|beautiful seats, awesome experience
“Living the dream has it’s risks, but you haven’t seen all of the rewards yet”
After yesterday’s entirely defeating day, Bethany and I were due for some positivity and excitement. We both woke up later than anticipated with a dull feeling of what the rest of our trip had in store. We have maintained positive attitudes despite the mosquito’s, additional charges, and other misfortunes that come with traveling internationally, but I was nervous that we had finally reached our breaking point. We got ready and headed to the west side of Paris to see what was going on with the French Open. Here in Paris, the French Open is called “Les Internationaux de France de Roland-Garros” named after a famous aviator. Roland Garros is one of the toughest sports events to get tickets for, according to various blogs and websites. After our bad luck so far, it wasn’t looking too hot, but I had spent hours researching the ticket process for the tournament. A website called ViaGoGo is the official ticket exchange for the tournament, where ticket holders can post their tickets at face value and it’s first-come, first-serve. On the train ride from Italy, I watched several sets of tickets go in less than 2 seconds. They were not easy to get our hands on them and it would take some good timing, fast hands, and a blessing. Ticket scalping didn’t seem like a good idea, as all websites, tweets, and blogs discussed how each ticket is designated based upon name, which is checked at the gates. I still had a hard time trusting anyone after yesterday’s street games, and wasn’t going to gamble any more money. We got to the tournament area, grabbed coffee at a local cafe, and I picked up a French baguette for .50 euro that held me off for the day. We walked towards the Roland Garros tournament and were quickly disappointed as ticket verification was needed to get within a quarter mile of the premises. We walked around the gates and kept our eyes open for people that may have an additional ticket, but nothing seemed to work. One man said the best bet was ticket exchange online, so i walked towards Paris and searched for wifi. The service was unreliable, not frequent, and crushing our hearts. Our day was going to be spent roaming around Paris without a clue of what to see or do.
In Paris, there is a network called FreeWifi, that you can subscribe too and use in your home. Fortunately, this same username and password works at various hotspots around the city. Our landlord had FreeWifi so we opened our phones and eventually found a pocket of wifi outside of a gated house. We sat on the curb for nearly 30 minutes, listening to the tournament anthem being played and our hopes distinguishing by the minute. I finally was able to pull open the website and found 2 tickets to the days matched available. It was a bit pricey, but they were available. I giggled a little bit but struggled to get the website fully accessed on my phone. When I use Google Chrome on my computer, everything translates to English, but this was not the case on the phone. My month-long amateur training of French began to work its magic as I struggled to decode what was being said. After going through a series of passwords, card details, and other jumbles of words, I read what seemed to be a confirmation notice. I handed the phone off to Bethany who checked her email and we had a confirmation number. We walked quickly to the gates, talking through the possibility of actually going to the French Open. Bethany was still full of doubt, but I was almost certain it was time for fate to be on our side. We made it through security and got to the ticket booth where a French man greeted us and slowly worked. Our nerves got the best and finally I asked the man, “soo, did we get tickets and will we get in?”. He smiled, looked at us as if we were crazy for having no idea what we just did, and confirmed that we had tickets. We made it through the gates and were on our way.
|this is real life.|
The next uncertainty was the courts. There are dozens of courts and stadiums on the Roland Garros campus. A new concern came to mind: what if our tickets were only getting us onto the premises and into a stadium where they view the matches on the screens? Some of the tickets on the website were for the Annex only, getting you on the grounds but not into a match besides children’s play. We ran to a nearby worker and anxiously asked where to go. We were pointed in the right direction, but I had to ask, “Madame, are we getting into the match?”. She exchanged a look similar to that of the man in the ticketbooth and confirmed that we were heading into the match…. My gut dropped. WE DID IT! We rushed into the stadium as our calendar had told us that the event had started, but to our relief, we were 25 minutes early and walked in to see the introductions of the Women’s Single Final. We watched the warmups and the match between Maria Sharapova and Sara Errani. The match started very lopsided, as the young Errani struggled to keep up and took a beating in the first set. The entire time I cheered for Sharapova since she was the athlete that I knew and understood a bit about. Most of her fame has come off of the court, since shoulder injuries and other drama created an absence of wins and even participation. Watching tennis at this capacity was an incredible experience. The crowd was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, with very few children, no goofy songs in between plays or digital screen races to keep everyone entertained in the downtime, and absolute silence while game was in play. Between sets fans would cheer in French, Italian, Russian, and other languages; men proclaimed their love and women cheered in admiration, but only in large groups.
|Maria Sharapova vs Sara Errani|
|cheering on the USA guys!|
In the end, Maria Sharapova won her first Roland Garros and 4th Grand Slam. The announcer accidentally announced her as the runner-up, but after the crowd responded, all was fixed and it was a great celebration. After the match, we headed to walk around the grounds and see what this event was all about, grabbing a Nespresso coffee on the way. We stopped into an interactive area that had essentially cleared out after the women’s match and talked briefly to the man who strung and repaired all of Rafael Nadal’s rackets. Our ticket got us into the Men’s Doubles Final as we, which featured the US brothers Bob and Mike Bryan. The stadium was nearly empty, a much smaller crowd than the Women’s Final we had just watched. The French Open maintains its exclusivity, leaving the stands empty and never opening up “cheap seats” to the public or to those who didn’t get their hands on them. It was a weird feeling, but the American fans cheered along with us as we watched the Bryan’s play what may have been their worst match of their collective careers. One American even sported some unclassy stars and stripes pants that I couldn’t stop staring at without whispering, “Ammurrica”. Daniel Nestor of Canada and Max Mirnyl of Belarus ended up on top and held the trophy high above their heads. On the train trip back towards Paris, I asked an English-speaking gentleman for some Paris pointers but learned he was from London. He could tell we were American and had also come from Roland Garros. After briefly talking, he let me know that he is good friends with the Bryan’s and they were heading to stay with him in London this evening. His daughter had flown in just for today’s match and they were all really disappointed with the results of the day. We sent our love and respect to our US representatives and continued on towards Paris, where we enjoyed an evening walk around before a late dinner.
we met Rafael Nadal’s personal racket assistant.
The last two days have been polar opposites. From disaster to surprise, I’ve come to be reminded of the importance of keeping the faith. Positivity is one of the strongest forms of encouragement that we can provide, and it goes a long way. On top of that, it’s remained very clear that the Lord is blessing Bethany and I on this trip. We easily could have been left with no money, no place to stay in Paris, and health issues arising from our mosquito run-in. But we’re still having an amazing time, connecting with some great people, and embracing a unique experience unlike any other I’ve had. My readers range in faith, background, generation, and belief. I have utmost respect for those with various thoughts, however it’s only right that I acknowledge how evident the Lord’s presence has been in my life through this. #LTDdaily isn’t a “Christian” movement, but my dreams are being lived only through a Father that wants me to do good, to succeed, and to connect.
Soli Deo Gloria: glory to god alone