Given my predilection for both soccer and Istanbul, is it any surprise that when I finally found myself in the city mid-season that I made a determined effort to see a game?
Indeed if anything, the surprising thing here is that I haven’t been to more futbol matches around the world. (Why is there not a website for travelers that matches up travel plans and sport schedules automatically? Consider that a business idea in the style of the Dromomaniac.)
At any rate, I corralled four other itinerant-vagabond-types (two met at Athens Studios in Greece, one of their random dormmates in Istanbul, and a lovely Costa Rican I’d been on a tour with earlier in the day) into seeing a Besiktas match with me on my last-night-for-now in Istanbul.
We booked into the cheap seats because I’ve found that tends to be where the atmosphere is, and they did not disappoint. There was chanting, and singing, and in fact a bit of consumption of illegal smoke-ables (thought not by us of course). There was also an impromptu halftime show as cheap-seats spectators attempted to get an upgrade at the gate.
We eventually made it down lower towards the field and closer to the action, but somehow nothing compares to being way at the top with the riotous ruffians reveling in their team’s success.
And a great success it was, both for Besiktas and for us. Atmosphere, team spirit, and a couple of newfound friends. See what soccer does for the world?