BRAZIL BEAT: In Olinda near Recife, ocean views

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This June 18, 2014 photo shows the cobble streets of Olinda, Brazil. The coastal town of Olinda was founded in the 1530's by Portuguese explorer Duarte Coelho. The lumber and sugarcane industries that flourished in the area made Olinda one of the most important colonial outposts in all of Brazil. (AP Photo/Brett Martel)

OLINDA, Brazil (AP) — Atop a hill offering panoramic views of the World Cup city of Recife is the nearly 500-year-old coastal town Olinda.

Fans such as Ricky Jaramillo of Chicago have found its narrow, cobblestone streets and colonial Portuguese and Dutch architecture a pleasant alternative to the dense clusters of high-rises about 10 miles to the south.

"The views are amazing, from the skyline of Recife to the ocean," said Jaramillo, a Mexican-American who attended Mexico's victory over Croatia in Recife's Arena Pernambuco with his father. "The cobblestone streets, the old houses and churches are amazing, the history behind them."

Jamarillo, who stayed at an oceanside hotel within walking distance of Olinda's historic center, was one of numerous Mexican fans who chose to stay in the area — apparent by the omnipresent green jerseys worn by those wandering the hillside streets or strolling along the seawall below.

This week, American and German fans have begun trickling into Olinda before Thursday's pivotal Group G match between the two countries at the Arena Pernambuco, which is about an hour's drive, depending on traffic.

Olinda was founded in 1535 by Portuguese explorer Duarte Coelho. The Portuguese word "linda" means beautiful. According to the city's tourism office, Coelho uttered something akin to, "Oh — beautiful place to found a village," when he came upon the hill where Olinda now sits.

The lumber and sugarcane industries that flourished in the area made Olinda one of the most important colonial outposts in all of Brazil. In 1631, the Dutch invaded and began an occupation that lasted 24 years before the Portuguese regained control.

The charming cobblestone streets are lined with mostly one or two story, stucco-sided buildings, often painted in bright color schemes such as cornflower blue with yellow trim. Some are sided by painted tiles. Atop the hill is a public plaza filled with artists and vendors of local food.

There is also a lighthouse, a convent and the "Igreja da Se," or Cathedral of the See, one of several churches dating to the late 1500s in the immediate area.

Lower on the hillside is the Monastery of St. Benedict, a Baroque church dating to 1582 with an ornate, 46-foot-tall altar carved from about 119,000 pounds of wood and adorned with nearly 62 pounds of gold leaf.

— By Brett Martel — www.twitter.com/brettmartel

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LIGHTNING STRIKE

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — After being unceremoniously booted from World Cup competition, Spain's national team had a tough ride home when the plane most players were traveling in was hit by lightning just before it landed in Madrid.

A spokeswoman for airline Iberia SA said the lightning strike Tuesday caused no damage and that the jet landed normally without any injuries to those aboard. She spoke on condition of anonymity because of company policy preventing her from being identified.

The weather around Madrid was stormy when the lightning strike happened. Experts say commercial jets tend to be hit by lightning about once a year.

After losing in Brazil to the Netherlands and Chile, Spain finished its World Cup appearance with a 3-0 win against Australia on Monday.

Twenty of the team's 23-member squad came home on the plane hit by lightning, accompanied by team staff and journalists.

Spanish media said the players left the airport in vans without speaking to the media and didn't go close to about 200 fans who showed up to welcome them.

— By Alan Clendenning — www.twitter.com/alanclendenning

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PRICELESS SIGN

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Some sarcastic England fans had their 15 seconds of fame during Tuesday's Group D finale against Costa Rica.

They held up a sign listing the various costs of the trip to Brazil: 1,200 pounds for the flight, 2,000 pounds for "enjoying the ambiance," 2,000 pounds for accommodation. The punchline? "Arriving after elimination — priceless."

FIFA officials probably weren't as amused as all the folks who retweeted an image of the sign, which plays off MasterCard's signature ad campaign. The tournament credit card sponsor is Visa.

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REMEMBERING 1950

NATAL, Brazil (AP) — Uruguay had yet to even advance to the knockout stage, but its fans seemed confident before the match against Italy that the team will go on to spoil Brazil's World Cup dreams — just as it did in 1950.

A group of four Uruguay fans at the Arena das Dunas in Natal wore 2-foot tall light blue foam hats, spelling out 1-9-5-0. The friends drew big crowds posing for pictures before the match. Even some Brazilians joined the fun.

And they weren't the only ones to bring up the upset victory over the host country at the tournament 64 years ago. Many of the Uruguay fans carried some sort of mention of 1950, from banners to pins to writing on their sleeves.

"This is a reminder of Brazilian heartbreak," said Alvaro Fernandez, 51, who traveled from Montevideo and wore the No. 9 hat in the 1950. "We will do it again."

— By Jim Vertuno — www.twitter.com/JimVertuno

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MUELLER MOVES ON

PORTO SEGURO, Brazil (AP) — Germany's Thomas Mueller would like fans to know he's just fine after sustaining a nasty cut above his eye at the end of Saturday's draw against Ghana.

A smiling Mueller posted a picture of himself — complete with bandaged right eyebrow — on Twitter. He wrote: "Thanks for the many get-better wishes. Everything fine with me, even if I look a bit like a boxer."

Germany plays the United States on Thursday in the Group G finale, needing a draw to assure advancement.

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Associated Press reporters will be filing dispatches about happenings in and around Brazil during the 2014 World Cup. Follow AP journalists covering the World Cup on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP_Sports/world-cup-2014