The Madrid Derby–Day of a Lifetime

Yesterday was one of the most exciting, tiring and memorable days of my life. It started out with an excursion to Toledo, which was great. The city had amazing architecture and some of the best views I’ve seen so far on the trip.

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Unfortunately, we weren’t able to go inside the Cathedral or take any tours due to some confusion about the need for tickets (miss you Maria). Still, it was fun walking around the shops and taking in the sights on our own. Somehow, though, it ended up being completely overshadowed by the events of the rest of the day.

Saturday was the UEFA Champions League final, the event that I wrote my very first blog post about before we left. It is a huge annual soccer tournament, and this year the two finalists were both from Madrid: Atlético and Real. To say I’ve been looking forward to covering it would be an understatement, and it did not disappoint. Our “news team”: myself, Ian, Bryan, Julia, Maria and Dylan, split up into twos and tried to cover as many important areas as possible. Ian and I headed down to Atlético’s stadium, Estadio Vincente Calderon. The scene outside was surreal. There must have been at least ten thousand people swarming the area, nearly all of them wearing the striped red and white jerseys of the team. It was like a football game tailgate on steroids. It was incredible, and a little intimidating because without any gear on we stuck out like sore thumbs. But eventually I was able to approach a bunch of people and get their opinions on the game.

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At game time, most of the fans went inside the stadium to watch the game. Unlike Julia and Brian, who were able to get inside Real Madrid’s stadium, we couldn’t manage to get tickets and instead decided to head down to the Plaza Mayor. The scene there was much more relaxed, but still interesting. Fans of both sides were watching the game together in bars and at some outdoor restaurants, cheering and groaning loudly whenever something important happened. We watched the game for a little while, then headed down to the fountain area where fans celebrate after the win. While walking, we heard a loud cheer, and assumed that Atlético had won because they held a 1-0 lead.

What actually happened was a tying goal from Real in the very last minute of the game, and they went on to win in overtime. I was rooting for the underdog Atlético, so I was a little disappointed. That disappointment evaporated as soon as I saw the mobs of fans rushing towards the fountain where four of us were waiting. There was a DJ, smoke machines, light machines, and a crowd of extremely pumped Spanish soccer fans all around me. They were singing, chanting, dancing and generally just having a great time. It was one of those surreal moments I couldn’t believe I was a part of, and one that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

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The rest of the night was spent writing my article, with a big assist from the rest of team and Carlene’s husband, Geoff. After about nine hours of writing and editing, I headed home around 10am to pass out. It was an awesome story to report, and I’m happy with how it all turned out. It’s up on the home page for our group, here: northeasternuniversityjournalism2014.wordpress.com. There will be more to come, including sidebars from the rest of the news team and some video that I shot throughout the day. Hopefully that video will be my next post tomorrow.

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