Eurocup 2016–adventures in soccer….

We arrived in Marseille an hour later than expected because of a delayed train. The city was frenetic and lively with fans from both France and Germany roaming the streets. Our first, quick glimpse of Marseille was a fantastic one. It’s a beautiful port city that has an edginess to it I immediately liked. My son and I were so excited–we were going to the semi-final game of the Eurocup and it was finally here!

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While no trip of ours is ever without its own little hiccups or problems, this one in particular, was a doozy. First, let’s talk taxis. There were few available, as in maybe 2. The city of Marseille would host about 68,000 spectators in the Velodrome and about 80,000 in the fan zones. So, of course the taxis were busy. We managed to flag down a couple, but they told us ‘No’! I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was because they were only taking people to the stadium and we wanted to go check in at our apartment first. Who knows, but after several more failed attempts, we decided to brave the metro.

We did it! Took the right metro line, got off at the right stop, and found our way to our apartment (about a 3/4 mile trek). Really was kind of a miracle we didn’t screw it up. But we found our tiny studio apartment with a gorgeous view of the water. Sweet! But no time to linger because we had to get on to the game…

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Our apartment host kindly gave us a lift close to the stadium where we were to walk the rest of the way. The crowds were a blast–lots of singing and chanting. “Nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nay, hey, hey, hey Giroud,” was heard over and over. Faces were painted red, white, and blue. Street performers were doing flips and dancing to music. It was so much fun. That is, until my son almost got knocked over by a cyclist and tripped, spraining his ankle. Disaster. He managed to limp to the stadium, where we went through security and found our seats.

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The Velodrome was a cool stadium with an open top, which quickly filled with people. We were stoked to be there. Good seats, nice people around us, infectious excitement, and anticipation for an awesome game!

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And it was indeed an awesome game. France scored two goals and each time, the crowd erupted in cheers. It was so loud in there! We stood up most of the game–everyone was too excited or nervous to sit. As the sun set, the intense heat disappeared and it felt cool for the first time that day. We settled in–me with a beer, my son with a Fanta–and watched as France won the match.

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After the game, we were still high from our victory until we stood on the streets, looking for a taxi and could find none. Not even 2. Not even 1. None. For hours. I have to admit, I got a little panicked because they boy could barely walk so it wasn’t like we could walk around till we found one. We went to a restaurant and ate, hoping that if we waited, more taxis would be available. The waitress called for us. Nothing. Three hours later and lots of help from French and German strangers alike trying to call or find a taxi for us, and finally we found one. Rolling in at 3:30 am, we were exhausted, and for the last challenge of the day, had to climb 6 flights of stairs to get to our apartment.

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We collapsed, both of us, but only for a couple hours of sleep because I had to catch the early train back to Montpellier to teach a class. What a day! It was intense–highs and lows… But when my son told me it was the best day ever, a real adventure, I was happy and said, yes, it definitely was.

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