Wednesday, July 2 (Valencia, Spain) – Time for some funnies!! This time from Austria, Switzerland and Germany!
Saturday, June 21 (Frauenfeld, Switzerland near Zurich) – If I’m not going to be in Brazil (with my brother) watching the World Cup live, the next best thing is watching a country play, while I am in that country. And for two days in a row, I was in two different countries to watch the patriotism and excitement of their teams fighting for the title.
I’m a pretty big sports fan (go Mets, go Islanders!) and I love going to games even if it is a sport I don’t normally follow. But for soccer (or ‘futbol’ as I’ve learned to call it in Europe), I just never got the ‘bug’. I played a bit in middle school, and I’ve been to one professional game (the Red Bulls) in the States, but I’ve never gone out of my way to watch a game. Until now!
The World Cup is one of those things like the Olympics or World’s Fairs / Expos that I love to support as I love to see different cultures and communities come together over a common connection, in this case: futbol. So when I had the opportunity to see Switzerland play at a house party in Switzerland, and then see Germany play at a public viewing in Germany, how could I possibly say no!?
In Switzerland I am staying with an amazing couple who I met when I was in Italy – we had just started chatting at a restaurant one night, and the next thing I knew, I was invited to stay with them if I made it to Zurich. And I did. Jacqueline and Martin were hosting a small get-together with some family and friends to watch the game, so I brought little soccer ball-shaped chocolates from the local, delicious Swiss brand Teuscher to add to the atmosphere.
We had a delicious BBQ with bratwurst, chicken, and (Mom, Rena, horse-friends you may not want to read this: I tasted a teeny-tiny piece of horsemeat, a specialty here. I felt awful and only had a small taste but it is one of those things that is common and special here so I wanted to experience it. Lean, tasted like beef, not bad at all, but I will never be eating that again).
After dinner we all sat and watched the game, where Switzerland unfortunately lost pretty badly, but it was still a lot of fun and a great experience to feel the patriotism and root for the home team.
The following day, Jacqueline and Martin had the great idea of taking me over the German border, about 20 minutes away, to a town called Konstanz. It is a cute, quaint town, and easier to get to than Zurich, so it is a place they go to often. There was another reason for us to go, aside from me checking off another country on my list: it was Germany’s turn to play in the World Cup, and there would be plenty of big screens set up by the lake for public viewing.
We drove up to Lake Konstanz from the town of Frauenfeld where I am staying, and casually parked and walked over the border into Germany. No passport control (no stamp, boo), and no questions.
When we arrived, the harbor town was packed with people who were finishing their dinners so they could get a good spot to watch the game. In fact, when we finished a local beer and went down to a restaurant to sit for dinner, we were told the kitchen was closed for the game! We then had to walk into the town, through eerily empty streets (everyone was parked in front of a screen), and try a few other places before we found a restaurant with an open kitchen, not too long of a wait for food, and with tables available!
Finally, we found a table at a delicious Italian restaurant called il Boccone. We enjoyed the leisurely meal upstairs where we didn’t have a screen to watch the whole game, but we could hear the score from the cheers outside and downstairs. Finally, the game ended in a tie with Ghana and the face-painted, jersey-wearing Germans went home, and so did we.