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Monday, 26 June 2006

Football

When we arrived in Köln, Germany was playing Sweden. Moments after stepping off the train, there was a station announcement and everyone in the station cheered. The little train station cafés that had TVs had standing crowds spilling out of them, people gazing rapt. I wanted to stop and stand for a bit, but Nicole, wisely decided it would be better to find our hotel.

We walked out of the station and into the square, beneath the massive cathedral. It looms over the station (as I said 5 years ago) like it might step on it. I was momentarily shocked by it's size. Then cheers echoed from around the square, from the train station, from every direction. Other people holding bags all ran towards whatever TV was closest to see the instant replay.

I watched the rest of the game from my hotel room, but those were the two goals for Germany. As the game ended, car horns started beeping, people burst into the street singing and - I kid you not - the church bells started to ring.

The party has not stopped since. Bands of young men continue to roam the streets singing their soccer songs. The most popular one has the following words: "DeutschLAND Deutschland Deutschland Deutschland!" The others were a bit too complicated for me to quite follow.

The streets were packed with throngs of people. They still are highly populated. I initially found the prospect of hundreds of drunken, celebrating football fans to be somewhat alarming, but then reconsidered.

However, as the night has gone on, they have diminished in number, but the ones left have become more aggressive.

You may be wondering what the hell I'm doing in Köln. Me too. I don't have tickets for any matches. This morning I was all set to get to Alsace. But then Phillip said it was "crazy" to go south before going north. He had a point.

Although announcing my plans to do something seems to be connected with them changing shortly thereafter: I intend to go to den Haag on Monday and then possibly Rotterdam. I may have a concert in Karlsruhe on 11 July, but I don't know yet.

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