The Dutch “Klassieker”!

Context

Just graduated and not much in mind for the near future, I decided to reward myself with a football weekend. I take a look at the calendar of the teams that are on my bucket list, and my choice goes to one particular fixture : Amsterdam – Feyenoord, the Dutch Clasico on Sunday, October 28th. Since I’m going on my own, I’m thinking that the bill will be a bit high for a weekend, and I’m thinking about how to make this trip more profitable.

I look over a couple of days before and after the game and notice that there is an abundant choice of games throughout the week, in an area quite close to Amsterdam. Plus, it happens to be a European championship week, and there are plenty of European clubs in the area. My football weekend now turns into a very promising  5 day 5 stadiums road trip  After long hours spent studying the best route, the one I choose will take me from Bruges on Wednesday, to my final destination in Amsterdam on Sunday morning.

Day 1 : Bruges

Day 2 : Brussels

Day 3 : Gent  

Day 4 : Groningen

Day 5 : Amsterdam

Classico néerlandais Amsterdam ArenA

Football trip to Amsterdam on the occasion of the Dutch Classico!

The final stage of my stay 5 days 5 stadiums, and not the least! The appointment is taken in Amsterdam in the early afternoon for the “Klassieker”, the Dutch classico. A match between Ajax Amsterdam and Feyenoord Rotterdam. I’m arriving in Amsterdam in the morning. Quick stop at the hostel I will stay this night to drop my bag, and I’m heading straight to the stadium, for an early kick-off (12:30) The Johan Cruyff Arena or Amsterdam ArenA is quite unique. It’s just huge (68,000 seats)! As big as the club it hosts : Ajax Amsterdam, a club that is deeply rooted into the history of this sport. Ajax is the symbol of football academy, having grown some of the very best players in the history. It is also a philosophy in itself, among the world of football.  In the Dutch league, they use to share dominance with PSV Eindhoven, but at the European level, they are all alone representing the Netherlands lately, and they are doing so exceptionally.

This game is of course a sold out, and tickets are being sold for a very high price. It’s also an opportunity for me to see some of the legends of Dutch football. They’ve all accomplished a lot with their clubs in the big championships of Europe, and are now back home. Klaas Jan Huntelaar for Ajax and Robin Van Persie for Feyenoord, who is performing one of his latest recitals. The atmosphere is festive, with the huge main stand in the Ajax supporters ultras section standing to my left, like a mountain. It offers some great early-game entertainment that raises the atmosphere to the next level asplayers enter the pitch.

A Dutch classico that turned pretty short

On the pitch, the suspense will unfortunately only last a few minutes. On the 5th minute: straight red card for a Feyenoord player, leaving his team with absolutely no hope for this game. Ajax then had plenty of time to develop the football they know. The home side easily won 3-0 against an uninspired rival that came to fill the blanks. Ajax and their supporters were happy enough with this, as they were fighting toe to toe with PSV for the title. As a one time spectator, I would have just hoped for more show, but I still mainly enjoy my day. As I am sitting close to the pitch, I’m enjoying the view I have of what is a true steel colossus. The retractable roof of the Amsterdam Arena peaks above my head to vertiginous heights from my seat.

Ajax’s victory is widely celebrated in the surroundings of the stadium. I even took part in a few celebration. The atmosphere is very friendly and festive, leaving me with some unforgettable memories.

The next day, I took advantage of booking a night bus back to France to visit Amsterdam. It is no surprise that one day to discover the city, is not enough. The city is an ideal place for tourism, with so many interests and attractions. Anything you’re looking for you might find it in Amsterdam… And even if I found mine at the stadium this time, I think I will have to come back in another context to explore this magnificient place better.

Final clap

With the few time remaining, I chose to head to the city centre, at the Dam Square and its splendid buildings. I walk up to the Central Station, another amazing building to add to the list. Unfortunately, I am not able to find a guided tour of the city. The very low temperatures leads me to go back to the hostel earlier than planned. I pack my stuff  and get ready to take the night bus. It is now the end of my football trip to Amsterdam, but also the end of the 5 day 5 stadiums trip, which had gone quite smoothly, although exhausting. I have had an amazing trip ending with this Dutch classico. Thank you Amsterdam.