Andrew and Donna's Road to the World Cup

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Monday, June 12, 2006 – A Soccer Widow’s Perspective

Note: if you can't tell by the title, Donna wrote this guy. I'll try to get some pictures up soon.

Today we left Milan. Before we left the US, I had bought a book on Milan, which we used most of the time we were in the city. On the 11th, we realized that we had no idea how to get to the airport or how far away it was from the hotel. After checking the internet for help, I checked the book. Lucky for us, although the airport was not the main one in Milan, the book did mention how to get to it. It suggested we take a bus for about 6 euros from the central train station. Both of us were a little worried that we that it couldn’t possibly be that easy, so we prepared to pay the 90 euro for a cab ride just incase. Lucky for us, it was that easy. Our cab driver was even kind enough to drop us off right behind the bus and say “Orio al Serie” and point to it so we would know.

Unfortunately that was just about the last thing to really go right for the rest of the day. The one hour bus ride to the airport gave me an awful bout with motion sickness which somehow managed to last right up until we arrived at our hotel in Duisburg, Germany. While waiting at the airport for our flight, I tried to talk to Andrew, but it was to no avail. He was sick with worry. Will our flight be delayed? What if the train is late? How will we get to the hotel? What time will we get to the game? And on and on it went. Now you have to realize, that getting even the headlines for what was on Andrew’s mind was not easy. He apologized for being a bad travel companion, but I understood. Today was a very important day.

We landed in Dusseldorf right on schedule, but changed or travel plans anyway. We took a cab to the hotel, rather than the train that I had booked and paid for. While checking-in we ran into a woman from the ESPN crew which Andrew recognized. They chatted a bit; she was very friendly. I’ll let Andrew tell you about it more.

We dropped off our bags in our room and attempted to head to the stadium. We asked the woman at the front desk how best to get to the stadium. She told us take the train, turn left, go two lights, and turn right.

We did exactly that. We did not find a train station. Instead we found the underground, which Andrew tried to convince me was the way to go. After searching long and hard for a stop for Gelsenkirchen, we gave up and decided to ask for help. Not an easy task when all you can say is hello; do you speak English, goodbye, my name is Donna and this is my husband Andrew; I don’t know, I have no idea, and a few other not so helpful phrases. On our way to find help, Andrew got interviewed by a local television station on what he thought of Duisburg. He told them that he had only been in the city for 10 minutes, but people seem friendly. After the interview, Andrew asked the interviewer how to get to the train station. He pointed us toward the underground from where we had just left. At this point Andrew was still convinced that the underground was the way to go. I was not at all convinced, mostly because I was the one who booked the train tickets.

We headed back to the hotel to ask for help again and this time understood that the first left didn’t take place until we were headed left out of the hotel. We found the train station in about 3 minutes. (Who was right??????) Finding the train was not as easy, but with a little help from the information desk we were on our way. After 15 minutes on the train, I said to Andrew, this isn’t what I expected. I don’t see any other people headed for the game. Two seconds (no exaggeration) later, the train doors opened up and a flood of US and Czech fans boarded the train.

After getting to the Gelsenkirchen train station, we boarded a tram that was filled to the brim, had a few cracked windows and no air conditioning. The tram ride took about 30 minutes, stopped at every stop, but wouldn’t open the doors. Several soccer hooligans from England started to get a bit out of control. I was very thankful to get to the stadium without any major incident.

I’m not going to talk too much about the game, I will leave it to Andrew to describe, but I will give a few thoughts that I had.

I enjoyed the game, aside from the loss that is. The fans for the most part were very enthusiastic, the stadium was very nice, and the players played very hard. We had a few people that were too cool to stand and cheer sitting near us, but for the most part everyone stood (until we were down by 3) and everyone cheered. Andrew started to grumble about our seats, then I reminded him that he had chosen the seats because he didn’t want to sit with the suits, he wanted to sit with the real fans. He kicked himself for that one. But I followed up that reminder with, “Remember how many people didn’t get tickets. They would have given a lot to sit where we are sitting.” That brought his mood back up a bit.

For my part, I was very nervous about the loss. I didn’t know how Andrew would take it. Anyone who knows Andrew’s passion for US soccer can understand. He’ll be mad that I am sharing this, but even four years after last World Cup, whenever he watches the US/Germany game he still gets riled up and stays angry for a good 24 hours. So, you can easily understand how I might be a little concerned. He was great though. He was sad, but very nice to me. He was happy with how the US played and only had positive things to say. It was good to know that he took it so well, but I still hope we win against Italy on Saturday!
Andrew 11:37 AM


Donna, I think it is terrible that no one has commented on your most excellent post, so I am coming through for you, albeit a few days late. I am sorry to say that Isaac has offered no more spontaneous prayers for your safety, but he does identify every silver VW he sees as either Annew (he's improved his pronunciation) or Dotta's car.
We're looking forward to having you back. My bunnies are in a sad state of neglect.

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