Saturday, July 7, 2018

Destination: World Cup - Part 2

The neat thing about going to Russia to attend a World Cup game is that we didn't need a visa.  All we had to do was apply online for a free Fan ID.  The Fan ID allowed us to enter Russia ten days before the game and stay ten days after the game.

Our first stop was London and I wrote a short post about that here.  We flew from London to St. Petersburg and spent a night there.  The next day we flew to Kaliningrad.  Kaliningrad Oblast is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea and it is not even connected to the rest of the country.


When we landed in Kaliningrad it had just stopped raining.  It was cloudy and between 55 and 60 Fahrenheit.  Typical temperature in June is in the 70s and the day before the game it was in the mid 80s.


We did not get to see much of the city since we arrived on game day.  At the airport they had free transportation to the stadium for the fans attending the game which was nice.  On the way to the stadium we saw a car and in the passenger seat a guy was waving a Serbian flag outside the car window.  I looked at the car plates and they were from Belgrade!   Those guys drove about 1,000 miles one way to attend the game.


As we approached the stadium all streets were closed and blocked off for security.  And the sun finally came out.  Once we entered the grounds, the brand new stadium looked nice.  The first match ever was played in April of this year.





We stopped for a beer and enjoyed the atmosphere.  There was only one beer brand option and it was the official sponsor of the World Cup, Budweiser.  After that, we headed inside the stadium.  We walked around a bit and enjoyed the scenery.  Slowly the fans trickled in and filled the seats.  The players came out for the warm ups.


Then it was time for the national anthems.  It seemed that the majority of the fans in the stadium were supporting Serbia but there were plenty of Swiss fans as well.  We were very happy with our seats in the front row.  They were elevated enough that we could see the action well.


In the first five minutes, Serbia scored and we went wild.  We were very happy.  It felt unreal that we were at the World Cup and everything was going great.  The feeling lasted into halftime even though Switzerland had created some scoring opportunities.  The second half went downhill pretty quickly.  Within the first ten minutes the Swiss scored an impressive goal from outside the box.

The score stayed at 1-1 and it looked like each team would earn a point.  But in the last minute of the game, Serbia was pressing and turned over the ball.  The Swiss played two quick passes and our last defender misplayed the offside trap.  Next thing we saw was the Swiss player in front of the Serbian goal sliding the ball under the goalie for the winning goal.

Heartbreak.

There were still a couple minutes of added time left but it was not meant to be.  And to put an end on the cold night in Kaliningrad, it started to rain.

It took a while before I could look back on the day and not focus on the ending.  But now, I can say that it was a wonderful experience to be at the World Cup watching my favorite team play (especially in the first half).


4 comments:

  1. It is interesting that they waived the Visa requirement but makes sense because they did not want to impede game attendance. Sounds like you had a fun trip without any misadventures. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. We spent 10 days in Russia and everything was OK. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. That was a great game on tv... can only imagine how exciting and dramatic it was live. Despite being bounced in the group, Serbia had a great showing in the Cup in a tough group.

    Looks like you had a greap trip overall. we did our 10 year anniversary in Brasil for the World Cup. it will remain forever as one of the best experiences of our lives. Cheers!

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    1. Just seeing this comment now. For some reason, Google stopped sending me emails about new comments. It was a nice trip getting to experience the Russian/Soviet culture and see all the international fans there. I'll have to write a post or two about that soon.

      I can imagine Brazil being a great trip and the USA team did well.

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