For those of you who missed it, the soccer World Cup tournament ran from the second week of June through the second week of July. It happens only once every four years and is a VERY big deal in Europe.
This year the United States was in the tournament and won their group in the first round of games. Germany also played well, losing in the semi-finals to Spain, but winning third place. We were in Berlin for both of their last games and the town was painted black, red and gold! TVs were set up outside at cafes and pubs all over and there were crowds around all of them.
The Netherlands made it to the final game, which happened to take place the evening that Susan and I arrived in Amsterdam. We thought it would be fun to be there for the excitement. After we'd spent seven hours on 100-degree trains, packed in like sardines and dealt with two hours of delays, we were less enthusiastic about Dutch soccer. Due to the train delays, we got into the central station just one hour before game time and the city was in absolute chaos. Although the their flag is red, white and blue, the team color is orange in tribute to the royal family, whose last name is Oranje. So everyone and everything was citrus-colored and it was deafeningly loud with the South African vuvzela horns.
We waited over an hour for a tram to get to our hotel. We were tired, we were hungry and thirsty and we were in no mood for frenzied celebration. After we checked into our B&B, we found a tiny Surinamese restaurant where we had a great dinner and watched the rest of the game with the family who owned the place. Sadly, the Netherlands lost to Spain and we were glad that we were no longer in the city center, where many fans did not take the loss well. In our neighborhood, a deathly hush fell over the crowds at the nearby pubs and restaurants. But the Dutch spirits were not down for long; when the team arrived home on Tuesday and made a parade through the city on the canals, the 200, 000+ fans once again turned the town orange and shut down the city's transportation system! Second place is not too shabby!