Now I’ve not been to many football matches. Any, in fact, unless you count Soccer Aid? But I’m pretty certain that you don’t get generally get greeted by a man wearing a suit when you’re taking your pitch-side seat at The Hawthorns? So I was slightly taken aback when that’s what happened at the Real Madrid match. Said be-suited man led us to our seats and then began talking to Hubby in tones inaudible to me. From the look on Hubby’s face I knew it msut be good. Then, before I knew it, we were turning around and heading back into the concrete bowels of the stadium and into the VIP bar which we’d passed earlier. Hold on a minute…
We showed our tickets and were promptly given pink VIP wristbands to flash so that we could gain access to the sumptuous bar. We could go there pre-match, at half time and after the match to take advantage of free drinks and a buffet table full of yummy Tapas. In fact, we could have stayed in there during the match, if we had wanted to, but that seemed a little pointless.
It’s funny how, once you know it’s a free bar, all thoughts of drinking water go out of the window. Hubby and I found ourselves both reaching for a refreshing glass of Mahou beer (if anyone knows of anywhere you can get this in the UK please do let me know as it was super-yum) and digging into a selection of Tapas. The room was dimly lit, with a collection of wines locked behind glass in one corner, two buffet tables towards the middle and a long table with a large selection of drinks off to one side. TV screens allowed you to view the on-pitch action. The dark wood and leather interior, just screamed luxury. This really was posh football. The look on Hubby’s face was priceless.
Now, let’s get this straight. I knew we had VIP seats, and the website did say we had access to a bar. However, it didn’t make it clear that it would be a free bar and that it would be this dang luxurious. I’d expected a pay bar with shorter queues. Although given the price of the tickets it does make rather more sense that this is included.
What was nice about the VIP experience was that, although it was incredibly swish, it was completely unpretentious. in my last job we used to offer VIP experiences to UK football matches. When we called the fans to tell them they had won they were ecstatic. When they found out they had to dress smartly and couldn’t wear a football shirt, or even jeans, the excitement started to wane. The majority of the people in the Real Madrid VIP bar were ‘football tourists’ like us who had purchased the VIP tickets as a sure-fire way of getting in. We got chatting to a couple from Singapore who were on a tour of Europe, there were couples from America there, as well as a number of home grown fans.
As the match was about to kick off we decanted our beers into paper cups and headed out into the stadium. The sun was still beating down as the teams warmed up on the pitch. We took our (padded) seats in the VIP area, about 15 rows from the front and took in the atmosphere. A pre-match blast of Nessum Dorma our second clue to the fact that this was posh football (excuse the slightly ropey video – I think I got a bit excitable).
As the announcer read out the team sheets for the match the biggest cheer was for favoured goalkeeper, Casillas (even though he wasn’t playing), closely followed by a rousing cheer for footie heartthrob Ronaldo.
The crowd were nicely psyched. Up in the gods, a group of Real Betis fans provided timely chanting throughout the match. Obviously the chants were in Spanish so I don’t know what they were saying. But judging by the looks on some of the Real Madrid’s fans faces it possibly wasn’t very complimentary. A group of die-heard Real Madrid fans took postion behind the goal furthest away from us. They waved flags, jumped up and down and even randomly all turned their backs to the goal at one stage.
I’m not even going to try to write a match report. Take a look at this video if you want to know what went down (the commentary is in Spanish, but that kind of adds to it. English commentators could make their commentary a darn sight more exciting by adding in a bit of ‘Gol! Gol! Gol! Gol!’).
What I will say is that it was a fantastic experience for so many reasons… the VIP bar (obvs) * the atmosphere – I got so caught up in it that I found myself getting both ridicoulsly excited and stupidly frustrated by on the on-pitch action * the jumbo screen which displays whose scored along with a very Spanish ‘GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!’ * Seeing Ronaldo – for so many reasons: eye candy, amazingly talented, so easily frustrated * Seeing Ozil – easily man of the match * Pepe waving to the fans while he was warming up to go on in the second half * Seeing how high Pepe can stretch his leg up during said warm up – think he could trump some Yoga instructors with that one * Seeing Jose get all, well Jose-ish in the dug out *
At half time we headed back to the VIP bar to refuel with more Mahou and snacks, taking our beers back out into the stadium for the second half action.
When the match finished, there were cheers and claps all around. As we streamed out of the stadium we were in two minds as to whether to return to the VIP bar one last time. We found ourselves following a group of others in and were so glad we did…a tray of Cava and chocolate treats awaited us. We used the stadium’s free wifi to send images home – what?! There’s no point going VIP if you don’t boast about it!
As we exited the stadium, slightly tipsy and on a high, the sun was just starting to set and beautifully illuminated the stadium. The crowd dispersed with no trouble and we headed back to our hotel where we were delighted to find our cases had been delivered and were waiting for us behind reception. A change of shoes and a slick of a bit more make-up and we headed out to find food. We enjoyed a scrumptious (and huge) Chinese meal (washed down with more beer – hic!) before heading back to the hotel. This holiday had gone from bad to darn right excellent.
We had tickets in Grada Alta Lat. Este, sector 2127. For the life of me I can’t find these on the Real Madrid website. Please note: there are various different levels of VIP-ness at Real Madrid and whilst this seemed plush to us, I’m sure it would seem peasant-class to others, so make sure you book the right package for you and your expectations.
Find out the back story here:
Part 1: Our Journey to Madrid
Part 2: My Unexpected Madrid Haul – Part One: Beauty Products
Part 3: My Unexpected Madrid Haul – Part Two: Clothing
Part 4: Madrid: The Reason For Our Trip – Real Madrid Vs Real Betis