The soccer hooligans were in town today for a big match between FC Bayern and Hamburg. Actually there was more noise than hooliganism, and maybe more police than fans. The police were an intimidating presence as they followed the rowdies through the walking streets in their vans, or stood back to back in circles in the main square like Roman legionnaires ready to do battle. They meant business.
It didn't seem to dampen the high spirits, though. Our subway line happens to be on the way to the Allianz arena, so on the ride home from shopping our car was full of fans from both sides. They were on their way to the game with open bottles of beer in hand and many more in their bellies, and their necks wrapped in scarves bearing the club colours. Now THAT was interesting. It was like being on a school bus full of very large children on the way home from a school outing. The noise of the singing and shouting and yelling of insults back and forth ("Scheiße FC Bayern!") was so deafening that I couldn't hear what Laird was saying in the seat across from me. The entire subway car was actually bouncing along the track as people jumped up and down in time to their songs, bouncing me in my seat along with it. A Hamburg fan by the door seemed to be carrying on a bellicose conversation with whoever was on the other end of the intercom, while his buddy threw obscene gestures at FC Bayern fans on the other side of the car. It didn't take much of a grasp of the language to figure out what the response was to that ("come over here and show me that finger...").
And this is just a small taste of what the World Cup is going to be like in June...