(This is the second installment. In the first installment I go to London, eat pie, and watch Arsenal beat Everton 4-1. This time I eat sausage, witness an away fan march to the stadium, drink massive beers, and watch Arsenal get a 1-1 draw.)
I left London at 7am and I landed in Munich a few short hours later. Just like London, the weather has decided to cooperate. It’s slightly colder in Bavaria but the sun is still shining. Normally, when the sun is first out, I find that everyone should be happy, but unlike last year, the Germans seem like they are in a sour mood.
Regardless, my hotel room is magnificent!
Having spent 3 nights in London I’m almost completely acclimated to the time difference. Still, I take a nap and then head out to the Hoffbrauhaus to see if there are any Arsenal supporters out and about.
You can see them there! On the right. They were singing about yellow ribbons: “she wore, she wore, she wore a yellow ribbon!” The Arsenal fans’ chants rang in my ears from the moment I left the Emirates to the moment I made it home to Seattle. For the whole week I would be sitting somewhere quiet and I would hear ghosts of chants about Wembley. I’m still sitting here some times and I hear the dryer rumbling and I think “is that the Arsenal fans chanting somewhere just out of ear shot?”
The fans in the square started getting a bit too rowdy for my liking so I slipped out and got myself something to eat. First meal in Munich: sausage and beer! Don’t judge me. Also, don’t be afraid of the sauerkraut, if you’re from America you’re probably used to a very sour, cold, crisp kraut. In Munich it’s warmed slightly and has an almost sweet profile. There are also a few spices in the kraut which give it a nice complexity.
Once back to the room, I did a spot on the Clock End show with Adrian Clarke. Despite the nap I got earlier in the day I was dead tired during my segment. Hope I didn’t make a fool of myself!
Day 2 – Match Day v. Bayern Munich
I have stayed at my hotel before and the last time I stayed (last year) the hotel wifi was very strong in the lobby. This time, however, the wifi in the hotel lobby was atrocious. I couldn’t even check twitter. Wait… maybe that’s not a bad thing?
Anyway, I went to Starbucks for the free wifi. Oh and just in case you think I’m a huge Starbucks fan, I’m not. I never drink at Starbucks back home and only do it in Europe because they always have wifi. The coffee is overpriced and overroasted and the stores are always dirty and overcrowded but they have wifi. Their one selling point. I did also have this view…
I’m not exaggerating, that was the first time I’d looked at WhoScored.com for almost a week!
The other thing I hate about going to Starbucks is that I have to lug all that crap back to my hotel room. An hour later, I had my stuff dropped off, then I had to go back to city center to look for Anna, the Mad Ruskie Gunner.
My route into the city followed all of King Max’s famous statues. They love statues in Munich!
And another view:
Just look at how beautiful the skies are! CRAZY European vacation for Tim!
Finally, settled in to the Hoffbrauhaus and got my first beer:
From there, everything starts to move fast. We met up with Terry Shaw. He’s so famous that he has chants about him!
We started to sing and get a little rowdy but the security guys were having none of it. As soon as the first stanza of any song was dropped, they came over and told us to shut up. We could hear the throng of fans growing outside in the square and wanted to sing with them, so we paid up and went out into the dying rays of the sun for more beers and singing before the game.
I cannot believe I did that.
Akhil must have realized we were on the verge of being nicked so he led us out to the stadium. We sang the whole way there. I’ve never done anything like that and I’ve walked with the Sounders fans. I know it sounds cliche but the away fans are the best fans in the world.
In Germany, however, the away fans are absurdly far away from the action.
Arsenal should take a page from this book. Putting the away fans that far away limits their ability to change the game with chants. It also makes them pay for the more expensive upper deck seats and frees up desirable seats in the lower tier.
Here’s the kick off lineup:
Though, the zoom and image stabilizer o that camera did a fine job. Here’s Özil being marked out of the game. Pretty sure he already had the injury at this point.
Here’s their famous atmosphere: a couple hundred people stuck in one end of the stadium. It was very much like Liverpool away: they only have one song, they have some clacks on one end of the stadium making a bunch of noise and the rest of the crowd are prawn sandwich eaters. I met three guys later in the night who came from Israel and paid €400 each for the privilege of watching Bayern do their level best to not lose.
It was an exciting match, so much so that I didn’t even use my camera. I just got caught up in the moment and enjoyed Arsenal pressing the Germans to get the winner. Podolski looked pretty good and we’ll need him in the coming weeks but it was Oxlade-Chamberlain who stole the show, driving the team forward and giving the Germans fits. He was my man of the match again and I have to wonder if he can’t do it three in a row? As we walked out to the train, I snapped this picture of the stadium.
For the first time in years I slept in. I really slept in. When I finally got up I caved and bought the in-room wifi. It cost me €10 for one day (which is about half of my monthly bill back home) but I was too hung over to lug my stuff to the Starbucks and back for terrible coffee and free wifi.
Once I had written my blog I decided to get out and see Munich. So, I went to the Bavarian museum.
The museum itself looked closed. When I walked up to the door to see why, the door opened on its own. It was very “Young Frankenstein”. So much so that I actually said “nice knockers”.
Baby Jesus with an apple. I love apples.
Down in the basement there was an exhibit featuring Nativity Scenes. It was an incredible journey through Bavarian cultural representations of the birth of Jesus. So many of the Nativity scenes were densely packed with intricately carved and posed pieces showing a huge variety of imagined scenes from the bible. African figures featured in almost all of the “Krippen” and these figures here are not meant to shock but rather a fair example of the detail that went into the construction of these scenes.
After exploring nearly all of the museum, they told me I had three minutes to clear out. By the way, I was the only person in the whole museum. It was quite disconcerting.
As I left the museum the sun was setting on Munich. I love the sunset on a clear winter day.
The Maximilineum (the Bavarian parliament house).
Bicycle and trout (or grayling?) listen for the owl!
I flew home! All day. When I got home, the house was a little musty so I baked a loaf of bread and made myself a cheese and pickle sandwich with some Branston’s pickle relish that I smuggled back into the country. I love cheese and pickle!
I’ve now been too Munich for two consecutive years and Arsenal didn’t lose either match. Still, Munich was a bit different this year. The locals seemed tired of foreigners. Perhaps because the City fans had been there earlier and their team had taken points off Bayern. I also heard that the City fans were a bit abusive and I wonder if that might explain why the German’s were reluctant to speak English and less forgiving of my rather poor German.
On the field I thought Arsenal played better this year over last. I know, you disagree. But we pressed better this year and kept them very quiet overall. People tend to forget that Arsenal were a bit lucky last year as Munich had a handful of shots that we would normally expect them to score go wide. And while you might point to Fabianski’s penalty save and say we were lucky again this year, I disagree. From my view in the stands that was a good save off an obvious dive by the Dutchman.*
The whole week in London and Munich left me recharged and ready to take on the rest of the season. I felt like I saw two very good performances and I know that the story du jour is Arsenal’s injury record but I can’t help feeling that Arsenal are hitting some kind of stride with this team. With Podolski scoring, Cazorla hitting a good run of games, and Ox putting in man of the match performances we might be able to weather this injury storm and come out of this season with a trophy.
Or even two trophies. Let’s not forget that we’re still in the title race, folks.
*I’ve seen the replays. Robben was fouled, I guess.