Sunday, 20 May 2012

Blog Post: England: 24/03-08/04

Ok there isn’t too much to tell here.

I got back from Germany late at night, and had a nice long sleep, the next day, I had a bit of a ride around, popped into GW Pompey, went to the model train store, played with my trains.

Mother arrived the Sunday or Monday, and immediately set about planning Grandma’s funeral, I kept to myself mostly, I didn’t do much except Trains and Warhammer, I was thinking about blogging, but I really couldn’t get into the mood.

I also went to Fratton Park on the 28th and saw a rubbish Hull lose to Pompey, 0-2, should’ve been -5, 6, or even 7.

Moving on, the second Saturday after my arrival (31/03), I started my FA Coaching course, which ran until Thursday, however, Grandma’s funeral was that Thursday, so I did the course, and I had to do my first assessment on the Thursday, so I went in, did the assessment, and went straight home to get ready for the Funeral.

After the funeral, it the day got “better”, I got some conversations going with family, and friends, so it helped me get through the day.

There were no real plans for Good Friday, so I had a relaxing day, and started preparing for the cruise. Fiona also said that she was giving me some money to have for my time in America, but she also gave me some money to buy a new Hornby locomotive.

On Saturday evening, we, (that is Fiona, Rob, Kerri, Mother, Isabel, Colin, Louise, and Thomas), went to a Pub in Portsmouth to celebrate Isabel’s dinner, and my departure.

Sunday, all that really happened was we all drove to Southampton Dock, and saw me off, but that’s in the next blog…

Here’s a teaser…

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Blog Post: Koblenz, Bad Ems, Bremen, Hamburg, and Köln.

After Munich, I was slated to go to Stuttgart, but due to staying an extra night in Munich, I was only going to spend 1 night there. When it came to booking my stay in Stuttgart, there was something on in the town that night, or so I assumed, as the cheapest hotel came to around 300 for the night!  I discussed options with Mother, about what I should do, and she mentioned that she and Father had spent some time in Koblenz, and loved it, and as I would have to go through Koblenz to get to Bad Ems, I decided that I would skip Stuttgart, and go there at some point in the future.
A Nice building in Koblenz:

The train ride from Munich to Koblenz was going to take a fair few hours, but it went really well, as there was enough conversation with the people in the compartment to keep it interesting. The first co-occupiers were a couple from Basel, and we chatted about the game, and my travels, they left at Ulm, for their train home, and I got chatting to this chap who replaced them, he was a physicist, and spoke very good English, and we chatted about travel, football, England, Germany, and a fair few other topics that escape my mind at the time of writing. I changed trains at Mainz HBF, and there was a 30 minute wait for the train to Koblenz. I arrived at Koblenz I around 7-7:30, checked into the hotel, and had some dinner. I was pretty tired, and for the first time in a week, had a bedroom to myself, so I had an early night.
The Fortress on the East bank of the Rhein:

The next day, I had breakfast, and got ready to wander around the city. When I spoke to the hotelier about the city, he told me that there was an old Roman section and a newer Prussian section, and when you look at the map, you can see the difference, the Prussian part is the part of the city in a Grid layout, and the Roman section is random in comparison. The Prussian section also has streets like “Roonstraße”, “Moltkestraße”,“Bismarckstraße” (although almost every city in Germany would have a“Bismarkstraße”) I walked along “Roonstraße” to the Rhein, and along the banks of the Rhein to the Deutsche Eck. The Deutsche Eck is is the name of a headland in Koblenz where the Moselle joins the Rhine. In 1897, nine years after the death of the German Emperor Wilhelm, the former emperor was honoured with a giant equestrian statue bearing an inscription quoting a German poem: "Nimmer wird das Reich zerstöret, wenn ihr einig seid und treu" (Never will the Empire be destroyed, so long as you are united and loyal). Another inscription could be found at the statue dedicating it to “Wilhelm der Große” (courtsey of Wikipedia).

The Deutsche Eck:

From the Ecke I was planning on going across the Rhein to the Fortress on the Eastern Bank, but there was no real way across, except for the cable car, which was closed, and was opening the next day, (yay!), so from the Ecke, I went into the Roman part of the town, and had a wander, before going for some Lunch. After Lunch, I wandered around some more of the city, before I caught the train to Bad Ems.

Koblenz Cathedral:

From the Ecke I was planning on going across the Rhein to the Fortress on the Eastern Bank, but there was no real way across, except for the cable car, which was closed, and was opening the next day, (yay!), so from the Ecke, I went into the Roman part of the town, and had a wander, before going for some Lunch. After Lunch, I wandered around some more of the city, before I caught the train to Bad Ems.

Bad Ems:

The Central part of Bad Ems:

The train journey to Bad Ems from Koblenz was a nice, reasonably short, trip.When I arrived, I set about looking for my hotel. I had booked at the Hotel Wintersburg (address: Wintersburg 1), when I booked the Hotel, a glance at Google Maps led me to believe that the Hotel was right next to the HBF, however, what Google Maps did not realise was “Wintersburgstraße” was different to “Wintersburg” and“Wintersburg” was in fact at the top of the hill, and it was some 8km to get there.However, a very nice lady, upon seeing my dilemma very kindly offered me a lift up, which was gratefully accepted.Upon arrival, and check in, I had a look around, and the view from the top of the mountain into the Lahn Valley, and Bad Ems, was quite amazing. I spent the rest of the evening relaxing and watching the Europa League on the TV, both German Teams (Schalke and Hannover) won their games, (4-1 and 4-0) so it was good to see some goals. The next day, I had breakfast, and caught the Taxi into Bad Ems proper, I woke up with the start of a cold, so I went to the Apotheke for some cough drops, which did nothing, so I bought some cough syrup later.I wandered around the town for a bit, I saw the Ems Depeche stone, which was the reason I came (read the history here:

The Ems Dispatch Memorial Stone:

I then went to a nice restaurant for lunch and had some“Flaamkuchen”, which is a North German Version of Pizza, but less cheese, and more green herbs, it was really nice, I definitely recommend it to anyone who has the chance to eat it. 


After lunch I went up to Bismarckturm on the Kurwaldbahn funicular railway, which was a really nifty way to get up the side of the mountain, The views from the Bismarkturm were rather obscured by the foliage around, there was a rather expensive looking restaurant there, which looked like it did nice dinners.

Bad Ems:

I then caught the Kurwaldbahn back down, where I took it upon myself to wander around more of the town, while I was wandering, I noticed that there were a lot of clinic patients, (Ems was a Spa town, and it appears that there was a clinic there), and there were a lot of people with smoking-related problems, and the treatments (holes in the neck, mouth cancer), and these people were still smoking, which I thought to be a rather bad call (read: stupid decision). I then came upon the local museum, which covered the history of the spa in the town, and famous people who had visited, it was a nice, charming little place. I finished there, had dinner at the Hotel, and watched Disney’s Robin Hood – in German, which was a novel way to watch one of my childhood movies.

View from the Bismarkturm:

The Next Day I left Bad Ems, and caught the train up to Bremen.

I caught the train from Bad Ems to Koblenz, and then after a wait, I caught the train to Bremen, which took about 5 hours from Koblenz, and was rather uneventful, although there was no buffet car, so I got rather hungry. When I arrived in Bremen, I went to my hotel, checked in, and had a bit of a wander, had dinner, and had an early night. That evening when I tried to access the internet, something went awry, I was unable to login to the server, which was even more frustrating that no one at the hotel could fix it. 
Bremen Hauptbahnhof:
I decided to spend Sunday wandering around the Altstadt, where I stumbled upon a church service, which was rather interesting, although I had no idea what was going on due to it being in German, I did enjoy singing the Hymns they had, a fair few of them were Lent Hymns I used to sing in Church Choir, so that was a new experience.


 I wandered along to the Weserstadion, where Werder Bremen plays; it wasn’t too bad, overall, but I much prefer the Allianz Arena. I walked along the Weser river back to the Altstadt, and had a fair few people looking at my Bayern München cap with a lot of second glances, a cyclist almost ended up in the river, which made my chuckle a bit.

Bremen Altstadt:

After some more wandering around the Altstadt, I went back to the hotel, via dinner, and followed that up with an early night. Bremen is one of the three City-States of Germany, Berlin and Hamburg being the other 2. Bremen is nothing like either of those two cities, it’s much smaller, and quieter, which is the last thing I was expecting, which meant that I didn’t enjoy Bremen as much as I was expecting, it was nice, but I didn’t enjoy it like Munich or Bordeaux, Heidelberg or Vaduz.
A Church in Bremen:


I woke up Monday morning, checked out of my hotel, and caught the train to Hamburg, where I had visited in 2007, as Mother and Father have friends who live in Ahrensburg, a town in the state of Schleswig-Holstein, just on the border with Hamburg. I arrived at Ahrensburg HBF in the mid-afternoon, and I had a really nice evening relaxing at Rüdiger and Dodo’s (Dodo is short for Dorothea).
The next day, I decided that I would go into the Games Workshop in Hamburg, so I caught the train into Hamburg HBF, and wandered to the store in Collonaden, after introducing myself to the manager, I sat down to paint, hoping that a potential opponent would come in for a game. I had just gotten ready to paint when I got a phone call from Australia, it was my Family, Father’s Birthday present had arrived, and Father wanted to thank me, especially as he really appreciated the small things about the train (like the bike symbol on one of the carriages, and the cantilever on the roof of the locomotive), he then passed me on to my brother, Robert, who wanted to tell me that I am going to be an Uncle as of September, I immediately asked that, if it was a boy born on the 19th, would he name it “Alistair” his response was a very confident “no”, which was not entirely unexpected. After some catching up, he signed off, so he could make some calls to family in England. With my day well and truly made, I resumed my painting. 
I didn’t manage to get a game in, as the Manager was the only one working, as the other 2 people who worked there were either on holiday, or sick, and no one came in with 40K, but I had an enjoyable day nonetheless, painting, and chatting with various people about my army.
I went back to Ahrensburg for the evening, and over a very yummy German Bean stew, with fresh bread, we discussed a trip to Lübeck the next day, which I agreed to, as Lübeck is one of the Freihanseaticstadt, or“Free Hanseatic Cities” (the other 2 main ones being Hamburg and Bremen).

I woke up the next morning to a text from Mother saying“I’ve got some news, text the moment you’re up” my immediate reaction was“F***, there’s something wrong with the baby” so I showered, and texted Mother, she rang me back almost immediately, telling me that Grandma had had an accident, and was unconscious in hospital, I immediately asked her to cancel my booking that I had in Köln for the Thursday-Sunday. I was planning on catching the next trains/flights back to England that day, but Mother helped me to come up with a better plan, which was, spend the day in Lübeck, spend the Thursday at Rüdiger and Dodo’s, and come back on the Friday.
Lübeck Hauptbahnhof:

When we arrived in Lübeck, we went to the HBF, and I booked my train through to Bruxelles-Midi, where I was catching the Eurostar back to London, and then the train from London-Portchester. Having the German needed to book tickets for the trains well down pat, I did the entire transaction in German, at which point Rüdiger said that “Your German is so good, we should just keep talking in German” to which I politely declined.

The Gateway of Lübeck

We spent a really nice day wandering around Lübeck, and we had just finished at one of the Cathedrals, and we were admiring a Mobius strip when I got a call from Mother, with the words “I’m very sorry to tell you this, but Grandma has passed away”, needless to say, that ended the day in Lübeck rather abruptly, although we had seen most of the places there were in the city, like the old hospital, the various big churches/cathedrals in the city, and we had lunch in this really nice seaman’s pub. I had a rather reclusive evening, and only left the room for dinner.

View from a Church Spire:

the Green Man at a traffic light:

The Thursday I wrote notes for my blog posts up to that point, in the living room, so I wouldn’t be too much a recluse.

On the Friday, I left Ahrensburg around 10am on the express to Hamburg HBF, from there, I took the train to Kökn HBF, from Köln I was on the ICE to Bruxelles-Midi, I decided that I’d upgrade my ticket to first class, which only cost me 14, which was a complete bargain. When I arrived in Bruxelles-Midi, I got in the line for the Eurostar, and while I waited to Board, I got some dinner. The Eurostar trip was HELL. There was a rather chavvy family get on at Lille, who had been to Euro Disney, and from what I could tell, the woman was not the children’s mother, but their step mum, I was in the car right next to the Restaurant car, they went to get snacks, they bought chips for the kids, and some beer for themselves. Being to effing lazy, when the kids (inevitably) complained about being thirsty, what do the parents-of-the-year do? That’s right, they don’t get up of their arses, and buy the kids some water, they give them some beer. Now the trip becomes “interesting” (Read: Hell on Earth), these already hyperactive kids become even more so, and they proceed to make life hell for all people in the carriage, and the boy gets out his cap rifle (pretty sure that’s not meant to be on the train), and starts pointing it at people. To my credit, I try to relax, and plug my headphones into my laptop, and start playing Napoleon: Total War, which didn’t help much, except it did divert my murderous urges into the invasion of France. Upon leaving that hell (arrive in London: St Pancras), I catch the Tube to Waterloo, and get on the next train to Portchester. I had a nice relaxing (again, in First Class) trip back home, when I ran out of credit en route, (ironically with the, “I’m leaving Portsmouth Station, text when I arrive” message), although, all sorted it out right, and I had a nice relaxing sleep in my own bed, which was really nice.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Blog Post: 08/03/2012-15/03/2012: Munich

Munich – 7/3/12 to 14/3/12

I arrived in Munich from Liechtenstein on Wednesday evening, and went straight to the Wombats Hostel.  I spent the next day, Thursday, relaxing – located Games Workshop, bought a German SIM and in the evening went to the Augustiner Brauhaus for dinner, where I got chatting with a group of French girls, who were all very friendly and were visiting on a college trip.
My View of the Barber of Seville: 

The Operhaus after the Opera, advertising their upcoming Ring Cycle

I took this shot, and was told that photograpgy was forbidden: :-/

On Friday I bought some Bayern Gear and went to GW, where I had a great game, I lost, but my opponent was a really great sport, and it was still a very enjoyable game.I spent the evening at the Opera, which was amazing – I saw the Barber of Seville, half-sitting on one of the cheaper seats (which is more like a perch) near the back, which was really quite comfortable because it let me shift position more easily.After the Opera, I did my washing.
My Tank in the warhamer game:

On Saturday, I had the FCB game against TSV 1899 Hoffenheim, which Bayern won 7-1 (5-0)!!!!!!! I spent the evening recovering at the hostel! The game started off with Bayern dominating possession. Gomez scored after 5 minutes, with some brilliant work from Ribéry on the left. The game stayed on Bayern’s terms with Goals from Robben (12), Kroos (18), Robben (again, 29), and Gomez (again, 35) with the score at half time 5-0. Gomez completed his hat-trick shortly after the break (48), and Ribéry made it 7-0 in the 58th Minute. The rest of the game was very much dominated by Bayern, but they weren’t playing at the same intensity of the earlier stages. Schweinsteiger made his return from injury which was nice, as I missed out on seeing him last time I was at a Bayern game. The only incident of note later on, was when Luiz Gustavo (the waste of space in the Bayern team) gave the ball away to Ryan Babel of Hoffenheim, and in his haste to right the wrong, he put the ball past Neuer into the empty net :-/ didn’t do a good job of getting into my good books.
Me outside the Allianz Arena:

My Ticket for the Match!!!

The stadium when I arrived...

The Stadium at Kick off:

Teams lining up before the game:

1899 Corner:

On Sunday, I went to the Säbner Straße to see the training, and while I was chatting with some people there, they persuaded me to try and get a ticket for the Champions League game vs. FC Basel on Tuesday, I thought that I should give it a shot, so I sent the Mitglieder (membership) department an email saying that I was a Bayern Member from Australia and I would like to get a ticket to the Champions League match. That evening I had dinner with a friend I met at the Säbner Straße.

On Monday, I went to the Säbner Straße to see about a ticket for the Champions League game, I went into the office to follow up, and the person who served me when I explained that I was from Australia said “you’re Mr Campbell?”, which of course I was, she had just received my email, and was already seeing what she could do. I managed to get a ticket!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (I might have been just a tad excited)

The Service center of the Säbner Straße facility.
 I then went off to the Allianz Arena, where I did the tour of the Stadium. I learnt lots of interesting titbits about the Arena, firstly the reason why the maximum capacity changes from 69,000-66,000 from Bundesliga to Champions League games, is caused by the “standing room” areas being fitted with seats, as UEFA and FIFA don’t permit standing room for their games. There are also 4 changing rooms in the stadium, 2 on each side of the tunnel to the pitch, if 1860 Munich have a home game, then their opponents will change in the away teams changing rooms on the Bayern side of the tunnel, and if Bayern have a home game, then vice versa.

The "Crocodiles Mouth", where the teams meet, before heading up to the pitch (above and behind my position):

Me with the door of the FCB changerooms:

After finishing the tour (and buying more FCB gear, this time at the FCB Megastore in the Arena), I went back to the Säbner Straße to see off the team, where I got pics with Neuer, Schweinsteiger and Heynkes.  

Me with "Manu" Manuel Neuer, the 'keeper:

Me with "don Jupp", Jupp Heynkes, the Coach

On Tuesday, I had, of course, a ticket to the Champions League game at the Allianz Arena, and I decided that I'd go to the Olympiastadion, which was Bayerns home ground before the Allianz Arena.  I thought that it wasn't that good, a bit old and tattered, the green seats didn't help much.  There was also an event coming up (no idea what), and the football pitch had been replaced with sand, and they were laying down some cement for it.

The Olympiastadion, they were laying cement down for an event:

 From there, I went back to the Hostel and prepared for the match.

I got to the ground early, and even met some very friendly Basel fans on my way in (there's a photo further down the page).  My seat this match was about the same height as on Saturday, but behind the goal.  The atmosphere was amazing, I had a really nice German Couple sitting next to me, and at half time they wanted their picture with me!  Anyway, on to the game.  This was the 2nd Leg of the Round of 16, Bayern had lost 1-0 in Basel, and needed to win.  1-0 would force extra time, and then, if needed, a Penalty shootout, a 2 goal win for Bayern would mean they go through, however if Bayern won by 1 goal (2-1, 3-2, 4-3, etc...) then Basel would go through on Away Goals.  So if Bayern were only 2 goals up in the last 10 minutes, then I'd be very worried, as Bayern had conceded a few late goals in the games leading up to this one.  Turned out, I had no need to worry.  Bayern were 3-0 up at Half Time with goals to Robben (10), Müller (42), and Gomez (44).  After the break, Bayern kept the foot down with goals to Gomez (50, 61, 67 - the joint fastest Champions League 4 goal haul), and a 63rd minute attempt by Frei being chalked off for handball, and in the 81st minute Robben finished off a brilliant night with his 2nd.  A brilliant couple of games to have seen.  I went back to the hostel buzing, and really happy with the result.
Here are the links to the FCB Match Reports of the games
My Champions League match ticket:

The stadium before the match:

 Some very nice people from Basel:

 The stadium when I arived:

 The lineups before kick-off:

Scoreboard, with the Corner stat up:

The Match officials after the game

The Train station after the game, game of Sardines anyone?

At the end of this week of German football, on Wednesday, I went to the Säbner Straße, to watch some of the training before I left. I then caught the Train to Koblenz, I started out in a compartment with 2 Basel Fans, and ended up chatting with a really nice chap from Stuttgart.

Me with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

The Trainign Facility and ground:

Players Training: (from L-R: Unknown (in Black), Rafhina (behind man in Black), Unknown, Usami, Petersen, Unknown, Pranjic, Unknown (in Black), Schweinsteiger, Tymoshshuk)

Berni the Bear:

All in all, a great week in one of my favourite places (After Liechtenstein).