2015 Europe Trip: Santiago Bernabeu, Real Madrid vs Granada

This is probably one of the most unique review that you all will find on Seeing The World In Steps, I will not be comparing the experience, but rather describe and share with you guys my delight and experience in the match. Maybe the most of you might not have known, I am a super fan of Cristiano Ronaldo and also Real Madrid F C, although I might not have the chance to watch the El Clasico, but I am simply just delightful to be able to catch my first ever Real Madrid match at the Santiago Bernabeu. They are my favourite team in Spain and in the world. It was a dream come true to me, to be able to watch billions of dollars of talent on the pitch was simply unreal to me, actually I couldn’t even believe myself even when I am sitting in the stadium and with Cristiano Ronaldo right in front of my naked eyes. I will be sharing the atmosphere the delight the experience with you guys. I will also be sharing the planning process of getting to this match and how the Europe trip of mine were linked to it. It might get a little lengthy, but for the football fans and also travel counterparts, I believe that you guys would be in for a treat. Although having been to Madrid and visited Santiago Bernabeu Stadium Tour before, this match experience was unlike anything else, surely the pinnacle of any soccer match. I mean, with CR7 on the pitch, there is nothing else in the football world that you can ask for. For a preview, up till today I am still so happy and exhilarated that Cristiano Ronaldo made a record with me in attendance, it is also the first time in his career that he scored 5 goals, a bonus for me and definitely worth the amount that I spend on the ticket. Just check out the view from my section in the Stadium, it is impeccable!
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To share some of the planning stages for catching this match, personally although I have followed most of the Real Madrid Matches, I have ever only catch the Atletico Madrid vs AC Milan Champions League match in Madrid and also the Juventus Exhibition Match in Singapore prior to this match. I am proud to say that I have watch some talent and world class player in my life, including Kaka, Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo. Oh my CR7, I have to say that the atmosphere at matches is something that you would not get even though you have an awesome surround system and a 100 inch TV, both the atmosphere in the matches that I went to in Madrid were out of the world while the one is Singapore was pretty plain. Missing out on the opportunity to catch a Real Madrid Match the last time in Madrid, although I did catch the Atletico Madrid Match, I was determined to make this trip a one to satisfy my dream! Before I even booked my flight to Europe and planned the cities to visit, Madrid was always on my mind, with the flexibility in redemption tickets, I only confirmed my schedule after the La Liga schedule are out, I had researched both the Champions League Schedule and the La Liga one, although the Champions League matches time and date are confirmed but the opponent and location aren’t out till close, since the draw will be done for every round. If luck doesn’t goes your way, it sure sucks, just like that time, I was in town but Real Madrid was playing an away match. One of the good thing about visiting cities like Madrid or London is the amount of clubs they have, if you guys doesn’t know, Madrid is the first city to have 2 five star category Stadiums, the home of Real and Atletico Madrid. While in London the abundance of teams galore such as Chelsea and Arsenal. Alright, back to the point, once the schedule is confirmed, I have lock it down to catch the Granada match at Santiago Bernabeu, while the match have been confirmed, the match might be held on Saturday or Sunday of that weekend due to Television Schedule.
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I have planned my stay in Madrid to be from Sat to Tue, I will be arriving in the afternoon of Sat, so as long as the match is after that I would be fine, this also maximise my availability to catch the match. It is worth to take note that tickets for matches at Santiago Bernabeu is extremely hard to get since it is basically a attraction by itself and with the delight of Ronaldo, Bale, Ramos plus the strong fans in Madrid there are many visitors that are keen to catch a match too! Although tough, but it is still possible to get a ticket. Ticket sale is extremely confusing and difficult, but still possible. I have actually at first planed to get tickets through my Citi Prestige Concierge, but with the exception of VIP Tickets the normal tickets which are only guaranteed through external vendors are only sold at a hike, which makes it so much expensive but it is actually the only way of securing your tickets in advance and ensure that your party are seated together. Another issue that you will encounter if you are watching with a company is that tickets for seats together are extremely extremely difficult to get, to put in a way, to get tickets for 2 together in a section that you want is almost 40% for 3 it is close to 20% for 4, I have never ever seen it available throughout my arduous journey in purchasing in online. Real Madrid distribute its tickets thru a system where Season Tickets holder first chooses to utilise or gives up its seat, where prices are determined by the teams that they are playing with. Champions league matches usually have more tickets since it is played on a weekday and prices are controlled by UEFA, the matches are also usually announced closer to the date which thus increase availability since people plans may clash with the match time and date. Prices may rank from 30 Euros to 130 Euros depending on the view you get from the side of the stadiums being the cheapest to the middles seats being the most expensive as you get the view of both sides of the pitch. Prices are also depended on the height of the seats, with the slight above eye level in the middle being the most expensive and the highest being the most cheap. For mine, since it is one of the life time experience, I have gotten the most expensive ordinary seats in the middle, the best view in the house, time for some eye candy treat for my eyes! Just check out my view! HAHA, I was referring to the pitch though!
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The matches also varies the prices hugely, with derby matches being most expensive, the El Clasico which everyone is looking for cost a min of 900 Euros for a most lousy seat in the stadium and probably my 130 Euros seat would turn into a thousand Euros ticket. I guess that’s the price you have to pay to check out both Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi at the same time. Back to tips on getting the seats, since the seats are sort of liberated by individual members, it is so difficult to get seats that are together, for those serious fans, I will recommend that you guys look for the same section rather than seats that are together, this would be simpler to get after all, your interaction should be with the game and not the person sitting beside you. Besides, when you are sitting besides mentally alike fans and strangers, acquaintance can be simply made just by celebrating the goals together, cheering and shouting together. For the general public, which is me, you get the least priority in purchasing tickets, usually tickets can only be bought on the official website online or over the phone only on Mon of the match day, while the fan card holder gets to buys usually a day in advance and members get to purchase much earlier. I would only recommend purchasing over the phone for the Spanish Speakers since it’s hard to get an English operator, another advantages of purchasing online also gives you the visual of knowing which parts your seats are at. Chionging to the online website right at the time the system open isn’t the way to do so, since first come first serve isn’t the Spanish way of doing so. As mentioned above, seats are liberated by the season tickets holder, which do so at their own delight. Thus even when you couldn’t get a sit at this time, always check again later, from my experience, actually the availability increases when it is closer to the match day and chances are higher. Since I was in a travelling party of 3, I knew that I was in a hard time, since with my requirement of the section and having 3 seats together. Thus the journey start when I am in London, whenever I have connection, I would be on my IPAD/Phone checking the seats, refresh and refresh. Sometimes it is just weird, the seats might be there now but a min later it would disappear, thus the key, keep refreshing and always have your credit card within reach. Around wed morning in London, I have successfully bought the ticket, in the section that I was aiming for but given up on 3 seats together, I bought tickets for 2 together for my parents while I sat alone in the same section. I am glad that I also made some conversation with the person beside me. Need a convo starter? Try “Cristiano rocks and Messi sucks” it will work 90% of the time. A confirmation email will be sent to you once payment is made successful and you can collect it anytime at the stadium including the match day, I will recommend going in advance or at least much earlier on that day to collect it, as I encounter some difficulties, besides there are many other who are the same as you. Santiago Bernabeu holds around 80,000 people inside, so imagine the amount of people. It is actually also nice to go earlier to the stadium and soak up the atmosphere, the fans the mascot and enter the stadium earlier to see the things that they do before the kick off, watering the pitch, warming up…… It’s a little confusing when you are collecting your ticket at the Stadium as for my it should have been done near the gate 14 or 15 which is not the other window that I have been queuing at, so it is really recommended to have more time.
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Getting to the Stadium is easy for me, where I can take the direct metro from Plaza de Espana, the stadium has its own dedicated metro station which is named after the stadium, Santiago Bernabeu. This match was a noon kick off, which makes it even perfect for me, good lighting and aren’t too late after the match, I could even go for shopping after that. Given the clock of the Spanish, there aren’t much choices for Breakfast in the morning, practically, breakfast is negligible in Spain, after a quick bite from a cafe nearby I was on the metro towards the stadium. Actually when you are on the stadium you could already feel the vibes, similar fans wearing the jersey and club shirts making way towards the same destination. You could also see a couple of the opposition team fans too, Madrid is a pretty safe football clubs city, yea there are a strong and aggressive fans but the chance of you getting into trouble with supporters is super rare especially when you are in the day. The surrounding was great, outside the stadium there are stands selling food, drinks and also some fake club products such as scarf, cap, banners, shirts etc. There are also some mascots walking around posing for pictures, the silly me thought that that might be free therefore super welcome. It turns out to cost me a euro or two, at least the picture was a nice one. After making some effort in collecting my tickets and waiting for the gates to open, which is usually about 30 – 40 mins before the kick off time. Time for some picture taking.
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I was in once the gates has open and definitely some memorable time here has to be captured on film too. Seats were taken and there are free wifi for tickets holder too, perfect for some instagram time, it is nice to see the stadium slowly filled up and the players were soon out for their warm up. The vibes and atmosphere was really good, music, shouting and a delight for the eyes too. I finally lay eyes on Cristiano Ronaldo, and the wave that he directed towards me were like a childhood dream that came true to me. I am just that starstruck and awed, never ever had I had that moment before. It is really an experience that you would not get by sitting on the couch and staring at your TV screens. When the lineup was announced, all of the people would cheer together, repeat the player names. Of course, it goes without saying that when Ronaldo name get read out it gets the loudest cheers and support.
 
Soon, it was kick off and there comes the main show and all your attention. Simply looking at Ronaldo zipping around the pitch, past defenders and whizzing towards goal, it is just simply amazing, besides that you also have James and also Bale still got Kroos and Modric. Just look at that! Sheer offensive power and also amazing tackle from Ramos, his header his tacking. OMG. I actually didn’t mind watching Real Madrid playing against a weaker opponent, I will rather see more goals than a draw. If I have watched a draw, I will really think that I wasted my money. Every passing, every moment, while I anticipate and seeing out their moment, I am just nodding and appreciating it. At first there was a huge scare when Granada almost scores, with the ball just missing the post by a fraction. Total huge relief when you sigh together with all the other fans. Simply saying about the talent of the players on the pitch out of nowhere Real Madrid scores, speaking about being the strongest counter attacking team in the world. It was Bale who scores! One down. But its isn’t enough, I am here to see Ronaldo score, 64 more mins for me to see. It is just that happy when almost everyone in the stadium would stay silent, then once seeing the goal pass the line, hitting the net, everyone stand on their feet and scream GOAL putting their fist in the air and celebrating. 4 mins later, Ronaldo score with his potent run, darting in from the left and unleash a vicious shot into the right side. Then just running towards the side to celebrate, doing the typical Ronaldo celebration which I am so great to see alive. A couple pass later and as I remember a James cross into the box, Ronaldo scores again, powering the ball into the net with his head, the power, the height and the jump from him is impeccable, that amazing. I also had the chance to see Benzema score. A true BBC attack that I am so glad to be able to see, one match and I get everything I wanted. Seeing Bale, Benzema and Cristiano, there is nothing more than I can ask for in my life. The score line was 9-1 at the end, including 1 one own goal from Granada. The best of all, Cristiano Ronaldo score 5 goals in a match for the very first time, I am so glad that he does it with me in attendance. Even soaking up the atmosphere is such an enjoyment!
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I shall not describe every goal that I saw if not this review would be like a commentary instead, and it is already super long. After the match and seeing the players walking off, I start to make my way out, the crowd is really huge but I would say orderly. I had actually wanted to visit the club store at the stadium but decided against it since the crowd is crazy and my hungry was growling. There were actually police guarding a road and ensure that fans don’t walk on it. Only in the end that I know that the players are going to drive out from there, with all their Ferrari and Porsche. I did stay for a while but after some I make my way back to SOL.
Hope you guys enjoy this lengthy post, do share with me your experience at a soccer match. I can’t wait to return for another match at Santiago Bernabeu, although pricy but definitely worth it.

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