Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Munchen

9 July
We had to bid farewell to the Long-Griffin family, who were going to Prague later. The rest of us are taking the train down to Munich. Russ says that first classes much nicer than second. We're lucky to have the first class tickets on this fantastic journey.
Upon arrival to Munchen, we walked a few blocks to our hotel, which was located in the heart of the red light district near bars, strip clubs, pawn shops and the like. Fortunately inside the Hotel Royal, the rooms were rather spacious with wooden floors and were nice. The breakfast area was fine, too. We quickly dropped off our bags and headed to Schiller's Bar where the owner is Hans Fretz, a former boxer. He had all boxing memorabilia along with celebrity photos on the walls. There, we watched the first quarterfinal game between England and France. Their game was great overtime and ended in penalty kicks. England's last kicker missed and gave away the win to France. It was disappointing and thrilling at the same time. With a table of Japanese men who entered the bar, we decided to stay put view the Japan vs. Germany game, of which the Germans were the favorites to win. This game was a nail biter as well and as the rain came pouring down and more people were entering the bar to watch this close game.

Germany had a stronger team but Japan was quick and skillful in their play. We moved to watch the game in the Jewell's room with their small flat screen TV. This game also ran into overtime and with 15 minutes left, the Japanese scored an amazing goal and triumphantly beat the Germans on their own turf. It was unreal... So emotional and spirited! We were all watching in sheer awe as the Japanese defeated the reigning World Cup champions. Now, the Germans were out. Needless to say, it became another late nite with us going to bed past midnight.
10 July
We awoke early to get breakfast and head to the Dachau Memorial, one of the largest concentration camps during WWII. We took a train and bus to get there and realized that the compound was sprawling and would take us a few hours to tour the area. Unfortunately, we only had an hour and a half with the limited time to catch the train to Augsburg. We took photos, read the panels, toured the barracks and imagined e atrocities that occurred nearly 70 yrs ago. The cruelty of humans was depicted there in Dachau and it boggles the mind to know that people were capable of so much violence and torture.

These bunks housed all the prisoners in very tight quarters. Down in the next room, the bunks became just long wooden beds, not separated individual ones like these.
Toilet room for hundreds.
We went to Augsburg to watch the SWE vs. AUS game but it wasn't very exciting as we had no team to root for. We wanted the Aussies to win but they played pathetically. I even snoozed during halftime. The Swedes won 3-1 and advanced to the semi finals to play Japan next.
For the real USA vs. Brazil game, Divya and Michael found a FIFA square in Augsburg so we walked a few blocks to sit 2 hours to watch that game. We found great seats in front of the jumbo tron TV and within a few minutes, the skies darkened, thunder crashed, and it started to sprinkle, then pour. Russ and I had our ponchos and umbrellas so we were prepared. Everyone else had to take cover.

Within the first few minutes, the US scored a goal with the help of the Brazilian. That shot our confidence real high. However, this game was marred with drama. There were numerous yellow cards issued as well as a red card for a US Player for blocking a goal inside the penalty box. After that, the brazilians had a penalty kick, which Hope Solo blocked but it was considered off and she missed the second block. With more yellow cards and lots of corner kicks, the US had to catch to the Brazilians who now led 2-1. In overtime, the duo of Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambach made the goal of the tournament as they only had 30 seconds left of the game in OT. We were so excited, beyond belief and it made us really feel that we were connected to the team. The game went down to PK's and Hope successfully blocked the 3rd one and the US team made all five kicks! There was pure joy, elation, wonder, awe and tremendous excitement as we cried, cheered, laughed and shouted for the US victory. This was the BEST game ever!
We returned to Munchen and went to the Marienplatz and found a nice Indian restaurant for dinner. It was really good and even though we expected an early evening, we finished around midnight. We all shared stories of how each couple met and our parents' view on our spouses. We were emotionally drained from the day and it was truly a memorable one. What a great last night in Germany with the group!!!! Thank you, God!

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