World Cup 2014: Manaus, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte - Simon Calder's guide to England’s host cities in Brazil
Brazil’s largest city is not a place to linger
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Friday 06 December 2013
For the tourist, Manaus is one of Brazil’s glories. The city grew up during the rubber boom of the 19th century; its erstwhile prosperity is evident in the monumental shape of the Teatro Amazonas, the opera house that attracted the world’s greatest artists. Today, the city is most notable as the hub for Amazonian adventures, with wildlife tourism the 21st-century growth industry.
Brazil’s largest city is not a place to linger. The US State Department issues a specific warning for travellers to Sao Paulo about: “Young women slipping various drugs into men's drinks and robbing them of all their belongings while they are unconscious. Armed hold-ups of pedestrians and motorists by young men on motorcycles are a common occurrence. Victims who resist run the risk of violent attack.” The only positive: it is well-connected to more alluring parts of the country.
The nation’s third-biggest city is twinned with Minsk in Belarus. Travel-weary cynics might say it is equally industrial and unappealing. But Belo Horizonte is gateway to the colonial gold-mining towns, of which the most notable is exquisite Ouro Preto, rich in Brazilian baroque. If, by the time of England’s last match against Costa Rica, the team need a miracle, Roy Hodgson may take heart from the fact that Belo Horizonte is also twinned with Bethlehem.
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