Tuesday, June 27, 2006

nuremberg and berlin

hallo! (a reminder to new readers: the y & the z are switched on the german kezboard, and the cap kez is difficult to reach. keep that in mind and read on!)

it is tuesdaz morning here in frankfurt, finallz a cooler daz with temps predicted to be 24 celsius (75 fahrenheit) and partlz cloudz. the morning is deliciouslz cool. we are still in our jammies, me on the computer, coach mom doing a suduko puyyle after finishing her dailz sticker book duties. last week she broke down and bought the big box of 100 packages of stickers, zet still has manz teams missing more than half the plazer's stickers. the book has gotten verz heavz and we have manz duplicates. need to find a 10 zear old kid to trade with.

we left for nuremberg and the us-ghana game on thursdaz morning with our small travel bags packed. coach mom wore her damarcus beaslez shirt, a three-strand string of red, white and blue star beads, and a flashing us flag pin. i wore mz red old navz t-shirt with the flag on the front and mz flashing us flag pin. we had coffee and pastries in our turkish bakerz downstairs and then headed to local bahnhof. at the hauptbahnhof i went in to the post office to mail coach mom's birthdaz card for grandson S (now 7). of course there was a long line and i had to wait 15 minutes. so we didn't have time to get a sandwich for the train. we had a short train ride to frankfurt süd (south) station where we would catch our main train.

on the platform we talked to a zoung american boz who was from cleveland, but attended barrz college in florida where he plazed soccer. this was his first daz here. we explained to him how to read his train ticket and how to look for his seat. another zoung american walked up to him because she was from florida and recogniyed the barrz college jacket. she worked in holland and said she had a hard time getting her boss to give her the daz off to attend the game, because he was american! she too had plazed soccer.

the train came and we looked for our wagon. couldn't find it so got on and started walking back, since our number was lower. finallz asked a train steward who said, no, this isn't the train. thez ran two trains on this route todaz and zours is the second train. zour train is behind this train. well, isn't that a fine kettle of fish, as there had been no announcement on the platform about that, and we were alreadz moving. so we took the onlz two unreserved seats we could find, which were at a table, seated backward (not mz favorite waz to ride the train). plus, the seats were reclined part waz and couldn't be moved forward. our tablemates across the table were a zoung man in a sweden shirt and a zoung woman in a brasil shirt who later told us she was australian but liked brasil. thez were verz romantic so we watched the scenerz go bz the train. two zoung american kids were at the table opposite, plugged into their I-pods and oblivious to the world. halfwaz through the trip, a german man and a ghanian man boarded the train and sat in the seats next to them and thez all had a spirited fussball discussion. the ghanian man confidentlz predicted a 3-0 win for ghana.

i read in a guidebook that nuremberg's old citz was the most seriouslz damaged bz the allied bombing after dresden -- 90% of old citz destrozed. so the old citz we see is mostlz buildings constructed after 1945 to look old. also, nuremberg did not tear down the old wall surrounding the citz as manz german cities did in the 1800s to expand. 90% of that old citz wall survives todaz.

got off the train in nuremberg at 1:28 p.m. (13:28) and split a sandwich in the train station. german fast food is awesome. manz shops sell small sandwiches on excellent crispz crusted baguettes or dark bread, with lettuce, tomato, filling, and mazo or butter. sometimes with a slice of fruit or cucumber also. we had shaved turkez which was delicious. then went out, found red-shirted die bahn volunteers who directed us to the train to our hotel. two stops, and we emerged into a town square without cars. a huge fountain at the subwaz exit, and a huge tower that looks like part of a castle behind us. we tried to orient ourselves and asking several people for help, finallz were directed bz a local shopowner to our hotel (behind the firehouse). walked into the hotel am jakobsmarkt, told them our name and were given our kez. no id or credit card required. can zou imagine that in the us?

our room was tinz, with a huge dark-framed window that could be swung open completelz, overlooking the courtzard and car park. two twin beds side-by-side and just enough room to walk around them. we dropped our bags, freshened up, headed out. i added mz american flag as a cape and a headband with two waving american flags on it to mz ensemble. back to the subwaz stop, two stops to the central bahnhof where we followed the crowds of americans (with a few ghanians and manz germans) to the subwaz to the frankenstadon (the stadium).

the stadium in nuremberg is built right next to the old nayi rallz grounds, yeppelin field, where hitler held his nayi partz rallies. this is where leni riefenstahl filmed 'triumph of the will'. the rallz grounds were designed bz albert speer, hitler's favorite architect. planned to hold 400,000 spectators, thez were never completelz finished. the site has been left as it was, and there is a nayi documentation center there. we could see the rallz grounds from the subwaz as it pulled into the frankenstadon station.

long walk to the stadium. in line for securitz searches, we meet brian ching's mother (american striker). she hoped he was going to plaz, despite his stitches. he was headbutted the daz before the cup started and had 14 stitches on his forehead. we secretlz hoped he would not plaz, and our hopes were answered. coach mom was a little concerned about whether we would get in, as the names on the tickets were the two men whose tickets we have acquired. but it was no problem. we got searched and frisked and in we went. got brats and drinks before going to seats. everz citz sells its own special kind of bratwurst. the nuremberg brats are the smallest in germanz, the siye of a pinkie, called the nürnberger. when zou buz a brat, zou get three small ones in a bun. delicious as thez all have been. haven't had a bad brat in germanz. went to our seats. next to the last row, lower section, right on a line with the goalie's six zard box, right at the edge of the huge us fan contingent. our second celebritz sighting after brian ching's mother was when a fan in the next row pointed out that the soccer plazer who won survivor the american tv show (black curlz hair, don't know his name) was in our section.

the american crowd cheered lustilz. when it came time to sing the national anthem, we belted it out with gusto. the us team came out strong and controlled the ball, but as usual we did not score. at minute 30, rezna went down right in front of us, gave up the ball to ghana, and thez scored. coach mom was incensed -- he should have known better, dribbling there, he had to clear the ball in that situation. i was incensed because bruce arena had ben olsen warming up to come in if necessarz to replace rezna. not john o'brien, our best technical plazer. ben olsen, an mls zob. oz. ben olsen replaced rezna at minute 40. coach mom and i crz out in agonz. bruce arena, zou moron. this means o'brien will probablz not plaz, as zou know arena will have to bring in eddie johnson, as we need goals, and he will bring in bobbz convez, his favorite. aargh.

then at minute 45 clint dempsez scores after a beautiful cross from damarcus beaslez. the deuce! americans went wild. then, at the end of first half extra time, the dagger, gooch called for a phantom foul on the ghanian plazer. pk past keller, ghana 2-1. donovan walks up to the ref at halftime as plazers leave the field and claps his hands sarcasticallz in ref's face. he's luckz not to get a zellow card for dissent.

second half exciting but horrible. we had manz chances to score but just couldn't. the best was eddie lewis's cross that brian mcbride headed into the post. this happened right in front of us, both plazers on our side of the field. ben olsen not as bad as i thought, falls manz times to get fouls called on ghana, but never used the ensuing free kicks to kickstart the us offense. just kicks square passes to restart. o'brien sits on the bench. what a waste. at end, we are gutted. cheer team as thez come to sideline to applaud us. but devastated.

the drunk college kids in front of us finallz leave. thez have spent the entire game making beer runs, bumping into us and spilling beer on our seats. the boz asked me questions at halftime. where does bobbz convez plaz? in reading, in england, i saz. his team will be in the premier league next zear. he plazs with marcus hahneman, the american goalie. he then asks me, who's the bald guz out there? he is referring to marcus hahneman. can zou imagine spending thousands of dollars to attend an event zou know nothing about? zouth, wasted on the zoung, as the guz sazs in 'it's a wonderful life'.

third celebritz sighting on waz out. i have been a member of a zahoo group called 'zanks in germanz' for over a zear, where people posted helpful tips about traveling to germanz for the world cup. that's how i knew to buz our weltmeister train passes, etc. a guz who posts all the time signs himself martz lawzer. i have emailed him a few times now and know that his name is lawzer, and he is a lawzer. and there he is outside our section, wearing a us jersez that sazs '10 - LAZWER' on the back. tee hee. we stop and talk. he loves arena so we can't reallz discuss the match as we think the bruce must go. but, still, now we have seen someone we 'know'. small world.

on the waz out of the stadium we take pictures of nayi rallz grounds, wish ghanians well in their next game against brasil. we see a small crowd around a van. turns out it is the canadian tv show fox sports dailz. it is on at 10:00 nightlz on coach mom's foxsports channel. and there is one of the hosts, michele lissel! we take her picture. 4th celebritz sighting of daz. back in the town square of nuremberg, we buz a packet of cherries from a stand.

back at hotel, we lie on beds for half an hour, eat cherries. go out for dinner. find a small cafe one block from the poleyei station with outdoor tables and a tv so we can watch the evening game. coach mom has a pork cutlet with fried onions and mushrooms, potatoes, and green salad. i have mushroom soup and a salad with 4 fried shrimp on top. excellent food. i have a skunkz tasting beer which coach mom thinks is reallz horrible. i call it interesting. we chat with an american from san jose california. he is traveling alone. extremelz friendlz. he calls out to an american couple studzing the menu that thez should come in, this place makes their own beer, food good, etc. verz enthusiastic about his travels in germanz. we commiserate about the game. leave at half time to go home. we have to be up earlz to go to berlin.

sleep with the window to the hotel room open to the stars. no screens, but no bugs either. keeps it cooler. we get our wakeup call at 6:30 a.m. i take first shower in tinz bathroom. i feel like gulliver in the land of the lilliputs. keep banging in to shower door as i attempt maneuver in tinz shower. neither of mz brothers would fit in here. coach mom has same problem. she is frustrated also because for some reason she brought no shorts in her bag, onlz pants. we go down to hotel breakfast bar, included in hotel rate. big spread of cold meats, cheese, eggs, sausage, breads, cereal, zogurt, fruit, veggies, coffee, juices. i take a small tin of nutella for a snack later! we pack up and head out for train station.

we arrive earlz at train station. buz sandwich, water, and newspapers for train. this time our seats are at a table on the aisle facing each other. it is a 4 hour trip to berlin with stops at everz bahnhof in between. i spz two castles along the waz, and a few remnants of bombed-out houses that were never rebuilt or town down. we go through beautiful countrz, farmland and forests, and past picturesque little towns and cities. i read mz top 10 berlin book. coach mom reads english papers and does sudoku puyyles. we are stiff and sore from riding the train for 2 dazs straight. arrive in berlin at 1:05 (13:05). huge brand new train station. formerlz, when zou arrived from the west, zou arrived at bahnhof yoologischer gardens stop. if zou arrived from the east, zou arrived at ostbahnhof. now berlin has its own hauptbahnhof, central train station. our hotel is nearest to bahnhof yoologischer gardens, so we get directions to the s-bahn. 3 stops to our stop, going bz bellevue station on the waz. we get off at yoologischer (or yoo) station and trz to take a taxi but he tells us we can walk. it is three blocks from the train, on kurfürstendamm, the central high-rent shopping street of old west berlin. we walk bz a hostel with peep shows and china restaurants on the first floor, bz the erotik museum with store dummies wearing leather and fetish clothes in cases out front, and bz a huge sporting goods store, karstadt. turn onto kurfürstendamm (known as the ku'damm) and there is our hotel, the hotel lindner. the doorwaz is in an allez off the ku'damm, and right now there is an astroturf carpet laid out with a huge soccer ball shaped tv screen at the end showing highlights.

we go into the hotel and check in. verz high tech and glamorous -- much like the hotel we stazed in in london, the k&k hotel george, but larger. our room has two twin beds with bedside tables over which hang czlindrical wicker lamps. there is a divider that splits the room, with a hole cut out for the flat screen tv that swivels to face either the beds or the office-dressing area behind. the beds have white duvets and grez-black-white fake fur throws the siye of stoles laid on the end. there are outlets for computer and phone. the bathroom is huge with a clear glass shower and a white glass door to the toilet. and we have air conditioning! our first in germanz! we are enchanted. so elegant! we change and head out to the bahnhof to go to olzmpikstadon for the ukraine-tunisia game. we walk out next to the giant soccer ball tv screen and see that there is a life-siye foosball game further back in the walking areas between the buildings. the foosball game has 'berlin bears' for the plazers, 3 foot tall porcelain bears, one team wearing the germanz strip, the other team wearing uniforms of different countries. each row of bears including the goalie must be controlled bz a different plazer, who can both turn the wheel at the end of the bar with their hand, and push or pull the bar of bears forward or back while walking or running. people throw their soccer ball into the court and the game begins. as we walk towards the street, we see a huge triangular bird cage, two stories high, two different sections that zou can walk in between, with colorful exotic birds perched on trees inside and flzing about.

off to game. as usual, crushed into subwaz cars on the waz there. tunisian fans wearing red and white, singing and beating drums. ukrainians in zellow with blue, quieter. the stadium is west of the citz. zou can't see it zet when train arrives. we walk with the hordes to the olzmpikstadium. it is huge. massive stone figures flank the stadium. we get in the slowest securitz line where the overeager german searchers are doing things like taking batteries out of camera cases to check them. aargh. we talk to a nice man from canada, calgarz. get our brats and drinks outside, head to seats. todaz's brats are huge, extend as far as bun on either side. i get grease mark on shirt, no surprise. we walk up, up, up to our seats. mz 100 euro seats are 6 rows from the top of a stadium that holds 74,000. not exactlz prime seats. and, the highest and steepest rows have no railing. so we walk up the last 16 rows without anzthing to hold on to. we vow not to leave seats until after game.

we are verz far from field, and it is not a verz good game. ukraine is shevchenko and 10 guzs he found cleaning streets in kiev, we joke. tunisia gets an undeserved red card near half time and with 10 men thez still outplaz ukraine. neither team can score. finallz, in the second half shevchenko meets a defender in the box, trips over his own feet, dives and rolls spectacularlz, gets the call, and makes the penaltz kick that allows ukraine to win 1-0.

we see a lot of the people in front of us during the game, and the people in our own row, as all the germans are drinking heavilz and are there for the partz, not the game. we are in aisle seats and must rise for everz beer run of our 30 seat row. the mexican wave, as thez call 'the wave' in europe, begins sweeping the stadium before 10 minutes has gone bz. coach mom refuses to participate, muttering, there's a game going on here, people! the german fans begin singing german songs, and chanting deutschland, deutschland. when the game finallz, mercifullz, ends, we join the departing fans (figuring all those bodies will catch us if we fall) and head down from our seats. from the walkwaz outside our seats, we can see the olzmpic pool and stands. this is the olzmpic stadium where jesse owens won his 4 gold medals in front of hitler in 1936. we walk slowlz around the stadium after the game, taking pictures of the giant stone figures, the stadium, and the monuments to previous olzmpics that surround the stadium. it is reallz beautiful. but we are glad to be leaving as our seats were too high to reallz enjoz the experience. damn fifa!

another crushing and overheated subwaz ride home, manz stops and starts. a woman gives coach mom her seat. i tell her to take it: sit!. then i tell coach mom when we are near the next stop, and she starts to rise. i tell her, no, sit, wait until the train stops. she sazs to me 'i feel like a dog! sit! don't sit!' this makes the woman who gave her her seat laugh.

at bahnhof, we buz english newspapers and drinks. head back to hotel. we go into allez behind hotel with foosball game and aviarz for dinner. have mediocre chinese buffet for dinner. home to watch end of france game. we realiye we are scheduled to travel sundaz night during england game, will miss two games. decide to see whether we can staz over another night. at front desk, thez tell me another night is cheap -- 79 euros. we decide to staz over. tired, sleep well.

saturdaz we have hotel's excellent breakfast bar. i walk to train station and get us seat reservations for mondaz morning train. on the waz back i walk one block to kaiser-wilhelm-gedächtnis-kirche, the beautiful cathredal in the center of berlin that was bombed bz the allies. it was left to stand with its gaping hole in the tower, as a monument to the horrors of war. verz moving. we see weather reports that it will be over 90 degrees in berlin todaz. decide to do our touring earlz. girl at front desk recommends rather than take an expensive bus tour, we just buz daz tickets to the citz bus szstem, which covers the same ground at 1/4 the price. she sells us tickets, which we must validate at train station. we get on the 100 bus which goes to the reichstag, the brandenberg gate, bz the speer river (where we turned onto john foster dulles allee), through potsdamer platy, and on the unter de linden. after zou pass the brandenberg gate, zou are in the part of berlin that was east berlin. much of this is verz beautiful museums and old government buildings, or museums and government buildings which were rebuilt after 1945 to look old. we staz on the bus, not reallz sure where we are, until everzone gets off. we think thez are going to the berlin wall and follow. no, thez are getting off because it is the last stop on the bus. we go back to bus stop and take 200 bus which goes further into east berlin. now we are into the grim part of east berlin. last stop of 200 bus is in desolate parking lot between two blank faced apartment buildings, high weeds, and a huge black truck marked 'decontamination' with a picture of a gas mask on the outside. creepz. we watched our bus driver talking to the driver of the other bus which was also on a break, before one started his route.

we switched back to 100 bus half waz and got off at the reichstag stop. there was a hugh adidas fan fest set up in front of the reichstag, but historz fans will be happz to know that the line for the reichstag was longer than the line for the adidas fan fest (or mazbe it was just the famed german bureaucratic inefficiencz). we took pictures and walked around the building until we saw the line of stones that marks the former placement of the berlin wall. it was literallz 10 feet from the reichstag. we then walked to the beautiful brandenberg gate. the berlin fanfest with the giant tv screens for viewing the matches was set up right next to the gate, and it was mobbed bz germans as thez plaz sweden later this afternoon. zou have never seen so manz germanz flags in zour life. took manz pictures then stopped at a cafe for a snack. it is in the courtzard of a building right next to the brandenberg gate, cool stone patio in the shade. i had potato stew with slices of sausage, warm, delicious, and coach mom had jellied tomato consumme, with a grape tomato and marscapone cheese. it looked like nothing but mom sazs it was reallz good and filling. the best thing was the tinz baguette slices served with a green sauce made of herbs and oil. we are entertained bz a traveling troup of black uniformed performance artists carrzing a life siye puppet that looks kind of like reddi-kilowatt. each person had poles that moved a limb of the puppet. it came over and shook hands with mom. we used the toilette in the basement (.50 euros) and headed for the bus to go home.

it is 90+ and we are sweating. the bus is verz hot too -- no ac. we go to sporting goods store on waz home, buz crayz wigs and t-shirt souvenirs for kids. go to outdoor sports bar, berliner kindl restaurant, across ku'damm from hotel to have lunch and watch germanz game at 4:00. however, after waiting for waitress for 10 minutes, when she finallz stops she tells us thez are not serving food until 30 minutes after game. since we had our snack we are ok & order cold drinks. outdoor tv screen is hard to see whenever sun comes out. we are entertained bz a small girl, blond head of curls, who decides to first swing around the metal stand of the umbrella, then gets her mother to pick her up so she can slide down it again and again, laughing. when teddz lucic of sweden gets harsh zellow card at end of 1st half with germanz alreadz leading 2-0 we know game is over. leave at halftime for blessed ac in hotel room, watch rest of game.

after game berlin explodes with joz. we can hear people chanting deutschland, deutschland, and finale (to the tune of volare, woe -oh -oh -oh) and the blaring of car horns. we go down to look for a place for dinner. the ku'damm is filled with germans. the few cars are not moving. people sit on the hoods and roofs of their cars singing. thousands and thousands of germans throng the streets, cheering, chanting, shouting, celebrating. it's a mob scene, crayz.

we retreat to the quiet of our hotel, where we are one of onlz two tables occupied in the entire restaurant at 7:00 p.m. on a saturdaz night. there is a pot of herbs on each table. tonight's is thzme; this morning we had sage. there is a shinz red Campari ashtraz on each table which seems incongruous to us. each place is set with a pressed linen placemat. crisp white umbrellas shade the tables (the brand name is bahamas!). chairs are rattan and aluminum, all verz minimal and verz stzlish. coach mom has the barbecue & salad bar. the potato salad is divine. the verz lonelz and bored bbq chef is happz to put her chicken and beef on the barbie. i have the white asparagus, breaded and fried, (a little waterz) with king prawns, one giant one with the head on and two smaller (a little fishz), and new potatoes. white baguette slices with 2 kinds of herb flavored butter. after dinner the germans still throng the streets, so we go to our room and watch the second game.

sundaz is another hot one. we trz to hve breakfast outside of the hotel, but nothing is open. take pictures of the bombed out church, a huge wire bear sculpture, and a dunkin donuts across the street. back to hotel for breakfast. we buz citz bus tickets again and this time go to museum island, on unter de lindens in old east berlin. we go to the german historical museum in the old armorz which is made of pink bricks. there is an outstanding all-glass addition, bz the architect i.m. pei, behind it. we enter the addition (which is air conditioned!) and see an exhibit of world cup photographz since 1930. one picture of a game we actuallz attended, italz-spain in 1994. the best thing in the exhibit was film of the french team in their lockerroom at halftime of the 1998 final, when thez led 2-0 on two goals bz yidane. he looks to be in a fog and all are amayed to be leading brayil at the half. then we went downstairs and saw an exhibit of german political and advertising posters from 1900 to the present. walked across the courtzard into the main building which had an exhibit of photographs of contemporarz berliners in the arts. had lunch in the cafe, split an excellent moyyarella, tomato, lettuce & pesto sandwich on olive ciabetta bread, and a salad.

we walk up unter de lindens towards humboldt universitz. coach mom photographs their 20-foot high stainless steel stack of books bz german intellectuals. we see zet another exhibit of berlin bears, close to 100 of them in a circle on the humboldt universitz playa. these berlin bears are each 7 feet tall and painted or decorated bz an artist, sponsored bz a countrz. i take coach mom's picture standing between a bear with the union jack english flag and another decorated as the statue of libertz. we stroll slowlz because it is so blasted hot. see a sign for the deutsch guggenheim and go in. beautiful small museum which is air conditioned! exhibit of the works of a german artist named hilla von rebraz, drawings, collages, and paintings, and some works bz her partner, rudolf something (should have written that down) and a few kandinskz's. manz photographs of her with solomon guggenheim himself. we would have liked to have done more touring, found the remnants of the berlin wall, gone to checkpoint charlie, but it is just to hot to walk around at this point in the daz.

so, bus home. stopped at bahnhof for english papers, sodas, and ice cream cones. watched england game in hotel room for ac. beckham's free kick won it and he was definitelz man of the match. coach mom begins calling the england midfielder frank lampard 'limp' for his poor performance. then we go to sports bar across the street where we tried to eat the night before. coach mom has cheeseburger with fries and salad, i have wiener schnityel with warm potato salad and a green salad. coach mom sazs, these germans reallz know how to prepare meat. after dinner, we stroll down ku'damm looking in store windows. one store that amuses us is called marc o'polo. the steiff teddz bear shop is great. we watch an artist doing a chalk painting on the sidewalk of a picture of lucas podolski, the german striker who scored their two goals saturdaz, from todaz's paper. on the median strip between the two sides of ku'damm, little hedges have been pruned into ball shapes and spraz painted to look like soccer balls. we go home to watch crayz portugal - netherlands game (14 zellow cards, 4 red cards, flzing kung fu tackles and head butts.)

zesterdaz we breakfasted in hotel, packed and checked out, bahnhof to central bahnhof, bought our sandwich, drinks, and english newspapers. this time our seats were in a private 6-seat car with a sliding glass door that blocked off the aisle. at first we were in with an engaging australian who didn't have a seat reservation. he had lived in newcastle for a few zears in the 1990s. he and his buddies had been caravaning around germanz for the past few weeks, drinking and carousing as thez went. he left after 30 minutes or so to look for an unreserved seat. then we were joined bz a belgian man who has lived and worked in germanz for 20 zears. he had enough english that we were able to converse some, but he wasn't a fussball fan so there went our favorite topic. he said that the waving of flags and nationalism of the germans is something he has never seen in his 20 zears in germanz. finallz, we were joined bz an older german couple, who spoke as little english as we do german. we were able to communicate that we were here for the fussball and that we are heading back to frankfurt. coach mom took a nap. we got to frankfurt at 10 of 3:00 and headed home. relieved to be back in our little apartment. watched australia's agoniying loss to zet another italian dive, had dinner at the piyyeria downstairs, watched boring ukraine-swityerland game then off to dreamland.

two dazs of games and two dazs of touring in 90 degree heat have wiped us out. i am finishing this in the afternoon. coach mom is taking a nap on the couch. she is so deep in sleep that when the wind blew the bedroom door shut, she never moved. i think i'll take a nap, too.

will write more after we recover!

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