Traveling around the world to watch football, see new cultures and meeting people who share the same motto is the best thing for any true football lover. In 2016 when we started Homefans this was our mission, to bring people together to experience some of the best football cultures in the world.
Two years later we pulled off the biggest football trip: Ultimate Argentina. The capital of football and fan culture, the ultimate dream for every football fan. Months of preparations and on March the 9th 2018, 9 people decided to go on a football adventure in South America. Some of the travelers will tell their story about this trip. Luke Verbeek, founder of Homefans, will share the first days of his adventure with you in this post. An adventure of a lifetime.
In the first week of March I started to realize one of my biggest football adventures to date was about to start. In the past 6 months I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of new travelers and people who share the same vision for football who decided to go for the Homefans route. For this Argentina trip, some regular travelers joined, some of our friends from Hammarby IF in Sweden and of course some of our amazing team members.
Our Serbian friend and Homefans member, Ivan, traveled to Amsterdam on the 7th of March to meet up with me and our legendary and most frequent traveler Ronald, some of you might have heard this name a couple of times now and wondering: What’s so special about this guy? I can tell you, traveling with him is an experience itself.
After a long flight from Amsterdam via Paris and Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires, we arrived in the capital of Argentina and checked in at our HQ for the coming ten days in Viamonte. Ivan and Pedro have been working on the program for the 10 days, a program that mixes football matches with freedom, a day trip to Montevideo and a tour though Buenos Aires to see some of the biggest stadiums. Watching football was of course the main goal of the trip, however after this trip I realized some of the best moments of this trip were not during the matches, it was the group.
On Friday everyone arrived in Buenos Aires, a part of the group with arrive later on the day, so we decided to walk through the colourful streets of La Boca, one of the most famous neighborhoods of Buenos Aires. We had a nice lunch at a local place in La Boca with some great meat and afterwards we saw some glimpses of the, for me, most iconic stadium in the world of football: La Bombonera.
I can tell you this: it looks amazing on photos, but to stand there in front of this massive blue and yellow stadium is a great feeling. We were just standing outside, and I could already imagine what the match day atmosphere would be like. All streets around this stadium are blue and yellow, its Boca Juniors all over the neighborhood.
In the evening we found the best bar that will be in our memories for a very long time: Johnny Be Good, why? Happy hours from 6 – 9 every day, a lot of jokes were made this evening in combination with a lot drinks. The first time a big part of the group was together, and everyone already had fun.
I was impressed by the first day in Buenos Aires, it’s a beautiful city with a lot of things to do. However, since we prepare all of our trips with a lot of details, we knew that people hardly speak English. That’s why Pedro and Ivan were here with the group, it made all the communication incredibly easy and they could translate anything all the time.
On Saturday it was time for our first match of this trip: It’s Boca Juniors v Tigre, something I personally looked forward to for months. As the match was in the evening, we decided to visit the impressive La Recoleta Cemetery on a very hot day (it must have been above 30 degrees). After this visit, we went to one of the most famous pizza restaurants in Buenos Aires: El Cuartito. And we can confirm, we had some very good pizza’s and it turned out one of the owners is also a member of the famous La 12 of Boca Juniors.
Later that day we met up with our partners in Buenos Aires for some pre-match drinks and meal to prepare ourselves for a very special night in La Bombonera. We met some locals during this day, Gaston, Julia and Nacho and shared a lot of fun before the match. The group had a few beers and enjoyed their burgers along with some classic lines from our legend Ronald. ‘’If you say that, we do that’’ ‘’It’s not good shit, but its also not bad shit’’. He dominated the afternoon in Buenos Aires.
After dinner we were guided to La Bombonera to pass through the lines of security before entering the stadium, away fans are not allowed however the system is quite complex in Argentina, especially if you’re from abroad. Our local friend Gaston helped the group to pass through the lines and of course afterwards the first thing we did was to get some Boca Juniors merchandise. Everywhere around the stadium people were wearing blue and yellow colors, it’s incredible. We could already hear the noise of the famous La 12, the ultras from Boca Juniors outside of the stadium.
The moment we got into the stadium and got to our section in La Bombonera, it was an incredible feeling, as we had seats in the corner of La Bombonera to see La 12 and the whole stadium the view was magnificent. We made it to paradise. You can’t compare the South American match days with the ones in Europe, these fans keep singing from the moment they enter the stadium until the moment they leave the stadium.
Boca Juniors had a hard time to score the first goal against Tigre, they created a lot of chances with their main man, Carlos Tevez, but Tigre managed to keep a clean sheet in the first half. It was slowly getting darker in Buenos Aires, in the second half Boca started to put more pressure on Tigre, which resulted in a penalty for Boca Juniors. 1 – 0, South Americans are known for shouting GOOOL, imagine 50.000 people shouting GOOOL, well, it happened, and the noise was incredible. However, against all the odds, Tigre managed to equalize just minutes away from the final whistle. Totally unexpected, because they were not creating a lot of chances.
Everyone, looked surprised and thought this match would end up in a draw, until the very last 3 seconds of the match, Boca scored. I’ve been to a lot of derbies, and intense football matches with Homefans in the past years, but the noise and the passion from the Boca Juniors fans when they scored in the last seconds of the match, is something I’ll never forget in my life. The stadium was literally shaking, what an unbelievable experience and it was only the first match of our journey. What a way to kick off this Ultimate Argentina trip, mind blowing.
Some of the travelers will write a part about his Argentina experience covering the matches and the experiences of the Ultimate Argentina trip. A moment in Buenos Aires.