Sam and I were due to be travelling to Istanbul for a European brand team meeting last Sunday. However, a few weeks before the meeting the location was changed, and it was confirmed that the new location would be Madrid. At the time it seemed like a much less exciting place to go seeing as I’ve never been to Istanbul before, but these things happen. The weekend before we were due to leave, it occurred to me that this was the day of the EUROs final, and Spain were playing Portugal in the semi-final on Wednesday. When they won (just about!) suddenly my disappointment about going to Madrid instead of Istanbul turned in to massive excitement – I was going to be in Madrid on the day Spain play in the EURO 2012 final.
We arrived mid-afternoon and decided to head out in to the town centre to watch the game, hoping for a bit of atmosphere to soak up. We found a little place called ‘Taberna San Bruno’, ordered some patatas huevo (egg and chips to you and me) and settled down for the game. As it got closer and closer to kick-off, the place filled with more and more excited Spaniards donning their famous red shirt.
Needless to say, as the game went on, the locals got more and more excited, singing and cheering like I’ve never heard before. When the final whistle went to signal the end of an historic 4-0 win, the place erupted. We made a move pretty soon after, only to find that the streets were buzzing with thousands of people celebrating the victory. We heard a drum beat down a side road and went over to investigate, only to find a guy in his window playing the drum, his neighbour playing a trumpet of some description, and scores of people dancing in the street below. You can see for yourself here:
Eventually we decided to get a cab back to the hotel to get some sleep before our 8am start where we were up first presenting. On the way we were faced with a woman knelt in the middle of a busy street waving a Spanish flag around here head whilst being swerved by the traffic, and this joyous fellow through the window of our taxi:
Despite being an Englishman, it was an absolutely amazing experience, and it was on a scale I just wasn’t expecting. Everybody showing such joy at the success of their national football team was really inspiring, and it was fantastic to be able to be a part of it.
So it turns out that you shouldn’t be too disappointed when that meeting invite you receive doesn’t seem like it will be very exciting. You never know what you might end up seeing.