What would be a trip to Europe without some football (aka soccer to us North American types)! Brother and I planned our German adventure to ensure we were able to see a Bundesliga top division game. Upon arriving by train in Stuttgart the mission was on!
Step 1: Get Tickets – This was easy enough as the travel booth was quick to send us done the road to the ‘fan station’ to get tickets. The price was irrelevant as we were going to the game no matter what (thankfully the tickets were reasonable for a professional sporting event). Although seemingly easy, as patient and polite Canadians we somehow managed to have to stand in almost 5 different lines to get the tickets – Brother was getting a little annoyed.
Step 2: Get to the Game – When in doubt follow the throngs of people dressed in the local teams colors (red) and branded gear and get off at the train stop for the stadium. Almost every place we went with a football team clearly marked the stadium stop with an icon on the transit map. Of course we embraced the cultural experience and bought ourselves VfB Stuttgart scarfs! The people pour off the train towards the stadium and hover like bees to honey around the beer and food stands surrounding the stadium.
Step 3: Watch the Game (Match Day 9 VfB Stuttgart verses 1899 Hoffenheim) – In my opinion our seats were awesome from a ‘cultural’ experience perspective as we were 1) right beside the gated of section for the away fans, 2) had a good view of the Stuttgart’s ‘super fans’ and their banners, and 3) we could see the game nicely. Truthfully I think I spent more time watching the event as a whole, than focusing on the game! Heading into the game the two teams were 7th and 8th in the standings thus it was a well matched game. There was minimal soccer drama!We (Stuttgart) won 2-0, with the second goal coming from a penalty kick late in the game.
During the game I was on a side mission for beer and bratwurst. While they have developed a very efficient system for purchasing beer and snacks, it is also an obnoxious money-making scheme for those who attend only one game. To pay for anything at the canteens you must use a special loaded Master Card, that costs 20 Euros! Given that our two beers and a bratwurst were only 12 Euros, I opted to befriend a fan to load the money onto their card. Another amazing efficiency of the canteen – plastic beer glasses that stack by the handles, thus you could easily carry 4 (or even more)! Of course, this isn’t required in Canada where often we’re restricted to two at a time anyways. Plus you can return the beer glasses at the end of the game for a refund – thus less mess and more environmentally friendly. Of course, we kept ours as souvenirs.
Step 4: Safe Exit the Game – The Hoffenheim fans were pretty tame – only a few flares in the stands and some tossed beer cups. Of course security and the police are close at hand (with video cameras) thus any really threat of hooliganism seems to extinguish quickly. A fellow in front of us was kind enough to give us his Hoffenheim scarf after the game to complete our soccer souvenir collection!
The game was a great excuse to visit Stuttgart, spend a sunny afternoon and all around was a good time!
Brother was fortunate enough to also take in a hockey game during out visit to Mannheim. The Mannheim Adlers game back in the last period to win the game! While the caliber of play was close to Junior level in Canada, it was a rocking good time! The stadium had halve the fans of a Calgary Flames (NHL) game but twice the spirit and noise! Like the soccer game everyone comes in team colors, with scarfs (to double as banners) and cheer throughout the game!