After our morning trip up to Corcovado Mountain to see the Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer – he’s about 130 feet tall!) statue, we rushed onto the subway to get to Estadio Maracana, where the Belgium vs. Russia World Cup game was held. We found out that on game days, if you have game tickets, all you have to do is show your tickets to the train station workers, and they’d let you in free of charge four hours before the game, and four hours after.
I’ve never been in a stadium so full of energy before. I’ve been to one professional hockey game and about four or five baseball games in the States, but I’ve never seen chaos, cheering, and pride in the way I saw it today. Thousands of people were dressed up in either Belgium or Russia’s colors, with their faces painted and tall elaborate hats on. The Belgians wore their red devil hats and horns, while the Russians carried in big flags to represent their country. And the “waves” were real waves, not like the boring ones I’ve seen at other games where they half-happen maybe once or twice. I was sitting in an area where there were mostly Belgians with a sprinkling of Russians and their fans here and there.
At the end of the game, Belgium won, and they showed a count of how many spectators were at Maracana for this game today. Over 73,000 people came for this game; I was in a crowd of over 73,000 screaming football (soccer) fans today. And I actually watched the game and enjoyed it. Amazing.