Ears ringing, throat stinging, elbows (and knees and shoulders) banged against me as I pushed through tens of thousands of screaming strangers. Several of the people in the crowds physically accosted me at different point along the way, slapping at me and yelling in my face. The air was filled with smoke and sirens. Some strange, cold substance was raining down on my neck, my back, my legs. It was absolute pandemonium.
And I hardly could have enjoyed myself more.
For yesterday’s World Cup semi-final match between Holland and Uruguay, I joined 40,000 of my closest friends at the Museumplein in central Amsterdam — watching the big game on the big screen, in the midst of the most unimaginable orange insanity.
When the Dutch team scored a goal, the sound of the crowd was deafening: cheers, air-horns, vuvuzelas, bells, whistles, and music blasted over the sound system. Confetti and fireworks shot up into the air. Bright orange flares spewed acrid orange smoke. And everyone jumped up and down — making the Museumplein seem like a rocky orange sea. People crashed into each other: complete strangers hugging and high-fiving (and this from a culture where eye contact with strangers on the street is generally avoided). And best of all, the Dutch team won 3-2, making it into the championship game for the first time in 32 years (and providing the opportunity for its first world championship ever).
It was an unforgettable experience.
And to think… I’m going to be back in Ohio for the championship game! It’ll be hard to be away from all the pandemonium in Amsterdam (especially if the Dutch team could pull off the win), but I’m definitely going to be cheering from wherever I’m at.
Speaking of which, does anyone know a good place in north-central Ohio for watching soccer with an enthusiastic crowd?!? If there is no such place, I’m going to have to create one in my parents’ living room. I wouldn’t miss the championship for the world.