In Germany for the FIFA World Cup 2010

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FIFA World Cup Soccer Tourney

A bit of good news first: I recently obtained my temporary residence/work permit to teach English in Germany! What a road! I’ll save that saga for a future travel journal. Today I want to tell you about World Cup Soccer – or Football. Whatever!

Important notes for this journal. Memorize these images; there will be a quiz later.

This is what the German flag looks like:

And this is what Germany’s soccer uniforms look like:

As most people know, Europeans, the English, and others around the world scoff at us Americans because we use the word ‘soccer’ instead of ‘football’ to describe the sport they play in the World Cup. I just want you to know, without going into sordid detail, that the word ‘soccer’ was actually coined IN ENGLAND in the 1860’s as a shortened version of ‘Association Football,’ their soccer organization. ‘Assoc. Football’ easily became ‘soccer.’ Since Americans were already evolving another game they liked at the time called football, soccer has been used in our country to define the round-ball version.

To catch every one up, FIFA runs the world competitions in soccer. It stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Every four years there is an international tournament. Countries apply to host the games much like they do for the Olympics. The US hosted them in 1994 – ok I admit I didn’t know that til today.

This year the games are in South Africa. Because of this there is a lot of South African emphasis going on in Europe. There are South African flags, hats, shirts, etc., to be had and the flavor is all over the TV commercials. My favorite commercial is one that features a dance invented by a South African using soccer moves. It’s called the Diski Dance because ‘diski’ is what they call the soccer ball there. Check out the YouTube video. It’ll make ya happy!

The other huge thing out of South Africa is what they call the ‘vuvuzela’ which is a meter-long (3 feet to you Americans) plastic horn that sounds like an obnoxious, pissed-off elephant. Apparently they use them a lot in the stadiums in South Africa during soccer games. A local grocery store had a scratch-off game in which you could win a vuvuzela. I didn’t win.

You can hear one or two of them from time to time on the street around here, especially when the games are on and especially when Germany scores. However, on the television, with thousands of them sounding off in the stadium, the games sound like a very loud beehive.

Here are a couple of fairly drunk guys outside my window after the German victory over England. Note the German flag flying at my window. For the record, I also have an American flag flying on the other side.

To say that Germans love their soccer is perhaps the understatement of the century. On regular season game nights, not to mention the World Cup competitions, the streets are deserted like there has been a rapture or something. The only sound besides crickets chirping is the occasional cheer raised when something good happens, like a goal. Then after the game, the streets are suddenly packed again, and horns are continuously blowing if Germany won the game. Strangely silent if they did not.

Here is an example of how rabid Germans are about soccer. When my husband was visiting last month, we caught a taxi during a game one night. Here is what the cab driver had rigged up on his dashboard – Internet TV!

I compare the atmosphere here in Germany surrounding the World Cup competition to the energy surrounding the last Olympics in the States. Everyone has been very stoked and excited about the games. Well, until Germany got their ass kicked by Spain last week. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The USA was knocked out of the competition a few weeks ago by Ghana who went on to the quarter-finals. Germany made it into the semi-finals and everyone here was absolutely convinced they would be the ultimate champs. There was much hullabaloo and festive spirit before the game.

I myself was feeling it and ventured to downtown Bamberg to see what it was like down there. I live in Bischberg, an outlying town, and had to take the bus into the city. The game started about 7:30 p.m. I first stopped at Ödrei, a restaurant specializing in Austrian food and wine that my hubby and I discovered a few weeks before.

When we visited it was just for what turned out to be quite excellent wine and tried an Austrian pinot noir that was stellar! It hadn’t occurred to me that they might grow pinot grapes in Austria. What do I know?

This time I was there for the Wiener Schnitzel (Wien=Vienna, get it?) and more wine. The schnitzel was great and, since they don’t sell the pinot by the glass, the waiter recommended a Blau Fränkischer (Blue Franconian) that was also stellar. If you visit me, we are going to this place.

I took a lot of pictures that day. I wanted to demonstrate how fanatic it is about the team here. Keep in mind that Germans aren’t predisposed to showing much enthusiasm about anything, but soccer is their exception. I’m grouping the following photos that I shot on the way into town into three categories: Flags on Cars and Houses and Flags on People.

FLAGS ON CARS AND BUILDINGS:

Lewinsky’s bar where my husband and I watched a German basketball game:

The sign here says: “Us against Spain today!”

This freebie weekly newspaper isn’t usually printed with its masthead in German colors. The headline is asking if this will be the end of Germany’s World Cup run.

Even the fishermen (and women) showed their support:

FLAGS ON PEOPLE
These young ladies let me take their picture on the bus:

 

Remember the soccer jersey?

And I’m throwing in this series of photos just because I love the bicycle culture in Europe. I took all these photos from one spot. I just turned more or less in a 360.

After the game started, the streets indeed became deserted. I found all the people at cafes where they had set televisions outside so everyone could watch. This is not normal behavior – usually a television at a café, much less outside, is unheard of.

In the large square in the middle of Bamberg, Maximilianplatz, or Max Platz for short, they had set up an arena with a stage, food and drink vendors, and a giant television screen so that everyone could watch the game and some of the vendors could make a little money. Before the game and during half-time a couple of bands performed. They had a South African sound to them.

Admission was free but I noticed they were checking bags and backpacks at the entrances. I didn’t go in. The crowd seemed to be very young and a little too zealous about soccer for me. I just hung around and took pix. I noticed a lot of Americans there, especially older teens and younger 20-somethings, probably from the military base. Brought back lots of good memories.

And of course I noticed the photographer’s daring feat to get the shot:

I left at half-time because I didn’t want to be around for the aftermath of that party whether Germany won OR lost. Turns out Germany lost that one to Spain, and, though the traffic immediately packed the streets in Bischberg outside my apartment once the game was through, there was a deafening absence of horns, car or vuvuzela.

Tonight Germany plays Uruguay for third place in the World Cup series 2010. Spain plays the Netherlands/Holland/Dutch team tomorrow for the title.

I’m a little confused about what to do with my flags once the World Cup is over. Do we leave them out or take them in? Guess I’ll check the traffic and neighbors tonight after the game to find out! I’ll let you know in my next post.

Hope you are enjoying your summer!

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