Times have changed. Hardcore it isn't! The images currently being displayed could've been shown on CBBC. Still this might have been just the free preview, like we used to get on Television X back in the day, but to say that all my hopes & dreams were fading would be an understatement. Anyway, let's not dwell on the disappointments (like at a Sutton game) and begin this tale at a proper junction. Like say, the start maybe.
|"I think this is the place...."|
With about four hours sleep under my belt, I'm soon awoken to the sound of the opening theme tune to the 'Battle of Britain'. The time must be 3 o'clock, as I'd stupidly set the alarm to that time the night before. With everything already packed and ready to go, the temptation is to just fall back in the sack, but knowing my luck, I would just oversleep and miss the whole fuckin' thing.
Leaving the house just after four, I head towards the designated pick up point. It is only on the way that I realise that, even though I'm stocked up on Reichmarks, I'll still need some currency of the realm for sundries at the airport. Of course, our designated driver, Mr X, is early as no doubt Osama Bin 4 Days was ready well ahead of schedule. Taz is soon picked up and before long we are bombing down the M23.
Arriving at the Gatwick, we weave past all the other idiots that also have early flights. One of these said idiots even tried to drive the wrong way up a one way street as he'd realised that he didn't want to enter the car park. Finding a place to park was easier than I thought it would be and now it was time to get out. The only snag was that being in the back sat behind 4 Days is tight enough, but trying to get out from behind him without damaging the car next door which is only only six inches away is another thing!
|Dukey's photo skills still need some work.|
Eventually we made it to the terminal and we all breezed through security. Well I say all of us, but I would be lying, because 4 Days, as usual, is pulled over for looking like Richard Reid with ticking shoes and is forced to take a turn on the X-Ray scanner thing. The first thought now on our mind is food, and we quickly head upstairs for some sustenance.
McDonald's as you would think is rammed to the rafters. Another choice is needed and before you know it we have some sandwiches for the flight. Next stop is WH Smith's and to purchase some high brow reading that proves without doubt that we are as cultured as a Radio Four listener. Namely copyies of Viz & Zoo magazine. There was a certain familiar name in the production team of the latter publication that seemed familiar and raised a few eyebrows I can tell you!
Taz now decided to lump into Boots to get some shampoo. I didn't have the heart to tell him that he doesn't really need it these days! This is about when we get the first loudspeaker message of "Last call for Berlin". Quickly checking that I have everything, I discover that my phone has gone walkabout. I ask Mr X to ring it, only to discover that it was in my pocket all along. Ooops.
|It's not quite correct, but close enough...|
With Taz finally rejoining us we start the run (quick walk) towards our gate, only to realise that with only one member of staff on duty, the queue is already spilling out. Still, once through we jump on the plane and await our departure. With the plane only half full and three of us sitting in the row behind the emergency exit the proper sort of a stewardess asks us if we would like them? The look on the face of 4 Days is of pure happiness! Funny what a couple more inches of legroom can do for a man. Mr X then goes one further and is allowed to sit in business class. Lucky Cunt, I believe is the phrase to use. Although quite what you get in 'Business Class' on Easyjet I dunno. Maybe they don't gob in your food?
The flight was rather non-descript and soon enough we were touching down in the Fatherland. With all our baggage in tow, we leave the plane, only to then find ourselves locked out of the terminal! After a short wait, some lady approaches with a key and finally lets us in. I breeze through security confidently and before I know it we are outside and getting our first taste of Berlin air through a cigarette.
With a part of the train network on strike (proper Gandermonium holiday this!) we end up getting a bus to the nearest tube station. What surprises me is that there is no ticket barrier of any kind to be seen. The whole system is based on trust. And trust me, this wouldn't work back home! But for now we head towards Alex's place, or as the Germans prefer to call it Alexanderplatz.
|First view of the Forsterei.|
The first thing that hits me is the amount of down & outs around. Just like back home, the phrase "East is poor, West is posh, South is rough and North is intellectual" springs to mind. I know this is the East side of the Wall but it's not what I'd imagined. First I see a C&A, then behind that is Primark. Around the corner is TK Maxx and surrounding them are Burger King's and McDonalds. You gotta feel for the little blighters, all they need now is a 'Spoons and they've got the full set. And they'd also have somwhere to put the down & outs!
Finding our apartment was easier than I thought it might be and before long we were making contact with our cleaner to let us in. Underneath the apartment was a so called '24hr Packet Shop' (trust me it was!) that soon had us stocking up on some beer for the digs. The actual apartment was very nice with one double bed and two sofa beds on offer for us to rest our drunken heads later on.
With time not on our side and a bottle of beer in our hands to blend in with the locals, we decided to start making the way towards the game. The first trick was to buy a train ticket and jump on anything that was heading East. After another change over we just simply followed the crowd as they alighted at a place called Köpenick. I was amazed to see several fellas going through the bins looking for bottles and putting them into trollies. I only learned later that they got about 8c per bottle they returned. A tidy sum.
|Home fans. Bouncy bouncy.|
On the walk to the ground we saw a little makeshift BBQ place full of people and more importantly it served Beer! I think four beers came to something like just over £7. Not bad! It wasn't quite a pint, but nobody's perfect. Three rounds down, we decided to head further towards the ground. Passing more bottle collectors we were soon walking through a forest. Yes, a genuine fackin' forest! I half expected to see Hansel & Gretel pushing a trolley of bottles along.
Suddenly the ground was there before us. Apparently it's ok to piss anywhere in this forest because streams of locals would dive off only to return moments later looking relieved, making sure they didn't spill a drop from their plastic cup. With our tickets all scanned we entered the outside of the ground to await the customary spot of brotherly love & touching up from security.
Mr X got his water confiscated and to cheer him up we went straight for a another round of Berlin's finest example of our very own Foster's. With me & Taz getting more beers in, Mr X & 4 Days disappear only to return minutes later with a load of hot dogs. And this was no normal little British chipolata affair but a whopper that had outgrown its bun.
|"Terraces are rubbish and inherently dangerous" |
Said no one in Germany, ever.
With a beer in one hand and my sausage in the other, we begun to head into the stadium proper. Soon an official was looking to take a butchers at my ticket. With both hands full, what could I do? Only hand the beer to him whilst I delve into my pocket! He sportingly accepted and held my cup while I fished out my ticket. Cheers fella. Sadly, arriving five minutes before kick off was not our best idea of the weekend because the place was packed absolutely packed, so we stood at the back and made do.
Now, this is proper football. Not only could you drink & smoke to your hearts content, there was also no one around that was glued to their phones looking at scores no one gives a fuck about. Happy Days! I suppose now I better do some kind of football write-up? Unfortunately over ninety minutes I got to see about ten minutes worth through the gaps in the crowd and whatnot. Still lets pretend for a moment.....
Hass, Schönheim, Parensen, Leistner, Trimmel, Thiel, Jopek, Zejnullahu, Quiring, Kreilach, Polter. Benchwarmers: Amsif, Puncec, Kopplin, Sulejmani, Skrzybski, Nebihi, Kobylanski
|Dukey blending in as usual...|
|Gingerbread house just out of shot...|
|These things fucking stank.|
|And Dukey moans about a fiver for a Bulmers!|
|We didn't steal this. It wouldn't fit in the lift...|
|This is going to become a theme on these trips isn't it?|