Yesterday, I had a pleasant but sweaty walk almost all the way up the 1.6-kilometer Hauptstrasse, a pedestrian strip in Heidelberg’s old city. I detoured through parts of the university and up, up, up into the castle. Photos are below, and I’m waiting on the video to pop up at espnW.
Then I took the train to Sinsheim for the game and decided to go all the way to the alleged “Museum/Arena” stop. It’s nowhere near the “Arena.” That walk was equally sweaty and less pleasant, up a strip of car yards and fast-food places. I skipped Burger King and plopped down in the McCafe about halfway through.
But my grumpiness faded quickly at the stadium. The media center crew is one of the nicest at the Cup, and I was able to spread out a bit because Mexico and New Zealand didn’t attract a huge press contingent. Then I saw one of the more remarkable games of the tournament. A volunteer who wanted to practice his English and talk about the USA gave me a ride back to the train station during a gap between media shuttles, and I caught an earlier train back to Heidelberg.
So now I’m almost finished. In 24 hours, I’ll be on a plane. It’s bittersweet, definitely. I can’t wait to see my family. I’m less thrilled about going back and picking up projects that don’t involve pleasant rides on comfortable trains in which the conductors make sure you don’t go more that 90 minutes without chocolate. I haven’t driven a car in two weeks, and I don’t miss it in the least.
Actual television might be nice, though. I finally got an explanation of German TV from my friend Tracy, who met up with me in Heidelberg — Germans apparently just don’t care enough about TV to produce much of their own stuff beyond news, sports, talk shows and the occasional cooking show. So that’s why all the comedies and dramas are dubbed-over American fare. It’s not that they’re so enamored of Charlie Sheen and company — they just can’t be bothered to produce anything to fill that space. I admire that. At the same time, I’d like to see some English-language sports programming. And I’m tired of missing UFC cards.
I’m also missing all the dogs I know (mostly mine, of course). I see dogs all over here, occasionally in unexpected places like train stations, hotels and restaurants. Yesterday, I saw two dogs with a family starting the trek up the hill to the castle — one bounding around with energy, one focused straight ahead. I said, “one old, one young?” “Mother and daughter” was the response.
So at this point, I’m very happy with everything. Happy to be here, happy to be going home. I’m only angry at one thing.
The Atlantic Ocean.
If not for the Atlantic Ocean, we could hop on a train in Washington and pop up in Frankfurt. Maybe Americans would learn a thing or two about all the well-run aspects of European culture. Maybe Europeans would learn not to make people pay to use the toilet in the train station.
To put a more positive spin on things — I wish the USA and Germany were closer. It’s remarkable that we can go back and forth so easily just a couple of generations after two devastating wars. But as the USA becomes more diverse, I hope we’ll keep looking to Germany and exchanging ideas, tourism money and cultures.
Except the food.
Final photos, barring something unforeseen in Wolfsburg, follow here:
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