Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup Fever, A Canadian's View

My trip began in a dull dreary Vancouver. Calgary was even wetter during the six hour transit, so wet that the roofs were leaking. Buckets marked by placards collected the drops. Frankfurt was very warm 29, by comparison and muggy. After a day there I boarded a plane for Abu Dhabi. I had an emergency exit seat, which soon became vibrant with conversation. I talked with the two German guys on either side and the Slovakian stewardess in front.

When the plane landed one German and I sought out a screen to see the highlights of the first World Cup game. We could find none. They had TVs, but they showed volleyball and car racing. No soccer to be had. I asked an information steward and he mistook my request of “football” as “food court”. Not impressed, especially because the stewardess had told me of how many fans have been funnelling through the airport.

I'd rank the airports as follows (1=little effort; 2=some effort; 3=noticeable effort; and so on) Vancouver as a 3, Calgary a 2, Frankfurt a 3, and Abu Dhabi as a 1. Johannesburg, of course, was filled with welcome posters, red carpets for players, but what really set it apart was the multi-clad fans and horns, drums and chants.

The environment in Jo'burg airport is quite playful with announcers proclaiming that smokers violating the non-smoking policy will be banned from football games. On the last leg I got my first run in with England fans. My neighbour took up much more space than his small body would seem to be possible. He preempted the flight attendants' questions, slurring out “Lager” and “Bir”. I re pronounced his request and he got his beer. He must have had a prostrate condition, and if he does I have sympathy for him, because he went to the bathroom twice for every beer he consumed. Quite a different experience than the last flight.

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