both sharing the same way of communication. Prostitution is legal in Brazil—that’s a fun fact—and the advocacy groups are going all in to ensure that the ladies are prepared as possible.
Now that this year's World Cup has been over for a couple months, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is getting around to discussing those pesky plastic horns so popular in South Africa, the Vuvuzela. Unfortunately, they aren't liking what they're hearing because UEFA has announced a ban on vuvuzelas in stadiums for all European Championship and Champions League matches.
Prior to the South Africa World Cup, vuvuzelas weren't part of the football (soccer, whichever word) fans cheering aresenal, but then those fans traveled to World Cup, spent some pocket change on the big horns, and decided that practically bursting the ear drums of fans of the opposing team was good fun. Thus, the vuvuzela has migrated north and European games aren't having it.
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Who were those women in veils behind the South African president and other FIFA officials during the World Cup trophy presentation yesterday? Why, they were flight attendants for Emirates Airlines, a major sponsor of the 2010 World Cup who obviously gave enough money to get their girls up in the spotlight.
Following yesterday's final match between Spain and Holland, which Spain won with a single goal during stoppage time, a whole line of these khaki-clad, red-lipped ladies emerged with trays of the player's medals. Asking who they were was a popular question echoed across Twitter, but the answer lay in the big red ad banners for Emirates around the field. They also showed up the day before to present the third place prize to the German team.
Only days after three runners were gored during the famous Pamplona Running of the Bulls, Spain puts a positive sheen back on their country with the 2010 World Cup win. So will Spain see a spike in tourism thanks to La Furia Roja's bringing home the trophy? Yes and no.
Despite the fact that FIFA believes this World Cup final to be the most-watched television event of all time, eclipsing the 2006 World Cup audience estimate of 700 million, a microscopic portion of those will have the resources to travel to Spain. There will be fair-weather fans, yesthose who book a trip to Spain just to share in the triumphant spirit that's sure to last at least the rest of the summer, but we'd like to think that the largest group of tourists coming to Spain in the next year will be those of Spanish heritage, their patriotism having flared up with the World Cup win.
So Spain, prepare to welcome your old friends and family back. Keep the sangria cold.
What do you think? Has Spain's win made you dream of a trip to Madrid or Barcelona?
[Photo: Jaunted; we took a picture of the television]
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Not to put too fine a point on it, but the World Cup makes people across the planet go totally batshit crazy. One of the stranger rituals that's emerged in recent years happens in Germany, where Paul the Octopus plays the modern Oracle at Delphi. The Oracle, of course, was famously consulted by the Greeks before they embarked on the wars that gave birth to and shaped Western civilization. In Paul's case, he's given supplications and asked to predict the outcome of Germany's World Cup matches.
Paul is given food in two separate boxes, where one box has Germany's flag and the other is marked with the flag of Germany's opponent. The box that Paul goes for first is who he predicts to win the match. So far his record this year has been perfect, including predicting Germany's loss to Serbia and win over Argentina. At some point Paul's choices became so eerie that people started insisting, far from the mollusk predicting soccer outcomes, that he was actually influencing who won and lost.
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Can you believe that the World Cup is already almost over? The final game, between The Netherlands and Spain happens this Sunday, and we've scheduled our travels around it, of course.
If you want to do something more with all the energy you spend yelling at the TV, then Holland's tourism board is hosting a contest to test just how devoted you are to the Holland team, and it's actually a fun contest with a great prize. Simple take a photo of yourself showing your Holland Oranje pride and post it to their Facebook page for a chance to win two tickets to Amsterdam. You've got to show them how you "plan on displaying [your] orange spirit for the final match."
Here's some inspiration: we actually own some neon orange Dutch wooden shoes (don't ask) and we'd drive to one of these US cities also named Holland and do some creative posing in front of the town sign. Hopefully you'll come up with a better idea, but that's a start.
You have from now until Tuesday at noon to submit your photos, so Hup, Holland, Hup!
[Photo: VisitHolland's Facebook page]
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You've seen them on TV, the masses of fervent World Cup fans jumping, shouting and waving around scarves of their country when their team takes a win in the 2010 World Cup, but where are they? Obviously the biggest parties in the capitals of the winning countries, and just in case you have the ability to join them, here's where to find the biggest World Cup celebrations today, during the Germany vs. Spain semifinal game:
Party with Germany at: Straße des 17. Juni in the Tiergarten, Berlin
At the base of the Siegessäule monument (a column celebrating victory, naturally) sits a massive stage, where live bands perform and entertain the tens of thousands of Deutschland supporters who pack the entire grand street leading up to it. This is the Straße des 17. Juni, a lovely and impressive thoroughfare that cuts through the center of the city's Tiergarten park. Fans spend their entire day here, arriving early to secure the best spots for watching the huge game screen. When Germany scores, the roar of the crowds here can be heard for quite a ways into the city. Here's a video of the crowds during the Argentina v. Germany game, just to give you an idea of the craziness.
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You've seen them on TV, the masses of fervent World Cup fans jumping, shouting and waving around scarves of their country when their team takes a win in the 2010 World Cup, but where are they? Obviously the biggest parties in the capitals of the winning countries, and just in case you have the ability to join them, here's where to find the biggest World Cup celebrations today, during the Uruguay vs. Netherlands semifinal game:
Party with Uruguay at: Avenida 18 de Julio in Montevideo
You may expect Uruguayans to have celebrated their recent victory over Brazil in the main square of the capital: the Plaza Indepencia in Montevideo, but nope. Instead, the overjoyed citizens clogged the city's main street leading up to the square, Avenida de 18. Julio. Along this street you'll find museum, large banks, parks andat the opposite end from the Plazaan obelisk. And you know how much people love to celebrate around obelisks, traditional symbols of timelessness and triumph.
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Are you going through World Cup withdrawal? Yes, us too, and it's only yesterday and today that we have to wait until the games start up again tomorrow when the Netherlands goes up again Brazil and Uruguay faces Ghana. When the World Cup ends for real on July 11, we just don't know what we're going to do, but we do know that the tourists who have headed down to South Africa to support their teams in person will sad to see their credit card bills.
VISA has announced that visitors to South Africa for the World Cup have already spent $128 million, and that's only counting what's been charged to VISA-branded credit cards for a couple weeks. Of course almost 90% of that was on travel purchases like airfare, hotel, car rental and restaurants, but still. That's quite a money waterfall spilling into South Africa right now. Makes the country's building all those $450 million stadiums look worthwhile (ah hem Moses Mabhida Stadium).
So how much of that will stay in South Africa?
Whether you're staying in a hostel and need 'em for the shower or you're on a business trip and hoping for a little hotel pool time, flip-flops are must-have travel gear. Without a doubt, the hottest pairs to have this season are Havaianas' limited-edition range of World Cup-themed sandals, representing 17 teamsUSA, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Germany, Argentina, Spain, The Netherlands, Australia, England, Paraguay, France, Japan, Italy, Portugal, Nigeria and Cameroonand bearing their colors so that you can show support for your team from your soles up.
We first fell in love with Havaianas four years ago, and these nationalistic ones especially, during the last World Cup. Of course the blue-and-white Italia ones were sold out even before the team won, but we happily slipped into a pair of Deutschlands and we'll do it again with a fresh pair this year.
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Last time it was boobs and puppies high up in the Alps. This time, it's chiseled Swiss men in valleys and ports. Some have their shirts off, some are milking cows, and we're pretty sure that one is licking his finger. It's not the most subtle travel ad that we've ever seen, but we strongly suspect that subtly wasn't what the Swiss Tourism Board was going for.
The ad is part of a Swiss campaign to attract women to the land of chocolates while their own countries' men are lost in a World Cup-induced haze, mixed equal parts adrenaline and alcohol (probably more the latter than the former). They aired the spot during the World Cup four years ago, and it's been making the rounds again.