Following the bouncing ball
27.06.2014 - 15.07.2014
WORLD CUP FEVER!
July 15, 2014- Dusseldorf, Germany
What started as a 5-week trip to Portugal and Spain turned into a 5-week "honeymoon", for I asked her to marry me and she said "YES!" So we skipped the wedding and went straight to the marriage and now what was already planned as a 5-week trip became a honeymoon and Portugal-Spain became Portugal, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium and France!
Day 1. We arrived on a Thursday, June 26th, Lisboa, Portugal. Just so happens Portugal is playing that day. We head to the park to watch on the giant screen Portugal vs. Ghana. I see a sight I've never seen before, the "beer man" with a giant scuba like backpack filling and selling cervejas! And we're in the park and their country is playing in Brasil and we are happy for it's our first day of 5-week trip and by the look of things it looks like we will be in Germany the weekend of the final and we say to ourselves "That'd be crazy if Germany makes it to the final!..." Portugal beats Ghana 2-1 and we are happy and drink lots more beer and sangria and the city of Lisbon celebrates...what a way to begin our journey!!!
The following day Brasil is playing Chile. Although we are in Portugal I feel a strong connection to Brasil because it is the "second" Portugal. Many Brazilians are wearing their colors and I decide to wear my Rio Flamenco jersey and the man at the hostel is fond and compliments me. We find a small cafe, take breakfast, and watch the 1st half. I feel a strong connection to Chile because I lived there, worked there, taught there, loved there-the food, music, beaches, mountains, deserts...2nd half we find a concert/fair/street market, we drink cervejas and sangrias and watch the game go to a shootout. Brasil wins and in typical Chilean fashion-so close yet so far-the shot hits the cross bar and that is that. Brasil wins and the streets are lively! The Brasilian players are crying with joy...save some of those tears for later...and we repeat to ourselves "How crazy would that be if Germany makes it to the final and we're there!?"
Barcelona, Spain. June 29th. We arrive in the afternoon, Spain long eliminated (surprisingly) from the Cup. However, Mexico is playing the Netherlands and in Spain there are quite a few Mexicans. We find a nice bar with big screens, the game is fast and Mexico is dominating, the 3 Dutch fans in the bar are awfully quiet. The 50+ Mexican fans just the opposite. The beer and sangria is going down quite nicely and rapidly, but not as rapidly as Mexico is about to go down! A controversial call-"flop"?-penalty kick for the Oranje, blink of an eye it's 2-1 Netherlands! Game Over! 3 Dutch fans now loud and proud! Adios Mexico! See you in Russia in 2018! Boyfriend covers girlfriends' mouth, she is yelling with joy and 50+ Mexican fans are not amused...and we say to ourselves "Imagine if we're in Germany and they're in the final!...."
Dusseldorf, Germany. July 4th. We arrive in the afternoon. Germany is playing France at 6pm. My dear friend Gordon has to work so he gives me his "Deutschland" scarf to wear and represent- "with pride" I say. We go down by the river per his recommendation and it is an amazing sea of white jerseys and giant pilsner mugs. Just so happens a French street market/fair is taking place. The French vendors perhaps secretly hoping Germany wins for if their country were to prevail the drunken horde could become violent and angry, destroying anything French! Final score: Germany 1 France 0. The riverfront erupts! Even the riverboats have massive T.V. screens showing the game. The French market continues selling its wonderful food and the German beer washes it down nicely. We drink and celebrate and feel the electricity in the air. We await the next match and watch Brasil defeat Columbia. "Wow! This is awesome...imagine if......"
Bocholt, Germany. Brasil vs. Germany. I have traveled through Brasil, spent 2 months there in fact and was there for Carnival. I consider Brasil one of my top 3 countries on Earth...but I am in Germany and watching the game with Germans and they paint my face with German colors and we drink German beer and take German shots after every goal....and goal...and goal...and goal...goal...goal...and GOOOOOAAAAALLLLL!!!! 7-1 Germany! Brasil did in fact save some tears for they are flowing now! Wow. A complete disaster for the Brasilian team, their goalie is declared "World Dodgeball Champion" by the many users of social media...they lost "a brazilian to one"...I am happy for I am in Germany. Wow! they are in the FINALS...who will they play? Argentina or Holland?
Amsterdam, Holland. The Dutch, Dutchies, Oranje, the Netherlands, Holland, never so many names for 1 country? We are in Amsterdam and the city slowly starts to turn Orange as we get closer to game time. We are in the bar district and it's a giant production replete with a marching band. We find a small venue to watch the game and as coincidence has it, the city is filled with Argentine restaurants! The game is exceptionally played and after nearly 2 hours it remains tied 0-0! SHOOTOUT! As fate has it my family lost a very dear member the day before. He was Argentinean. Fate also has it he was a goalie...Argentina wins! The goalie is the hero with 2 blocks!!....and the city of Amsterdam is deflated, party over! We drink to Francisco Diaz!
Brussels, Belgium. 3rd place game, Brasil vs. Holland. Game is a bore but the beer is good...GREAT to be exact. And even thoughts of seeing the dead body that had plummeted from the building the nite before could not deter us from having a good time. When telling friends and family about this disturbing site here in Brussels a few of them said "Maybe he was Brasilian?" Holland wins 3-0 and Brasil's emabarassment is complete, 10-1 in last two games...tomorrow we are heading back to Germany, and just as we had hoped for some two months prior: "WE WILL BE IN GERMANY FOR THE FINAL AND THEY ARE IN IT!"
Sunday, July 13th. Our dear friends Gordon and Vera pick us up at the bus station. We are going to Cologne, a friend has a projector screen and "we make barbeque and dreenk bier and make good pawty!" Gordon is a professional make-up artist at the Dusseldorf Opera House so he paints his face and his nephews'. The barbeque is amazing, the beer is cold and goes down quickly, and Gordon is a nervous wreck! He grew up in East Germany, and the last time Germany won the cup in 1990 the country was still divided and he did not feel that unified euphoria of victory. Argentina is definitely the home team in the massive Maracana Stadium there in Rio. The game begins and both teams are tense and I just enjoy, for we are in Germany during the World Cup Final and it all happened accordingly, seamlessly and still the game is tied at half 0-0 and Gordon smokes his hand rolled cigarettes and talks strategy and I listen and laugh and think of my Argentine in-laws back home and how they must be feeling and I think of Francisco...but I am in Germany now, wearing the Germany jersey that was given to me and things are tense....
2nd half begins and ends the same as the first, 0-0. And the first Overtime ends 0-0. And still 0-0, and still I cannot believe we are in Germay for the Final after weeks of hoping and wishing for this!...and then...BAM! GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!! A most perfectly executed goal, pass, block with the chest and sweeping left footed gem into the back of the net! The patio erupts, women and children, young and old...and older...no more East and West, just Germans, and in the distance you can hear other patios erupting and FINAL: Germany 1 Argentina 0, and fireworks over Cologne and the tornado touches down! For the first time a united Germany, and for the fourth time Germany is World Cup Champions. We jump, and yell, and scream, and drink, and drink, and drink...the city is alive! WELTMEISTER!!!!! WORLD CHAMPS!!!!! We return to Dusseldorf that nite and head to the city center. The entire center is covered with broken glass! As we walk and witness the chaos I spot a beer stein sitting perfectly intact on the curb, the stein is now mine! What a perfect souvenir to remember this nite!
Years from now, my wife and I will tell stories about our amazing "honeymoon." It wasn't planned, it just happened. What a trip, what a journey. To think of how fortunate we were to have been there to witness such a jubilant part of history. Truly, an unforgettable experience! Thank You's to the Travel Gods, may they watch over us and continue to bless us with many more "coincidences". Danken