It was time to leave Berlin, and I found a ride through Mitfahrgelegenheit the 480km to Munster to see some extended family and watch match #6. I arrive to very gracious hosts who welcomed me with both US and Germany flags at the ready for the pending match. We rode bikes through the beautiful city to a beer garden near the university - a great setting for a game. It was the first time I had to cheer against my host country, and I was the only American standing during the National Anthem. The daggers in my back from the army of German fans behind me were many, but I stood and waved my flag as bravely as possible! I have to admit, it was a bit frustrating to have my German friends 100% confident that they would trump the US, but I still had high hopes for a win (or tie!). It was an international group, with Dutch #1 who came over from Holland, two Germans, and me, the lonely American. The pilsner was plenty, and the brezeln weren't too bad either. Tension was apparent at the end of halftime however, when the score was still 0-0. It was only 1-0 at the end of the game, but the Germans weren't surprised at the victory and seemed to easily forget that intense first half. I was patted on the back, and consoled at the fact that the US team was still advancing to the next round. I felt like a child being told - "it's ok honey, we'll get you an ice cream cone on the way home to make it all better." Ah well - if you can't beat em, join em! We witnessed the celebrations in the square, as one brave sole climbed to the top of a light post to hang the German flag and others led games and chants. Amusing and fun to be there despite the loss!
The next day it was off to Utrecht, Netherlands with Dutch #1 in his grandmother's very old Opel Astra. I met Dutch #1 in Dingle, Ireland 3 weeks before while traveling with my father and his soccer team. He invited me to a tour of the Netherlands, and after some consideration I decided to reunite with Dutch #1 and check out more of his wonderful country. We had a great dinner on a pedestrian street downtown, followed by a funk show at Muziekcafé 't Oude Pothuys - a very cool basement venue with great beer on tap and a fun crowd. Egg shaking was very popular with the Dutch, and I quickly made some dance partners. I tried practicing my Dutch language skills, but for some reason it still makes me giggle to hear it spoken. The next day it was Netherlands vs. Mexico, but we also fit in a great bike tour. Utrecht is a lovely city of about 300,000 people. We hit two markets, explored the canals, and ended up at a lake outside the city within a short bike ride. Gorgeous.The number of bikes still blew my mind, but I had learned a thing or 2 in Maastricht and only a few people rang their bells at me!
That evening was Mexico vs. Netherlands, and it seemed like the entire town was out. Standing room only, and all of the bike parking was full. Tension was high during the 0-0 first half, and even worse after Mexico made it 1-0 in the 48th minute. There were many long faces, and the bars profits likely soared until Netherlands finally put one in at the 88th minute. Big celebrations ensued, and it almost felt like they had won! But, a tie would not do for the Dutch team and in the final moments of injury time they made it 2-1 to knock Mexico out of the tournament. Orange festivities were fun, and I had a great 2nd game with the Dutch! But it was off to Paris early the next day to catch the final match of my World Cup tour - #8 - France vs. Nigeria!
Combining a passion for travel, the desire to make a difference & a love of maps, MaggieMaps was born.
Unless otherwise noted, all prose, poetry, maps and photography posted on this blog are Copyright 2013 Maggie Maps
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