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At the stadium in Samara.

At the World Cup stadium in Samara.

I have just spend 4 weeks in Russia during the football World Cup. Here are a few photos and some text from my World Cup trip.

Peru had the best fans at the World Cup.

 

Peru fans walking towards the stadium in Saransk.

Peru fans walking towards the stadium in Saransk.

The nationality that impressed me the most during the World Cup, were the Peruvians. More than 35000 Peruvians had made their way to Russia to see their national team. It was the first time in 36 years that Peru had qualified for the World Cup. And you could really see that this was a big deal for the nation. And everyone I met among them were fantastic representatives for their country. Always positive and happy to talk to and party with fans from other nations.

I sat next to a group of Peruvians in the stadium when my native Denmark beat Peru 1-0. But there were no bad feelings at all after the game. Peru can really be proud of their fans.

There were Peruvians everywhere during the World Cup.

There were Peruvians everywhere during the World Cup.

And I would put the fans of Colombia as a close second. They were more than 50000 and absolutely fantastic too.

I cycled between the football stadiums in Russia.

During the World Cup I also went cycling around Russia. Normally it’s not possible to tour around Russia as a westerner, without any limits. But the World Cup was an exception. So I took advantage of that and cycled a little over 1800 kilometers through Russia, while attending games too.

With my bike in Russia, while posting with one of the locals.

With my bike in Russia, while posing with one of the locals.

My bike outside the stadium in Samara.

My bike outside the stadium in Samara.

 

I stayed outside the World Cup cities too.

Because I was cycling around Russia, I also got to stay a lot outside the World Cup cities. This was really nice and a good way to see what Russia is like without the World Cup. Russia is normally a quite closed country for us westerners, so it was nice to be able to finally explore the country without any limitations. I really enjoyed visiting the big cities as well as the many small villages I stopped in along the way.

One of the many Russian villages that I passed.

One of the many Russian villages that I passed.

The ordinary Russians were great hosts.

Many people talked about the World Cup as being a potential show piece for Vladimir Putin. I have personally not changed my mind about this guy one bit, because of the World Cup. And I seriously doubt that many have. People are not that easily deceived. But I think that a lot of football fans from around the world changed their view of ordinary Russians. Cause they really did what they could to welcome us. This was both when you walked in to a bar as a foreign football fan and was bought free drinks from native Russians.

And when I walked around the World Cup cities and the many local volunteers helped you with practical issues. Thousands of Russians volunteered during the World Cup. Mostly young people who had some English knowledge. I spoke to many of them and it was very clear that thye did this because they wanted to. Especially the youngest volunteers were very keen to help. They were mostly in their teens, but clearly happy to practise their English.

Young Volunteer in Saransk, helping a Peruvian fan to buy a bus ticket.

Young Volunteer in Saransk, helping a Peruvian fan to buy a bus ticket.

Meeting with a Russian father and his son after a game.

Meeting with a Russian father and his son after a game.

Cheering with yet another Russian.

Cheering with yet another Russian.

Impressive World Cup stadiums.

I went to games in Saransk, Samara and Nizhny Novgorod. The stadiums in all 3 cities were really impressive. The stadium in Saransk had a perfect location, close to the city center. And it looked really good. Both from the outside and the inside. In Nizhny Novgorod it had the most spectacular location, being right next to the Volga River. In Samara the stadium was build in a way that made it look smaller. And it was a little outside the city. But the inside was super modern.

The World Cup stadium in Nizhny Novgorod.

The World Cup stadium in Nizhny Novgorod.

Meeting fellow football fans from around the world.

The single best thing for me at the football World Cup is all the fans you meet from other countries. This is the single biggest gathering of football nerds from around the globe. And they are not just from the competing 32 countries. This is such a big event, that everyone who truly loves the game want to be there. It’s the forth time I have attended a football World Cup. And this is mainly because of all the fans I meet from around the globe there. What makes this so unique is that it’s not just people from one continent. It’s people from all over the globe. And people are not fighting each other. The camaraderie among the fans from around the world is amazing. This is why I will keep traveling to this event, every 4 years, when it’s being held.

With a football fan from Brazil.

With a football fan from Brazil.

Danish football fans.

Danish football fans.

It's hard not to like the Australian fans :-)

It’s hard not to like the Australian fans 🙂

With football fans from Bolivia.

With football fans from Bolivia.

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1 Comment

  1. Larry Sampson

    Looks and sounds like you had a wonderful time. Enjoyed reading about Russia from your perspective.

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