Monday, June 28, 2010

more WM craziness

So, I am sure you all know by now as well that Germany won against England...but a feeling for the CRAZINESS here is hard to get from abroad. haha, I am standing amongst it and it's hard to describe. EVERY café and bar with a flatscreen TV (and there are increasingly more of them) gathers a CROWD during games. No seating room anywhere, you have to stand if you get anywhere late. Below you can see people right before the game, spilling out into the streets.
Lots of places not only have flatscreen TVs but also screens set up with projectors.

We happened to be walking through the Sternschanze in Hamburg as the national anthems were being sung...a district which is known for being really leftist/alternative, and usually not the kind of extreme soccer fan...But all bars and cafes were full. Below, however, is the evidence that we were in the Schanze...across the street from the bars full of soccer fans we saw a guy burning the German flag. We also heard that during the game (4 pm German time) there was a protest against "Fußball-Nationalism" at the University. You have to remember that waving the German flag, and such blatant displays of patriotism are still kinda extraordinary in Germany. (Not so much since the last WM, and soccer will stay an exception.)
Other examples of the craziness are countless. here is one at the train station. In addition to the normal display of departure time/train number you have the score!

And this picture below is SO typsich deutsch... NO supermarkets are open on Sundays except the one at the central train station (Hauptbahnhof). So look at the line after the game, of people loading up on more food, beer, etc to keep celebrating! Ha! We decided to go out and grab a pizza instead of grabbing groceries...


With the high-speed ICE train Hamburg is less than two hours from Berlin...We went for a weekend for the Halbmarathon and to see my friend Klara and Lars, newlyweds :) They took us to the Alsterstrand for a little Grillparty, a gorgeous beach along the Alster, which goes from the harbor city of Hamburg out to the North Sea and then to the Atlantic... We couldn't have had better weather, and I think the German beer and Wurst ended up being good marathon fuel.

below: would you ever guess Hamburg, Germany if I showed you this picture?! :)

below: German beer refrigeration
We had this little stretch of beach all to ourselves, between willow trees which reached down to the water. You could definitely notice the tides, as the beach got much smaller while we were there, and then larger again. Kids had a great time playing on the branches. Beyond where we were is the FKK stretch of beach, where you may sunbathe if you prefer au naturel. :)

And after a day of beach-ing and beer-drinking and soccer-watching we were fit to run 21 kilometers through Hamburg...That was the sightseeing portion of the trip. :) Finished strong, Klara and Lars met us at the finish and treated us to some delicious ice cream.

The run started on the Reeperbahn, the famous (infamous?) red light district. By day it looks pretty normal, if not a little dirty. That stretch twice, then down along the harbor (lots of tourists who happened to be there and joined in with the spectators), then along the Binnenalster, through a district with lots of nice villas (and more shade!!). Kilometers are more fun to run, as they tick by faster. :)
post-race lunch...tired smiles :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fußball und WM-Wahn

WM = Weltmeisterschaft, the long German word for World Cup.

So...Fußball craziness is in full swing, both the US and Germany have made it into the next round, which I'm sure many of you know as well. It would be interesting to compare how it's being covered in the US, and a comparison of the fan culture would probably be the most interesting. :) Everyone is going CRAZY for soccer here, and the atmosphere is really fun and energetic, especially when Germany is playing, but Berlin also has so many immigrants from all over, each little bar has its own Greece or Turkey flag next to the German one.

We ended up watching the game at a semi-sketchy but totally fun little locale last night...improv outside a Getränkemarkt (a shop where you can buy beverages, alcoholic and non, in bulk) in Kreuzberg. Really interesting crowd, a mix of people probably nowhere to be found but in Kreuzberg, Berlin. The owners of the shop just set up a flatscreen TV outside and a few benches, and a crowd of maybe 40-50 people gathered around. We brought down some chairs from a friend's apt, other people sat on stacked beer crates or stood. Some people (like us) maybe didn't have a TV, but I think most people just wanted to be outdoors in public watching the game. Better atmosphere. You couldn't find a spot at ANY café or Biergarten or anything...we tried. :)

Earlier in the day we watched the US game at a bar/Biergarten along the Spree, where they made a beach and also set up a huge screen. (But the phenomenon of the Strandbar is maybe another topic.) Well, "watched" the US game doesn't really do it...the German channel was actually only showing the England game...and so we only got to watch the goal in replay at the end. :( We were a nice little group of about 6-7 Americans.

The display of patriotism is pretty extreme here, especially for Germans who usually NEVER wave flags or sing the anthem (although I haven't heard the anthem yet). Obnoxious black-red-gold outfits, tacky car-flags, unrestrained horn-blowing and screaming...I only expect it to escalate into obscenity if/when Germany progresses. The huge thing is the vuvuzela, this simple horn thing which I guess is popular in South Africa, and which is now for sale at every 1€ store).

i wish you could see this girl's outfit: black dress with red dress underneath, yellow tights...classy, really classy :)

Monday, June 14, 2010


After Emmendingen Michael's friend Philipp picked us up and we drove through the Schwarzwald (curvy, beautiful roads, Michael said "here's where they film those car commercials!") to Tübingen... a really cute little university town with old houses and a town square straight out of Grimms Märchen...

i don't know if it's a hunter or a soldier, but i thought my dad would be interested in the guy with the big rifle on the top left...maybe stag hunting. :)

wandering in the Schwarzwald

So we went on this walk to the Ruine Hochburg, the second-biggest ruin in Baden-Württemberg after the Schloss in was really amazing, and you could wander all around and through the ruin, no entrance fee and few other visitors. At the top they had a little stand where they were selling wine from a local vineyard, too. I had a glass of Weißburgunder (pinot blanc) for 2 Euros or so.

below: a view from the ruin with the hilly Schwarzwald in the back

we had fun tempting fate along the high walls of the Burg...

below: you can see some of the vineyards on the incline, then fields

Michael trying to look like a cow

Wednesday, June 9, 2010