Monday, July 14, 2014

Die Nationalmannschaft

Last night's World Cup finale was awesome.  The whole World Cup has been awesome, but last night took the cake.  Until last night, I had actually found the Germans stereotypically reserved during and after the matches.  They certainly weren't living and dying with every touch on the pitch the way the Italian or the Spanish did 8 years ago.  They absolutely assumed they would make it out of the group stage - it seriously never crossed their mind that they could get sent home after 3 games.  In the same way, they didn't respect Algeria as an opponent.  I missed the France game, but co-workers began to show some nervousness before the Brazil game.  In the end, they almost felt embarrassed after the thorough ass-kicking they gave the Germans.  They spoke about it, and joked about it, but mostly in hushed tones.

Which led us to last night.  Our original plan to go to the public viewing fell through when they sold out the 50,000 seat Commerz Bank Arena on Wednesday.  On Thursday and Friday, we couldn't find a reservation in any bar to save our life.  So, we trudged out at 6 pm for a 9 pm game and found a table at a nice, slightly upscale Mediterranean restaurant with plenty of TVs.  The place was almost empty at the time, but virtually every table was reserved for the game and the place filled up.

The game itself was tense was several chances for both teams.  The scariest moment was when Argentina scored a goal, only to have it disallowed for offsides.  The collective groan turned into a cheer.  As the ninety minutes wound down, the tension ratcheted up.  Surprisingly, it was less nervous tension than excitement.  I think they really expected Germany to score and win the game.  When Germany finally scored in the 113th minute the place went bonkers.

When the game was over, the Germans went absolutely nuts...or as nuts as the Germans could let themselves go.  Even when they go crazy, they follow the rules.  For example -

  • After Germany scored its goal, everyone went nuts for the last 10 minutes of the game.  Screaming chanting, people literally dancing on the tables of this fancy restaurant.  At the same time, the waiters came by our table to close the open windows so that the noise would not get outside and disturb their neighbors.
  • After the game, there was an impromptu street parade with cars going up and down the street honking their horns.  Passengers (and even a few drivers) were hanging out the windows, waving German flags.  A few people were literally riding on the hoods of strangers' Audis and Mercedes.  Just absolute pandemonium.  BUT, the drivers made sure to turn on their emergency flashers.  It was just so truly German.
Germany's goal

Dancing on the tables

If you look closely, you can see the emergency flashers are on

Who needs to ride INSIDE the car

Photobombing is the closest the Germans really get to rioting

I realized something else strange over the last few weeks.  Although this is the second summer I have spent in Europe during a World Cup, I have never actually seen a country lose a game while I am in that country.  In 2006, Spain went 4-0, Portugal won their opener, and Italy beat Germany.  This year, Germany went 6-0-1 in seven games.  So, I have never actually witnessed a country experience heartache and dejection following a World Cup loss.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


On Saturday, I went to the Bavarian city of Bamberg with Natalie and my visiting friends Kyle and Sara.  Bamberg is a cute little town known for having 9 breweries.  Given the uniformity of German beer, it was quite nice to have a bit of variety.  When we got into town, we parked and stopped at this brewery that makes smoked beer.  It had a vaguely bacon after-taste, which was interesting.  I don't think it would ever be my go-to beer though.  We also ate lunch there, where we tried the delicious stuffed onion.  It was quite yummy.

Customs house in the middle of the river.

Smoked beer
 After lunch, we stopped at a lederhosen shop and Kyle and I each bought a set of lederhosen.  Pretty sure we are wearing those out tonight for the Germany-Argentina World Cup Final.  We hit up about 3 or 4 more breweries and walked all around the very quaint town.  I'd definitely recommend Bamberg for a great day trip.

This dog was guarding the beer


Last weekend for the 4th of July, I decided to surprise Sara by coming back to DC for the weekend.  Despite accidentally dropping what I thought were a ton of hints, she was totally surprised when I literally arrived on her door step.

We had a fantastic weekend.  Met a friend of hers for dinner in Georgetown and watched the fireworks from the waterfront.  On Saturday, I went for a run while she went to spin class (wedding in 2 months, after all).  We spent the afternoon shopping and running errands.  On Saturday night, we met up with Aaron and Brianne, who I hadn't seen since I went to Hong Kong 3 years ago.  We had a blast and Aaron is definitely still Aaron.

Sunday morning we went to church at the church we are getting married in, followed by brunch at a nearby cafe.  Then, we decided to check out some couches that Sara had been looking at.  We ended up buying a pair of couches for her (our?) living room.  We had dinner at Sara's friend's house - eating outside at dusk on their back porch.

On Monday, I began my long journey back to Germany, landing at 6 am Tuesday and working that morning at 8.  I made it through the day, took a nap after work, and then stayed up to watch Germany destroy Brazil 7-1.  It was a long weekend, but totally worth it.