When we planned our trip to Spain, we weren't thinking of the World Cup. We picked our return date of July 12th, somewhat randomly. It was only after I had booked that we realized that the World Cup Final would be on July 11th and that we would be in Madrid and that there was a very good chance that Spain would be in the Final. So from that point, it was very much a case of believe and it will happen. That said, the first game we watched, still in Canada at this point, at Vancouver's Cafe Barcelona, left us a little shaken - losing to Switzerland? But from there, there was nowhere to go but up.
Having watched a few games in Spain, we were cautiously optimistic, but by the time we hit Segovia and watched the Germany Spain semi-final, it was clear that we were on the right track.
So as we reached Madrid, the mood was great and everyone had their party clothes on.
The morning of the final, we got up early enough and headed to the Retiro, Madrid's beautiful park. Apparently this is a Sunday tradition for me. My dad used to take me here every Sunday, when I was a child and we lived here for a few months. I love that everyone comes here. The old ladies, the young hipsters, the loud-mouthed youths, the families. It's a beautiful park with acres to walk and lots of shade to keep cool in. This Sunday was different only in the displays of yellow and red and the sound of the vuvuzela which started early.
Being our last day in Spain, we hit the Corte Ingles one more time to see if there was any last minute shopping we could avail of. Near the Puerta del Sol, the fans were out in force, even Mickey Mouse, who everyone knows is Spanish, was there. At this point, I was somewhat weary of the Vuvuzela and game time being still several hours away, I had serious doubts as to the lasting power of some of the more ardent fans.
For the match itself, I'll be honest, and just tell you that we wimped out of going to Plaza de la Cibeles, a short walk away, with the thousands of fans and opted for the cool, air-conditioned comfort of our hotel bar. The atmosphere was still very lively with lots of fans and we were close to the action, in Plaza Santa Ana. Our own group consisted of myself, Super G, my friend Jay who lives in Germany or (Yeik as he is known locally in Spain...more on this later), my sister and her fella plus one of her former work colleagues and his wife who are both Spanish. So we had a nice little international but clearly pro-Spanish contingent.
The match itself was kind of difficult to watch, with attrition setting in pretty early, the Dutch clearly determined to stimy Spanish efforts. But with Iniesta's late goal, the atmosphere exploded and the fans went mad. After the match, there was nothing to do but hit the streets and join the party!
We joined the action for a while and then headed for a meal, at a local pizza place nearby. It was perfect, simple and just what was required. The partying continued long into the night and even by morning, there were still a few stragglers around.
The next day, our flight was delayed by two hours, which delighted us because it gave us another couple of hours to enjoy in Madrid. When we finally did go to the aiport, we learned that the Spanish team would be arriving around 3. We didn't expect to coincide with them, but as we were taxiing for our flight, the captain indicated that the aircraft carrying the Spanish Team was on our right hand side. (I think this also explained our long taxi and why we were making a runway change at last minute...) I have to say, this was a pretty cool moment, and everyone on the aircraft started to clap at this announcement. It was the cherry on top of a beautiful and memorable trip.