Opening day

I worked a full week before heading to Canada. I thought it would be for the best. After all, it’s only 2 hours of flying and I’m not evening leaving my time zone!! Little did I know that I was going to be battling some awesome allergies, rushing to get some work items squared away, and  switching ahead 1 time zone! Edmonton is Mountain Time!! Always learning.

Anyway, after some shock and awe about the situation I put myself in, I headed out to PDX to go from PDX to SEA to YEG, all on Alaska Airlines (cha-ching miles!). Nothing notable on the flights, except the last leg running about an hour late. I got in late but it was a breeze to pass through customs in Edmonton. Very nice guy, though he thought I was an athlete and perhaps participating in the tournament. I had a good chuckle and let him know I was just a spectator. This concerned him. 

  • “How do you plan to support yourself while in Edmonton?”
  • “Well, this is my vacation so I have it taken care of.”
  • “Are you going to be getting a job while in Canada?”
  • “No, I don’t plan on it. I’m only here for 31 days and I have had a job for 10 years and this is my first long vacation.”
  • “Okay, I’m just concerned that you will take one of our Canadian jobs.” 

Okay… thanks Dad. I promise I’ll be okay. I promise. It didn’t help when I told him my whole itinerary, either. Oh well. He let me pass and suddenly I was legal in Canadaland! 

My good friend, Ang, who is also a friend of the podcast, was able to swing by the airport around 1:30am to get me. (She is driving all over Canada hitting up as many matches as possible with a couple of friends. I’ll be seeing her again in Winnipeg and VanCity.) We rolled toward the hotel we were all staying and I was in my room by 2:30am. I didn’t hit the hay, though. No way, that would be too easy. Instead my body decided I wasn’t excited enough and thought a little nausea would get me match fit for the opener. My body likes to goof off from time to time. 

Anywho… the next morning I woke up to a rather chipper Thrace hustling around the room getting ready to meet CJ for brunch. I was being a crybaby about still not feeling well. Eventually I made it to breakfast and met up with Ang again. We made plans for the day that included watching the UEFA CL Final at a bar across the street from Commonwealth Stadium. 

We got there around 12:15(isn) and it was already packed. We snagged the last 4 top table and got settled in. We knew the gates to the stadium opened at 2pm, so we had plenty of time. Or at least we did until the place got packed and the waitress forgot our order and now I had 2 pitchers of Budweiser or Molson in front of me. Oh well, bottom’s up!

We met up with some people from New Zealand who were staying near the stadium. Minutes before we head over to the stadium, I decide it’s time to put in my contacts. So, I head to the bathroom at bar and get started. I thought I followed a woman into the bathroom so I didn’t pay attention to the sign on the door. Went in. Got all set up to put small pieces of plastic in my eyes, and then noticed urinals and promptly exited. Whew. That could have been embarrassing. 

Next. The ticket saga. So, Thrace and I ordered tickets through the Canadian NT SG, The Voyageurs. They sent the tickets out last week, but were worried that the postage they put on the tickets would not get them to us in time so they canceled the tickets and emailed us PDFs of our new tickets. No big deal. Except I’m an idiot who grabbed the canceled ticket when packing in the morning, completely bypassing the printout that was also in the envelope. Whoops. Thank god for technology and the patient volunteers in Edmonton for letting me in the gates.

Inside the stadium, it was packed and hot and fun and fantastic. The Voyageurs marched to the stadium and arrived about 20 minutes before kick, with flags and drums and the whole nine yards. There was a short concert with a few random Canadians (I might have freaked out a little) and then we heard the soundtrack. The FIFA anthem. And I got a little misty. 

Canada vs China was fun to watch with the home nation’s supporters. It was hot. It was loud. Concession weren’t expensive. I was exhausted by the end of the first match. That late penalty helped a bit (understatement of the year) and I’m so happy I’m making this trip. 

- Gab