The 2014 World Cup is right around the corner, and thousands of tourists will soon flock to Brazil for the games, as well as all the culture, beauty and excitement that the host country has to offer. To give travelers – and anyone interested in Brazil – a sense of the possibilities, Fox News Latino has compiled a concise list of things to do, places to stay, what to eat and more for each of the 12 cities that will host World Cup matches.
The Town: There is remote and than there is Manaus. While the majority of the World Cup host cities are located close to the Atlantic coast, Manaus is smack in the middle of the Amazon rainforest – geographically closer to Lima, Peru than to Rio de Janeiro. The fact that the city is so far away from any other venue in the games makes Manaus an intriguing place on its own, but the city of 1.9 million has a lot more to offer than just its exotic locale. Founded in 1669, Manaus quickly grew to be the regional capital of the Amazonas state and became an economic powerhouse thanks to abundant – and exploitive – rubber trade in the late part of the 19th century and the early part of the last one. Now the 12th largest city in Brazil – and the largest in the Amazon – Manaus still keeps its economy running as the site of many controversial projects into the Amazon and as a regional manufacturing base. Despite its urban environment, Manaus is a city of natural beauty that is surrounded by an abundant rain and close to the point where the Rio Negro meets the Amazon river (called the Solimões locally) in a stunning way.
The Stadium: The recently built Arena Amazonia is one of the gems of the World Cup construction. The 46,000-seat stadium was opened back in early March and has been touted as one the most environmentally sustainable arenas in Brazil. Rainwater will be collected use in toilets or to water the pitch and the region’s abundant supply of sunshine will be harnessed to generate clean and renewable energy. Adding to this, there will also be plant screens keep energy costs down and, most importantly in the humid Amazon, to control temperatures inside the stadiums. The stadium in the heart of the Amazon will also be a major focus for U.S. fans as the United States goes up against Portugal there on June 22 with three other matches scheduled for the arena during the World Cup, including the much anticipated England-Italy game on June 14.
Weather: Manaus equatorial climate could make it one of the most uncomfortable places for both fans and players to visit. With average temperatures in the 80s and a humidity rate through the roof, prepare to sweat a lot. And while the World Cup is held in the so-called dry season, down be surprised if you get caught in a surprise downpour churned by in the temperamental airs above the Amazon.
Things To See: The city’s main attraction – besides maybe boat trips into the Amazon – is the famed Teatro Amazonas. A symbol of the dying years of the town’s rubber boom, the gold-domed theater was constructed out of European brick, Italian marble and French stained-glass at an exorbitant cost. The overwhelming interior of the theater also played a role in the Werner Herzog film Fitzcarraldo. To see where the locals shop for their fish, head to the Mercado Municipal Adolpho Lisboa on the banks of the Rio Negro. Modeled after the Les Halles market in Paris, this red and yellow building is one of the most important regional markets in Amazonas. For animal lovers out there Jungle Warfare Training Center Zoological Park is the perfect stop. No, there are no bands of monkeys fending off dive bombing parrots. The zoo was originally constructed in 1967 to teach Brazilian cadets on the Jungle Operations Course about the flora and fauna of the Amazonian jungle, but was later turned into a zoo that houses 162 occupants, representing 56 species found solely in Brazil’s Amazon regions.
Where To Stay: Despite its remote locale, Manaus has no lack of cushy places to lay your head at night. One of the best is the Park Suites Manaus, located on the banks of the Rio Negro. Air-conditioned rooms equipped with tiled floors and spacious bathrooms offer gorgeous views of the expansive Amazon and an outdoor swimming lets you float just feet above the river. The InterCity Premium Manaus gives tourists a modern feel in the heart of the Amazon. Besides contemporary and colorful rooms, the hotel is close to the famed Teatro Amazonas and port. For those more comfortable with hotels in the U.S., both Holiday Inn and Quality have locations in Manaus.
What To Eat: White-jacketed chefs cook up huge portions of steak that some claim are the best in the city at Manaus’ Rancho Búfalo. Pair your meat with a heaping salad and one of the restaurant’s tasty sides and you’ll leave stuffed and satisfied. If you’re feeling hungry for a tasty pizza pie after touring the Teatro Amazonas than stop in Casa do Pensador for a simple down to earth meal paired with a cold beer. Mundo dos Sucos has mined the Amazon for an array of fruits inn which they concoct an array of fresh juices that pair nicely – and cheaply – with a large menu of sandwiches.
Where To Drink: Need some liquid courage before heading out on a boat trip to the Amazon, or just need to unwind after a long day at the Word Cup, Manus has plenty of options to wet your whistle. The Ponta Negra district is filled with bars and clubs, but one of the best has to be Laranjinha that features an open-air patio that catches to cool breezes of the river at night. A more Bohemian scene packs in Bar do Armando in downtown Manaus that gets locals and backpackers partying with its outdoor tables and easygoing atmosphere.
Day Trip: As mentioned earlier, Manaus is the jump off point for boat trips into the Amazon. The most famous route is to the "Meeting of the Waters," the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Amazon, where the Negro’s aptly named black slam into the more murky brown waters of the Amazon creating a clear dividing line between the two famed bodies of water.