Saturday, June 24, 2006


As I mentioned in my last post, I landed a ticket to the Tunesia-Ukraine game in Berlin on Friday afternoon. I could feel the excitment surrounding game progressively growing from the moment I arrived at the Zoo train station. Even McDonalds was in on the action. On the train platform, it was fascinating to see the difference between the Ukrainian and Tunesian fans. The Tunesian fans seemed to arrive together in waves, completely decked out in red and white, wrapped in flags, singing, banging on drums and playing what I think was a Mezued (Tunesian bagpipes). The Ukrainian fans were also sporting their national colors (blue and yellow,) but they were much smaller in number and were most notable for taking pictures of the Tunesian fans from a distance.

I met up with Carl and his cousin's wife Akiko on the train and we headed to the stadium. These pictures of Olympia Stadium might look vaguely familiar because it is the location of the 1936 Olympics, over which Hitler presided and Jessie Owens ran for gold.

German efficiency prevailed once again, and we were through the security line, frisked, with our bags searched, and ticket checked in under 10 minutes. One interesting thing that I noticed was that the concession stands were outside the stadium instead of attached to the building. I suspect this is the result of when the stadium was built rather than a difference between US and German stadiums in general, but I am not sure.

The game itself was great to watch. Both teams had some good attempts on goal, but the only goal scored came from Ukraine. I thought it was also fun to watch the security forces. The number of guards progressively increased throughout the game-- especially near the Tunesian fans as a small group became more and more angry as the game was not going their way. By the end of the game, numerous flags, cups, horns and trash had been thrown at the guards. I can't comment on the Ukranian fan section because we were across the stadium from them. But since they won, I doubt they were too angry:-)

Attending a World Cup game during my year in Germany will definitely make my highlights of the year list!

This afternoon I headed to Pfefferberg, one of Berlin's well-known beer gardens located in Prenzlauerberg to watch the Sweden-Germany game. Our group of 7 made up the largest Swedish contingent at the beer garden. I loved the people I was with, but this was my least favorite game so far. The beer garden was crowded, the Germans behind me sang obnoxious songs throughout the game and the guy in front of us felt it necessary to block the screen by either standing up at random times or giving twinkle fingers everytime Germany was kicking the ball. It was also too bad that Sweden got creamed! The one positive I will say is that I continue to be impressed with the behavior of the fans towards one another, after the game. People came up to Carl and Christoph to say good game and seemed genuine. Quite classy!

So now I am back in my apartment and have decided to make tomorrow a soccer-free day! The fans were a bit intense today and I have easily inhaled more second hand smoke since the start of the World Cup than I have in my entire life!!! My poor lungs and throat need a rest. (Still allowing smoking in public places is one of the most backwoods, hicky things about Germany-- a posting for another day!)

I was also at the beach today and will write about that tomorrow (FKK BABY!)


At 9:20 PM, Blogger Johnnie Oz said...

To deal with that second-hand smoke, you need to drink Wheat Beer. Read that somewhere in the Lancet ;-). Thanks for joining the traveling honorary Tunisians and then supporting Sweden! But I beg to differ just a little, they did not get creamed. Read my latest blog post for an objective take on the conspiracy that was. Carl


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