Soccer fever is running high in Russia and it reminded me of the World Cup 2010 when I was in South Africa. People have reason to be excited because Russia was playing against Czech Republic last night in one of the first matches of the Euro Cup 2012.We were invited to watch the match with friends.
There are a lot of preparations to be made before the match. We had to buy different kinds of hot-smoked fish (Скумбрии, Stavrida),dried strips of Calamari and crisps (or like we call it in South Africa-chips). Don`t forget the beer!
It was our first `official` visit to friends since we have arrived in Kaliningrad. We were greeted with Russian hospitality that I got used to over the years. A table decked with delicious food, hugs and words of welcome.
It was time to open the beer and we got spoilt with Czech beer – how appropriate! Conversation drifted back and forth as we were waiting for another school friend of Andrey. What we didn`t know at the time was that Igor didn`t know we were there. You should have seen the surprise on his face when he came through the door and saw us sitting there! It was utter disbelieve and it took him a while to realize this was not a dream – we were really sitting there!
The match was well underway and by half time Russia was leading 2-0. Spirits were high and we were all enjoying the time together. Andrey`s friends are keen sportsmen and the conversation drifted between soccer and rugby. As we were talking, Igor switched the channel and a replay appeared of South Africa vs Samoa during the World Cup Rugby 2011. We were just in time for the South African Anthem and I had to bite my lip not to cry. I always get emotional when I hear our Anthem! We talked, laughed and then it was time for the 2nd half.
The match started off slow and then the Czech team bounced back and scored! Russia couldn`t get it together and after a number of failed attempts to score we realized that Russia could be losing the match if they didn`t get their act together! Where was the passion from the first round?
The coach made a change and within minutes another goal hit the net with the speed of light! We jumped and hugged and when the door opened slightly we realized that we had woken Jurik`s dad. We apologized and calmed down until Russia scored again! Cars were hooting outside and we knew that a nation was celebrating!
I quietly chuckled because there are still many matches ahead of them but at least I got a taste for what is to come. Jurik`s wife jokingly said that if the men had their way we would be watching soccer every day! I nodded in agreement..I know my husband all too well!
With a shock we realized that it was 00:30 at night and no public transport was running at that hour. We needed to call a taxi and Andrey and I was quickly thinking whether to sleep over or to fork out the bill of a taxi. We agreed on the latter and just before 1 am the taxi pulled in to take us home.
Luckily we didn`t pay too much and we had a wonderful evening!