There. I've done it. All three together in one line. And what, as they say in these enlightened times, is not to like about that? Well, as it transpired, after an event-filled trip, quite a large sack-full of things, but more, much more of that later.
|Marienplatz gets a makeover|
Arriving in Munich without pre-booked accommodation during this yearly splurge on beer and pretzels is nothing short of junior school naivety, but various visits to the interweb had revealed a lot of places who didn't want to take anymore monies ("nicht verfugbar" I took to mean something like "this hotelier is so satiated with dollars and euros, he's not listening to your plaintive calls anymore") and those who did but rather liked the idea of charging the uninitiated (and likely unwashed at this rate) between €285 (the best I found, only of course using the word "best" in a kind of double-hit reverse euphemism) and the somewhat extravagant €2300 (Danke sehr, Kempinsky Palast, but absolutely nein danke). So, with the growing realisation that in this particular Champions League city, bed looked like being a bench at the Hauptbahnhof alongside Fritzie der Alkoholiker and the rest of the Madly Shouting Men, I trailed into the Pension Lindner with my champions league tail firmly between my legs. One last attempt.
Five minutes later I am listening to middle-distant chants of "Best team in the land and all the world" as I nuzzle my first glass of Paulaner, a reasonably priced bed secured against the odds at the last moment. Thank you, Frau Frerick, you fragrant and accommodating woman.
|Bring on the sausage|
|Ready for take-off, captain|
The thing with sauerkraut, essentially rotting vinegary cabbage kept under control only by way of lights and mirrors, is that - when accompanied by Paulaner Pils, sausages and spicy gulasch soup, wearers of pointy Oktoberfest hats are more than likely to blow them off the top of their heads every time they hiccup. There I was nicely set up for the football, just waiting to get a quick spell of blocked tubes on the U-bahn and half of Munich would be cordoned off.
Round the corner at the Andechser am Dom Cafe the Andechser Helle tasted like it had been sieved through the fairest Bavarian barmaid's dirndl and the packed terrace offered a view of the boisterous singing section gathered across the road in front of the obligatory Killians Irish Pub. I spied the waitresses as they watched our lot serenading Uwe Rosler's grandpa: one shook her head sighing "die Englander", another asked "is there a game on tonight?" whilst her colleague assured her that, sure enough "Manchester were in town to play FCBayern". Marvellous stuff. To say the good folk of Munich are stiff would be grossly unfair but they do at times reveal the cosmopolitan cultural flexibility of a bed board. As the waitresses formed a huddle to argue about how the Champions League group format actually works (I kid you not), a heavily inebriated pair, one Mancunian, the other Bavarian, both shaven headed and in their late forties, swayed back to their seats. The Bavarian, arm around the shoulders of the City fan was saying "this is your first time in the Champions League isn't it?" like a concerned Mother preparing her son for the first day at school. All sights and sounds, and indeed smells, to make the heart leap. Trixie, the head waitress, wearing one of those delapidated faces that middle aged German women with a career of waiting on tables sometimes have, looked into my bloodshot eyes and asked "You are English.Why do you show your bottoms in public?". There are few handy answers at times like this. I muttered that it was one of our national past-times and dispatched her for more beer.
Like any afternoon in the sun drinking alcohol, however, at some point the mind turns to weightier matters. Where do I go now? How do the turnstiles in the underground work? Will the sauerkraut have its revenge? Will I well up thinking of Barney Daniels and Geoff Lomax when the Champions League music cranks into action and why does this drunk tramp think I'm his new besty mate? So many questions and very few answers. This was to be the case during the following two hours as well.
|Is that Tevez down there|
The Bayern Ultras are a busy lot in a plastic sort of way too. The noise is undeniable, but I have never seen such well dressed, close-shaven, side parting ultras in all my life. They even have a chant from a Boney M song, a frightening enough thing in itself. Mental note to self: try to remember the "Rivers of Babylon" lyrics in case it kicks off in town later. "No wait, no fighting, listen to this. I remember Zion! mmmm mmmm mmmmm, mmmm, mmmmm". I can just see it all unfolding, a trail of immaculately groomed German ultras charging through the allies roaring "Show me your motion tra la la la la" and the rest of us, Manchester City's pride and glory, chanting back over our shoulders as we regroup for battle: "She looks like a sugar in a plum. Plum plum". It must be the Paulaner.
Thankfully there is palpable tension despite the unerring politeness and friendliness of all the locals and the slack, misplaced jokes of Tannoy Man. It is all incredibly civilised, sanitised and UCL prim and proper. This is already beginning to feel like heading into the Amazon for the first time and finding in a clearing in the dense forest that you have battled through for days to be confronted with the Big Burper Sunshine Motel. What, no pygmies with arrows through their noses and an I'm-going-to-eat-you look in their swollen eyes? Everyone's eating Whoppers here too? Whilst on the subject of burpers...that sauerkraut has now had time to ferment a little more. Acid redux meets Jonny Fartpants. I may have found a way to get the locals annoyed after all.
|Look at me now, Mum|
City came out of the blocks as one would have expected a side set up so aggressively, with Silva prominent, first having his legs taken away by Boateng for what looked like a penalty, then playing in Dzeko for what looked like a goal. Sadly, neither materialised into anything more concrete than little bubbles of sauerkraut air. By the time Micah Richards was sent flying in the box, again the culprit was Boateng, doing his best to recapture his MCFC form, City's bright start was petering out and Bayern were beginning to get their game together. Only there was a problem: Bayern's quick passing was even quicker than City's. The ball flashed between Muller, Ribery, Schweinsteiger and Kroos like it was on a string with fire attached to it. Suddenly City were being swamped and the noise from The Tidy Boys grew to a howl. I noted that nobody, by this time, was singing, "hoorah, hoorah, it's a holi- holiday, a happy time for everyone, holi-holiday" and had cranked up the atmosphere to a howling gale of noise.
Two goals came quickly at the end of this barrage, both opportunist tap-ins from the reconstructed Gomez, after Hart had saved brilliantly and the defence had refused his requests to clear. Two nil at half time and 63,000 locals backslapping and high fiving all around me.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TEST DRIVE - THE RESULTSSettling down for a beer in foreign climes: 10
Sauerkraut under your wurst: 3
Paulaner Pils and Andechser Helle: 9
Frau Frerick at the Pension Lindner: 9
Harry and the ubahn relief: 2
Champions league hymn playing whilst Manchester City line up: ha, put a price on that!