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What Was It Really like In São Paulo As The World Cup Kicked Off?

The World Cup is finally here - what a great time it is to be a Brit living in Brazil, but what has it really been like in São Paulo over the past day or two?

The World Cup is finally here - what a great time it is to be a Brit living in Brazil, but what has it really been like in São Paulo over the past day or two?

I visited the British Consulate on the eve of the opening game to hear a lecture by John Keeling, the Master Brewer at Fuller's. Their beer, such as the famous London Pride, is recognised by Brazilians as some of the finest in the world and John's talk ended with a tasting - I had the ESB.

After that I went to a Dan Croll gig - his first ever in Brazil. Dan is one of the artists participating in the #GREATPubRock festival, helping to promote the British music industry over here. The show was superb and I was fortunate enough to bump into Silent Sleep at the bar - I recognised him from his Twitter profile.

The Brazilian audience really liked the show and Dan was all over the place having his picture taken with fans after he had finished. After the gig I went to the Vila Madalena neighbourhood - a youngish place full of bars and clubs.

I've never seen so many foreigners around in my life. Every bar was full of football fans anticipating the World Cup today and everyone was good-natured - I didn't see a single fight or even a drunken argument.

I met a lot of England fans in the pubs and all of them seemed to be enjoying Brazil - the weather, the beer, the atmosphere in the streets. Although I did see a few lost-looking England fans late at night searching in vain for their hotel.

International football fans find it easier to mix than when fans are supporting individual clubs, which made for a carnival atmosphere in town as the crowds spilled out into the street and onto the roads.

When I woke up on the day of the first game, the sky was blue, the sun was shining, it felt like an English summer here yesterday - and this is winter. I looked out of my window into Rua Augusta and a group of people dressed in the Brazil strip were riding cycles up and down the road and blowing vuvuzelas! Then a large group of joggers went past - all in the green and gold and blowing trumpets and other instruments.

When I drove across town I could see Croatia fans everywhere. Brazilians were greeting them in the street and car horns were being honked for the fans - even for the opposition.

Every shop and bar is now decorated with the Brazilian flag. Every shop closed early yesterday so staff could go and watch the game. The only people working after 3pm yesterday were the bar and restaurant cooks and waiters - I hope they are all getting a World Cup bonus after this.

Many Brazilians are angry about the money that has been spent on this World Cup. There is a feeling that the legacy planning should have been better and that corrupt officials have become rich at the expense of ordinary people. Many protests are contrasting the number of schools and hospitals that could have been built for the money invested in the World Cup.

But the atmosphere on the ground for the vast majority of people is just that of a party. Brazil is getting ready to host the best World Cup ever and though some of the protests will continue, what will actually happen is that Brazilians rich and poor will start asking their politicians to be far more accountable - but in the meantime they are all just going to enjoy the biggest party on the planet!

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