The 2018 World Cup kicks off tomorrow. And so does my second World Cup Tour of NYC.
Every day for the next month, I’ll board the subway, cruise the bike lanes and plod along on city buses to visit a different bar, coffee shop, restaurant, cultural center, viewing party, food truck with vendors huddled around iPhones — anywhere with people watching their favorite countries play soccer, in and around New York City.
I’ve waited four years for this!
In 2014, I was the only person in New York City to embark on a tour like this and it was the most fun and amazing project I’ve ever completed. I got to talk to a ton of cool people and visit places I had never been before, all while watching my favorite sport.
But looking back, the logistics 2014 World Cup Tour were pretty smooth. Since two of Brazil’s time zones overlap with Eastern and Central times and the other is just an hour ahead, all the games aired at reasonable hours here in New York. I could even work until around 5 pm and still catch the second half of a late game if I stayed in the Harlem/East Harlem area where I worked.
I had also accrued a lot of vacation time, which enabled me to skip a few days of work to watch matches. I spent my first staycation watching the opening match between Brazil and Croatia at a Brazilian bar on 46th Street (aka Little Brazil) and the Spain-Netherlands rout at a sad Spanish cultural center on 14th Street.
This time, the tour will be tough.
I just started a job at a new publication based in Downtown Brooklyn and it’s going to be tricky to get to far-flung parts of the city for 8 am, 11 am and 2 pm matches. Since I’m new, I lack the social capital to show up late or to take four-hour lunch breaks traveling to and from the Senegalese Association in Harlem.
And yet, the mission persists. I’ll just have to find more unique spots to watch matches. That means I probably won’t be visiting the places named in the “Where to Watch the World Cup” New York Times feature or Thrillist compilation.
I probably won’t be able to get to Brighton Beach at 11 am to watch tomorrow’s opening match, but then again, most people can’t. Instead, I’ll spend more of my time searching for unique venues and experiencing the World Cup with the soccer-mad New Yorkers tethered to their fruit carts and food trucks.
I can’t wait.