Crossed It Off From the Bucket List: FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia

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I remember bluntly the first time I watched the World Cup. It was 2002 when the biggest football competition held in Korea & Japan. I was a 9 years old girl who threw her bag after school to turn on the tv and watch the cup. My eyes were stuck on this one man, Miroslav Klose. Later because of him, I support Germany. Also, I fall in love with football.

That 9 years old kid always have the dream to watch the World Cup live in the host country, live in its magnificent stadium. But it always happens to be so far away from Indonesia, like in another part of the world. Still, it is true that they said to never give up on your dream. This year, I made it to the World Cup. I WATCH FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 IN RUSSIA LIVE IN THE STADIUM!

So how could I watch the World Cup?

It all started when I got a scholarship to Turkey, the hub to most European countries. I then remember that Russia is not far away from Turkey. I just secretly wish that I could watch it. As time goes by, then the ticket sales are starting soon. But the problem is, no one is want to go with me to Russia. I had to persuade all my family to go with me, I even made a budgeting for them, but still, no one wanted to go. Then I made a tweet, asking any Twitter who wants to go, also no response. I even bothered to ask most of my friend in Turkey. As the result, I got 6 people who wanted to go with me. We made a WhatsApp group. But then, only 3 people left.

Apparently, there was three phase of the ticket sales; sales phase one, sales phase two, and last minute sales phase. Each phase has two buying system, random selection draw and first come first served. I wasn’t ready to buy the ticket yet in the sales phase one, which was around September to November 2017 because we didn’t even know the team group allocation yet. So during the sales phase two on the random selection draw, we applied for our ticket. The result of the drawing took around two months. Between three of us who applied for the ticket, only one of my friend got the allocated ticket. So we move on to the first come first served system, 2 months later.

So when the first come first served phase open, we immediately buy the ticket. I even set a reminder like 24 hours before. We bought the 1F vs 2E, because we are so confident that Germany will be the group winner and we hope Brazil will be the runner-up in the E group. How optimistic we are. So yes, we got the ticket. We were eyeing for the cheapest category, which is category 3 that cost USD 115, but unfortunately, it was sold out so we had to buy for the category 2 which cost us USD 185 per person. Oh, I am broke. But I am so happy that I got the ticket! Later I just need to take the physical ticket in the ticket collection point that located in most of the big airport in the country and city center.

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Shortly after I got the confirmation number for the ticket, like five minutes after, I made the FAN-ID. FAN-ID is like an identity for every spectator coming to Russia for the World Cup. It also serves as a free visa proof for entering the Russian Federation. Big yes for the free visa, because Russia visa cost for more than IDR 1.000.000 and it was a quite exhausting process, based on what I read on the internet. After applying for the FAN-ID, they will send us our FAN-ID via post, so it was really convenient! But since there’s a mistake on my delivered FAN-ID, so I need to apply for another one and take it in the FAN-ID center in Russia.

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Even though we got the ticket for the match, but we didn’t buy the plane ticket and accommodation immediately because I had to wait for my friends. So we just bought the ticket on D-10 before our departure. I got the ticket for ±1000 TL or about IDR 3.000.000. Make sense though, because it’s world cup season. We booked the accommodation like D-5 before departure and got a hostel that cost about RUB ±3000 (IDR 615.000) for two nights in Moscow and apartment for RUB ±1000 (IDR 228.000) in St. Petersburg. Yes, it was really affordable, considering it’s World Cup!

Oh, I also wanted to thanks my parents for being so supportive about this. When I said I wanted to go to Russia to watch the World Cup, I thought they would go against me and said “No, you can’t go!” but in reverse, they give their full support. They even give me money for this trip! Thank you Ayah and Bunda for being so cool about me being a football freak that sometimes cost you a fortune.

I WATCH THE WORLD CUP!!!

Okay as I told you before, I was so optimistic that I will watch Germany vs Brazil. Until my ultimate dream was crashed during the group stage when South Korea beat Germany 2-0 on the injury time. I cried after that match. And I wasn’t as excited to go to Russia, but hey I should be grateful that could watch the World Cup live.

So, it was 6 July 2018. Our match, which we ended up watching Switzerland vs Sweden, was at 17.00 local time, so we went there at 3. I was so impressed at how they organized the event really well. The train wasn’t packed, I even got a seat on the way there. The station was really neat, people queue orderly. The sign explaining the way was everywhere. By the way, the St. Petersburg Stadium was located in the side of a port, so view from there was gorgeous! I was in awe because I know how much packed it was when there’s a football match in Gelora Bung Karno.

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I was innocently looking for any street vendor that sell World Cup related things because I didn’t wear any World Cup attribute, even the shirt (only plain white t-shirt..). But there was none! It was really neat, tidy, orderly, whatever you call it. So then I made a Switzerland face paint to make it more World Cup vibe.

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We stayed for more than an hour outside the stadium to people watch. It was so interesting. We talk to another Indonesian we met there, we took photos with unique supporters, and we watched a marching band presented by Sweden supporters. Also, I spotted so many people wearing Germany’s shirt. Oh if only…..

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After a while, we enter the stadium. If I should say it again, the queue was super neat. I don’t have to jostle around people. It only took like 10 minutes for us to get into the stadium. Outside the stadium area, we bought a beverage first, just in case of thirst. Also because I and my friend was eyeing for the special edition World Cup glass. There were two type of limited glass we can get, the red one and the transparent one. The transparent is cooler because it flickering, but it only serves alcohol, so yeah as I’m not a drinker I opt for the red one with mineral water inside it. We also made a World Cup edition bank card (like BCA Flazz) for souvenirs.

Now it’s time to enter the seating area. We have to go to our written gate and scan the ticket barcode by ourself. There was no other queue. And there I am, inside St. Petersburg Stadium, watching the World Cup, LIVE! I was that excited, even I said “whoaaaa” for so long after seeing the stadium with my own eyes. It felt so different. It felt so magical.

When we entered the stadium, both team Switzerland and Sweden was having a warm-up session. By the way, our seat was just in the back of the goal post, near the corner area. I could see them closely. That is when I felt grateful that I bought category two ticket because the other was far above. Also, I was seated in more like neutral area, not many people wearing team’s attribute even though in front of me is some group of Switzerland’s supporters but they weren’t as hooligans.

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30 minutes after, they started coming out from the tunnel with both team’s national flag and of course the cup’s flag. Time for national anthem then. Even though I don’t have much knowledge about Switzerland and Sweden national team, but you know, it’s World freaking Cup! I was supporting for Switzerland because Granit Xhaka (Arsenal’s player of course) is there. I had no idea who was in the Sweden team. All my life, I only knew one Sweden’s player, Zlatan Ibrahimovic which retired already.

Countdown to kick off begin, 1…2…3, then the whistle blew. Honestly, the game was quite boring. There was no goal in the first half, even tough Switzerland strike consistently but they didn’t get lucky. Until then in 66 minutes, Sweden scores a goal. The match ended up 1-0 for Sweden’s victory. It’s another loss for a team that I support 😦

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My first World Cup match experience ended in disappointment because my team lost. But it’s okay, I felt extremely grateful for having such an experience. Watching World Cup live in the stadium has always been in my bucket list and now I could tick it off the list. The 2022 World Cup will be held in Qatar and I hope I could go there, watching Germany. It’s another bucket list then!

Ps: I am trying this vlog thing, so please enjoy the footages 🙂

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