|Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán |
Good news! Seville was playing at home on our last night. It was a must-win match in the 2014 UEFA Europa League against a team from Croatia. As it turns out, Seville was the defending UEFA Champion after defeating Benfica (Lisbon) last year for the title. When we got to Seville I went out to the stadium a couple of days before the match and bought the cheapest ticket available - 30 Euros (or about$38 at today's exchange rate). FYI, the US Dollars has increased in value by 10% over the last 6 months which is making everything more affordable for us.
Three nights later I jumped on the C2 city bus ($1.75 one way) to the stadium for the match which started at 21:05 which converts to 9:05 pm. Seville was hosting HNK Rijeka which is one of the reasons I decided to go to this match. Back story....
In the Spring of 1999, my final year at the Northwest Marine Trade Association I got a call from someone from the Tacoma Chamber of Commerce who asked if I wanted to join a trade mission to Croatia. It was a great experience with a dozen business and civic leaders from Seattle/Tacoma under the direction of the USAID. We spent most of our time in Rijeka which sits on the Adriatic near the Italian border. It was a fascinating trip and now five years later I would have the chance to see their football team in action.
As usual, I got to the match about an hour before kick-off. I took a few pictures of fans congregating outside nearby bars (no alcohol in Spanish La Liga stadiums) so fans get their fill ahead of time. While I was wandering around and soaking up the atmosphere, I saw a half-dozen police officers having deep in conversation. I had my iPhone on camera-mode and was ready to snap a photo of them when one of the officers looked up gave me a cold stare. I could tell by his look that I had better not take that picture. I didn't and moved-on. I continued wondering for a block or before I felt someone tapping me sharply on the shoulder. I turned around to find it was that same officer. Now he was firing questions at me in Spanish. fOops. I only speak English.
|Pre-match tailgating without a car|
|Inside the stadium the sign says "keep going up"|
|Stairs, stairs and more stairs to my seat|
|View from my seat. Best ever!|
His name was Pablo and he was in his final year of Medical School at age 22. Great guy. Good English so we delved into Seville's football history, La Liga, Spanish history, politics, tuition fees for college, medical school and a dozen other topics - and that was before the match got underway!
|Soon to be pediatrician Dr. Pablo|
|Super Star of the future - Denis Suarez on loan from Barcelona|
|Over the years, Seville has had a great run in the 1st Division|
Another great sports outing for the logbook! And as always, sitting next to someone who speaks English adds so much enjoyment to the experience. Of course it is completely random and in this case I was particularly surprised since we found fewer English speakers in Spain than we have in any of the other twenty-six countries we have visited.
Happy New Year football fans! I'll be back with a report next time we are in a city where I can catch another match.