Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Playing Catchup

So, due to an unfortunate encounter with the Blogger engine last Thursday, and then a singular lack of time, I have thus far failed to blog a little over half of my trip to Germany. Look for this to be rectified over the next few days. As a starting point, here's what I did last Tuesday:

Woke up late!!! Very late! Just lucky that someone on staff at the hostel came in to clean, or I might have missed my checkout time. Turned out that my cellphone ran out of batteries overnight, so I was reduced to acquiring a travel alarm clock to handle the job.

The upshot of all this was that instead of getting up early to do some things without having to haul my stuff all over Heidelberg, I got to do those things carrying my 10 kilos of personal belongings.

I elected to walk the hour plus to the Heidelberg Zoo, then spent an hour and a half wandering around the zoo, then 45 minutes wandering around the botanical garden, before wandering back to the train station to return to Frankfurt. In all, about 4 hours of constant walking, and I was fortunate enough that it was ~35 degrees in that part of Germany... gotta love the sweating! By the time I made it to the Stay and Learn Hostel in Frankfurt, I was drenched and disgusting.

The zoo was actually quite good - they had many of the wild cats, a good selection of monkeys/chimps/gorillas and a nice collection of bright and beautiful birds. Much less open concept than the zoos I saw in Australia and New Zealand, but not too scary in terms of living conditions for the animals.

The botanical garden was not that impressive, though they did have a neat mountainous section, but I still liked the pretty flowers.

However, far be it for four hours of determined walking in the hot sun to stop me from getting a good look at fan frenzy in Germany!

The fan fest setup was very cool - there was a humongous double-sided flat screen plunked right in the middle of the Main river in Frankfurt, and stands to seat 15000 people set up on both sides of the river. Everybody was draped in German flags and painted with German flag tattoos on their cheeks; there were even a large number of Mohawk wigs in German colours on display.

Only a few brave Italy fans could be spotted at the fan fest - most of them sensibly retreated to the many Italian pubs and restaurants around the city that were showing the semi-final game.

The noise was deafening - in addition to the standard yelling and cheering and singing, the fans would stamp out rhythms on the stands that had the metal structures sounding like cheap tin shakers magnified a thousand times.

I'm afraid I chickened out and left halfway through the final overtime period... wasn't sure I wanted to be around to see what 15000 German fans would look like at the end of the game... was glad of the decision when Italy scored twice just as I was half a block from the hostel. Not that I think anything would have happened, and certainly there was a large contingent of police forces on site to handle any trouble (some of them had horses!), but you know. Hanging out with 15000 disappointed German fans? I'll pass.

But I couldn't resist picking up my very own German T-shirt to celebrate the fact that I'd accidentally turned up in Germany during the world cup. :-)


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