How NYC experiences the World Cup [Tourist Edition]

The LOLMatch: Brazil 1 – 7 Germany

The Date: Tuesday, July 8

The Venues: South Street Seaport and Bryant Park in Manhattan

Brazil v Germany debacle in Bryant Park
The crowd lounges on the Southwest Porch at Bryant Park as Germany crushes Brazil.
Germany humiliated Brazil at Ambrose Hall in South Street Sea Port
Tourists at South Street Sea Port watched Germany’s goalfest on two small TVs above the Ambrose Hall bar

4 pm is a tough time to be a tourist in NYC.

You woke up early to visit the Statue of Liberty. You explored Wall Street, escaped tangled Lower Manhattan and proceeded up the Canyon of Heroes. You trudged halfway across the Brooklyn Bridge in the sun until you realized you wanted photos of the Brooklyn Bridge. So you returned to Manhattan and fought through crowded Chinatown lugging your new knockoff Dooney and Bourke purse toward the Manhattan Bridge. All this time, you thought you could master Manhattan geography because the streets are numbered. Aha! Not down here they’re not. Now you have to grab a cab to get to your 2 pm reservation at the Top of the Rock observation deck. You’ve been hustling around the city for eight hours and you haven’t even made it to Central Park yet! Oh, right. You didn’t have time for lunch either. You’ve been running on complimentary hotel cereal fumes since 7 am. You need to get at least one bagel and a slice of pizza while you’re here, people!

Wow. You’re exhausted, but you have to rally! Mama Mia is at 8 and then who knows where the night will lead? It’s the City that Never Sleeps after all!

I imagine more cranky sight-seeing couples fight at 4 pm than at any other time. Thank goodness for the World Cup. The tournament provides anal retentive tourists an opportunity to relax without feeling like they’re wasting time.

I decided to scope the scene among tourists at South Street Seaport during the first half of Brazil’s match with Germany. Unfortunately, the awful glare on the two small televisions above an outdoor bar called Ambrose Hall prevented me from seeing Thomas Muller’s 11′ goal (that was a theme).

South Street Seaport could have been an awesome place to watch the game if they had set up a suitable screen.  A mild breeze blew off the water and the buildings around the Astroturf community space provided shade. Quiet families and couples sat at long tables and strained their eyes to watch the match on the dinky TVs. Kids lounged in beanbag chairs along the perimeter of the picnic area. A pasty British family chuckled next to me, while a pack of disinterested German-speaking twenty-somethings arrived right after Muller’s goal.

I searched for a better angle to avoid the glare, couldn’t find one and left.

Twenty-five minutes later, I exited the subway near Bryant Park. Turns out Muller’s wasn’t the only goal I had missed.

“WTF is wrong with Brazil?” read my dad’s text.

“They all happened in 6 minutes,” my brother responded.

I checked the score on my phone. 5-0! Unbelievable.

Bryant Park’s giant projector screen was resting so a pack of people watched the game on the Southwest Porch near the corner of 40th St. and 6th Ave. The Southwest Porch is a large wooden trellis strung with light bulbs beneath a canopy of trees. A small television stood at the end of the porch opposite the bar. The subdued spectators sat in Adirondack chairs and wooden stools or atop wicker ottomans. A few girls rocked lazily in a swing.

Many people ditched early and those who stayed through the onslaught chatted idly. The weather was hot and sticky. No one seemed to be drinking much. An hour earlier, people were excited for this event! Now it felt like a crappy party with boring guests on a back deck in the suburbs. As though teetotaling hosts just built a new deck and invited all their boring friends over to check it out. They didn’t buy enough beer, no one really hit it off and everyone wondered So what do we do now? as they grasped for an excuse to leave.

Three Equinox trainers stood near the bar debating whether Neymar is better than Messi. Messi is still the king, they agreed. Johannes, a German tourist, arrived shortly after halftime. He didn’t seem to care that he missed the five goals. Two people in Brazil shirts stuck it out through the match. A tall, thin guy named Adrian explained that several Brazilian fans left after the fifth goal. One woman even cried, he said. Damn, I wish I saw that! That kind of emotion is blog gold!

Adrian tried to show me a photo of the distraught Brazilian, but it came out poorly. Meanwhile, his friend wondered what offsides was. Nothing was working out. I felt like those exhausted tourists so I cut my losses and left in the 65′.

I missed three more goals, but at least I didn’t have reservations to visit Top of the Rock.

bryant park, world cup, tourists in nyc, southwest porch, germany v brazil, brazil v germany, goalfest
The screen at Bryant Park slumbers while Germany makes Brazilian fans cry.

OVERALL ATMOSPHERE: 3/10 for a reminder that tourism is tiring. 

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