Daily report: Football match the 49ers vs the Eagles

By Mattijs Ugen

Imagine a beautiful sunny early morning in a city built on hills on the west coast of the united states. For Pixel, this is a new city, a new oppotunity to see and learn things at the other side of the world.

This morning, participants learned the hostel encouraged everybody to bake their own pancakes. Some of us managed to bake some typical American pancakes, some managed to create black frisbees. Those not so big on the American style pancakes found their breakfast on the other side of the street, where a local convenience store sold very convenient bagles.

After breakfast, we met a standup comedian and artist named AJ at San Francisco's Union Square. She told us all about the red and blue light districts and the great shake and bake, which apparently sucked in more than one way. AJ incorporated some trivia questions into the tour, which allowed us to earn an actual real life chocolates! She left us with some more bonus jokes at the bottom of one of te remaninng cable cars in "Frisco", close to the bay.

At this point, all pixels were free to go where they wanted for a few hours, so most of us went to take a look at the bay closeby. After passing more homeless people than we all imagined would fit around a fountain, we got a view of a beautiful bridge across the bay. As it was about lunch time, the usual argument about where to grab a bite to eat ensued: some wanted a taste of the legendary brick cheesecake, other fancied their 5th meter of subway sandwich.

With our lunch firmly secured in our bellies, many of us took a scenic route back to the hostel, as we were told to gather their at 3:00 PM. In this slot of free time, we visited China Town, which must be the world's primary source of kitchy home furniture and general things that have little use, but also home to some of the prettiest street lights in San Francisco. During the walk back, we were all struck by the ridiculousity of the streets of the city. Extremely steep roads are the rule rather than the exception in San Francisco, something Dutch people are far from familiar with. The difference in height—both down and up again—in a simple 1 mile walk is astonishing.

Once the 30-pixel screen was reassembled at the hostel, most prepared for a bus ride towards the edge of town, some others stayed behind and went fanboiing for an autograph. After a short bus ride, we saw the Candlestick stadium, the home of the San Fransisico 49ers football team. As we were somewhat early, we all strolled towards the parking area, where a peculiar piece of American culture was in overdrive. At the back end of about one in two cars was a barbecue surrounded with either red 49ers or green eagles shirts. As the story goes, barbecueing on the car park with some beers at hand is a tradition at sports events and is called 'tail gating'. The atmosphere at the car park was very relaxed, and three participants even managed to score a free beer, which it turned out, was about as complicated to achieve as asking to buy some from a friendly sports fan.

Still amazed at the community that had formed at the car park, it was time to enter the stadium and find our seats, which were at the exact oposite side of the stadium. Although it was buzzing with people on the walkways around the stadium, people were really relaxed about moving here; not one sip of an overpriced beverage was spilled on the 20 minute slow walk to our side of the stadium. Once inside, we got a first view of the enormous structure housing the 100-yard playfield.

When the game finally started—after taking many, many pictures of the show the cheer leaders put up—few of us had any idea of how this peculiar American sport actually worked: one person looks around the field for someone to throw the footlong ball to, everyone else seems to have found a rival player to engage in a freestyle arm wrestling competition with. At some point, one of the men dressed in red managed to move the ball across the zero yard line, transforming the stadium into a dance-shout-revolution session.

Watching the game, the rules seemed to become clearer little by little, as we all cracked our brains to decipher the numbers on the score boards. Nevertheless, twitter streams at home became littered with tweets about not getting the game, as some of us WiFi hoppers found out the stadium had free game time Internet.

Halfway through the match—which took about an hour and a half for 30 minutes of play time—the committee told us to get some manner of food ourselves, as managing this all at one go would result in hour long waiting time and two very sad committee members; we can't have that. As a result, most of us got a semi-warm hotdog to fight the hunger at that time, hoping for an opportunity to get some real food once we got back.

As an American football match apparently takes a long time for just one hour of play time, many lost attention during the third inning and turned to the ever-entertaining Internet. During the fourth inning, however, "our" 49ers managed to get back in the game, nearly leveling the scores. Even the pixels uninterested in sports realized the tension in the stadium, and the game was fun to watch once again. Sadly for the real Friscans, the 49ers eventually lost the game at 24 to 27. Nevertheless, it was a nice experience to have been a part of.

Looking back at the game, it was nice to see red and green shirts sitting next to each other. Although they were constantly shouting at each other and making fun of faults of the corresponding rival teams, all of this was done with smiling faces and friendly rivalry. This friendly interaction might be the greatest difference from the way Dutch soccer fans interact; a welcome change.

At the end of the game, the stadium smoothly emptied and we were off to retrieve our bags. The staff at the bag retrieval tent was less of a positive influence, sadly. Everyone who left their bag at the bag tent had a number on a little piece of cardboard. In stead of introducing a system and thus knowing where every bag is located in the tent, they decided to play bingo with numbers between 1 and 643. Many annoying near bingo moments later, we finally all had our bags and went to stand in line for the bus.

Back at the hostel, the group scattered between the kitchen downstairs, the bunks and some late night restaurants to finish the day. Even though we didn't visit a single interesting company this day, we can all agree it was a great part of the tour.

 

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