14-15 June, Sorock-Warsaw, Poland
In 2006, when the World Cup was held in Germany, I wanted to go to the England games with my son but couldn’t get tickets. We went to a couple of fan zones anyway. I remember sitting in the market square in Aachen watching an afternoon game from crowded café tables. A middle class, middle aged German woman at the next table said, with a smile, I’m not sure what I’m doing here.
This summer, I’m off to Russia for two weeks for the group stage of the World Cup, on my own.
Last December, as soon as the venues for the England matches were announced, I booked accommodation in each city. I booked train tickets too, as soon as they became available. Then in March I got confirmation that I have tickets for all the matches: Tunisia in Volgograd on 18thJune, Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on the 24thand Belgium in Kaliningrad on the 28th.
(My first glimpse of a match in this World Cup)
Yesterday I attended a conference in Sorock, near Warsaw. I came out of the conference session to find a couple of men half watching the opening game, Russia vs. Saudi Arabia, at the bar.
At the conference, telling people where I am heading gave me credibility. This was dispelled when I had to give a view on whether Lewandowski’s form in the friendlies is a reliable guide to how he’ll play in the finals. The question was also debated of who does more for charity, Vincent Kompany or Cristiano Ronaldo.
This morning I set off. A Polish man told me that because of his interest in Buddhism, he is going to support the teams that are playing against Poland: Senegal, Japan and Colombia. I have no more in common with Lewandowski, with his wealth, than with the players for those other teams, he said. Maybe he gives a million to charity, but for him that is nothing. I am doing this to change my thinking.
Probably, though, I’ll end up supporting Poland before the end, he said.
On a park bench near Warsaw Wschodia station a Ukrainian lady allowed in Russian that yes, she believed there was a football match yesterday. Her Polish friend was keener on comparing hats and having a look at my family photos.
I had a pizza and a beer in the sun opposite the station, finished this blog and went across the road to catch the 15.36 sleeper train to Moscow.
(travel: Sorock-Warsaw by car; 29 km; 1 hour 31 min; 19 kph)