Day 5 - Goodbye Bad Duerkheim, Hello Munich
The generosity and friendliness of the people in Bad Duerkheim has been quite amazing. The camp owner even went to the effort of producing flyers and dispersing them through the town and the campsite to explain our tour group would be staying with him and to please make us feel welcome. It will be interesting to see if we get a similar reception in the big city of Munich.
It is also with some sadness I have to report the move to a new camping ground means the loss of a new ally, a man I’d come to know as the “Snoreguard”. Unable to travel with the sleep machine I was back in full snoring mode and had warned Boris our tent would probably be trashed by angry neighbours who I’d kept awake.
That was before "Snoreguard" was allocated a tent just metres from my own. Where I operate at say… 15 decibels, this guy operates at 55 decibels! Thus, I was free to snore with full immunity knowing all anger and acts of retribution would go his way. I never did get to meet the great man but if I had I’d have shaken his hand and said, “Legendary effort that”.
SEE GERMANY, THE JIMMY WAY
The official word from tour organizers, or the “redshirts” as they are better known, was to have your tent and bags packed, ready to start boarding the buses at 8:30am. Some misguided souls rose as early as 6:30(!) to make sure they had everything properly packed and would be first aboard.
Boris and I were woken to the sounds of tents being dismantled all around us at 8am. The queue for the buses was massive but going nowhere. A quick check of the queue and a calculation of how long it would take to board all those people and their luggage led to one conclusion… stuff it!
We headed over to the breakfast tent and Boris procured a couple of farewell beers, or as it’s known in some parts, the breakfast of champions. It was here that we ran into a fellow tourist named Julian, who now went by the title “Vincenzo” due to the fact he looked so much like Vince Sorrenti and laughed like him too. Sadly for the real Vince Sorrenti, Julian is much funnier.
Vincenzo appeared a little distressed and after some encouragement told us the story of his tentmate, Jimmy. Two nights earlier after the Aussies big win in Kaiserslautern Jimmy had lost his wallet, all his cash and cards. He decided he would head to Heidelberg (about 90 minutes away from Bad Duerkheim and two hours from K-Town) to where his mate was staying with the Australian hostel group.
He knocked back offers of money for the train fare to Heidelberg, opting instead to hitch his way there. Now, over 48 hours later, Vincenzo had just packed Jimmy’s untouched bags - including his passport - and was waiting for him to make an appearance before the buses left for Munich.
It was at this point that Jimmy was dubbed “F***in’ Jimmy” after Heath Ledger’s character in the movie 'Two Hands' (for those unfamiliar with the movie he does a job for a local crime boss named Pando but totally botches it and for the rest of the movie is referred to as “F***in’ Jimmy).
Various scenarios were discussed such as Jimmy wandering through the vineyards for years like those soldiers who surfaced long after the war, eventually emerging in a tattered Socceroos shirt asking if we won the World Cup; Jimmy becoming a tourist attraction as a sort of local version of the yeti, briefly coming into view then vanishing amongst the vines once more, etc.
It was time to make a move for the tents and for Jimmy to officially be reported missing. We packed our tent and joined the lengthy queue (those so eager at the front now resembling fresh flowers left in a waterless vase for days). No sooner had the queue started to inch forward when we heard boisterous laughter from Vincenzo – those of us from the breakfast tent turned to each other with a knowing look and said as one… “F***in’ Jimmy”.
Unshaven and looking rough around the edges, it was indeed the man blessed with a great sense of timing, but no common sense. It was Jimmy back from his trek to camp via Heidelberg.
Problem solved it was time to leave. We were at the back of the queue and, as predicted, this worked in our favour. Whilst the early birds had wilted in the morning sun, we’d had breakfast, a couple of drinks, a rush-free packing experience and now the first seven buses were filled to capacity leaving just a dozen of us to fill the final bus ;-)
The driver of the seventh bus – a dead-ringer for Billy Connolly – got in a heated row with a redshirt about transferring some of his passengers on to our bus. The row went from heated to blazing but the redshirt was adamant, we’re running behind schedule, you’re going now. “Billy” drove off with a full bus and a full head of steam - it got me thinking of the scene in “Groundhog Day” when Phil Connors says to the groundhog, “Don’t drive angry”. Scheduled time of departure: 8:30am, actual time of departure: 10:30am.
For Coach 8 it was one long pleasure cruise to Munich, at least a seat between each of us and watching DVDs in comfort. The only thing missing was someone feeding us grapes whilst fanning us with palm fronds. We stopped for lunch at one of the fanciest roadhouses I’ve ever seen, only in Germany do you find ice buckets full of bottled beer and kegs you pour your own from alongside the lunch buffet.
We made it to Munich in good time but the new, improved Coach 7 again did it tough. According to those on board “Billy” drove like a maniac, speeding, braking hard, swearing frequently at everyone and everything. To ice the cake they were caught in a traffic jam on the autobahn caused by roadworks, which cost them nearly an hour, and were then pulled over by the Police for going 10-20 km/h over what their British bus permit allowed in Germany. Fortunately, the cop issued a warning rather than a fine or there’d have been multiple homicides!
Coach 7 finally made it to Munich approximately 2 hours after the rest of the convoy – leaving those on board with tickets for that night’s Tunisia v Saudi Arabia game just forty-five minutes to make it there.
‘THE TENT – MUNICH’
Unlike Bad Duerkheim where tents had been carefully and strategically set-up ahead of our arrival, this time we had to do it ourselves. Sounds good in theory but we had limited space and a game about to start so people just put them up wherever they found a gap, dumped their bags out front and took off for the bar and TV tent.
“VB”, who had overseen construction of the first tent city, went to work moving the tents into some semblance of order. This worked fine for those who’d waited, but those who’d rushed to the bar returned much later to find their bags where they’d left them but their tent now relocated anywhere within a 40 metre radius. Many fell asleep to the sounds of drunken campers stumbling from tent to tent in search of their home.
Meanwhile a bunch of us had surveyed the TV tent and decided to give it a miss – the camp owners had set up a big screen to watch the football each night but positioned it at ground level due to the sloping roof of the marquee. With a flat floor and rows of bench seating, this meant unless you were in the front row all you got was a great view of the crowd on the top half of the screen and none of the game itself. A poor set-up that would cost them $$$ with so many city bars so close to camp.
We headed for the hauptbahnhof (central train station) then wandered to Marienplatz, Munich’s main square (incredible architecture here), finally settling in a backstreet bar with a decent screen to watch the Germany v Poland match. For those unaware the score was locked 0-0 with two minutes to go then Germany scored a late goal to steal victory.
The bar erupted in celebration and we headed back to Marienplatz to soak up the atmosphere. To put it mildly… it was going off. Germans dancing around the square in conga lines, singing at the top of their voices, climbing the statues. Barnesy, who is half-German, looked a little shocked by all this and explained that they are normally very reserved when it comes to expressing their pride and celebrating publicly.
A special mention must be made of the Argentinean fan in his “Hand of God” tracksuit (see pic). With no English supporters currently in town he managed to survive another day but it’d be wise for him to bypass Nuremberg on the 15th and Cologne on the 20th.