Second last day in Switzerland. It was also the quarterfinal of the Euros between Holland and Russia in Basel. Coincidentally it was the last of the major cities in Switzerland that I have not been to, so the day was devoted to sightseeing in Basel.
Or that’s what I thought. At 3pm the place was swarming with Oranjes already. 100,000 of them were expected by the start of the match, so in truth it wasn’t that surprising. It was more orange than Queensday in Amsterdam. Everything was infiltrated by bright hues of colour.
At 4pm, after pushing my way through the crowded streets, I finally made it to the Fanzone in Basel where a Big Screen of the match was showing. Tickets for the seated areas were long sold out, so I picked a spot to stand and stayed there for a good 4 1/2 hours before it started. I was wearing my Holland jacket and my Queensday shirt, so I blended in rather nicely with the rest of the fans. There wasn’t a Russian fan in sight. It stayed that way for most of the evening.
The Dutch fans are one of the best I’ve seen during this Euro. The Swiss cheer for 10 minutes after winning a match and get on with life. The Dutch made me feel like Switzerland was hosting a major football championship, with the Turks and Italians close behind in terms of fan enthusiasm. The fanzone I imagined was somewhat like a warzone, it turned out to be a party zone. The Dutch rehearsed their songs and cheers prior to the game (I actually learnt some of the words of their national anthem), while doing dances to their rather monotonous techno music.
The match itself, you can find out for yourself how it turned out if you don’t know already, imagine the feelings in the Dutch camp, for that was where I was. The fans were kind of like the team, going wild after the goal and sitting back until they conceded. I left 5 minutes before the end to try to get back to Zurich (now I can empathize with those who leave stadiums early), but missed the early train by 1 minute and ended up joining the crazy fans on the 1-hour ride back.
Since I came to Zurich, I’ve never been able to take the shortest route home on my bicycle. It’s too steep! Since I came back from London though, I resolved to do it before I left. That left me with only 3 days to try. Yesterday morning, I reached Ottikerstrasse, couldn’t take it, and pushed my bike up to Scheucherstrasse for the usual easy route. Yesterday evening, despite being awfully tired after the hike at Maienfeld, I managed to get to Langmauerstrasse, then gave up and pushed the bike again. After I got back from the match, I was totally zonked out, but the rest in the train gave me the motivation to go for it one more time. I was just about to give up at Schaffhauserplatz, but there were these cars that kept honking me everytime they drove past, waving the huge Russian flag and shouting words that cannot be reproduced here (they’re in russian?). That gave me the incentive to push on, and after having to endure a really hard time, I made it 🙂
So now I can barely move my legs, I’m going to have a long bath (without a bathtub :/) and sleep in till 10 tomorrow. The full moon really made my day. Will I miss Zurich? You bet =)