It only seems fair to devote this entire blog post to one of the best nights of my life. The build-up to the Eurocup 2012 championships left me only imagining the reaction Spain would have after a win. Soccer here is not only a sport but a lifestyle. My roommates and I decided to return to the Real Madrid stadium and watch the championships with more than 10,000 of our closest friends. By the end, we had realized that it wasn't just the game that made our night but the people. As Mata scored Spain's fourth and final goal, the crowd erupted in a sea of cheers that did not end until I was in the silence of my own apartment.
As we left the Real Madrid stadium, we followed the cheers onto the metro. From the metro, we followed the cheers to Gran Vila. As we came up to ground level from the metro, we heard what sounded like people counting down. But what were they counting down to? Within seconds, we realized that the crowd was counting down the seconds until they were able to cross the street. However, their mission wasn't to cross the street - All they wanted to do was dance in the street. As the crowd yelled 0, I felt as if I was rushing the court after a basketball game. I looked down the street running through Gran Vila and couldn't make out where the sea of people even ended. From there, we made our way to Sol. Sol was filled with Spaniards celebrating. They were celebrating by jumping into the Sol fountain and throwing the fountain water everywhere. I guess some may compare this to dumping the Gatorade bin on their coach after a football bowl game win. As If we hadn't seen enough, we made our way to a local hang-out downtown. We were looking for a less touristy scene, which was exactly what we found. Spaniards chanted "We Are The Champions" all night long. Until that night, I had not felt a connection to that song. Let's just say I got goosebumps several times that night (and not from being cold). It felt unreal to be part of something so big; Something that brought the Spanish culture even closer to home. As the night drew to an end, it was difficult to leave. However, right before we left I witnessed something extremely powerful. As I watched two Italians enter the bar, I felt a sense of anxiety for them. However, there was no need for that. Right away, a group of Spaniards stole their flag and put it in the air with the Spanish flag. This was an image I will never forget.