Sunday, November 19, 2006


Went to Nuremberg yesterday to watch another Bundesliga soccer game. The Bayern match was a bit disappointing, especially the intensity of the game and the passion of the fans. Apparently, Bayern wins almost every year and it's expensive to watch games in Munich so the fans aren't the loudest ones around. Nuremberg was going to be different according to D, the postdoc who went with me yesterday.

D's from East Germany and on the train to Nuremberg, it was quite fascinating listening to his stories about what it was like to grow up in East Germany at the height of the cold war. Apparently, before the wall came down, food was so heavily rationed that he'd never eaten an orange in his life, bananas once in two weeks. Travelling was forbidden and the eastern part of Berlin was dominated by the wall. After the wall came down, some of his school teachers vanished, some were apparently spies on the run and some just ran to West Germany as soon as they could. Nobody knew what was happening. Two days after the historic day, he and his friends (who were about 80 km from the border) decided to drive across to the western side and apparently there was a traffic jam which started right outside their house.

Anyway, we reached Nuremberg around 1030, and the game was at 330, so we had time to walk around and explore the old town. Unlike Regensburg, Nuremberg was heavily bombed and then rebuilt, so it's an interesting place to explore. Most of the architecture is similar to the old buildings, but it has some houses which resemble gingerbread houses - because Nuremberg is famous for its gingerbread.

The stadium isn't too far from the main town centre, and the fans had already congregated near the station. 3 hours before the match it was packed with loud groups with beer (I still find it hard to get over how it's legal to walk around with an open bottle of beer) and rival fan groups chanting at each other. Reached the stadium an hour or so before the match and it filled up quickly.

Nuremberg is in the middle of the table, and so was the opposing team. Neither of them had a hope of winning the title, but the fans were amazingly passionate. The game was intense and it went back and forth. For the entire second half everyone was on their feet, chanting away and singing loudly. The game was tied at 2-2 and when Nuremberg scored the winner with 5 mins to go, the place went wild.

The partying continued after the match got over, in the train, all the way to the old town where every bar and pub got filled up with hysterical fans. It amazed me how much a simple win meant to the fans.

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