Made in Munich returns September 2014. A new chapter will begin in September as I move back to Munich. Who’s excited? I know I am.
Dear loyal readers,
It seems sad to say but this is the last personal blog post for #madeinmunich. Apologies to those who have only just started following – it’s not you it’s me. Despite the fears of many – the brand “madeinmunich” won’t die. Next time I’m in that beautiful city, I solemnly promise that this blog will recommence. The blog may from time to time be of use to me and I may use it again very soon. So it’s not goodbye for good but it is goodbye for now. Thank you to everyone who made the past year the best it could have been.
Leaving Germany – a topsy-turvy and ultimately wonderful country where tramps pay for their newspapers, prostitutes have pensions and large sections of motorway have no speed limit. The bureaucracy is bureau-crazy but it’s worth it if trains run on time even if you have to fill out a form and get a licence for everything – I was surprised that I was allowed to brush my teeth without filling out a few forms and heading to the Zahnamt.
Arriving in Great Britain – a funny-shaped group of islands off the coast of Eurasia where 20 degrees means it’s summer and overweight builders think it’s appropriate to wander around topless. Bacon & eggs, fish & chips, petty politics, page three models, friendly and comprehensive customer service, pints, miles per hour and not having to guesstimate my height in centimetres.
A few mistakes were made: signing a 24 month phone contract when I only needed a dozen months, failing a German driving test for slow driving (amongst other things). I like to think these were outweighed by great experiences and good achievements: becoming fluent in the German language, understanding the culture on different levels (national, regional, city) discovering new countries, visiting university friends and sharing their experiences, getting to know a diverse mix of people from all over the globe, working for the world’s bestselling premium car manufacturer, running the half marathon for charity, going to three beer festivals, spending three weekends in a row skiing, having friends to visit, making connections and generally getting another perspective on life not to mention trying to integrate with society.
I’m glad I’ve made all the mistakes I’ve made so far in my life because they have lead me to this miraculous time in Munich that has satisfied my hunger for exploration and adventure before inspiring me to do it all again.
If I started to thank individuals I would never finish this post. I would like to say a massive thank you to Leeds for having Year Abroad as part of their languages programme – and all the support we were entitled to. Thanks to the European Union who told Frankfurt to allocate us a load of cash which enabled us to make the most out of our time on the continent. Thanks to BMW and especially my bosses and international department for giving me an extra special intern contract for a year which enabled me to gain some skills and experience in a professional environment meet fantastic people and learn the tricks of the trade. Thanks to all the interns, from the first generation to the third, who were always willing to learn from each other. They were right – I couldn’t have had a better time anywhere else. Thank you to all the people who made my adventure what it was, from minor roles in the blog to main characters, on and off stage you surpassed my already high expectations. I have been a proud ambassador for the University of Leeds.
In my last week in Munich at the end of August I said “Auf Wiedersehen” at the Seehaus to Jenny & Ricardo, before they went on holiday to Italy. My penultimate Saturday was the day of my leaving event: Fabianerfest. The location? Fabianerplatz, Englischer Garten. Here is a map for those of you who don’t know.
We rose early on a gorgeous Saturday morning for the picnic dressed in trunks with an armful of Pretzels. You know who your mates are when they rearrange their weekend visit home and then get up at early to celebrate with you. We set up camp on the bank of the Schwabinger Bach and for a while it seemed like maybe no-one would come. Eventually numbers started to climb and all the most important people to me came to see me and have some food and drink in the Gardens. Thanks to Max for actually sticking with me the whole way through! Chris was planning on doing a run etc but a beer was thrust into his hands – and that, as we said, was that. I want to thank everyone who came; it really meant a lot to gather in the sun with friends and come to terms with the fact that whether I liked it or not – I had to leave them all behind. But it wasn’t all bad – I was excited to see my family and friends in London and Leeds.
Max & Marcus starring in Made in Munich.
At about 19:30 ECT it began to bucket with rain. It was raining Katze & Hunde in my gardens.
089 is probably my least favourite club in Munich – from the security to the layout to the clientele to the poor yet overpriced drinks selection – the establishment leaves nothing to be envious of. However, sometimes it can be what you make of it. No matter how shoddy the event you can make it work in your favour and this is something we achieved as we carried the party on until the late hours of the morning. Red Bull was in part to thank as well as Max’s clever games. The weekend finished with a day to recover before my final working week.
In the office I had begun to start to say goodbye to people, lunch became a nightmare where I wanted to go with everyone one last time but realised there weren’t enough days in the week. Coffee had to suffice. I wasn’t the only one leavning though and had what must have been at least one Weißwurstfrühstuck Ausstand per day. No momentum was lost in the week and those that weren’t celebrating their leaving at work were doing so at rooftop parties. Laura was one of these people.
On the Tuesday it was Laura’s Abschied party & After-Work @ the Telekom Tower. We started off at hers and made our way into town. What is shamelessly referred to as an After-Work describes an event where many Germans dress up in what they should have been wearing at work and pretend to be about to dance to very loud music whilst trying to outdo each other in a game which translates to “ordering expensive cocktails”. The game can last all nightor until someone makes a joke that is considered “on the edge” at which point many people would inevitably tut and decide to back to their WG in Schwabing. Pretentious is a word that crosses the mind. That said, me and my little band of interns like to think we got the party started by actually forcing people to dance. This worked for a time, unfortunately though – although its motives pure.
By mid-week I was so tired of being up and about, if it hadn’t been my last chance to do everything then I would have of course had a few nights in. When Wednesday came along it became clear that I was to be expected at Stammtisch @ die Bank where I was overjoyed to be able to introduce Evie to all the other BMW interns who had made it down. Lots of people to look after her now. Niklas, the person who has always been there for me in Munich also stopped by even though he is extremely busy with his studies. What a fantastic chap. I really enjoyed introducing him to the Nachfolger of Ingo’s Nachfolger, Giulio – I knew they’d get on like a Hochhaus on fire and they were the best of friends in about ten seconds flat.
Staying in Baden-Baden in a nice hotel where the family straightened out their backs after a week of camping on the Romantic Route. After two nights we had eaten well, bathed and enjoyed the hotel’s facilities and great food, we were ready to start the engine and follow signs to London-London. The journey went smoothly, apart from panicking in a French service station at the chaotic service, lack of attention to pricing and unhygienic location of the toilets. I knew I was in for a real treat when I arrived back in Angleterre. We were soon in Calais after listening to a few Radio 4 podcasts. It seemed like French border control at Calais had transformed into the set of a new Lacoste advert as some official approached the car with his arm outstretched and whispered “explosive détéction” longingly into the driver’s window before caressing the car with what looked like a microphone. After yet another Burger King we we’re on the train sous la Manche. And my Year Abroad was officially over because I was no longer abroad. I was home.
Thanks to my parents and brothers for coming to pick me up with all my stuff – I wish I could say that no brothers were harmed in the process. And thanks to my family for looking after me whilst in London and moving me up to Leeds – couldn’t have done it without you! I’m glad I had time to see grandparents and Auntie Sue – see you all very soon.
Al I have now are the memories, many of which have been preserved in this wordpress blog. Thanks should go to you too, wordpress. A great site for blogging, so great that it was able to convert my good friend Nath from antiquated blogspot.
I look forward to hearing how everyone’s Year Abroad went. Currently preparing for final year at Leeds University, settled in now and great to say hi to all my Uni friends!
I wish everyone back in Munich a great start to Oktoberfest this weekend, it seems strange that a year ago I was preparing myself for the Wies’n. Feel free to send me some photos if you want to make me miss Munich even more than I already do.
I miss you already – you know who you are.
Viel Spaß euch!
Hello and welcome to one of the final installments in what has been my Year Abroad adventure. You may wonder why the posts have been less regular – the reason is I am trying to ween my readers off gently, to ease them into a time without Munich Man when the inevitable withdrawal symptoms creep in.
This post is what I’ve been up to so far in August.
Thursday 1st of August was David’s Abschiedsfeier (Marcus & Markus) Englischer Garten+Jägermeister+Rote Sonne+DJ Jess+Dave’s sister. Great night. Tilmann was on the babe again, as per. He managed to get a girl’s number at a traffic light whilst we were on the way to the club. Typical Techno Tilmann. David had a great leaving party. David is someone I will definitely stay in touch with.
On Friday we headed to P1 which is the most exclusive club in Munich. Back when club meant an actual club and not “place where any old person can get in”. It was founded in 1949 to serve as a club for the American officers stationed here in West Germany. The troops found it difficult to pronounce the clubs address: Prinzregentenstraße 1, so they started referring to it as P-One. On the evening Max and I rolling up with Irina and Susanne, after a couple of rounds of drinks in Schumann’s, Odeonsplatz and greeted the promoter who is a mate of ours. No messing about, we sauntered straight in paying no entry fee and leaving a load of what I refer to as “VIPlebs” in the queue. Awaiting us inside was the gorgeous Amélie and lovely Vanessa who were partying in the VIP section. They are not at all VIPlebs. They are more like Bond girls. Baywatch style they ran over to us as soon as they saw us and we were all ecstatic to see each other hugging kissing and generally jumping around. We celebrated life by drinking and dancing all night long using our cards to fend off nagging bartenders because, quite frankly, being young was somehow reason enough. How lucky I am to have made such great friends over my time here. Every time I say goodbye to one friend, there’s always another one waiting for me round the corner.
On the Saturday after Lerchenauer See with my good friend Andreas. Munich has lakes which you are allowed to swim in just a few kilometres from the ring road. It was so refreshing to dive into the water. Later in the afternoon I met Chris at the stormy Seehaus a Biergarten which is our equivalent of the Winchester in Sean of the Dead: the Mecca of Munich. After this I cycled through the thunder and lightning and arrived soaking wet at another colleague also called Chris was having a house party.
Sunday introduced Chris to the magic of Made in Chelsea, the banker and we had general youtube session where he introduced me to the first viral video of all time: Star Wars kid.
Monday the 5th was time for lunch with Amélie, Vanessa and Techno Tilmann in the FIZ. A civilised affair, apart from Tilmann’s outrageous attempts at trying to make conversation. We’re like naughty and nice, sugar and spice.
Tuesday Chilled out boys night with Tilmann.
Wednesday was Stammtisch with all my favourite BMW interns at Café Blücher.
Thursday a proper early night. Finally. At last.
On Friday the 9th I somehow found myself in a cocktail bar with five girls of five different nationalities. Don’t ask me how. I certainly wasn’t asking any questions. Amélie, Vanessa, Frankie and Sophie as well as Annabelle. We ordered jumbos. Then to Ruby where Max and Sascha were awaiting us both absolutely battered and sitting like “the Babo” with their drinks.
Saturday Tilmann’s big weekend started at the BMW Museum with Kai and Nico. What I thought would already be a good weekend became even better as I was surprised by my good friend Simon Falk – an essential cast member in the play that has been Year Abroad. We organised for ice cold beers to be delivered to the BMW Welt from my dear Kurdish friends at the Getränkemarkt which they brought within minutes. We relaxed in the sun playing frisbee and having a picnic with the whole gang. Tiffany with the help of Craig had managed to organise a great meet up and Lauren was also in Munich at the time.
Sunday Eisbach with Tilmann, Nico, Kai and joined by Si, Tiff and Lauren as well as Julie and Miren later on. A brief Seehaus session with Chris was in order complete with Post-Ibiza debriefing.
Monday brief beer with the Verbindung. For those of yo who don’t know a Verbindung is a secret German fraternity. Good lads overall with a few small exceptions. Some great characters and budding workers.
Tuesday Auntie Sue arrived for a city break in my city.
Wednesday ate with Auntie Sue. must be BMW Stammtisch day. It was a fairly average event and I was considering heading home for an early night when my mate Auri rang and somehow managed to persuade me to go to Jack Rabbit with him and a couple of girls. The night is a hard one. Partly because of the clientele being a mixture of drug-dealers, body builders and and the sketchy location. This was not #madeinmunich.
Even though according to ThoughtCatalog, “Catholicism is an S&M cult masquerading as a religion” they do understand the importance of holidays when Mary is going up down like a holy yo-yo suspiciously often in summer. Thanks to Mary, Thursday was a Feiertag. A visit to Dachau was planned with Auntie Sue. Two days after Angela Merkel became the first Chancellor to visit the camp. There’s obviously a lot to take in when visiting a former concentration camp – it’s just so difficult to come to terms with. Particularly disturbing for me were the circulation of the Völkischer Beobachter – the Nazi newspaper. In very simplistic terms; a lot of people must have known roughly what was going on yet few people attempted to do anything about it. Dachau was the first camp of its kind and was to be the template upon which all future camps were to be built. The first prisoners were political enemies of the state; the chairs of various communist or socialist organisations, brave journalists etc. Also incarcerated were genuine criminals, the disabled and then once the propaganda wheel was rolling, Sinti, Roma and Jews were also rounded up as well as homosexuals and others who would have at the time been termed as “undesirables”. It was hell on Earth. The torture and punishment of the prisoners was simply daily routine.
The prisoners would have arrived on trains and then been marched to the camp, stripped of their worldly possessions and photographed like criminals.
Emotional and desperate letters from the prisoners’ loved ones who had escaped to America were futile and rejected on the grounds that their release would endanger the reputation of the Third Reich. Some of these letters can be read in the main building. Of course, particularly striking was to see the iconic wrought iron gates with the cruel twisted words: “Arbeit Macht Frei”.
The 63rd Infantry Division liberated the camp in 1945 and there is a beautiful film in the Dachau Cinema of those first moments when the American liberators clothe and feed prisoners and tend to the injured restoring their humanity. The smiling children in their striped pyjamas throwing their hats into the air, knowing somehow that they were free. Many of these children still live – they just look a bit older now. Another horror is that this atrocity (Dachau representing all concentration camps and death camps throughout Europe) happened in my grandparents’ generation. That means, the perpetrators of these crimes were the grandparents of many of my German friends. Two (sometimes three) generations on they of course feel disconnected and even if they know the history of their family they are quick to say: “Yes, Opa may have been in the SS, but he wasn’t a proper Nazi”. It is difficult to imagine being related to a Nazi. But they were no more monsters than the prisoners were undesirables. The hopeless thing is they were all just people like me and you. This dark corner of history is important to remember in the hope that nothing like that could ever happen again. People are capable of anything – and that can be a good thing as well as a very very bad thing. 68 years on from the end of the Holocaust, let’s hope America can go back to being a positive role model after their recent governmental misbehaviour regarding PRISM.
In the evening, Auntie Sue and I said our goodbyes and I am pleased to report she made it safely back to London. I showed the Seehaus to Jenny & Ricardo with colleagues Chris & Mat. It was nice to relax after a psychologically demanding day.
Friday: pool session and TUM Dachterasse with Chris & Kenny. Followed by Lardy’s & Shamrock.
Saturday: We headed to the pool with Anita and also met up with Laura + sister. Seehaus with Chris, Nicole & Anita. Followed by Schumann’s & Call Me Drella where I bumped into Promoter David again.
Sunday: Chilling out in the AWA listening to Babo and a hilarious rap analysis about his song Haftbefehl. In the evening we did the Lerchenauer Biathlon with Kai, Matthias, et al which involves running to a lake, swimming across the lake, swimming back across the lake and running back home before showering once we realised we stank of fish.
Monday: Madness ensued as Tilmann returned for one night and one night only. Stefan had his Abschiedsfeier which was shut down by the police.
Tuesday was a relaxing evening with ConnectedKai.
Wednesday I had a great lunch with Amélie and in the evening was Stammtisch @ Schall & Rauch.
Thursday was P1 again with Chris. The madness continues.
Friday 23rd of August – today will be the Seehaus with people.
As you can see – it’s been pretty hectic…
Don’t stop the Munich!
This is what I’ve been up to: Firmenlauf, Kastenlauf, Ruby, Seehaus, Pacha, Ungererbad, Seehaus, Chinesischer Turm. There are some great photos and a couple of anecdotes in the post, by way of a reward to the loyal followers of this blog.
So my last post was on the 12th of July on a gorgeous afternoon in Munich. Shortly after publishing the post, I was off out on my adventures again. Friday evening got off to a fine start. After a busy and satisfying week of work, driving the European economy and pushing profits for the most reputable company in the world, we had a bite to eat and began our brainstorming by rolling around Munich in my very good friend Max’s BMW 3 Series Touring. It was a cool and breezy evening in Munich and we were pondering what to do with ourselves. As usual, the world was our oyster. We got back from our little drive and had a few civilized drinks at the Wohnheim. And if you believed that you’ll believe anything.
When I’m pondering what to do in Munich, a good idea is to see what Niklas is up to. Fate was such that Niklas was also pondering what to do after a few Maß in the Augustinerkeller he gave Doctor Marcus a call. My instincts came to me and it turned out to be a night of wonder at Christophe’s recommended club of choice in the Bavarian capital. I prescribed a night out a Ruby’s at Stachus which is a guaranteed night of relaxed hip-hop counterbalanced by slightly overly aggressive bouncers of indeterminably Mediterranean origins. I was thrown out for being asleep, which doesn’t really make sense when you think about it. I mean, once he’d woken me up I expressed my gratitude to the bouncer and proceeded to stand up and continue to dance and drink. This was however, never going to happen, as apparently slipping out of consciousness is a crime against clubbing and I was bundled out of the club faster than an Albanian at a border crossing.
The night was declared a success, posthumously. After a fairly heavy night out, probably the last thing that’s a good idea to do is a beer marathon. Although on the other hand, since it’s not a proper marathon, proper training isn’t necessary valid. The photos of “Kastenlauf” show the beginning and end.
Tiffany is in Munich and I made her partake in this traditional Bavarian beer Marathon. We even managed to get in some great Guerrilla Marketing for the blog. This event sums up my year abroad. Beer and running have both been regular activities. A minimal 8km doesn’t sound too bad at first – what’s all the fuss about Marcus? The fuss is having to run around the Englischer Garten carrying a crate of beer and having to complete alcohol-based challenges at five checkpoints along the route.
The heat was unbelievable and led to our swift intoxication. Those Spanish students who organised it were totally crackers.
Afterwards there may have been a few girls who I threw into the river. All in the name of good sport. They loved it really, even though they protested at first. Like when you offer them more chocolate cake.
Thursday – Firmenlauf
Disco Dave has now officially moved out of the Wohnheim and is off going travelling in August. He will be sorely missed. one of our final achievements together was B2Run. It’s a 6.2km Fun Run around the Olympic Park and is basically a massive corporate jamboree. Still though, the atmosphere was great and we were fed and watered and generally looked after. We got T-shirts AND medals!
Techno Tilmann has been doing another one of his mental downhill races (last week) here is a video of the race in which he took part involving loads of mountain bikers falling down a mountain.
Friday 26th July.
Last Saturday was Max’s birthday. We trotted down to Pacha and Max treated us to a very civilized evening. Cheers mate! It was very Made in Munich.
On the Sunday evening I enjoyed a Maß with the boss at the Chinesischer Turm. All was well, although the weather did turn a little too English for our liking at one point. The main event was a couple of quite attractive American girls who were putty in my hands as the British accent was rolled out. I took it upon myself to do a little more Guerrilla Marketing and went over to the table. Furthermore, I had the displeasure of running into a rather uncouth Australian last night. He seemed to be shouting about how he worked for Audi, which I couldn’t understand. Firstly, is that something to show off about? Secondly, was anyone impressed? As I was sporting a BMW Product Genius T-shirt (thanks Kevin) it became clear that I was about to be picked on. Sadly the Aussie didn’t have the charm to disarm and he was bowled out, just like his fellow countrymen in the Ashes. his tone was unappealing to me and in a rather ungentlemanly manner he made his biggest mistake of the evening. He interrupted me mid-chat-up. There are many things I will let slide, but interrupting the Fabian routine is an unforgivable crime.
“So youuu work for BMW, right?”
“Oi wiirk fa’ Auuudi.” – he sat back and crossed his arms, a faint breeze of satisfaction blew gently over his face. I thought I must have misheard so I raised the question to my colonial brother in arms:
“Sorry I didn’t catch that, do you mean the budget cars or the budget supermarket?”
He was a sitting duck, you could go as far as to say that I’d bowled him out for a golden duck. He was lacking in the comeback department and his mates laughed him out for six. Hey, hey – I didn’t start it. After that I let him be. He had had a lot to deal with. The Australians who I’ve had the discomfort of meeting tend to go one of two ways sadly. There’s the positive way: the guy with a tattoo of the outline of his country tattooed onto his arm and tells you where Perth is even though you already know, they’re nice but slightly dim. Then you’ve got the second path: the smart-Alec. Unfortunately for this particular specimen he was one boomerang short of a hunting trip and suffered duly under some basic wit.
In my personal life I’ve also met someone who’s completely changing the way I think about everything mainly because she’s gorgeous and talented and modest and makes me laugh. She knows who she is. If you are reading this now then I guarantee you know who you are. Yes, yes it’s you. So there you have it. Now she’s now been written about and made me look like a right Charlie. But there it is. There I said it. That’s life. Life is complicated but you just have to embrace those challenges and be thankful that you had the chance to spend some time with the right people.
I’m still loving Munich and I’m making sure I enjoy every minute I have left with my great colleagues, friends and everyone else. I’m definitely not ready to leave yet.
Oh, alright that’s your lot. Get out of here.
Just when Nath and Ludo packed their bags and headed home, I thought that my 12 month internship might have been about to drag on a bit. I was wrong. BMW is a bit like Star Trek, in that there’s always the next generation. Instead of civilised alien socities, there is a pool of intelligent and of interns that feed BMW’s creative conscience. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from this year it’s that there are always more people to get to know. And even though it might have seemed like the highlights had been and gone they are in fact stretched across this twelve month placement in Bavaria and the fun in Central Europe continues. This past weekend I was lucky enough to be a Englishman playing football for a German company in Italy. We had been invited to wage war against BMW Italia at the BMW Alpencup. From now on, “the French” will refer to BMW France, “the Swiss” will refer to BMW Switzerland etc. Being a less experienced in the realms of footie, my one goal in this tournament was to scare the French. We didn’t score any goals, but I feel I may have scared the occasional Frenchman. And if so, then I have done my job. It was a memorable trip whereby only one team member ended up in hospital in two countries. It was a different team that drove down to Milan, than the team that drove back to Munich. We bonded well. If we had called each other colleagues on the way to the tournament, we called each other friends on the way back.
Lei non mangia la carne.
On Friday, we set off from work in convoy, nestled in our shiny company cars and looking forward to the football tournament that
lay ahead of us. It was hard not to look smug and we didn’t bother trying. We made good headway down to Austria, Switzerland and eventually the Italian border and enjoyed the wondrous alpine scenery complete with soundtrack. The journey down was getting the weekend off to a positive start. You know a car is nice when you refrain from releasing a single fart inside. The BMW 3er Touring is this nice, that you hold in that fart and keep the unpolluted, light atmosphere tasting good. This could be thanks to the new BMW f-Drive Fart Control Assistant package that came with the car. It really works!
People are always going on about how “It’s not the destination that counts, it’s the journey” or words to that effect. These people haven’t driven through Milan in rush hour. Once we were past the alps, it was definitely about the destination. We were confronted by all types of poor driver and our driver, Mario (a German with a red beard, despite his name) was forced to use the horn on several occasions. Such automotive atrocities had already been anticipated and were well prepared for the situation on hand. Listening to Italian radio soothed our nerves and helped us to consolidate our knowledge of what to us seemed the most important phrase on my useful BBC Languages printout: “She doesn’t eat meat”. Leeeeeeiiii non maaaaangia la carrrrrrne!
A warm welcome.
We arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel a little later than expected, checked in and dropped our bags off before getting straight onto the bus to the NSC, BMW Italia. They welcomed us into their spectacular showroom where we were wined and dined and various rules were explained (one of which they forgot was that Italian referees may rule in favour of Italy as long as the dives were dramatic and dynamic). The Italians were impeccably behaved but one got the feeling that you were watching another episode of “The BMW Italia Show” as they showed off the fact that they won last year’s trophy. They really were vivacious and admirable and I have nothing but slightly sarcastic compliments to offer. A great team.The Italians are just so chic and characterful, you can’t help but like them. In my most humble of opinions, I found it a shame that everything had to be conducted in sterile business English – the room being filled with fantastic emotive languages with different nuances which due to various acceptable reasons, one of which being the nature of time, no-one really bothered to learn. Still though, it was unfortunate that multi-nationals presentations have to be boiled down to a bland version of broken English. Being typical Italians they had put an attractive woman in charge of their affairs. It seemed as though, when selecting a presenter for their show, they placed virtues such as attractiveness and leg to waist ratio ahead of rhetoric. Anyhow, with said attractive woman in charge of their affairs, who was a lovely person I’m sure but let’s just say she wasn’t in line to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. In plain English, listening to her, whether it be on loudspeaker or even just on a good old microphone, it was like listening to nails down a blackboard. Sharp nails. The Italians were punished for this butchering of our admittedly mongrel language on various occasions as I carelessly cut up their seamlessly romantic sentences into barbaric hunks of grammatical flesh.
The soundtrack of the team: “It’s Kevin, you know, hard to believe it’s not Scholes, it’s Kevin, you know, hard to believe it’s not Scholes”.
Catastrophe after Colazione
Saturday began with breakfast at the brutal hour of six-thirty for seven. We then headed in coaches to the pitches located not too far from the hotel, despite a few wrong directions taken by the drivers. The tournament got off to a catastrophic start with Jan breaking his entire foot (I’m not a doctor) in the first ten minutes of the tournament in the first match against Italy. He was carried off the pitch and taken to the “hospitale” without a second thought. Not only had we lost one of our best players, we had also lost a great motivator. Soon after, Kevin was also unlucky enough to be struck by a twinge and he was out. Two solid players, Jan - BMW’s answer to Schweinsteiger and Kevin who could have been the less famous third Boateng brother, were out of the game and their replacements fought hard. We never gave up and let it be said that the task of footballing was carried out with tremendous spirit throughout the day. By the time the cup was presented to us, we had already agreed to celebrate it as if we had won the real thing. The less said about matches won (0) and goals scored (0) the better. At the end of the day, all teams were glad to have us there and we contributed hugely to atmosphere.
Both teams dived, but at least the Italians did it gracefully and occasionally took the time to over-apologize. As for the frogs, “fair play” isn’t something which translates well into their language. The bottom line was that they were some of the most filthy players I have ever witnessed, twice against us alone, they cut down our players like a rusty guillotine with their poorly timed and aggressive sliding tackles from behind, acting presumably as a way of venting their frustration. Needless to say, it took little excuse for Otmar to bring on the mad Engländer to inject a bit of aggression into the game like a rabid police dog whose primary objective was to aggress them. Their winger against whom I valiantly defended at one point out of nowhere just said to me in perfect Frenglish after he had given away the ball: “You are stooopide” before making a dash for it. He was a marked man by the time I was finished with him. I was so stupefied by this that I had really no comeback, which rather annoyingly completely validated his insult. I guess he was right, I really am just a plain old stupid British barbarian.
But we celebrated as if we had triumphed under the motto: “It’s the taking part that counts” and everyone seemed glad to have us there. We gave it our best, and at then end of the day that’s all anyone can ask, even if they do ask it in Italian. Interesting to observe was the importance of the family and this strict patriarchal hierarchy in italy. A true wonder to behold. It was so easy to see who was in charge of whom. This part of Italian culture is obviously great when it works, but as we know from Arthur Miller’s A view from The Bridge, it can prove disastrous when tinkered with. Language-wise, it’s been a while since I did GCSE Italian, but I was able to talk with my hands and try to speak with my body language. After offering “complimenti” the “capitano” of the hosts, I was told to contact him if ever I was in Milan and he would sort me out. So an effective bit of networking was done.
Corso Sempione e The Old Fashion.
After some stodgy food we were on the bus and back to the hotel. There was no hanging around. Everyone had 15 minutes to don chinos and a shirt. Then we took the train straight into the city. Once there we wandered through the city centre given the official tour from the brilliant man Frederik, il capitano nosso. The way we swaggered through the city centre, any onlooker would have thought we were a middle of the table Bundesliga team. In truth we were a bottom of the table BMW team but we didn’t care: it was an 80s AND 90s night at The Old Fashion. So we finished up our pizza under Napoleon’s overcompensating arch and saw off our cocktails before casually trotting off to the next event.
As a general rule, groups of lads don’t get into clubs, but most groups of lads didn’t have Frederik leading them. The evening concluded at The Old Fashion where our capitano, Frederik managed to charm, persuade, bribe our way into a VIP lounge in the middle of the dancefloor in this open air club. Shot girls, vodka, gin, sparklers neon paint, dancing on the stage. After hours of partying with Max and the rest of the lads we managed to make our way home in various taxis via a paninni stand.
On the Sunday everyone woke up at different times, some made breakfast and some didn’t. I did, before you get any thoughts. After a short debrief we were ready to hit the pizzeria for our last tast of Italy before the drive home. Once tucking into our pizzas (Soviet Serguei ate his inside out like an absolute Spast, I must say)
Serguei… Bist du ein Spast?
The road trip with Alex, Mario and Andreas on the way back provided me with a chance to tell them about my time in Germany so far. My German is of a really good standard now – you know you’ve made it in a language when you can tell a story which makes people laugh. I had the Germans on the floor. Very satisfying indeed. I will be a spy to be reckoned with if it comes to another war, don’t worry Grandparents.
When it comes to footballing prowess, the Bavarians know their stuff. A millions thanks go to Otmar for sticking with us and being the sort of coach you would trust with your life. This post is dedicated to Jan the Man, the injured striker from Bielefeld. Having visited him in hospital, he’s seems to be doing fine, apart from his leg is yellow, it’s as if all the Simpsons cartoons he’s been watching have just spilled out from the TV and all over his lover half. He is recovering slowly but steadily now back at home.
To be in the company of my team was all my pleasure, some of the stories they told were more captivating than Guantanamo Bay. I hope we all stay in touch.
Until next time guys.
As I ponder whom to grant the rights to the film which will tell the story of my Year Abroad, here is the 41st entry from my online diary. It’s much like that of Samuel Pepys, but with more reporting on beer and babes and less whinging on about fire and plagues.
The long weekend played host to the second trip to the Czech Republic, I’m referring to my second visit since the voyage last year in which I spent a similar four day trip with Leeds Legends: Adam, Angus, Alex, Miles and Vinnie (a Glasgow Legend), to mention but a few. My outlook was positive but last year’s perfect weather, enchanting company, comfort and central situation of our accommodation, outrageous puns on the word Czech, nosebleeds, having our ears twisted by bouncers, not to mention the sheer novelty would prove hard to top. Although I find it difficult to compare the two, what the two trips did have in common (as do many of my ventures now I come to think of it) they shared the universal goal; immersion in the culture of the place. This included the synagogues, bridges and castles as well as getting to sample the fine delicacies of Central Europe, the most famous of which must be the sharp and refreshing local beer. In this case, we were looking to satiate our greedy thirst for that fine nectar: Czech Pilsner.
On Thursday we made the most of our bank holiday and trotted off to Prague. Techno Tilmann and I met Georges “of the Jungle”, Pol-Jean (who I would be about to refer to as Sean-Paul for the following 100 hours) Party Pierre and Julie la Jolie at Munich Hauptbahnhof. It’s safe to say we were all fed up of the atrocious weather in Munich, not that it would be any better elsewhere but at least it would be different. Needless to say, it rained cats and dogs all weekend. Jokes about English weather being even worse were funny the first hundred times and then after that 100 mark they started to lose that je ne sais quoi. Despite my persistence, no-one paid attention to my cries as I tried to explain that it was actually BBQ & Pimms weather across the channel. In the English way, I would on no account let weather put a dampener on things.
On the Friday afternoon after a controversial scaling of the castle walls and being given a light scolding by Czech military police, we trotted off to the Charles Bridge where I leaned against the bridge à la Spencer with raised eyebrows and pouted lips. This was our chance to enjoy the two or so hours of sunshine that we would see all weekend. As I looked over the city I felt nostalgic and remembered commandeering pedalos and racing each other, Angus whacking out the cigars, sitting on the island etc. At that moment, out of nowhere appeared a good friend of ours: Disco Dave had arrived! He had stopped off during his little tour of Germany stopping over at his parents, then to Heidelberg, to Bonn and to Halle before taking his final Mitfahrgelegenheit to the former Czechoslovakia. When he joined, the three of us were an unstoppable force who many people tried unsuccessfully to reckon with. The evening came and we ventured out on the town to indulge in Prague’s stag-do/hen night culture that attracts hordes of tattooed Italian men and shameless numbers of Brits.
The highlight of Saturday has to be waking up, one beer turning into seven and having one of the best conversations of my life with these two men: Disco Dave and Techno Tilmann, each distinguished in their own right. All three of us are from three completely different worlds, yet have bonded so closely in the time we’ve spent together as Lords of the Frankfurter Ring in Mordorstraße. I can’t and won’t divulge the contents of the discussion but it was dynamic, intimate and showed just what great friends I’ve made during this academic year – I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Unfortunately, we only made it 500m away from the apartment and once sozzled, we lured into a fantastic Italian restaurant where we gorged on pizzas the size of small tables.
“No women, just music”
My Czech vocab remained basic without the trusty notes in Kittler’s wallet, he took a slightly Dizzier more Rascalous attitude to the language when he taught us how to ask someone to dance: “Tanchich?” My confidence in the Czech language has now soared and I am please to announce I can now toast to people’s health: “Nasravi!” and I through this, I rather unsurprisingly got to know the word, for beer which is “Pivo“.
On the Sunday we packed onto the train back to Munich, fairly shattered and looking forward to a proper shower, not a cold Eastern European one. As luck would have it, the poor quality of the train would mean that we got what we wished for. We were experiencing the Czech railway at its finest, a free shower as the roof collapsed and we were being rained on. Luckily I’m a man of action and set about fixing the problem on hand. Like TinTin, I reached out for Pol-Jean’s umbrella and with a bit of percussive maintenance, I was able to prop the brolli between two suitcases and we were sheltered. What we then realised was that all we had done was offload the problem onto our fellow passengers. Thankfully, the roof decided to man up and we were comfortable-ish for the rest of the journey apart from the occasional dribble, it was nothing compared to the initial splash and it didn’t phase us. Our experience was in fact a drop in the ocean compared to those who live in flood-stricken areas in Germany and the Czech Republic. The newspapers reported it to be the worst flood for a hundred years.
Sometimes in life, you are really glad to see an old face. That’s why I was really happy to see my old mate Hugo, I should use his proper name: Hugo from the Yacht Club. Hugo is underway on some sort of Euro-trip and because he’s Hugo he managed to weasel up to a charming girl called Helen who he met doing a ski season at “Anton”. Helen strikes me as the sort of girl who knows how to network and they have been able to visit a great deal of interesting people so far. I managed to introduce him to loads of people as we went to watch The Great Gatsby with Charleen, Nelli, Jenny and Ricardo. We then popped into Die Bank for drinks with Nath. An emotional goodbye was exchanged as it was our last night out together in Munich, although the real wet kisses will come on Monday as he jets back to the UK and prepares for his trip to South America. It won’t be the same without him. We’ve had a great 10 months together.
My website of the week is www.viveras.com - all Erasmus students should take a look at it.
It’s the weekend again and the weather has improved drastically. Vitamin D, swimming trunks, jogging, beer with David and a couple of Maß with Chris at the Seehaus were all called for. I’m currently playing Nelly’s “Hey Porsche” on full blast in the BMW apartment block which is the automotive equivalent of reciting Thine Be the Glory whilst on tour in Mecca. But hey, even if my choice in music is poor, nothing will stop me enjoying the summer which has finally arrived. Munich still has lots to offer.
If you made it this far…congratulations. Maybe it’s time to go and do something productive for a change?
This weekend I wasn’t the only one partying in Munich, everyone in Munich was out and about, even though technically “they weren’t invited to my party”. This is because Munich was hosting its own party: the Champions League Final party. Friday was spent mentally preparing for the day ahead. Many of my friends and colleagues had their doubts and to be fair it was looking a bit grim in Bavaria’s capital, the forecast was overcast with a chance of rain. We’re now in the end of May and we’ve had grey skies and damp air which has been chipping away at our spirit. The weather has clearly had an adverse effect on people’s mental well-being and thus the final financial forecast was overdrawn with a chance of pain. The plan had been to meet at the Augustinerkeller Biergarten for 11am and then to remain there the entire day drinking in the sunshine. Instead it rained (as expected) and the change of plan came from Justin who suggested it might be a good shout to watch the match at Paulaner am Nockerberg. As I arrived, I was on the phone and spotted Nath sitting with…wait….Simon?!
You know who your mates are when they travel from another city to stay with another friend so that they can surprise you on your birthday. Simon Falk, the image, the man, the brand, our very own resident Leodis Democrat. It was a fantastic start to the day, I had just spoken to my parents about how Si wouldn’t be able to make it due to last minute plans to go to Valencia.
My surprise for Simon was that there was no real back-up plan and that yes, despite crippling doubts of the Germans who were trying to rain it off, I enforced a standard Fabian Family policy of refusing to let weather impact on activities (within reason). We ended up sitting in the Biergarten on a wet bench on a Saturday morning. Even though all reasonable sources were pointing to the horrific weather, I was stubborn/determined enough that if I didn’t think about the rain, it wouldn’t be able to dampen our spirits. I was sort of wrong, in the sense that we became wet, but sort of right, in the sense that we got on with it anyway. Of course the weather was fantastic in the UK, just as this time of year always has been and will always be on the 25th of May…
Despite the match itself being held at Wembley in my home town of London, all hell broke loose in Munich as footballing titans FC Bayern Munich clashed with giants Borussia Dortmund, making them both seem normal sized. This was the first time two German teams had battled it to the final and history was about to be made for one lucky team. Both my be “German teams” but they even make colossal Derbys like United vs. City look like a gentle stroll in the park. This might be due to the deeply rooted religious and cultural significances attached to each team. It’s as if the Holy Roman Empire is taking on the Kingdom of Prussia. It’s personal. Of course the Germans are silly about things like crossing the road, protecting themselves from the elements and having zero speed restrictions on large sections of the motorway. Although I can’t speak for Borussia, in Bavaria three things are taken very seriously. These include Catholicism, beer and the most serious of all; the English disease: football.
It was great to be able to spend the day with so many good friends: Nath and Si of course were the founding fathers of the party. Tilmann & Tiana took their time but were there when it counted, the charming David & Larissa came on down, Susanna was being her usual lovely self Jenny, Charleen & Nelli got the chocolates in and a mini-candle cake, Maciek brought his Polish spirits as usual, this time he smuggled my present in from Poland: a bottle of 37,5% Hazelnut vodka. Ludo even amde it down to the game despite his parents being in town.
The Game itself
“Naturally the superior team soared to victory; history wouldn’t have allowed anything else to happen.
A couple of innocent enough looking Dortmund fans were wondering around and I did slightly feel for them as the Bayern fans singled them out and ridiculed them as sons of bitches “Ally ally ally ally oiiii, BVB, Hürensöhne” and repeated times ten. They’re not known for their sporting nature the FCB fans,, although I can’t imagine the chants being any better for the Bayern fans at public viewings in Dortmund.
From then on it was game over for me, even though it was only half time for Bayern.
Shortly afterwards, Bayern fans tried to kill me by throwing cigarettes and broken glass Rochtung Engländer
Susanna and the lads got a card in for me as well as a Viking hat to wear.
Marcus’ typical singing antics:
“We love you Weasley, we do” he did look a lot like our good friend Ronald. Meanwhile, later on Leopoldstraße I decided to recite Hot ‘n’ Juicy’s 1998 hit “Horny ’98″ as I paraded around in my single-horned Viking hat, to the bemusement of many passers-by and to the amusement of onlookers.
falling asleep for the first half of the
“How high do you want to goal, how high do you want the goal how high do you want the goal how high do you want the goal.”
The Bayern fans mistook this jest for an England chant and we already tense given it was 1-1. I was greeted with a barrage of cigarettes and eventually even bits of broken glass, but nothing could stop me I was truly indestructible on the day.
Techno Tilmann notified me on Sunday that I retorted to the medieval mass of Münchners that “I was for Munich but now I’m for Dortmund” at the 1-1 stage which in Hindsight is exactly what my mother had feared would happen. I’ll blame Maciek’s Marvellous Medicine on my rowdiness. Measured in terms of Jones, I rocketed from Bridget to Indiana levels after half a bottle of the nutty vodka.
On Sunday as the weekend drew to a close, Nath and I revisited our favourite Mexican bar/restaurant near Hauptbahnhof attempted a severely hungover swim and saw Simon off. Overall a great weekend was had despite the weather trying to put a downer on the proceedings.
Adam’s adventures continue as he leaves his Burg and ventures to meet Natalie in the Far-East. From Made in Munich, we wish him the best of luck on his voyage and may there by much sun, few nuts and zero tsunamis. Basically realised that everyone I know is going to be in Thailand in June, including the triple A’s. Alfie, Adi and Angus will all gracing “the Dulwich of Asia” (South-East Asia) s going to Thailand that I don’t know about?
Also many thanks to friends and family who sent gifts and cards to Milbersthofen-Am-Hart, it was much appreciated!