At 0700h the day began with a quick shower and then we are off in a taxi in a bid to beat the horrendous Rio traffic.
Coming here last year, I know what to expect. It is the reason this very blog did not happen – travel, logistics and simply not having the time to do things.
Writing this at 4.30am nearly 48 hours later just proves that!!
Although we don’t need to be there by 11AM and the travel time was only 45 minutes, if we had of left after 0730 then we can wave goodbye to today’s mission!
Traveling in Brazil is shit. Traveling in Rio is shit. Everything takes time, planning and you have no control over how you spend your day mostly.
But people wash away the real problems and see Brazil as a beautiful country – yes great if you are backpacking without a watch, but for someone who needs to be at certain places at certain times, it can be very mentally tiring in deed.
England’s training camp in set in the beautiful setting of Forte de Urca in a military base near Sugar Loaf Mountain at the Urca Military training ground in Rio de Janeiro
Security is tight, but it’s a military base it is hard to assess the amount of security for a bunch of footballers.
Apart from being told off for sitting on the harbour wall after a military sign, the security men are very friendly and proud that the England squad are training on their base.
At 10AM, we are allowed in to the security base. Everyone was bright, awake and friendly and in good spirits. I wonder how long that will last!
Wild monkeys entertain us whilst we wait for accreditation to the England training camp in the base and then for it to open its doors to the media. Nick Collins and his illustrious Bridgnorth based cameraman Alex tell us about how they are not allowed to film in or around the stadium due to rights restrictions. FIFA have made it harder for non-rights holders to do reports.
The England team were protected by some sort of army war ship on the sea behind the pitch looking out onto the ocean as Sir Trevor Brooking and manager Roy Hodgson go on a stroll.
We had only 15 minutes to cover the England team first warming up and jogging around the pitch and then still warming by kicking the ball to each other – at least we had balls again – the amount of times we cover England training and we don’t get to see a football is staggering!
These are the images the expectant nation back home will see of their heroes preparing for the FIFA World Cup.
Back inside we all went. The England FA had gone to extraordinary length to make everyone feel at home. Sky Sports TV on the 60 inch HD screens. Some gorgeous chocolate and banana bars which took out one of my tooth fillings and free drinks.
There must have been about 200 journalists and TV people from around the world in there. Superb wifi, it was a huge big gold star to the FA for what they had laid on.
The press conference was a bit bigger to those at St Georges Park or conference type hotel rooms in Eastern European countries when England are playing their qualification matches.
Again, leading questions result in Wayne saying things that moments later are considered to be BREAKING NEWS.
Before we know it, it is mid afternoon, a taxi was taken back to our base.
Falling asleep through the live HD coverage of the complete Brazil training session was a Godsend knowing what the next day or so would bring.
First proper food of the day comes at about 6PM. Horrible tough steak and OK rice is my choice, but a wrong choice when I see a colleague eating chicken wrapped in cheese.
A quick pack and we were in a cab again – expecting the fare to be around R70, we had our first argument of the trip when the driver took us to the end of the bay, only to cut back onto the toll road when he could have taken the next junction up.
Near our destination of the Rio Bus Station, again he took us the long way around and then insisted we pay extra for having bags and going on the toll road. Understandable? Yes. But this normally does not happen.
Very reluctantly we paid the R110 fare.
Rio bus station – It does not sound too glamorous but it’s better than the airport in my opinion!
Gate 63 housed our blue Five star, lush coach travel as we embarked on the night-time journey to Sao Paulo for the opening game.
As we reversed out, I put on the new album by The Horrors. The next thing I knew, I was 2 albums in on my iPod. I awoke cold due to the air con. Turning the iPod off, I had some more shut-eye before we got to SP.
It was now 3am.