My World Cup Experience in Russia

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My World Cup Experience in Russia Empty My World Cup Experience in Russia

Post by Zagadka on Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:13 pm

This was hard for me to write...I consulted the mods and got approval. I felt after spending over 6 years in the community, it'd be unfair if I didn't share my experience of the most revered and amazing event of our beloved sport that has brought us together here. So I decided to go ahead with it. Soeey for the old Chinese dude meme, it was meant to be a joke  Cool

Summary
Cities visited: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod
WC Matches attended: Iran-Morocco, Poland-Senegal
Background: 2nd time in Russia. I know basic conversational Russian. Was travelling with parents, grandpa & gf for the most part (All the photos taken here is by myself)

My World Cup Experience in Russia Ze4Ggfl

Atmosphere & Buzz
Let me put it this way, at times it felt like a 24/7 party. On Monday night at around 1:30 AM, I was walking back from a bar and the Red Square area was so busy and full of energy as if it's midnight on a Friday. The fans of all countries were so loud and funny. All fans were singing other team's chants, exchanging and were very open. Egyptians singing Russia chants, Poles and Senegalese dancing to Russian folk music, Germans applauding Mexicans dancing in Samreros, I can go on with many more examples.

I think very highly of Moroccan fans. They lost in a devastating fashion after playing a good game. Their fans were very classy. I also liked other Arab fans. The fan fests were amazing, the Moscow one with 25,000 fans and hundreds of screens. I had never seen so many Saudi people dancing (with their traditional guy scarf)....a lot of amigos and habibis !

Lots of Peruvians (felt bad for their results, really a great time to watch), Mexicans (boy they did take over Moscow on Sunday after beating Germany at Luzhinskiy), Colombian & Polish fans. # of Brazilians increased in the last couple of days. Special mention to Senegalese fans at the stadium, they were top class supporting their team non-stop with drums and singing, while they were only 5% of the stadium (other 95%) was Polish. Also, there were absolutely zero issues between Polish and Senegalese fans before the game. All fans were dancing with each other to Russian folk song outside the stadium pre-match (I have videos) and when Senegal national anthem played, Polish fans stood up and gave them a standing ovation.

My World Cup Experience in Russia ZLDcjz5
My World Cup Experience in Russia Ohuddbf
My World Cup Experience in Russia RGPs07K
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My World Cup Experience in Russia 0VWtCsV
^ in Russia it means: "I am looking for a girlfriend"...I think he can do better than this one though :coffee:

Russia & Russians
I was a big Russia hater (like everyone who spends enough time in the West) until I went there alone 3 years ago and it completely changed my opinion of the country and her people, to the point that I spent several hundreds of hours since to learn their language. Obviously, that resulted in an amazing experience this time around for me. I could talk to uber drivers, waiters and waitresses, locals, and anyone really. I found things so much easier in Russia this time around and because of my knowledge and study of the culture, politics, and how Russians think, at times I felt like a local. I understand if someone goes for first time though, they'll be surprised at how poor the English level is. My grandpa jokingly said: "In moscow, more people speak Farsi than English."

My World Cup Experience in Russia SWgzERS
Qulsharif mosque in Kazan...Tatarstan was like its own country, even the police had Tatarstan flags on their uniform, and not Russia

I was amazed at how clean the streets and the parks were. Not even a single cigarette butt on the sidewalk or near the grass. I loved how I didn’t see a single "obese" (I mean north of 350 pounds) person during that stay (maybe it has something to do with the no free re-fill policy and smaller food portions and non-GMO stuff). My parents and grandpa who were experiencing their first ever visit to Russia also loved how they were treated, some difficulties with language barrier aside that I helped. I loved the surprise thing when a driver, or sales person out of nowhere started speaking Farsi to us and gave us free ride or discount (Tajik migrants). I felt that Russian locals had gone out of their way to be extra nice and helpful after seeing all the fearmongering propaganda by Western press about how monstrous and "racist" they are.
I want to briefly mention just a few examples of nice interactions with locals there:

-I was lost in Nizhny Novgorod late at night with my girlfriend and both our phones dead, and a Russian couple asked if we need help. I told them and they walked us for 20 minutes out of their way to safely get to the hotel.

- I took an uber from Nizhny Novgorod to Kazan (5.5 hour ride)…the driver asked me to cancel uber, just pay him in cash for a big discount. On the way, we talked about football and life (in Russian). He used to live in Yakutsk when in winter temperature hits -60s. It was great to hear real-life account of that. He told me Kursk is his favourite city. I wanted to tip him, but he didn’t take it and asked me to spend it instead on drinks and food with my girlfriend.

-When coming back to hotel after Poland-Senegal match, visibly sad (especially gf since she's Polish), I asked a local couple for directions…they asked about the game. The guy started singing Polish national anthem in Russian to cheer my girlfriend up, while the girl told me she wants Russia and Iran to face each other next round and asked me to kick Spain and Portugal’s butt. They again, not only showed us the direction but walked with us to ensure we don’t get lost.
I saw a Russian wedding on the streets in Nizhny when they were playing with fire and jumping on it, and then groom lifting the bride and running away, a great dinner at a Siberian themed restaurant in Nizhny where I met Belgian TV broadcasters, chatted football and our bartender gave us all 3 strong free shots and made us laugh so much with his jokes. many Uzbek waiters who when I told them I’m from Iran shook their head and almost all said: “You always beat us, but we want you to do well. We’re from Asia after all!” I went to a mosque in Kazan, that was located only 50 meters away from a church, visited temple of all religions in subrubs of the city which was a very interesting and colorful experience.

My World Cup Experience in Russia KiXDZa1
Before the Poland-Senegal match...we had no idea how garbage Poland will end up playing Very Happy

The security was very tight. Even when getting on a boat tour in Nizhny, I had to do airport-like security (no issue with me). Police were fun, I took photos with them. Overall, I really like Russian people. They are demonized in the west (similar to Iranians), but they are very smart, well-read and aware, and if one actually digs deep into Russian history and hears their stories, you understand why they think and act differently than most Westerners, it all makes sense. Most importantly, once you get past that initial doubt and know them, they are one of the most fun people in the world. At least in my opinion. I can't wait to be back in Russia, and still hoping to do my dream Trans-Siberian journey from St. Pete to Vladivostok before 2025.

My World Cup Experience in Russia VJR8H9i
With Lyusha, the waiter who gave us several free shots in Nizhny, and was hilarious and amazing throughout.


My World Cup Experience in Russia MxOvEUo

Iranians in Russia
I can’t begin to describe how proud I was of Iranians there. When we were all singing together on Nevsky Prospekt, near the Fontenka canal and the church in St. Petersburg on June 14th. How loud and supportive our fans were at the Krestovsky stadium, even if we were playing very badly at times (and yes, I admit the vuvuzela things got annoying after a while). It was so nice to see so many Iranians from all around the world (especially Iran itself), so passionate, easily one of the loudest fans.

To have witnessed our dear country win its second ever world cup match, first in 20 years, with last kick of the game is something that can’t be described in words. To me, that's what the World Cup is all about. I was in near tears after that. I was hugging and high-fiving all Iranians there, Russian fans supporting Iran, and all the stewards at the stadium. I consoled a few crying Moroccan fans and begged them to beat Portugal and Spain. At the after party of the match at around 1AM, an obviously wasted and saw my 79 year old grandpa sitting tired at concert of Arash (very famous international Iranian artist). He grabbed him saying: “Tonight is for celebrations and dancing, get on the stage.” My grandpa did for about a minute, it was such a beautiful moment.

It was amazing to see people who have been deprived of the most basic chances of happiness and celebration, condemned to watching sad and depressing TV talking about imams from over a thousand years ago pretty much every other night on TV, especially our beautiful women be still so happy full of energy and life. The people have a lot of potential and that's what touched me. I’m a lot more optimistic about future of Iran after this trip...There was a lot of positive and good vibes.

My World Cup Experience in Russia EqolKLs
St. Petersburg's Nevsky Prospekt the day before Iran-Morocco

Conclusion
We live in a beautiful world with some very interesting and beautiful people. Realy, I realized in the last 12 days I barely checked the news. It was so nice to be away from the constant “BREAKING NEWS”, and sensationalist headlines of the media (honestly feel bad for England fans who were scared out of the trip because thinking they'd come back in coffins, reminded me of Sol Campbell fearmongering the same re: Poland in 2012).

It was so nice to meet people who are not exposed to that on daily basis and you can just feel how much more chill and cool they are. Some fans may not have been financially well off, but the true happiness and joy in their faces and overall behavior more than makes up for it. It was nice to learn more about other cultures and see the fascinating faces of the world. I truly hope every nation remains soveirgn to protect their heritage, culture, and lifestyle and what makes them unique and special, so every 4 years we get to celebrate it like that.

I felt like I have accomplished a life mission when I could help my parents and grandpa see so many awesome places and experience so many interesting things in Russia from the unbelievable palaces, to hermitage museum where you saw what human beings made and achieved over 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt (really mind-boggling) My grandpa found going to Lenin’s Mausoleum and seeing mummified body fascinating. The dude has been dead for 95 years, yet it looks like he's just taking a nap. When I was departing from Demedovo airport, I was extremely gutted. I had tears in my eyes. I decided that I can manage to stay away from distractions of sensationalist, hateful media (From both right and left) here, and I unfollowed several accounts on Twitter. I realized every minute I had spent learning Polish and Russian in the last 3 years instead of watching pointless TV series on Netflix, playing video games or crap footy like Hull-Stoke had been worth it as it opened so many new windows to me and allowed me to actually talk to so many interesting people otherwise I wouldn't be able to, and I should continue on.

I re-affirmed my homeland is a truly special country with wonderful people and amazing potential and we will have good days back soon. This is just a very brief summary, I have hundreds of videos I wish I could share here, that they a much better story than photos. I am working on a large blog post with many illustrations that will be completed in the coming days. I miss the place, the positive energy of all fans, the hospitality of Russian people, and the often gorgeous and colourful architecture of the cities.

My World Cup Experience in Russia S8IiRSy
Temple of all religions, in suburbs of Kazan
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Post by Nishankly on Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:22 pm

How did I not know it was you smh, You mentioned Poland, Speaking Russian, Following Asia and putting up photos of Mosques in Russia rofl

Fantastic post yet again, I absolutely love the way you express your travels.

Also we both know you are more than "conversational" in Russian with the effort you've been making, don't sell yourself short there.
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Post by Hapless_Hans on Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:30 pm

FFS

Mission Impossible-esque masquerade :bow: :bow: :bow:

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Post by S on Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:31 pm

Knew this was a DA but just couldnt figure out it would be Sepi of all people

Great write-up and welcome back

Sadly i'm like atleast 8-10 years away from all this stuff : (
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Post by El Gunner on Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:35 pm

Seppppppi Laughing Proud
looool glad you're still around mate.
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Post by terrance511 on Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:42 pm

u looks hot

do u have sister?

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Post by GRude on Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:18 pm

You'll run a greater risk of getting your head kicked in in Poland.
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Post by Robespierre on Thu Jun 28, 2018 9:42 pm

I thought it immediately you could be Sepi !!

@Robespierre wrote:
@Myesyats wrote:
@Zagadka wrote:I am Asian myself.

You're Asian, you live in Canada/USA, support Russia, have a Polish username..... wtf is going on Laughing

Good posts nonetheless, keep them coming

... Are you also a Liverpool fan?

Jokes aside  , luckily no NTs are going to boycott it. It 'd be embarassing to look Italy acting as a vulture for wild card.
People still can't accept that we are not going to play next WC Laughing


http://www.goallegacy.net/t41204p100-rumors-of-wc-boycott-starting-to-pick-up#1835268


Glad my perception was right . What a time to be alive

And thanks for sharing this .
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Post by CBarca on Thu Jun 28, 2018 11:52 pm

Robes wins

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Post by M99 on Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:04 am

Detective Robes at it again. Italian Sherlock first exposing Calciomercato as frauds that steal WiFi and then unearths Sepi :bow:

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Post by Zagadka on Fri Jun 29, 2018 12:10 pm

@Robespierre wrote:I thought it immediately you could be Sepi !!

@Robespierre wrote:
@Myesyats wrote:

You're Asian, you live in Canada/USA, support Russia, have a Polish username..... wtf is going on Laughing

Good posts nonetheless, keep them coming

... Are you also a Liverpool fan?

Jokes aside  , luckily no NTs are going to boycott it. It 'd be embarassing to look Italy acting as a vulture for wild card.
People still can't accept that we are not going to play next WC Laughing


http://www.goallegacy.net/t41204p100-rumors-of-wc-boycott-starting-to-pick-up#1835268


Glad my perception was right . What a time to be alive

And thanks for sharing this .


Hehe, what can I do, I am a very simple man, hard to hide my true passions Very Happy ....I knew you would have the right hunch, my friend. Wink

I was very surprised to see how popular Italians are among Russians. 2 Uber drivers (one in Kazan, and one in St. Pete) told me they regret Italy didn't qualify because Italians are so "fun, and real" that they are basically "our Roman brothers".
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Post by Myesyats on Fri Jun 29, 2018 1:59 pm

@GRude wrote:You'll run a greater risk of getting your head kicked in in Poland.

Agreed, live there since I was born and been getting kicked once a day on average since day of birth

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Post by iftikhar on Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:10 pm

Hello Sep drunken
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Post by Zagadka on Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:32 pm

Do @Pedram and @Sina still post here?

I think they'd love the Iran part. Our fans were amazing, absolutely top class.

Madness to think we were a 96th-minute Taremi miss (DINK IT YO) away from getting ready for a showdown with the hosts @ Luzhinsky on Sunday. Sad

My World Cup Experience in Russia E439e0e18b9cff3e0cd209030d3aa895%20(2)

This is one of my favourite WC photos so far btw....Iranian woman fan in stadium, while you can clearly see her Fan ID photo she's wearing. It's very moving!
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