Arsenal Expects.


#madeinmunich

#madeinmunich

Arsenal 2 – 0 Bayern (agg 3-3)*

Arsenal expected every player will do his duty. Just like Admiral Lord Nelson coughing out his last breaths after being brought down by a firearm, the Gunners kept their promise until the dying minutes.

Wednesday 13th March 2013

Here is a brief run-down of Wednesday’s events, a match report and of course a lash report. Also included are photos and a brief summary from Bavarian Ben. On the Wednesday, Sam flew down from Hamburg in the morning and by the afternoon he was in the office. He met my boss and a colleague and we got the expensive coffees in, which I pretended was completely standard even though it’s only my second nice coffee. Said colleague, namely Jan, had a car spare and offered to take Sam for a spin in the BMW 3 Series Touring Sport Line Edition, kitted out with all M accessories. We got up to 240kmph on the Autobahn Richtung Freising, impressed to see that it accelerated smoothly up to 80kmph. We were able to enjoy that Sheer Driving Pleasure that comes only from driving a BMW and show Sam  a bit about the features that our cars have. It’s only two litres though so it does struggle to accelerate upwards from 130kmph. My boss gave me the nod and I was allowed to leave work early. Then the magic key began to glow…

At the Hofbräuhaus our livers were about to take a battering and little did we know FC Bayern would also be subjected to a football-shaped battering of their own. What the Arsenal support may have lacked in manners, they more than made up for in queuing performance. It’s true, we Brits know how to queue and in London we have our most seasoned queuers and queueees.

Despite being a massive Palace fan, I was happy to associate with the boys from North London. All it took was to pull Sam’s scarf over my shoulders and like that I had pulled the wool over their eyes. It was great to fulfil the Germans view of us as being 80% hooligans. If you’ve been keeping fairly up to date with the blog, then you might have noticed a pattern that fulfilling stereotypes seems to be becoming a somewhat worryingly regular occurrence in my life now.

Inside.

My favourite quote of the night came from an unsightly ruffian stood behind me who, not afraid to voice his frustration, spontaneously declared:

Fa two years he’s dan nuffin. Naaffin! Give it ta Gervinho“.~ Anonymous yet charismatic Arsenal Fan.

If there was any logic connecting these two concepts, then I was blissfully unaware of any and began to do what all well-to-do South Londoners know how to do: blend in with the Great Unwashed. I turned round and nodded vigorously at the man, desperately trying to give us some common ground in the hope that he would think I was saying “I was just thinking that myself” and subsequently wouldn’t growl at me. However, it was as if the poor man’s shouts fell on deaf ears as he struggled to make himself understood. Wenger didn’t bat an eyelid and play continued.

There was a mutual respect between the fans of the two teams after the game, in line with UEFA’s campaign. But I guess Bayern were just so shocked to be beaten at home. And rightly so. It was unanimously appreciated that Arsenal had earned their consolation win, yet real celebration couldn’t be justified as on paper they had technically been knocked out another team brought low by the bloody away goal. Although I think more factors need to be taken into account. Any goals that Brits score away should take into account a) how much stronger our currency is than theirs and b) how much atmosphere a team creates. Still, at least they managed to wipe off any smug grins off precious Bavarian faces.

I spent my lunch break with Jan and his mate Eddy. Eddy happened to have got hold of a BMW 7 Series which is a great car because the seats have a back massage mode. This year I’ve become akin to some sort of Saudi Prince you is shocked when his translator informs him that some people drive cars without being simultaneously massaged by a robot. We have some new cars at work soon after my test in April so we shall see, in the meantime I still need to pass my theory test next week before I even have a shot at the practical part. Wish me luck!

After the match.

Yesterday morning, I was getting funny looks in the office and I was told I had a suspiciously happy air about me, for a Thursday morning. Have I mentioned the Germans are poignantly observant? I had what I can only describe as that “je ne sais quoi”  that one can only acquire when one’s team has been victorious the day before. To watch Arsenal soar to victory was really the stuff of dreams and we couldn’t have hoped for any better for the boys from North London. Obviously, it would have been ideal for them to slot another goal and progress to the quarter final, but it wasn’t meant to be.

I’m not sure who I hate more, Bayern or United. Bavarian Ben of course supports both teams which makes him a crime to football. In response to my inquiry about the outcome he writes with bias, understatement and condescension about  how Bayern didn’t deliver the best performance and that he was disappointed with the result. He went on to express how I should be glad that I saw the most beautiful stadium in the world, and at least I got to see a game. He concludes with slightly barbed wishes hoping that I enjoy the rest of my time in Germany.

“Servus, naja also gestern hat Bayern nicht gerade die beste Leistung abgeliefert. Ich war eher enttäuscht. Na dann hast du wenigstens mal das schönste Stadion der Welt von sehen können und auch ein Spiel erleben dürfen Mir geht es gut danke. Hoffe bei dir ist auch alles bestens und du geniesst noch deine Zeit hier in Deutschland” ~Bayerischer Ben

Arsenal are fantastic away supporters, they never gave up. Da Boiz, vey dun us praad, san. I wish Sam and Natalie a great trip to Barcelona and look forward now to Simon’s 21st at the Frühlingsfest in Stuttgart. Time to sleep, Berlin calls!

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Starkbierfest and the Autobahn.


#madeinmunich

#madeinmunich

Starkbierfest is what it says on the Stein.

I don’t want to start off by saying it was better than Oktoberfest, but it was certainly a contender for second-best beer festival. Remi and I planned to go to the Fest as our last big night together in Munich and all was set for the big day when we began to queue outside Paulaner am Nockherberg in the afternoon. Admittedly there were aspects of it that were better than the frankly overcrowded Wies’n. Firstly, I would just like to say a massive thank you to all the absolute babes that turned up. I have honestly never seen more beautiful women in one place. And that’s coming from someone who’s been to Tequila on a Thursday. But as opposed to Tequila’s remarkably low marriage rates, 80% these gorgeous Bavarian princesses were fit to marry, seeming to walk straight out of a fairytale. But it wouldn’t be a fairytale without a few trolls and a couple of ugly sisters to make up the last fifth.

With the exception of the first day, beer can be ordered from 9am onwards at the Oktoberfest. At the Starkbierfest, however, doors don’t even open until the early afternoon. Most beer at Oktoberfest was around the 5% mark, whereas the “Strong-beer-festival” beer is not really beer, it’s almost a wine, with its alcohol concentration hovering dangerously around the 11% mark, this is because it traditionally is the cooked remains of the Oktoberfestbier. Do the maths. If people started drinking this through the morning, they would be more than twice as drunk as at Oktoberfest, for twice as long. That’s fairly annihilated indeed. Thank God then that doors opened at two in the afternoon. Presumably there is some sort of correlation between how many world wars your country has started and what time you let people start drinking. Now I don’t claim to be Bavaria’s answer to Nostradamus, but I’m guessing that shortly after World War III people will get let in perhaps at 1500hrs. And rightly so.

Bavarian Speaking Cash machine.

The day was great, much singing and drinking and cheering etc. The highlight of which was when I took advantage of a quiet crowd to coerce them into singing “Country Roads by John Denver” managing to get enough people to sing along with me such that the and changed their schedule and decided to join in. Having realised our wallets were empty, we embarked on a mission to get cash. There was only one cash machine and of course charged an extortionate rate, but at least it had a language option of Bavarian German (Boarisch) which made me and David (another colleague) chuckle for probably a bit too long. Shortly after this, David and I agreed that heaven would be some form of Bavarian Beer festival. Think about it, what more could you possibly need? Friendly and approachable people to talk to, gorgeous women dancing around in a tasteful fashion. All the beer you could drink in a lifetime. It would  never get boring. It couldn’t. It wouldn’t even be possible. Having sank four Steins, it was pushing eleven o’clock. And with that in mind, Julia (a rather attractive au pair from New York) and I headed to Jan’s house party which was taking place at Theresienwiese, exactly where Oktoberfest takes place. Myself dressed in Lederhosen and my accomplice dressed in a full dirndl, we looked like we had fallen out of a faulty time-machine, arriving at Oktoberfest at the dead of night but at least we were within six months. Not bad time-travelling. After a few drinks with Jan and co it was home time.

The rest of the weekend was spent recovering from Friday and Saturday nights and preparing for the week ahead.

On the evening of Monday the 11th March I had my first driving lesson on the Autobahn. After a nice spell on the country roads (Landstraße), we drove to the airport and onto the Autobahn back to Munich. This system contrasts with the English driving schools where I believe you aren’t permitted to drive on the motorway with a learner plate, however in Germany this is not only encouraged but it is an obligatory part of learning to drive. No speed limits, rapid overtaking and unmarked police cars equipped with cameras are all part of the fun. You just have to strap in a get ready for the ride. I settled into Richgeschwindigkeit of 130kmph pretty comfortably and I took the BMW One Series up to 160kmh which was a great feeling. Forget fifth gear, I though to myself as I shot straight from fourth into sixth. The lesson went well and I only made a couple of mistakes, mainly entering built up areas at twice the speed allowed. Note to self: decelerate to 50kmph before the yellow signs appear. Some of the signposts were hidden by trees though, in my defence. I do need to make sure I don’t get carried away going from 50-60 kmph even though the difference really is minute.

Unfortunately, we have had to say goodbye to some friends of ours. Philip is going off to start his masters, but also bravely starting a three week trip to Coventry to visit his girlfriend. Lisa is leaving us to go and study in Australia and Rémi is off to join Euan in Wolfsburg at the Automotive Giant that is Volkswagen.

In other news, Sam is preparing for his trip to Munich tomorrow and we are both going to watch the last British team in the Champions League as Arsenal come to the Allianz Arena in a clash against the dominant Bayern Munich. On Friday, the Berlin trip begins along with Barney’s Birthday Bonanza.

Heaven and Helles.


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#madeinmunich

This weekend the gorgeous girls organised a fantastic two day trip to a sleepy Austrian village, with the help of Niklas. It was absolutely brilliant and a well-deserved weekend of R&R. We rented a chalet and managed to get a good deal because it was out of the ski-season. A celebration was called for as last week because Niklas “Finnished” his internship ahead of starting his final year at LMU. We knew whatever happened it was going to be a good weekend. And it certainly did not disappoint.

Hopping down to Hopfgarten.

Straight after work we met outside the office and divided into two groups. We took a load of essential supplies as well as warm winter clothes. Amongst the mandatory items were food, alcohol, biscuits and alcohol…to name but a few (not to mention some good quality Bavarian beer). Like a good British tourist, I was overdressed from the start and stood grinning at everyone in my clumpy snowboots. “Marcus vy are your vearing your Schnee-boots? Are you making a trip to zee Äntarctic, or samsing?”  I wasn’t too worried about enduring a bit of ridiculing, because I secretly knew that I’d be the one laughing in the end!

Ready for the weekend!

So we ventured off in Prince Charming’s Ford Fiesta and Inglorious Ingo’s Škoda Fabia to Hopfgarten im Brixental, a snoozy little alpine village not far from Kitzbühel. Looking out of the window, I began to understand the raw beauty of the Bavarian landscape, the evergreen pine trees and foothills of the mountains. After less than an hour on the Autobahn (Richtung Salzburg)  we were away and enjoyed a cheeky bit of racing and overtaking before quickly making our exit. After a pleasant stretch on the motorway we were soon accelerating up winding roads singing along to Robbie Villiams – Angels at full volume.

Chateau or Chalet?

After a remarkably short journey we were suddenly there. The chalet did not disappoint and we unpacked immediately. The plan was to find a restaurant in the village below. At first this proved tricky, but because Niklas’ family have a flat in one of the neighbouring villages, he was able to orientate himself and we eventually found a rather swanky restaurant called “zeitlos”. Having had more than enough beer for a lifetime in the past couple of months, I decided to become a sophisitaced red wine drinker. The meal was equisite and although paying seperately turned out to be a complete nightmare, the ambience and good conversation and great company more than made up for it.

All the interns: Thomas, Sisom, Niklas, Jean-Remy, Selina, myself, Ingo, Juliette, Lena and Anne-Charlotte.

After a leisurely pudding we went back to the chalet or Ferienwohnung (holiday house) for a few more drinks and  we drank the night away. We played Ludo. Twice. And me and Juliette lost both times, despite rolling a fair amount of sixes. Shortly after the second time of playing JR was so bored that he actually went to bed – who could blame him, to be fair.

The following morning I woke up last out of everyone and was still in the shower when everyone was ready. Thinking that no-one would have noticed my absence, I carried on singing and scrubbing away, much like I would with the Fabian Family in the Isle of Wight.  I opened the kitchen door and I saw all these civilised Europeans. I was like…what? They were all poised holding various cutting implements and I began to think that they had lured me to Austria because of my juicy thighs and that they in fact intended to eat me. (Who could blame them I would fetch a fair few steaks). But that wasn’t the point. No, instead they were waiting for me. Waiting for me. So I sat down and pretended that this was a normal experience for me and we began to eat.  The massive European breakfast was delicious, of course. Then it came to plan the rest of the day. Since the sky was just giving us an outline of the mountains due to the heavy fog and sleet, we decided to remain inside for the day. But at the same time we didn’t want to spend the entire day in the chalet itself. Niklas then suggested that instead of hiking (which the Brit and the Finn were up for) we should instead go swimming! The French and Germans couldn’t handle the poor weather, as a Brit I tried to explain that if we decided not to do anything when the weather was bad then we would never get anything done. This unfortunately fell on deaf ears.

Instead we spent the day in this luxurious Thermalbad which was sort of like a leisure centre similar to Latchmere (which has a wave machine by the way) but also had a salt bath where you could lie back and float, whilst listening to gentle music played from an underwater speaker system. Then I noticed the slides…Everyone was being really mature and pretending they didn’t want to go “rutschen“. As I was deciding whether or not it would be weird to go by myself, it occurred to me that Jean-Remy would be up for it! Being almost as immature as me he practically jumped at the opportunity to get some serious sliding in. After a little more relaxing in the various indoor and outdoor pools, there’s only so many times you can be excited by the concept of bubbles going on and off, sos we decided to retreat back into our log cabin. At this moment I began to notice the sheer cliff face and the trees as the fog cleared. What I saw was simple yet amazing. I could see the mountain freezing from the top down as a white mist engulfed its tip. Such a simple sight was very beautiful to witness.

We arrived back to the house and it was early evening so we decided to get the drinks in (obviously). And then it started snowing. This evening was to be effectively like the video of Wham! – Last Christmas. The girls had managed to procure two Raclette sets (yes “racleeeeeeeeeette” – joke for Granny) and we tucked into yet another feast. Having got battered inside on the Swedish equivalent of Bailey’s we were all ready for the snowball fight that then ensued. Yes, that’s right, unable to contain ourselves, the excitement had just got too much and we ventured out into fairly deep snow at two in the morning.

On Sunday we woke up maybe a bit later than usual. We woke up to the most amazing snowfall you could possibly imagine. Literally a blanket of whiteness engulfed the mountain. it had now been snowing for around 15 hours. The snow just made everyone feel great and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than a bit of free white powder?

Sisom and Lena on the balcony.

Another view from the 318 balcony.

We are all missing Niklas at work now and it’s definitely not the same without him. We struggle on though and look forward to meeting up with him soon. Here are a few more photos of us lot from the weekend.

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So today is the 31st of October…and what does that mean? Hallowe’en! But what I find brilliant about Bavaria is that they will be introducing a Tanzverbot (literally a dancing ban) from midnight tonight onwards, meaning that bars and clubs will have to shut early. You can imagine an angry mad Bavarian King declaring “Zee act of dancing is currently forbidden!!” And since the Germans only really go out at around midnight…bars and clubs may as well not open at all. Religious holidays are taken very seriously and citizens have the right to call the police if you make noise during a Feiertag. And they often invoke that right. Allerheiligen or All Saint’s Day is a day of rest, relaxation but most importantly reflection. There are no amount of pumpkins or trick-or.treaters that can change that. I have to say I do admire the Bavarian ability to withstand American culture, perhaps us Brits could take a leaf out of their forest.

That was all for you own information – it bears no relation to my plans whatsoever because I won’t actually be in Bavaria for Hallowe’en. This evening I am travelling to a land far far away to surprise a very good friend of mine. If you are reading this blog…we are coming to surprise you tomorrow!

Weapons of Maß Destruction.


Tuesday 9th October 2012

“I’m in a theme park, and the theme is beer. Where am I?”

A cheeky pose from Angus. (NB Exclusive Olympic Watch).

If you’re bored of hearing about Oktoberfest then turn off now. Trying to describe this weekend is going to be hard. Partly because after the weekend I’ve had, typing itself is a stretch, but also because it was the best weekend of my life…so far. So much happened in so few hours. I’m not really sure what could top it. Bungee-jumping off Mount Everest? Taking an easyRocket to the moon. Going back in time? As we know, all good things must come to an end, eventually. But not before a lot of beer, banter and babes had been enjoyed.

Friday night. Right. Let’s start from the top. Having completed a necessary resupply at LIDL (including enough Nachos to feed the Mexican army), I was anticipating the arrival of my guests. Simon & Scouse would be the first to turn up, travelling from Stuttgart and Tübingen respectively. They arrived at Westpark and without any fuss hopped straight on the U-Bahn and were with me in the early evening. They came bearing gifts! A fantastic retro Stein which is now standing proudly on the mantlepiece. We had a bite to eat and started a Peep Show marathon which would take us later than expected into the night. Our next arrival was the lionhearted Nonie the Nomad, who has recently moved to Berlin to start her Year Abroad. She gets the most points this weekend because of her sheer spontaneity. She had been in Germany less than a week. So why was she so determined to come to Munich? Her reasoning was that she might not get a better excuse to come to Munich’s universally recognised beer festival in the future. You only live abroad once (#yolao) etc. On Thursday night she decided she was coming. I gave her my address, thinking she wouldn’t actually get round to sorting out transport and dirndl etc. How wrong I was. Sure enough she was heading to Munich at 200kmph on Friday evening. Great effort, especially as she knew her predicament. Staying in a room with six lads. Four of whom she had never met. A brave girl to say the least.

Simon, Scouse and Nonie were here. So that was three down, three to go. The cheeky chappies Adam & Euan are a bad influence on each other at the best of times, and with a combination of spite and sheer excitement (what you could call “exspitement“), they defied my warning of “peaking too soon” and of course got mildly merry on the train journey from Magdeburg (their nearest big town). But to be fair they had five changes (don’t get us started on Deutsche Bahn!) so they had a pretty good excuse. Euan sort of gave himself away when I answered his call. As soon as I’d picked up, he simply blurted out “FABIAN. OKTOBERFEST. HAUPTBAHNHOF” with Adam giggling in the background. I rolled my eyes at Si and Scouse – from then on we knew these two tipsy lads – armed to the teeth with Burger King – would be a force to be reckoned with.

Some hours later…

When Adam and Euan finally got in at around 01:30, they were pretty lively and got us all a bit too fired up. Their childishness rubbed off on all of us and before we knew it we were all rolling around on the floor laughing so much we needn’t do a core workout for some time. All the while we were getting updates from Sam who was travelling in from Hamburg. His journey had started off with a minor delay which then turned out to be a more major delay. Because of previous cancellations he was on a particularly crowded train and at some point the driver decided that actually he didn’t want to be a train driver any longer but that in actual fact his calling in life was to be a taxi driver. Unfortunately for Sam, this wasn’t only a change in career path but also a change in his path to Munich. The train stopped at Hanover then went backwards. Then, once it had got back on track, it stopped at every village on the way down to Bavaria, dropping off induviduals whose trains had been cancelled. Sam’s ETA had changed from 01:00 to around 05:30. He held out and eventually somehow made it to mine, despite the uncivilised hour. What was even more impressive was that even though he must have been absolutely shattered the following morning but he was a real trooper and showed no signs of weakness. Well, sort of.

Friends, Germans, Countrymen. From the left: Euan, Scouse, Adam, myself+bananas+radishes, Sam and Simon. Excuse my face – I think I was eating at the time.

Saturday day. Having attempted to cook a full English, we were ready and on our way to the Theresienwiese. Radishes and bananas at the ready. We met everyone at the Schottenhammel tent including Greggers, his housemate and Kirstie, and managed eventually to get into the outside seating area, but not into the tent itself. Had the weather not been perfect, we might have been dissappointed, but as it stood we were more than happy to sip our Steins in the sun.

Cigars and Pretzels. Greggers and Hannah on the right. Everyone looking cool.

So there we sat the entire day. Initially I was worried that – radishes or no radishes – we would all be in a horrific way by the end of the day. As it turned out we paced ourselves really well and throughout the day only sunk around five or six Maß (Steins) each. We made sure we ate throughout the day, popular choices being traditional Bavarian “Hendl” which is a succulent roast chicken. Some “tactical naps” were taken by Sam and Vinnie along the way. And apart from a rather troubling episode involving Adam getting molested by a creepy man called Tobias whilst on the phone to his girlfriend, everyone made it through to the evening without a problem. He seemed to be adopting a “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it approach” which was dangerous to say the least. Needless to say he is on the road to recovery and I’m sure after a few months of intensive counselling and therapy should sort him out. Seriously though, he assures us he is fine.

Enjoying the sun with Miles, Kat, Nonie.

 

Having stayed around the tent for most of the day, there came a time in the evening when we decided to head off around the park. At around seven or eight we were stumbling around the festival enjoying the weekend to the max and I think we were just genuinely happy to be reunited, even if only for a while. We went on as many roller coasters and dodgems (whilst wearing colour-filtered glasses – try it!) as we could until we realised we were either broke or lost. Going on rides and rollercoasters whilst drunk has got to be one of the most exhilarating things ever, i can definitely recommend it.

“Wir feiern die ganze Nacht” with Vinnie, Angus, Sam, Nonie, Euan and Kirstie. All loving life.

But wait! Where were Scouse and Adam?

Scouse and Adam taking a well deserved break from it all.

Absolutely shattered and with Adam and Scouse nowhere to be seen, and since their phones were either dead or out of credit, we decided there was no option other than to crash out at home. We eventually made it to our respective homes Saturday night which is exactly what we did ready to go straight to bed. Our concerns about the Liverpudlian and the Leicesterian were short lived and  they were home before midnight which was even earlier than predicted.

Sunday. My favourite quote of the weekend came from Euan. Having got out of the shower he delcared: “Marcus. I’m really sorry, but I’ve accidentally turned your bathroom into Bangladesh”. Unfortunately, the weather continued in much the same vein and it was a drizzly day. However, we braved the town and went for a fantastic five-star Schnitzel at the Augustiner Bräu just off Marienplatz. Afterwards it absolutely poured it down but we nipped on the U-Bahn one stop to Hauptbahnhof. We were accompanying Adam, Euan, Simon, Scouse and Nonie to the main train station so they could meet their various connections on time. So after all this who was left? Sam and I, obviously dressed for the second time in Lederhosen. As well as Angus, Miles, Vinnie and Kat who were flying out in the evening. Did they have time to come to the final day of the festival? Of course they did. And inside the Armbrustschützenzelt the atmosphere was unbelievable. We soaked up the last few house of carefree fun and learnt a few Italian drinking songs. My GCSE Italian proving to be almost useless apart from the brilliant phrase “Ci sono molte da fare qui” which can be used little or often in any context, because all it means is “There’s lots to do here”.

As I fell asleep last night my ears were ringing with “Ein Prosit, ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit”. Robbie Williams hits were going round and round in my head. I’m slightly glad it’s over, because another week of Oktoberfest definitely would not have been good, both fiscally or physically. It’s been an amazing couple of weeks and I can’t thank everyone enough for making the effort and braving the journey to Munich and putting up with the accommodation. I am please to report that everyone got home safely. Now to plan our next trip…