Category Archives: Ridiculousness

Passing the Time

If you’re wondering how we’re successfully putting off the official start to our World Cup planning, here are our secrets to success.

1. Shop. Stockpiling patriotic gear should not be limited only to World Cup years.

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2. Shop more. Because every girl needs her own Clint Dempsey jersey.
Image3. Playing a bit of futbol. FYI: having a pair of sisters on your team is better than not having a pair of sisters on your team.

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4. Plan a trip to Columbus for World Cup qualifying match.

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5. Responding to the occasional question from a reader. We’ve had a fair number of questions/comments from readers and are happy to provide a bit of insight from a dynamic duo who has been there before. Don’t be shy!

6. Frequent our favorite soccer bar for opportunities to wear our new patriotic gear/World Cup qualifying match viewing.

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7. Buying Detroit City F.C. season tickets. While the season has yet to begin, we’re optimistic that our hometown squad can fill the soccer void in our hearts.

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8. Random other activities such as holding down full-time jobs, buying houses and spending too much time on Twitter.

The Great Columbus Road Trip of 2012

In mid-September, we packed up my car and headed south into The Worst State Ever to see the U.S. Men’s National Team take on Jamaica in a World Cup qualifying match.Image

Yes, we like soccer so much that we will travel into Ohio to see a game. (Just kidding, Ohio.) (Sort of.)

I purchased our tickets a few months out. No tricks to it: I just bought them via Ticketmaster the minute that they went on sale. Our tickets were at the top of the 100 level at midfield: nothing to complain about.

I used one of my absolute favorite methods of booking a hotel: Priceline! I thoroughly enjoy the thrill of bidding on a hotel room, getting a ridiculously reasonable rate and being surprised by what hotel we end up at. It’s a fun game. You should try it.

The drive from Detroit to Columbus is a mere four hours and one stop at Tim Horton’s. It is rather painless as far as road trips go. Especially when you get someone else to drive. Which I did. (Special shout out to Lauren for taking the wheel.)

We left just before 10:00 am and arrived at 2:00 pm. After checking in to our hotel and grabbing lunch and drinks, we outfitted ourselves in egregious amounts of red, white and blue.

ImageI haven’t mentioned that Team Fantastic (that’s me and Lauren) added a third member for the Great Columbus Road Trip of 2012. Our friend Randy joined us for 28 hours of glory and I don’t think that I’m exaggerating when I say that the trip changed his life. We do that to people.

The atmosphere at Columbus Crew stadium was electric, amazing, astounding, awesome. Whatever your choice of adjective, that’s what it was. We stood the whole match. WE STOOD THE WHOLE MATCH. The crowd was manically behind the home team, which was a change from the USMNT games that we’ve seen in Chicago (very pro-Poland) and in Detroit (which was supporting the Americans but largely indifferent — no passion).

The match was, without question, the best match that we’ve seen on American soil. Not only did we see a win for the Americans, but we saw crazy awesome fan support.Image

As much as it pains my maize and blue heart to admit it: Columbus brought it. Columbus Crew stadium was filled with enthusiastic, passionate fans. It was incredible. The other USMNT games we’ve seen in the United States haven’t come close to comparing to the atmosphere that was in Crew Stadium.

U.S. Soccer would be insane not to stage more USMNT games in Columbus.

And after our phenomenal road trip, we would be crazy not to attend.

The final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying is a double round-robin competition known as the Hexagonal. The Hex. Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, Panama, Jamaica and the United States qualified.

The USMNT will host five home games during the last round of World Cup qualifiers:

  • 3/22/13 vs Costa Rica
  • 6/11/13 vs Panama
  • 6/18/13 vs Honduras
  • 9/10/13 vs Mexico
  • 10/11/13 vs Jamaica

Here’s the thing about USMNT games: they could be held virtually anywhere. Unlike some countries where their national teams play home games at at set stadium, the U.S. Men’s National Team can basically play anywhere in the country. And there are all sorts of factors that come into play when determining where they’ll get the best home field advantage: the stadium, the fan base, the playing field, the likelihood that 20,000 Mexican fans will travel there and essentially squash home field advantage, etc.

Columbus will more than likely host a match. That match will more than likely be against Mexico; the USMNT has pulled off a handful of really big wins over Mexico at Crew Stadium.

Which means that we will likely be spending Tuesday, 9/10/2013 in Columbus, Ohio.

It could be worse.

Other than the Columbus part.

(The Columbus part gives me hives. But there is no denying that it’s a great place to watch American futbol.)

We’re Back!

ImageIt has been 1 year and 358 days since Lauren and I boarded our plane bound for Johannesburg.

Our futbol fanaticism has not waned.

On October 9, 2010, we watched the U.S. Men play to a 2-2 draw with Poland in Chicago’s Soldier Field along with 31,693 of our closest friends and one stupid, sweaty Polish man who tried to pick a fight with Lauren.

Fool.

Exactly one year ago today – June 7, 2011 – the U.S. Men finally traveled to us. At Ford Field in our beloved Detroit, the U.S. Men beat Canada 2-0. Image

And we were there to watch.

And to act foolish.

Obviously.

We’re still harboring dreams of traveling to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. I will likely need to sell my liver on the black market to fund such an adventure. (Takers? Please contact me via email.)

In the meantime, we’re getting our futbol fix with a trip to Columbus* to see David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy play against the Columbus Crew while considering a second trip to Columbus to see the U.S. Men play a qualifying match against Jamaica.

And hatching a friendly Euro 2012 bet.

ImageWinner gets dinner!

A feathered hat and the paparazzi

Monday was a rest day.  No games, no tours, no commitments until our 8:30 pm dinner reservations. 

We started our day at approximately the same time that we start every day here, 9:30 am.  Breakfast is served until 10:00 am, so we’ve set our internal clocks to get us up just in time.  We haven’t missed a breakfast yet.  And good thing.  I hear it’s the most important meal of the day!

Following our breakfast and our morning email check, we sat with our friend James in the hotel lobby for a while.  Though he is from Liverpool, James was travelling with the group of New Yorkers (who had since gone home) and we had spent quite a bit of time with him.  He was with us on our first trip to Ellis Park, for the USA/Slovenia match, and he had gone to the Brazil/Ivory Coast match the night before, too.

James mentioned that he was going to the mall and to lunch with Jackie (the proprietor of our original accommodations and the woman kind enough to take us to the Lion Park) later in the morning.  We decided to tag along.  We ended up back at the African craft market.  Where we bought a few things (of course) and subsequently banned ourselves from returning to because we find it far too easy to burn through cash there.

(I should mention that we’ve since made plans to return this Monday because self control + Lauren + Alyson = does not compute.)

We had a nice, quick lunch and headed back to the hotel to see James off.  Before he left, he delivered several flags to our room: United States, Spain and Argentina.  He had no use for them at home; we promised to wave them wildly at every opportunity. 

The rest of our afternoon passed quietly.  Lauren did homework and took a nap.  I blogged and checked my work email. 

We headed to Melrose Arch for dinner at a restaurant called Moyo.  We had actually tried to have dinner there on Saturday, but couldn’t get reservations.  Moyo is an authentic African restaurant that came highly recommended by Jackie. 

Lauren suggested that Moyo may be the Frankenmuth of South Africa.  The staff wears traditional African outfits, which is probably embarrassing yet mitigated by the amount of business that they see.  We were seated in the basement section of the restaurant, which was absolutely enormous and completely packed.  The basement is decorated to look like a cave.  A cave with flatscreen televisions broadcasting the Spain game. 

We had drinks.  We had dinner.  We watched the Spain game.  We had our faces painted – which is apparently an African thing (or just a clever trick to charm the tourists).  We talked a Frenchman named Francois into taking our picture.  We soaked up the atmosphere.  It was really fun.

And about to get better.

Just as we were finishing up our meal, the Spain game finished.  To celebrate, the restaurant played the World Cup’s anthem “Waka Waka” (performed by our hero, Shakira) over the loudspeakers.  The wait staff gathered on the floor and started to dance.

“Go dance with them,” I told Lauren.  We’d been dancing to that song for nearly a week.  And it isn’t like talking Lauren into doing something like that is even remotely difficult.

So Lauren gets up with the wait staff and she starts dancing.  Before long, she’s wearing a hat made of feathers.  And drawing quite the crowd. 

Before I could really comprehend what was happening, Lauren and I were standing at our table and posing for photos with a large group of men.  Who formed a line.  To get their pictures taken.  With us.

There was also a large group of others surrounding us, taking pictures.  (Thankfully, I took a good number of photos of the paparazzi.  So funny.  Can’t wait to share them.) 

Here’s something we’ve learned since coming to Africa: girls with blonde hair and blue eyes are a bit of a rarity.      

Especially to a group of men from Saudi Arabia, which is where the majority of our fan club hailed from.

It was one of those situations that you could only ever get into with Lauren.  You all know exactly what I’m talking about.  Just so unusual that you can’t really believe that you’re there and so funny that you’ll be rehashing it for years to come. 

The night was magic.  Pure magic.  (Plus a bangin’ Shakria jam and one feathered hat.)

Another Amazing Travel Tip

If you’re going away for two weeks, and you need to be at work by 7:30 am on the day that you leave?  It probably isn’t a great idea to start packing at 10:30 pm. 

We’ll arrive in Johannesburg at 5:00 pm on Wednesday; 11:00 am in Michigan.  

Expect updates on:
-How crabby I am.
-How poorly we slept.
-The glory that is a 19 hour flight.
-Purchasing a cell phone in a foreign country.
-Whether our new hotel does/does not really exist.
-The number of people who asked us if we’re twins.
-The sweet travel t-shirts that we made for our journey.
-The wild friends Lauren makes along the way.

Catch ya’ll on the other side of the ocean!

Vocabulary lesson via email

From: Lauren
Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2010 1:21 PM
To: Alyson
Subject: OMFG

We’re going to the World Cup on TUESDAY.

Bafana bafana!
Waka waka!
We will have too many dops and get crazy babbelas!
Hopefully no one bliksems us!
We will take ambien and doss on the plane!
Ja-well-no-fine!
Kak! I am so excited!
LADUUUUUUUUUUUUUMA!

Tying up loose ends

With all of the big tasks (tickets, airfare, accommodations, transportation, passports, etc.) out of the way and the calendar getting closer to June 15, it is definitely time to start tacking the smaller items on our to-do list. 
 
I’ve been keeping a list for a few months now, jotting down tasks that needed to be addressed…eventually.  Eventually is here, boys and girls!
 
The theme of the past week has been checking items off of the to-do list.
 
Transport to/from Rustenburg for June 22 and June 26: complete!  Yes, the intercity bus information was released the day following my passionate whine about how terribly unfair it was that I didn’t have times/prices/details/bookings for our trips to Rustenburg.  Yes, reservations opened up two days later. Yes, all of that needless worry probably subtracted a few weeks from my life.

Purchasing of one (1) miniature University of Michigan flag: complete! Why the UM flag for the World Cup?  Oh, friends, you’re going to have to wait and see what comes of this super secret mission. 

Visit to the travel clinic: complete! While I’m still not entirely convinced that an appointment at the travel health clinic was absolutely necessary, it is better to be cautious than to come home with an outrageous superbug growing in my intestines. 

The nurse running the clinic gave me a lot of information on how to stay healthy in South Africa (which I haven’t yet read).  She turned on a 25 minute video on how to stay healthy during my travels, which might have been helpful, had she not talked through the entire thing.  But I can tell you all about the nurse’s reading habits: information which, I’m sure, will do loads to keep me from drinking contaminated water. 

Besides an earful from the very gregarious nurse, I got a Hepatitis A shot.  My arm hurt for two days.  She also gave me a prescription for Cipro that was accompanied by a handy guide on how to use the medication for “self-treatment of moderate to severe traveler’s diarrhea.”  Yeah.  I’m totally okay with paying $9 for the prescription and never using the pills.  Do you hear that, travel gods?  I am totally, totally okay with it.

I still need to go back to get my Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis) vaccine.  Which I’m sure my coworkers are really looking forward to.  As though listening to me whine about my sore arm for two days post-Hepatitis A wasn’t enough torture for those poor people.   

Purchasing really cute covers for our passports: complete!  We are taking this opportunity to buy random, darling accessories and we are SEIZING IT.  (The weakness for accessories is genetic.)

Purchasing patriotic hair accessories and beads: complete!  Thank you, retailers of America, for putting out your Independence Day merchandise so ridiculously early. 

Purchasing of various electrical converters/adaptors/gadget thingamajigs: complete!  After reading countless reviews/forum postings/articles/websites/packages, I made my purchases.  I’m 70% sure that what I bought will:
a. work in South Africa
b. prevent the implosion of our various electronics.

I can’t stand to think about the mechanics of electronics for a second longer, so 70% odds will have to do it.  If it isn’t right, we’ll fix the problem when we’re there.  Or have no internet access and no pictures or video of our trip.  Because that wouldn’t shatter my heart into a thousand pieces.  Nope.  Not at all.