I dont think much compares to seeing a live football match in Europe. This was my second game and each time I become consumed by the atmosphere and am overcome with admiration for the sport and everything involved. Its such an overwhelming experience regardless of how big or little of a fan you are, you will not regret it.
Our day was nothing but football, this was Marks day. The one he had been waiting for. His Africa, if you will. In the morning we got across town and walked along a canal headed straight towards Old Trafford. Got some great pictures of the stadium and immersed ourselves into the atmosphere with all the other Manchester fans. We had to pay a visit to the United merchandise store attached to the arena and of course didn’t walk out empty handed. Mark, all smiles, ended up with a hat and a new jersey. We had a decent amount of time at this point to kill so we headed over to a bar called The Trafford for a drink. This bar was shoulder to shoulder packed with United fans. As we drank our beers (strongbow for me) we listened to the chants and singing amongst the fans. There were street food carts lined up outside and we couldn’t help but grab ourselves the classic chips, mushy peas and curry. This stuff is so delicious, I’m not sure what it is about the mushy peas on top but I couldn’t have it any other way and it completes the entire dish. Its kinda like the gravy for us back home — but mushy peas. Sounds gross, but its not, you must try it at least once!
Chips, Mushy peas and Curry
I was extremely disappointed when we tried to head into the game to get our seats that I was not allowed to bring my camera in with me. The camera itself was fine but i had brought all my lenses with me and due to the size of one of them, we were denied bringing it in at all. It was too bad cause i was really hoping to get some great zoomed in shots for Mark of the game. After dropping our bags at the free bag drop, we headed in fairly early and got some great shots of the empty arena and managed to take advantage of the “happy hour” special on for half price drinks. Walked around enjoying our drinks, Mark placed a bet on a draw game and proceeded to our seats to watch the boys warm up.
The game was extremely exciting. The feeling at a match is amazing. You wait for the chanting and songs to be sung between both rival teams fans coming from either end of the arena almost like a rap battle back and forth. It is wildly entertaining. We scored the first goal in the first half and it took a while for Arsenol to tie it up. We weren’t overly concerned about a draw as I mentioned Mark had placed a 10£ bet that would’ve won us 140£ if it did tie. In injury time, United scored the game winning goal in the 91st minute. I dont think I’ve ever seen Mark that happy before. And I know what you’re thinking, “but Ami, he’s with you, that’s clearly him at his happiest.” That moment has made me question that now.
Pure Happiness in those eyes
After the game was over we headed down to the pre game dinner that was included with our VIP passes. A 3 course meal as well as pictures with the United mascot, European cup and a retired player. The food was decent. We sat with another couple and enjoyed a game of trivia with them along with the meal. We had butternut squash and honey soup as a starter and I got the red snapper dish and Mark the steak. Mine was actually pretty good, Mark wasn’t too impressed with his but dessert made up for it, white chocolate crème brulee and a cracker, cheese and meat charcuterie. Did I mention it was an open bar as well? After stuffing our faces and drinking our weight in booze we headed home. I couldn’t have been happier to be apart of this experience with Mark. It was worth every penny. Im also glad we got these tickets last summer and had time to pay them off while we were working or else who knows if we would’ve been able to go!
The next morning we packed up our bags and headed towards the airport for our flight to Barcelona. An easy 2 hour flight direct and landed around 530pm. It took us a fair amount of time to get from the airport to our hostel (yes a hostel this time) and by the time we arrived, we were starving. Grabbed a quick, easy bite to eat and headed back to the hostel. This place is 6 floors with a rooftop terrace and a gorgeous view of the city. We spent the last of our evening sitting on the terrace, watching the stars and drinking our 2£ beer and sangria. The most delicious sangria ever. Right from the tap like draft beer too! Mmmm…I could get used to this! Another day to look forward to tomorrow in a brand new country! Feeling pretty lucky these days. Until my next blog, buenas noches mis amigos.