Yesterday was one of those days which at the end of the day, even though I was exhausted, I kept thinking, how did we get this lucky?! For some background, when I made my Europe bucket list, going to a soccer match was under consideration, but got left off the list due to multiple folks saying if we go, be extra careful to not get in any fights. It's not as if I ever have started a fight, but when I go to Niners games, I may get a bit, ahem, passionate, and since we got lots of warnings that the brawls at European soccer matches can be epic, that combined to us thinking maybe we wouldn't go to a soccer match. Fortunately for us, Greg's client organization has one of the private corporate boxes at the Allianz Arena, which is where FC Bayern plays their home games. Perfect solution! Add in that Greg's charm got him on the short list for when the tickets became open to his project, and we were in. The group met at Oktoberfest, where Greg's charm was on full display at the beer carousel featuring his favorite beer. Only at Oktoberfst!
From there, we took the subway over to the arena. What I learned from folks in our group is that when the arena was built (somewhere between 1993-1995), it was the largest arena in Europe, seating 80,000 people, which really, isn't that much. They also goofed by a factor of 10 and the arena has way too few toilets- um, oops! The arena has naming rights to Allianz, which have to be renewed every ten years, and they come up soon, and folks aren't sure if Allianz will keep the name. Before the arena was built, the first Munich tourist sight most folks saw driving in from the airport was the BMW building, and now it's the arena, so Audi may make a bid to get the naming rights so that they have the first sight. Either way, the arena is a very distinct shape and changes colors at night, so it's pretty cool, at least to me.
Inside the arena, our group took an unintended tour of the stadium on the way to find the megastore for the guys to get jerseys. This was prior to reaching the store, but still a great view!
Once we got to the private box, there was much fun to be had. I had never been in a private box at a sporting arena before, and I did my best to not embarrass Greg too much. There was unlimited beer, non-alcoholic drinks, traditional German food (specialty sausages and a cheese spread called obatza), and desserts! When one of the Americans didn't perfectly pour his beer into the pint glass, there was an informal lesson on how to do so. All in all, good times!
Prior to the start of the match, there were marching bands on the field (top left), which is apparently very rare, and was attributed to it being Oktoberfest. It's as if the whole city goes slightly crazy in a fun way these weeks, and just attributes it to Oktoberfest. They also had the traditional kids walking out onto the field with the players (right) and then getting to run off the field in complete joy (bottom left). That part was loads of fun to watch.
During the game, the passion from the fans was intense in a completely awesome way! The yelling when players names were announced, when players scored, when the other team did something stupid, pretty much for any excuse was indescribably loud. And we were on the quiet side (left photo). On the other side of the arena, there was a section of easily three hundred people who participated the entire match in various coordinated cheers, many of which included dances, jumping in unison (awesome to watch since it was literally like the section was moving as one fluid motion!), and in the photo on the right, holding their scarves up for a couple minutes in unison. The Americans in our group kept saying to each other, we'd be too tired to sit in that section.
Pretty early in the game, their goalie flopped in a major way and pretended to be injured, which meant the refs blew the whistle just before we scored, so our first goal didn't count. You can imagine how that went over with the fans. As for me, I think I mostly kept right up there yelling with the same intensity as the other fans in our group, meaning I didn't start any fights and held my own. Needless to say, FC Bayern won the game 3-0, and at the end, our players took a bow on both sides of the field. I don't know if they do that if they lose, but I thought it was pretty classy.
After the game (side note, I'm clearly not a die hard soccer fan since I know in Europe it's called football, but is it a match or a game? And does that matter if I'm speaking American English vs European English? Either way, sorry if I'm calling the "event" the wrong name!) our private box got more sausages, and we could have had unlimited champagne, but we were mostly all too tired. Instead, after we figured the crowds had cleared, we went down to the subway and all headed home. Meaning, we got off at a stop near us, Odeonsplatz, which has this at the top of the stop. Seriously, how did we get so lucky?