Updated: Nov 11, 2021
1 night in Paris, 2 weeks in Portugal!
October 19, 2021 | Paris, France
PSG v RB Leipzig | UEFA Champions League
Parc des Princes
One night in Paris! My flight from Cairo arrived in the early morning, which allowed time to enjoy the city before the 9pm kickoff. Now, how do I figure out the Paris metro?! I settled for taking the RER into the city, and then reaching the Arc de Triomphe via uber. The 70 degree weather with a light breeze was ideal for having an amazing profiterole along the champs d’lysee with Karina, a Brazilian friend from Atlanta! Next stop, Parc des Princes!
Outside the stadium was buzzing with PSG fans strolling the avenues chanting and waving flags as they headed toward their entry point. My emotions were high as this was my first time attending a Champions League match, what a privilege to see Messi and the rest of the stars, including the guest of honor, Ronaldinho, as PSG was his first European club.
The match was very exciting, both teams created chances and shared leads. The walkout and anthem evoked goosebumps. Mbappe was unstoppable when going to goal with space, Messi continuously squeaked through impenetrable spaces and converted the game winning pk with a cool panenka , Veratti consistently relieved pressure playing as the “6”, the ultras' flags were waving and chants were delivered with passion throughout the game….PSG prevailed, ici c’est Paris!
Now back to the hotel to rest up for my 5am taxi ride to the airport…...next stop, Lisbon!
October 20, 2021 | Lisbon, Portugal
Benfica vs Bayern Munich | UEFA Champions League
Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica
Another early morning arrival, plenty of time to get situated before heading to the stadium, yes - 2 Champions League games in 2 days, pure indulgence!
The evening game allowed plenty of time to explore the many squares, monuments and corridors - a city full of history, art and life - love at first sight! Pastel de Nata at the Cafe a Brasileira was the last stop before heading to the stadium...
Navigating the metro to the Benfica stadium was very easy. Tailgating along a row of food trucks, the Benfica fans were one! Dressed in red, drinking the Sagres local beer, pounding on trash cans with impromptu chants of great passion! The grills were simmering with thick cuts of pork belly and thin slices of chicken, pork and beef - pure grease thrown in between bread with a perfectly soft interior with a slightly chewy crust. I settled for a picanha sandwich, it will not be my last! In fact I had another post match!
Benfica is mostly composed of Portuguese players, which adds to the passion of the supporters. The atmosphere in this game was very authentic. Slightly different than Paris, where you will find arrogance and privilege. The Portuguese get down and dirty, and it shows in the passion of their support! The Bayern fans were celebrating a goal from their isolated section in an upper level corner of the stadium. This goal was disallowed after a VAR review which caused great excitement and feelings of revenge as infinite middle finger birds and expletives were directed towards the Germans - well played Benfica!
My seat was in the front row, in the middle of the field. The pitch bellied right up to the seats, an amazing view of this fast paced match. Having a close view of the world superstars was breathtaking. The speed of play was lightning fast. The skills and speed of the players was unbelievable - 100mph with the ball without missing a beat. An incredible match up to the 70th minute, when the Germans started scoring with ease. Regardless, a great experience and privilege to be among the Portuguese supporters - Obrigado Vermelho!
Next stop, 3 hours north to Porto…on the train with Karina's friend, Priscilla, about to arrive for a stay with Karina and her sister......!