Today I attended my first international soccer game during one of the worst days of weather we’ve had since arriving in Thessaloniki. Intermittent drizzling – and later, pouring rain – didn’t stop hundreds of fans of Aris, Thessaloniki’s local team, from showing up at the stadium in their trademark black and yellow and chanting, jeering, and stomping their feet with enthusiasm while the score stayed stubbornly at 0-0.
We arrived around 4:30, bought tickets for only five euro and found our seats. The moments leading up to the game were exciting, and we watched as across the stadium, fans waved enormous black and yellow flags and released small fireworks as well as clouds of colored smoke which gradually wafted over the field. Some avid fans even climbed up on the fence in front of us to more loudly catcall the other team. Brandon, Danny, and Bridget’s yellow jerseys that they’d purchased at last week’s basketball game – you can read more about that in Brandon’s story here – created a pop of color on an otherwise dreary day.
At first, I enjoyed sitting with my friends and watching the game. No one would call me sporty, but I enjoy loud chanting and stomping feet as much as the next girl. When it started raining harder at halftime, however, I decided it was time to go. It was kind of a lame move and I was disappointed to miss the rest of the game, but my denim jacket was getting damper by the minute.
Fortunately, Hsiang-Yu and Alexa agreed with me, and the three of us started walking back towards our apartment building. When we were about halfway there, Hsiang-Yu spotted a bar across the street where they were playing the game on TV. We decided to detour there and watch the rest of the game in a place where we had the comfort of a roof overhead.
The bar didn’t have food – many places specializing in coffee and cocktails simply don’t here – but they did have delicious and photogenic fruit smoothies. We spent about an hour sipping our colorful fruit blends and watching as, even in overtime, neither team scored a point. Even though it wasn’t the authentic method of watching an Aris game, it was a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon. I’ve mentioned before how this trip is all about balance. Today I struck a balance between energetic sports fan and grumpy college student, though I definitely leaned more toward the latter.