I purposely stopped in Madrid on my way to San Sebastian to catch the Euro Cup final between Spain and Italy. I know that you know that they love them some soccer over here… especially when national pride is involved. And after watching Portugal lose the semi-final while I was in Portugal (more on that later), I was hoping to try my luck to experience a win while in the winner’s country (the odds were on my side as Spain was favored). So, after driving from Lagos, Portugal to Seville (I’m pretty sure you all know that’s in Spain right?) on Saturday (to return my rental car), I caught a train from Seville to Madrid on Sunday morning for the game that evening. Upon arrival, I asked around and found out the place to be while the game was going was the public viewing area set up around Real Madrid’s stadium. I dropped my bag (yes, singular) off in my room and headed out for the stadium. I met four American college students on the subway ride to the stadium. They’re spending a year studying in Spain, and live in Madrid, so they knew the ins and outs of heading up to watch the games (despite me, for some reason, having to direct them to the proper subway platform?). Anyhow… it’s pretty much just like you imagine it would be… thousands of people packed in one place, endless singing and dancing, etc. Suffice to say that Spain won, everyone went crazy and the partied the night away. I’ll let my crappy pictures do the talking:
General clip of what it was like during the game:
During the actual match, everyone was pretty focused on the screen. There was lots of singing and dancing and throwing of water in the air (which was actually pretty refreshing as it was pretty warm outside… that plus the body heat of the crowd made it quite warm). One thing to note was that no alcohol was allowed inside the plaza… considering that alcohol is served pretty much everywhere in Spain I thought this was interesting… although probably pretty smart given the size and emotion of the crowd. Spain actually scored pretty early in the match, then scored a second goal before halftime…pretty much ensuring that they’d win the game (barring a miraculous come from behind victory by Italy). Of course everyone went absolutely nuts when the goals were scored… even during the second half, when Spain scored twice more (and the game had already been won), people still went crazy. And of course at the final whistle… more of the same. Here’s a small clip of the crowd a couple of moments after the final whistle:
After the game, the crowd spilled into the main street outside the stadium (Paseo de la Castellana) and began marching back toward the main plaza in the city center (Plaza de Cibeles). Now… the road was not closed to traffic… and most of the way the road is 6 to 8 lanes wide… and it’s about a 30-minute walk back down to the plaza… so you can imagine the semi-mayhem that ensued:
It was actually mostly peaceful, and there was simply a lot of joy in the air. Saw a couple of stupid things… people shook a couple of cars up pretty badly, and saw a couple of people stealing phones and purses from others… but most people were just celebrating… even the people stuck in traffic trying to get home:
What a weekend in Madrid.