A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 5 (June 12th)

USA Finally

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InsideDom.JPGWe checked out the inside of the Dom, it was massive. Kate saw that it is the largest (or one of the largest) churches in Germany. It had great detail inside and out. The stain glass windows were awesome as well.
Phil-n-Kate.JPG Phil and Kate seemed to find inner peace in Cologne (well, to be truthful, Phil is okay any time he has beer). The just seemed a little more transcendental – perhaps it was the spirit of the cup, being near the Dom or then again, maybe it was just really good beer.
P1010026.JPG Dean, Gwen and Daniel supported the USA from the Fan Fest while the rest traveled to the game. The world cup fans are mostly a very please group to be around, we met several nice Czech guys to and from the game. Daniel and Dean met several guys from several different countries as well at the Fan Fest.
P1010043.JPG Finally, the long wait for the first USA game is over. The day is here. We were pumped, the crowd (on the trains from Cologne, was mostly USA, probably 60-70%). The fans were ready. We did all that we could – flags, wild hair, yelling. Fans were dressed up, excited, chanting for their team.
GameUsaCze.JPG But as you probably already know, the team wasn’t ready and didn’t seem to even try very hard. The game was quite disappointing (even embarrassing). Greg thinks that soon the calls for “Bruce has got to go” will be heard everywhere (besides just from him). The team seemed very flat, poorly positioned and organized and worst of all without any real heart. Sure, if some things had gone differently, it might have sparked better play. We agreed with the (rather belated) half-time decision to put Eddie up top and bring back Landon, but by that time Brian was spent from playing in the wrong assignment during the 1st half. Beasley was really poor the entire game and should’ve either never started or been pulled out quickly – Client would’ve provided some much needed spark.

P1010025.JPG Unfortunately, Italy and Ghana both played with much more heart than either us or Czech, so for both of us to beat both of them will be tough to do (especially, since the Czech team lost some guys and got several yellows). But, that’s the hole we’re in, and it’ll be tough to climb out of. A different team has to show up against Italy (or even Ghana) or the USA is even for another beating (or two). The hope is always there - at least until the next game ;) And perhaps we’ll add some face paint to make sure we beat the Italians – there was some stoned American guy (formerly stationed in Germany) that guaranteed that Italy couldn’t come to K-town and beat his boys.

Posted by wc2006 23:25 Archived in Germany Tagged luxury_travel Comments (2)

Day 6 (June 13th)

Bustling to Berlin, Hustling to Hamburg

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This is a travel day, with Phil and Kate going to Hamburg and the rest to Berlin. This entry will follow the others – perhaps Phil & Kate will add their own? The trip to Berlin and then on to the hotel was just over 5 hours. Not attending any games today, so we just want to get settled and to the Fan Fast for the Brazil/Croatia game (unless we lucked into some tickets somewhere along the way, of course). The Brazil fans shine just like the team – they are very festive – there were drums and such in Cologne for those fans going to the game (or just to the Berlin Fan Fest?)

d1010051.jpg The Berlin Fan Fest was incredible. There were a tremendous amount of people – as far as the eye could see. They had huge TV screens (yes screens) in a row so that all the people could see. Somehow we came in at perfect spot and got to the front of a walkway separator near the front of the first, biggest screen. Surprisingly, the Croatian fans were more in number and louder than the Brazilian ones. There was a big group that settled in right behind us. They had lots of chants and were having a good, but quirky time.
Second 059.jpg Another of their odd traditions seems to be the red fares. About the same time that they went off on the TV (during the last of the game), they had some go off just right behind us too. It was something to see.
Brazil looked poor (for them) slow and reluctant without much energy. The played just like they had in several of their last qualifiers, like they were bored with soccer – in a bad way – just not that interested in the game. If they continue this, they’re sure to get sent home, the Aussies or Japanese might just upset them as well.

Posted by wc2006 00:05 Archived in Germany Tagged luxury_travel Comments (2)

Day 7 (June 14th)

Reststop in Berlin

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P1010001.JPG Today’s the full day in Berlin to see the sights (somewhat around the games). As you would expect Berlin has a great many things to see – and for one day, too many. The weather was hot and muggy, we tried the busses, but they were too overcrowded and stuffy, so we got around mostly on foot. P1010006.JPG Alexanderplatz is the home of giant TV tower (pink soccer ball) as well as a very nice park and the Neptune fountain. P1010012.JPGNot too far from there was the Berliner Dom, which sits right on the river and right by several museums. Like many historical buildings in German, the Dom was completely renovated after the war, but many before and after pictures were on display. It was very interesting. P1010032.JPG We started up a what looked like just a second floor (first story). But there were more and more different staircases, a mere 264 steps later and we were at the top of the Dom for a great view of the city. P1010048.JPG Near the Opera House and the Library there was a big display of painted bears – one from each country (whether in the Cup or not) – the 125 members of the United Nations. The bears are much like the lions of Munich or the cows of Chicago, if you’ve seen those. But this is a special United Buddy Bears that are actually touring around for peace – from Berlin, Austria, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney. The Reichstag (seat of the German parliament) was impressive from the outside, but too long of a line to get inside. The Brandenburg Gate was also quite impressive, even with the surrounding World Cup setups. The Tiergarten (Europe’s largest metropolitan park) was completely taken over by the gigantic fan fest with at least 4 huge television screens.
Like I said, there were too many things we didn’t see well or at all, like Checkpoint Charlie, the Wall, Schloss Charlottenburg and the Tiergarten.

Oddly enough, at a shopping mall, about a mile’s walk from our hotel, is where we watched the day’s games. They had TVs and picnic tables setup everywhere. The young Spanish team was very impressive. The Tunesia/Saudia Arabia game was unexpectedly good as well – one of the best goals so far in that game – we’d gone back to the hotel to watch that one. For the premier game of the day, German/Poland, we went back to the mall, but this time we watched the game in HD in the Movie Theater. That was really unique to see the game on such a big screen. It seemed as though the gods were against the Germans until they finally netted one at the very end.

Posted by wc2006 15:40 Archived in Germany Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Day 8 (June 15th)

Game Travel Day

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TheWall 001.jpg Well, this was the dreaded game travel day as the group had tickets to two games on the same day in different cities – Hamburg for the 3 o’clock game of Costa Rica/Ecuador and then Sweden/Paraguay for the 9pm game. On the way out of Berlin, we did get a glimpse of the Berlin Wall. The part we saw was all painted up and not really what one might imagine, but still had an eerie sense to it. Greg 006.jpg As you can imagine we didn’t see much of Hamburg – just a brief walk through a shopping strip next to the train station. The Hamburg train station was fairly large and kind of interesting on the inside. Second 081.jpg Ecuador played pretty well and out shone the Ticos. The game was as lopsided as the score was in this case. So, as is often the case in World Cup play, the group is mostly decided after the first two games, and Costa Rica will not advance. Their next game verses Poland will be just a playing-for-respect match for both of the teams. The Germany/Ecuador game will be interesting as Ecuador can challenge Germany to win the group.
Greg 018.jpg The trip back to Berlin went smoothly. The Berlin stadium was one of the anticipated venues and didn’t disappoint. With its colorful blue track, we knew that we’d be a bit far from the pitch, but it was a very cool sight to see. The Sweden fans dominated the stadium, as you might expect. It seemed like they had chants and songs for the entire game – of course, same as other teams – these all sound remarkably similar ;) Greg 033.jpg This game was very much like the Germany/Poland one, as the Paraguay keeper was really the star of the match. He made amazing save after save, but also, at the very end of the game (again), one shot finally made it passed him. With the goal, the red flares came out – which we somehow have a knack for being close to. Again, they were far enough not to be threatening, just really cool to see. So, with two losses, Paraguay is also out of the group. However, this group isn’t quite decided as Trinidad and Tobago could still Paraguay and Sweden could lose to England (though that hasn’t happened since the 60’s or something). Oddly enough, it seems likely that England and Sweden will tie because that’s just enough to let Sweden make it through. But it would be incredible if T&T made it through (with a population of about 1.3 million, I think).

Posted by wc2006 03:20 Archived in Germany Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Day 9 (June 16th)

Hanging out in Hanover

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Second 097.jpg As a transition from Berlin to Kaiserslautern and to support Mexico, we go to Hanover for a day. The first of the raining weather showed up today, up to this point it had always been sunny and dry (but high humidity). We got thunderstorms early in Berlin, but no real rain after that. But this isn’t a game day, so that worked out fine.
06_16_Han_G 020.jpg Originally, we were hoping for tickets to see Mexico and Angola in Hanover, but we didn’t have any. There were more people trying to get tickets there than anywhere else we had been.
06_16_Han_G 003.jpg Due to the tight schedule, Gwen, Daniel and I went to a local restaurant to eat and watch the first game on TV - no, Gwen doesn't really have a gambling problem ;) Wow, what a spanking Serbia & Montenegro got by Argentina.
06_16_Han_G 018.jpg We headed to the Fan Fest to meet up with Ivan & Dean. There was the threat of rain, but really just some sprinkles. It was a nice set-up as well but smaller of course than Berlin was. The Holland and Ivory Coast game was pretty good and I was definitely in the minority cheering for the Netherlands.
06_16_Han_G 013.jpg The place was pretty crowded, or so we thought until the Mexico/Angola game. The Mexican supporters were out in full force as we had expected. The place was wall to wall people.
06_16_Han_G 016.jpg We meet a lot of nice people (including some ex-pats from the States or Mexico) – Ivan’s Spanish certainly came in handy. We also met some interesting characters including a Mexico guy with a German sign “advertising” that he was looking for a woman to go back to Mexico with him. Mexico really didn’t play very well, they were lucky they were playing Angola and not someone like the Czechs.
06_16_Han_G 021.jpg But they will have to play well against Portugal now to get through. Towards the game as Angola camped in for the tie and the game got a bit slow, some of the women fans (at least 2) felt compelled to put on their own show for the crowd (sorry, g-rated pictures only here).

Posted by wc2006 09:50 Archived in Germany Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

Day 10 (June 17th)

Second (Last) Chance for USA

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P1010028.JPG Our group is splitting up, Gwen back to Konstanz, Daniel and Greg to Karlsruhe (for 1 night and then on to Konstanz) and Ivan and Dean to Frankfurt for a few days. The guys will meet up in Kaiserslautern, in full garb, for the USA game. It will be interesting to see what changes Bruce Arena makes as well as how the team performs. We’ll do everything we can to help the USA win the group (or make it through). We’ll have to beat Italy today though…
P1010027.JPG Kaiserslautern seemed ill prepared for the hoard of people that descended on their town. The streets were completely packed with both US and Italy fans. On our way on the train, there seemed more US, but in K-town, it seemed more equal. In fact, this group of Italian fans were celebrating well, right in the middle of a closed crossroad.
P1010029.JPG Well, with Ghana’s help (beating Czech), we are still alive! The game atmosphere was phenomenal – the USA crowd was pumped by the Ghana result. The USA dominated the first 20 minutes and looked ready to play. But with only 1 real chance, the Italian capitalized on a gift of a call near the US end.
We didn’t get any replays at the stadium and I haven’t seen any highlights but the refereeing seem very purchased as the Italian seem fond of doing ;) However, the US didn’t cave after giving up the goal and fought back with an extra dose of heart that they had been lacking in the first match. If you missed it, it was one of the best games in the cup, sorry.
P1010042.JPG The referee did all that he could to help Italy to win, including dropping the US down to only 9 players early in the second half. The 9 verses the 10 on the Italian side (the Italian foul was too much for even a paid ref to ignore) was a very hard fought second half – with both sides having chances to go ahead. It was surprising to see the US with several good chances included one that was called back as well as a take down of Donovon that went uncalled. In the end, the US showed tons of heart and better play. The Italian stretchers got quite a workout as Italy was scared of the USA and was trying to waste time, quite odd for a team that was up a man.
P1010059.JPG At the end of the day, the USA team played their hearts out, including Keller with a few fine saves in the end, and the USA is still alive. Italy will have to beat Czech and the USA of course will have to beat Ghana. All the teams will have a lot of players missing for the next game. However, since Arena been starting the wrong players, the USA might actually look better next game

Posted by wc2006 13:55 Archived in Germany Tagged luxury_travel Comments (1)

Day 11 (June 18th)

Grabbing a Second Breathe

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P1010064.JPG It was horrible getting out of K-town – like we already said, it wasn’t setup well for the crowd. With the 9pm start and the crowds, we couldn’t get out of there until after midnight and we didn’t get back to Karlsruhe until 4am. Needless to say, we didn’t see much of Karlsruhe, but it looked like an interesting little town.
P1010068.JPG The train ride through the Black Forest back to Konstanz was nice, albeit slow. We chilled at the apt to watch the first game because we were still quite tired.
P1010082.JPG But it was a beautiful day in Konstanz and Daniel needed to see our fair town, so we went to the Beer garden by the lake to watch the Brazil/Australia game with some friends. The weather turned bad both in Konstanz and for the Aussies, but we finished the game, grabbed and ice cream and made it back to the apt for the last game. And it was nice to see France tie instead of win, too.

Posted by wc2006 05:00 Archived in Germany Tagged luxury_travel Comments (0)

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