Sao Paulo from the air. The city of 20 million people hosts England’s must-win game against Uruguay today (INSIDER)

What, no bananas?

(WFI) Restrictions on food and drink at stadiums and media centres have prompted plenty of debate in the first week of the World Cup. Some journalists have complained about having food items including sandwiches, bananas and water confiscated, suggesting Brazil 2014 is trying to make them splash the cash on the pricey and often basic cafeteria offerings inside. But clearly there are different rules for different venues, or regulations not being enforced. On at least two occasions, I’ve taken a banana and water bottle into stadiums without any questions asked, including at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte. On my way up to the press stand, before Belgium’s 2-1 win over Algeria, a bottle of free cold water was handed to me by a drinks vendor. Brazil 2014’s official line is that restrictions are in force to meet the country’s health and safety standards.

Brazilian Warmth Shines Through

The kindness of Brazilians knows no bounds, a feature of this World Cup, despite the language barrier. My experience in Sao Paulo, Salvador and Belo Horizonte has been the same – people will go out of their way to help or point you in the right direction – and with a ready smile. Out of money and out of time with a plane to catch from Belo Horizonte to Sao Paulo on Wednesday – and with bank machines not working with my Visa card at the airport – one twentysomething man leapt to my rescue, paying for my bus transfer from hotel to airport. He wanted for nothing in return. He got a firm handshake and a ‘muito obrigado’ from me

Airport Troubles

Bar a few delays, pre-tournament fears about airport chaos in the 12 host cities has not materialised. Rio domestic airport was shut on Tuesday morning for a short time because of fog, meaning that some Algerian fans missed the game in Belo Horizonte. But this appears to be an isolated case of fans being stuck in the air as matches go on, and not caused by any logistical problems. I was delayed going from Salvador to Belo Horizonte three days ago amid mild chaos and anxiety among some fans about departure gates due to poor signage. Mostly though, flights have been on time and airports have coped admirably with the thousands of fans moving from city to city.

First impressions of Belo Horizonte’s airport, which is fully operational for the World Cup, were that it wasn’t finished. This was obvious from a quick reccy around the different levels and later confirmed to me by an airport worker. But this has not impacted on the number of flights or passengers the airport has handled.

Media Working Conditions

In Sao Paulo, Salvador and Belo Horizonte, the set-up of media work rooms has been appreciated by most journalists. Cabled internet in the media centres

Two meat dishes, pasta and salad – the buffet for media in Belo Horizonte’s stadium (INSIDER)

and up in the press tribunes has been fast and reliable, and the Wi-Fi has generally worked well.

Most complaints, it seems, have come about the cost and range of food at the tiny cafeterias. They are too small to cater for large numbers of journalists on match days and the limited offerings, which have sometimes run out, are pricey.

At Salvador’s Arena Fonte Nova, as at other stadiums, hotdogs, cheeseburgers and turkey/cheese sandwiches are sold for 10 reals ($4.50). Apart from limited crisps and nuts, there are few snacks and no chocolate bars to sustain energy-sapped reporters.

However, buffets are available at certain times – on match days and in FIFA speak “Match day minus 1”, I was told. But they’re not cheap. The buffet cart at Estadio Mineirao opened from 11am-1pm before Belgium’s match with Algeria kicked off and then from 3pm onwards. Hungry journalists had the choice of two types of meat dish, a pasta dish and a few salads. It cost 32 reals, not including drinks.

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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