After a great performance against the Black Stars in Natal, The Yanks are heading to Manaus. On Sunday, they face Portugal. The interest of this game will be higher than the one against Ghana and it will be a clash like no other. FIFA officials have done well to set it in the most exotic of the World Cup host cities. Just as we did with Natal, here are 11 #travefacts every USMNT fan needs to hold a talk.
photo credit: Fernando Stankus via Flickr cc
1. Manaus is a tribute to the locals
Some say Manaus means “Mother of Gods” (also the cry of amazement of team USA when they land). For sure, it derives from Manaos, the name of the indigenous river tribe. This city of 2.1 Million inhabitants is the capital of the Northern State of Amazonas.
2. Manaus, the Paris of the Tropics
A visit to Manaus is like a tour of Europe, on a budget, and condensed into 4,400 sq. mi. The city prospered until 1920 thanks to the production of rubber. That wealth influenced the urban architecture with landmarks inspired by, and built with the finest material from Europe. The Teatro Amazonas is a copy the Grand Opera de Paris. The “Palacio Rio Negro” art center has a classic Portuguese design.
3. The green gem of the Amazon
The Arena Amazonia is a model project of sustainability without a purpose past the World Cup. It runs on green energy and makes use of nearby river water. It also provides all the modern comfort all soccer fans of the world need: restaurants, pubs, and modern transportation systems in and out of the stadium. The former Estadio Vivaldao had a controversial multimillion lifting just for its date with soccer history (John Oliver ran a fantastic segment on it!). After all, it is not very often that the tournament returns to its land of adoption.
4. Hey, it could be New York!
This city earned its moniker of the heart of the Amazon for the simple fact that it is in the middle of the Rainforest. It is concrete, bonding with nature in perfect harmony. Try to beat that, New York! Tourists could choose to discover the metro area. Alternatively, they could explore the depth of the jungle (with local tour operators, do not panic!) camping on site, hiking, fishing (beware of piranhas, though) or cruising the river. Add to this the chance of spotting a toucan, a scarlet macaw or any other tropical animal, and you have yourself an unforgettable adventure.
5. Rivers have beaches too, you know!
Manaus is truly the most exotic host city of the World Cup. Unlike Sao Paulo, Natal and others with their seashores, Manaus is 900 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean. Still it provides some of the most beautiful riverside beaches in the country. Relax on the banks of the Rio Negro, by the Praia de Ponta Negra, the Praia da Lua or the Praia do Tupé. Ditch the Rio crowd on these beaches only accessible by boat, hidden miles away from the city.
6. Manaus and the Meeting of Waters
Mother Nature added to the magic too. Only near Manaus, can one see waters from two rivers run side by side without ever mixing. Locals call that unique phenomenon “Encontro das Aguas”. For nearly 4 miles, the dark waters of the Rio Negro and the muddy Rio Solimoes (Amazon) flirt. Even in photos, that sight is amazing.
Photo credit: Nao Lizuka via Flickr cc
7. Rendezvous for tree huggers
You could have the experience of the Amazon without ever leaving the city. A destination in the middle of the rainforest has to be the haven for eco-tourists. They will rejoice at the idea of exploring the Amazon on the trail of its rich wildlife. Be ready to become a trivia master on the Amazon Rainforest. Visit the Jardim Botanico Adolpho Ducke (Adolpho Ducke Botanical Garden), the local zoo, or the Forest of Science. You could also hike the elevated trails of the Parque do Mindu (Municipal Park of Mindu).
8. Smoothie wonderland
Locals love themselves fruit juices. With plenty of fruit varieties originating from nearby forests, it would be a shame not to. From sugar cane juice to Guarana, and local exclusives such as açaí and cupuaçú, you will ask why they do not make smoothies too.
9. Fish filet, anyone?
The Amazon has over 3000 species of fish. Travelers will feast on dishes such as the “Macu-Macu” tart or the Tambaqui fish roasted on charcoal. Those who want the real taste of the authentic Manaus cuisine should try the Tacacá soup. Check out this list of local venues where to try out some these delicacies.
10. June is the sweet spot
According to TripAdvisor, June is the best time to plan a visit. It marks the beginning of the dry season with daily temperature between 74°F and 84°F. The rivers are at their peak, full and very wide, spreading way out into the trees. Perfect for cruises.
11. Happy Birthday, Manaus
Manaus hosts the world’s largest samba festival, in October. Bands and guests come from all over the world to participate in the Boi Manaus, a celebration of local folk traditions. It also marks the festivities for Manaus anniversary.
Discover FIFA’s Manaus official presentation video.