At Museumplein, where about 180,000 people turned out to watch the game, the spirit and energy was overpowering, hypnotic even. The hours leading up to the start of the match were filled with cheering, dancing, drinking, and the anticipation grew hot. It was like a pressure cooker.
This is only a portion of the back third of the crowd. There are two more sections of equal or larger size with screens of their own.
See that orange stuff? There were helicopters flying around dropping orange gerber daisies and confetti on the crowd.
Yes, it's true.
And we caught one!
During the game, it was mostly quiet. Some cheers of HOL-LAND clap clap clap HOL-LAND clap clap clap erupted every now and then, but mostly people were spellbound, frozen. 180,000 people were quiet. I won't lie, it was painful to watch and wait, then wait longer. When Spain scored, no one made a sound. During the previous games when the opposing team scored, there were screams and boos and throat-ripping yells. But here, nothing. It was too much, too big, for sound. And when the clock ran out? People looked down, and walked out.
But then, two days later, the team came home. The team came home to a happy city, a city celebrating, and things ended on a high note after all. What I keep hearing is, "Well! In four years it'll happen." And damn, that's really cool. Because what I've seen here this month is an entire city, an entire country, millions of people, who all wanted the same thing. Everyone. The stoners and the Queen and everyone in between not only wanted, but felt the same thing. It is a kind of unity unlike any I've ever experienced.
The team's homecoming canal parade as seen from my spot on the Herengracht. Robben is the first on the right standing with captain Van Bronckhorst, and Sneijder is on the back facing the other way and pumping his fists.
I can't believe my luck that I just happened to be here for all this. I keep thinking, what if I had listened to my doubt and reservations and not spent the money on my plane ticket? I'd have been sitting at home, twiddling my thumbs and hating myself while I watched the elated masses on TV.
But I was here in my second home, and while part of me wishes that one day I could tell people, with a smirk and that obnoxious tone of one who considers herself well-traveled, "Yeah, I was in Amsterdam in 2010 when Holland won the World Cup," I am actually happy to have been here among a people as they rose higher and higher, and then fell. And fell together.
p.s. I know some of this maybe looks silly now that Holland did not, in fact, win the final game, but I still love it (and them). Yes, I'm a fan, and a real sucker for those men--superheroes, you might say-- running around in their shorts. Had to be said.
Wij houden van Oranje!
OK, now I promise this will be the last post full of pictures of crowds in Orange. Extra promise.