Unforgettable Sunday in Spain
Sure, it’s the number one sport in the country, but Raul Rodruiguez didn’t rate fútbol as a must-do on his first visit to Spain.
His plans for Madrid included viewing the artistic masterpieces of the Museo del Prado, wandering through the Real Jardin Botanico and enjoying a coffee break at a Plaza Mayor cafe, but it turns out that football fever is infectious and guess who is now Real Madrid’s biggest fan…
“We took the circular metro line to Nuevos Ministerios. It was 12 noon, still 5 hours to kick-off but the train was already full of people dressed in Real’s white colours. Japanese supporters were trying to sing along with the chants, but judging by the friendly laughs of the Spaniards, the tourists needed a little more practice.
After a delicious bocata de jamon and a Madrid-style beer, we went around to Bernabeu Stadium. It kind of reminded me of the Colosseum in Rome. A huge monumental concrete structure in the middle of the city – impressive, very impressive, with a capacity of over 80,000 fans and half of those were chanting, smiling, hugging and talking all around me in a white sea of supporter jerseys.
I even started to feel nervous with anticipation. I couldn’t wait any longer for the referee to whistle the beginning of the match. All of a sudden somebody shouted “They are coming…they are coming!” and the excitement reached fever pitch. The police sirens were announcing something. I didn’t know what was happening, I was just being driven by a human wave of sporting passion.
A bus appeared and with it thousands of cameras and flashes. “Look Ronaldo is sitting at the back…and Casillas is there too.” It was Real’s bus and the young girls were screaming for the attention of their idols, with not much success.
It was time to get inside the stadium. We were on the 3rd level and to get there was like climbing a mountain surrounded by an orchestra, where every musician is playing a different tune. The view of the playing field from my seat was breathtaking; there I was high over the arena. The man next to me obviously noticed my expression and said “Is it your first time? I will never forget mine.”
I was in awe. The match began. I don’t remember the final score but Real Madrid won with 2 or 3 goals. What I do remember is that for each goal Real scored, I was hugged by the people next to me. I ended up out of voice, with a smile glued to my face, with new friends and of course with a new passion… “hale Real Madrid, hale hale!”
Have you ever been swept up in a sporting frenzy while on your travels?
Photo: Bernabeu Stadium by Geraldine De Korte.