The World Cup is over now, and if you're at all like me, you're a bit, well, at loss for what to do with all your spare time. I don't actually know if Americans watch the World Cup or are as indifferent to and ignorant of it as the whole rest of the world seems to think we are, because I've been in Europe for both this and the 2006 World Cup. Thus, I haven't so much been watching it in America. So I don't know if I love it because watching the World Cup in Europe with people who love football is SO MUCH FUN, or if I just love the World Cup. Or both. But I've had my handy little bracket in my purse for the past month, and I've been watching as many games as is reasonable to do and still maintain my life activities.
I watched the World Cup in three different countries in about 10 settings. The countries are Romania, Germany, and Austria, and the settings vary from friends' living rooms to malls to beer gardens to open grassy fields next to amusement parks. And a whole lot in between. When I realized that I was watching from so many different places, I started taking pictures. And now I can share them with you, if only to extend the World Cup fever a little bit longer.
First, a standard German beer garden. Among the most "normal" of locations to watch soccer in Europe. This was in Konstanz, Germany, and I am pictured below at the beer garden with two friends:
Also pretty standard, I watched many a game in the home of three Nigerian friends here in Iasi. We had some pretty feisty times yelling at the TV (and let's be honest, at one another), and it was a great excuse to hang out (and let's be honest, to eat their Nigerian food). I totally thought I would watch the third place game at their place and get a pic of their living room, but then we watched it in my living room instead. So it goes.
People don't seem quite so excited about the World Cup here in Iasi as in other European cities, but it's definitely available to watch plenty of places. The mall food court, for example. They have a few big screens, and I watched a game here one day. This mall is in fact one of only a small handful of locations that has air conditioning in the entire city, so I'm not quite sure why I didn't go here more often. But alas.
Then there was our Fourth of July party that we had to do entirely indoors because it started pouring rain the minute our party started. It was also the night of the Germany vs Argentina quarter-final match, which I very much wanted to watch. And since we were all inside, I felt less guilty turning the game on online. The next day several of the guys apologized for "ruining you american party", but I reassured them that it was in fact my idea to turn on the game.
In Vienna I was at an amusement park with a friend one night, and we walked out by the famous ferris wheel (have you seen Before Sunrise??) to find a grassy field filled with people watching football on a big screen. THIS should go on a postcard!
Also in Vienna (and perhaps my favorite of all the places where I watched games) was the Urban Beach. Basically a bunch of sand poured on the ground next to a canal, beach chairs, and a huge screen. Oh, and quite a bit of good food and beer. Obvi. This. was. awesome.
Without question the single most unconventional place I watched a World Cup match was in a church. I was in Germany at a picnic with my friend and her friends, and we were going to watch a Germany game. And off we went to a church. This wasn't a church that maybe could double for a rec room, no, this was a full-on Churchy Church. The kind with a big cross front and center on the wall. Yea. And in we walked to find the game projected on both sides of the cross, people decked out in German colors and drinking beer. These are my kind of people.
I kind of feel like it needs to be a tradition to watch the World Cup in Europe and make it my goal to watch it in the most random and crazy settings. In 2006 I definitely had more countries since I was backpacking around Europe but way less interesting viewing locales (heavy on beer gardens and cafes). Or maybe I can actually GO to the World Cup. THAT would be pretty random and crazy. I've always wanted to go to Brazil. We shall see.