NATAL, BRAZIL – It’s well-documented that the U.S. team not only has one of the the toughest schedules in the World Cup group stage, but also one of the most rigorous travel schedules. However, the players don’t view the 9,000 miles of travel with much concern because they fly coast to coast in the U.S. on a regular basis.
But for U.S. supporters following the team through each of the three host cities, the cost and difficulty of travel has been significant. As in two flights, a seven-hour bus trip and several taxi rides. Total cost: a few bucks over two grand.
U.S. fans were limited, for the most part, to direct flights into either Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, both cities located in the southern half of Brazil. Flights into the first host city of Natal were substantially less expensive out of Rio de Janeiro. So many supporters who flew directly into Sao Paulo from the U.S. (like myself for $1,500) took a seven-hour bus ride northeast to Rio ($60) just to catch a flight to Natal ($220).
Natal is not a metropolis like Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo. It’s a beach city, small in size but robust in shoreline beauty, comparable to Manhattan Beach, Calif. The new Natal airport opened just last month and the only way to get from the airport to the city is by shuttle service or taxi, which costs $60-$100 for a 30-45 minute drive.
So in just three days, many U.S. fans have made their way through three Brazilian cities, at the cost of three flights (or two flights and a bus ride), a half-dozen taxi rides (cabs in and out of Sao Paolo were $100), and all other expenses in between just to reach their first true destination in Natal . . . only to be greeted by a rainstorm of Biblical proportions.
Was it worth it?
I’ll let the fans answer that question themselves. . . .