Once again, sorry for the long time it has taken for me to write another post! I’ve spent the last week constantly thinking of what I could write about on here, but it seems there is never enough time to write a fully thought-out post. On the one hand there has always been things going on in the evening, and on the other, I enjoy sleeping in way too much.
So as the title of this post suggests, I want to elaborate on the big event going on over here right now – the Europe Soccer Championships. Pretty sure that’s not the accurate fancy title, but you get the idea. There are soccer games going on just about every day, between the various European countries, and basically any restaurant or bar you walk into is broadcasting the most current game. I got Sebastien to forward me this link, which will perhaps give you an idea of how the games are working right now:
Perhaps that link didn’t really work connected to this blog, but hopefully you can copy and paste. I’ve never been very good with technology!
The games are taking place in Poland and the Ukraine, so the opening game was between Poland and Greece. We watched that at our friends’ house – there was awesome food and company, and after the tied 1 – 1 game I got a chance to practice some german and hear some cool German dancing music.
Anyways, so the most epic game for me so far was Germany’s first match, against Portugal. Before we left the house, Sebastien gave me a litte flag to tuck into my belt, and he was wearing one himself as well as his Deutschland t-shirt. As we met up with his other friends and got closer to where the game was being broadcast, I realized we were definitely mildly dressed in comparison to others. Deutschland necklaces, hats, huge flags, and face paint were widely used. One of our friends gave me a bit of face paint, which was great until I forgot about it 5 minutes later and managed to smudge it into oblivion.
The place we went to see the game is called the Fanmeile (Fanmile) – while it was apparently a lot shorter this year than it had been in previous years, it was still reported to be one of the largest of its kind in Europe. We first passed by this awesome statue, and I managed to snag a picture as we were going by.
We walked down a long highway, then passed through the security area to where there were vendors selling German-themed merchandise. I bought myself a sizeable flag, which is great for wearing to the games, and I definitely will hang it in my room as soon as I’m back in Canada. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of myself draped in this Germany cape, but perhaps that will change depending on Germany’s progress in the games.
We then parked ourselves in front of one of the huge screens that would be displaying the Germany – Portugal game. While we didn’t walk all the way to the other end of the Fanmeile (seeing as it was already full of people) I noticed that it ended at the Brandenburg Gate (I hope I spelled that right…I’m fairly sure it’s Brandenburger Tor in German). For me it was definitely one of those ‘holy crap this is so amazing’ moments, considering that I was about to watch a German Soccer match by a historically significant German monument. I tried to show the Gate in the following picture, although it’s partially covered by a screen. The other picture shows just how much German pride there was going on!
The whole thing was extremely cool. The only aspect of the Fanmeile I didn’t enjoy when we first arrived was finding out that it cost 50 cents to use the portipotties…while it is common to have to pay for bathrooms in Germany, usually that’s because there is someone keeping it clean and relatively nice. I can personally think of a lot better uses for 50 cents than being granted the priviledge of entering a portipotty! But I suppose it is fair, especially considering that entering the Fanmeile itself is free.
The game itself was pretty awesome to watch; while there wasn’t a lot of action for the majority of it, we all went absolutely nuts when Germany scored. Lucky for me, screaming and jumping up and down happens to be one of my favourite activities! I personally find that soccer is one of my favourite sports to watch. The ball is big enough to see at all times (in contrast to a hockey puck) and the timer constantly keeps going so that the flow of the game isn’t really disrupted. The one thing I find funny is that, when soccer players get tripped or hit, they fall down and put their faces in extremely contorted positions so you think that they’re in the worst pain imaginable. While at first I always panicked and figured they must be dying, I later learned that they do that to try and get the other guy a penalty. I think it’s a bit like two year olds – while sometimes when they fall and cry they really are hurt, often if they notice that no one is paying attention to them they’ll hop up and keep playing.
Anyways! Needless to say, when we won everyone was fairly ecstatic. The following photo captures the view pretty accurately…
After that, we all went to a grocery store to grab some form of a quick dinner and drink, and then we went to a party that was going on at a University nearby. The building itself was extremely impressive, and the party was a lot of fun.
Since that night, Germany has played one more time, and is playing again tonight. We also won the second game – Sebastien and I went to a restaurant to watch it, and we all got to sit outside and wrap blankets around ourselves as the game went on. Next game is tonight…Go Deutschland!
The next note-worthy part of my week was visiting the Berliner Dom with Sebastien. I’ve been inside once before, when I was in grade 11, but he has never seen the inside of it. It is an extremely impressive looking building from the outside, and is absolutely fantastic on the inside. I tried to take a few photos, but they hardly capture the awe-inspiring aspects of it all.
Sebastien and I were able to listen to a speaker give some interesting facts about the Berliner Dom…the speech was in German, so Sebastien told me the highlights again after the presentation was over. The highest part of the Dome is 70 meters tall, and it’s 107 years old. Although it appears to be a Catholic Church, due to how fancy and ethereal it is, it’s actually Protestant. He also pointed out where important people of various statuses used to sit during church services, and we later checked out the Crypts in which there were the graves of various Kings. The other really fascinating thing was that the Berliner Dom was one of the first buildings built with electrical lighting. So, while today it looks pretty standard compared to other buildings, it is the same electrical system that existed when the Dom was first built 107 years ago. All very fascinating stuff, and it was a volunteer that told it all to us.
After we listened to the information session, we climbed all the way to the upper part of the Dom. From there, we could see practically all of Berlin! It reminded me a bit of being on top of the Eiffel Tower. It was absolutely amazing – and I like to think the effect was heightened because of how much of the city I now am familiar with (whereas, while the view from the Eiffel Tower was also amazing, I couldn’t recognize all these far off buildings in the same way).
Needless to say, it was a great cultural experience! All of this for only 4 euros admission.
On Friday, we went to Sebastien’s sister’s High School Graduation. It was quite fun, and interesting to see the similarities and differences between that and my own grad. Same sort of speeches (although obviously in a different language) but a lot smaller venue, and without the big capes. We then went back to Sebastien’s family’s house (in case readers haven’t noticed, I try to avoid using too many personal names!) where his sister presented us with a fantastic home cooked meal.
Not too much besides that has been going on…Sebastien and I have begun planning the travelling phase in our summer though, which is extremely exciting. We have confirmed a short trip to Denmark, which will most likely be followed by a week long journey through Austria and Switzerland. Then at the beginning of August we will head to Scotland, and perhaps check out more of the UK before my return to Canada. Definitely not a boring way to spend a summer!
Anyways, thank you so much for reading 🙂 I have been getting an amazing amount of positive feedback about this blog, and it makes me that much more enthusiastic to write it! There are a lot of people I miss terribly back home, but it is amazing to be here with so many great people to share my summer experiences with too.
Sebastien just looked over my shoulder and said ‘Holy crap, look at that word count!’ so I guess I better stop writing for now 😛