Euro 2008

Finally, I can watch European football games without having to stay awake in midnight time! Yeah, of course I also watch Champions League and UEFA Cup, but now I have a chance to watch Euro 2008.

Since I am living in Germany now, so I ‘have to’ support Germany. Of course there’s no obligation for that. But I just want to experience the whole thing, supporting one team and feel the excitement. If I am just being neutral, the excitement will not be so fun.

Below, I only talk about game that I watched and documented. So not all the game that I watched will be presented here, cause the discussion will be very long then.

Watching Football in France
When I went to France, I also apply the same thing. I support France when they play against Romania. Surprisingly, not many people watch football in cafes. The situation is not as crazy as in Germany. In Germany, people are just wearing any national football jersey and watch the live broadcast together. But in France, just take a look at this video, the café is so empty :(

Football Fever in Germany
As I mentioned before, situation in Germany is so crazy. People wear many national team jerseys; stores are selling many attributes regarding Euro 2008; and flags of the participating teams are everywhere! I love this, you can express yourself freely!

Germany vs Austria
This is the only qualification round for Germany that I watch in public place. I watch it with friends in an open air café. I don’t think German plays well, but their goal is pretty impressive.
This is a crucial game for Germany as they can’t loose to be able to qualify. Especially not to Austria, the neighbor country. In the end, Germany won with 1-0.

Germany vs Portugal
This time, I watch it at a café near my apartment. It’s a very comfortable place as it has big cozy sofa. Surprisingly, most of my classmates also come!
And surprisingly also, the Germans play so well. In the beginning, I thought they are going to loose against Portugal because Portugal played so well in the qualification round. But football is football, anything can happen. That’s why we all love it ;)
Overall, the game is very interesting. Both teams are active in attacking and the tempo is pretty fast. I think, this is the best match in Euro 2008 so far.

The crowd goes crazy when Germany scores

She's the only Portugal's supporter. Well, she's Portuguese!

Holland vs Russia
Another crazy game! Holland was so strong during group qualification. They smashed Italy and France, so it’s no surprise if they become one of the favorites to win the tournament. I also thought they will win.

However, in the last Russian match against Sweden, I see that Russia is a very strong team. They are very good in teamwork. And when I realize that their coach is the Dutchman Guus Hiddink, I am not surprised and sure that the game against Holland will be an interesting one.

And indeed, the Russian seems to teach Holland how to play football. In the group qualification, it was Holland who always teaches other teams about how to play football. They even ‘punish’ their opponents, whenever the opponents dare to attack them, with a magnificent counter attack. But this time, Russia overplays Holland. They are faster, rarely looses any balls, and hard to penetrate. Holland’s counter attack doesn’t work at all. I always thought that van Persie is an ideal match with Robben; if only one of them plays, it won’t be maximum.

This game is a proof that having a good coach is more important than having bunch of star players. But probably since Guus Hiddink is Dutch, he can understand Van Basten’s instruction; and make a strategy for his team out of it ;)

Below are the supporters of Russia in a café near my apartment.

Analysis and Prediction
So far, 3 quarterfinals have been played. And all the teams, which qualified as winner in their group, were lost. So let’s see whether Spain will fit into this pattern or they become anomaly.

About prediction, I really don’t know. The strong teams become weak and vice versa.

Beside, it’s European Cup. If Greece and last-time-substitute, Denmark, can won the championship; anything can really happen.

First Semifinal: Germany vs Turkey
A lot of controversies accompanying this game even before it started. Well, here’s the reality, Turkish communities is the 2nd largest population in Germany. So within one country, there’ll be 2 large groups of separate supporters. Of course there are also social issues like everywhere in the world whenever talking about the largest and 2nd largest social group, but I wouldn’t elaborate more in here. But anyway, the potential of riot is big!

So, to see how much the game will affect the social construction in Germany, I decide to go watching the match in public viewing area. The place is called ‘marktplatz’; it’s an open space downtown where normally used as traditional market.

For the game, the ‘marktplatz’ is surrounded by fence. We have to pay €1 to enter. Inside, there’s 1 big screen and many F&B vendors. But the typical problem for me in this situation is just one: I am drowning among the tall Germans! I can’t see the screen!

Okay, so the bad thing is the screen is only one. So all people don’t have option and have to look to one direction. And me…??? Well sometime I can see it, but most of the time I can’t :(
Luckily, I went there with my giant friends. So whenever there’s a goal, they lift me up so I can see the replay. Yup, right… I only see the replays, not the real goals :(

During the match, there’re 2 times that the broadcast network went down! So the screen just goes blank for some minutes! Oh well, developed country…

As for the supporters issues, well as far as I saw, no clash between them. People with Turkish flag and German flag can stay at the same place peacefully. However, one of my friends sees a brawl when he went home.

As we all know, the game ends in 3-2 for Germany. And this situation has created a big party on the streets. Every car blocks the road and just keep honking while the passenger waving the flag. This means, the tram can’t pass. And for going home, I have to take a bus until main station (as bus can seek for alternative route) then walk for 3 or 4 stops then continue with other tram then continue with the tram that goes to my home. I arrive exactly at midnight with sore legs as I have to stand up the whole game and walk! :(

Before Final
I am glad that Spain can go to final; which make them the only team that top the group qualification and go through. So they become the deviation from the model that I elaborate earlier ;)

Furthermore, they only have won in once in 1964. They must be so motivated to win again. The way they play against Russia also smart. They make the Russian can’t develop their play. Although it’s a bit rough in the first half but in the second half, Spain really controlling the game. Congratulation Spain!

It’ll be an interesting game for the final!

The Final
“Pssst, don’t tell the Germans, but I think they’ll loose…” this is what I said to my brother on the email one day before the final game. Well, after watching Spain against Russia, I think Spain is stronger than Germany. And it’s not just my opinion, critiques even hail them as “Football on its best”. But Germany is a tournament team, they always get lucky. Don’t believe? Check the semifinal again between Germany against Turkey!

Anyway, I still support Germany. If I were lucky, I would feel the football party, the taste of becoming winner. So, to prepare for the best, me and my friends plan to watch it downtown. But this time we got a very nice place. It’s still open air but I don’t have to stand up at all. It’s on the open air café called Goetheplatz. The screen is low, it was attached to a box car. So people can just sit to watch it. I sit on the ground, 2 rows from the front; so my view isn’t blocked by any German head.

Unlike when Germany plays against Turkey, I didn’t see any Spain supporter but one. This guy on the picture. Maybe there’re a lot of Spain supporters but they don’t dare to wear the attributes openly. So this guy really has nerve! And this why I salute the Germans, they won’t bother you. They respect the freedom of expression.

When the game started, I see Germany attacks Spain in high pressure. The only thing that crossed my mind at that time was, “So, this is the difference between regular winner and the inexperience one. The experienced one plays in full confident while the inexperienced one looks nervous.” And I start to think that maybe Germany will win because of their mentality.

But then halftime of first round, the game starts to change. Spain can release themselves from the pressure and starts attacking back; and they surely become dangerous. But again, Germany isn’t an easy team to beat. This makes the first 45 minutes so interesting. And of course the goal makes it more interesting. But after the first half, I start to believe that Spain will win!

Second half started, and Germany looks energized again. It looks good in the beginning until it’s so obvious that Germany has lost their grip. Whenever Spain attacks, German defenders are mostly not there; or whenever they can take the ball from the Spain, they will soon loose it again. So it’s only a matter of time. Spain will win.

After the Game
There’re many sad faces during my way home. I thought the supporters will just go home in disappointment. Somehow I was wrong. Some Germans are just partying, don’t mind who win. If they find any Spain supporters, they will just join them partying!!! Nice attitude!

It was almost midnight and me and my friends have to catch the last tram; or else we have to wait for the night bus which will come 30 minutes mater. But apparently, so do many people! So when the tram comes, people just rush to go in. They even pushed each other to fit in. This situation reminds me of the situation around end of Ramadan (Indonesian: Lebaran) where many people will travel home.

I am also getting pushed inside. But the suffering doesn’t stop inside. People still pushing each other and I can’t balance myself; I can’t stand up straight. In the end, and this is the most embarrassing part, I end up sitting on a guy’s lap!!! Yeah true, I didn’t do it intentionally!
So for the whole trip to home, I just sit on his lap! Apparently most of the passengers are also students who live in the student apartments nearby my place. Of course I apologize to the guy and told him I don’t have any choice. And of course he said that he understands and doesn’t mind. He looks cool; he even looks so young, my guess probably high school student. But his friend looks surprised. His friend seems can’t hide his smile whenever he sees us! Oh well, whatever…

Another German Wedding

This is the 2nd time I am invited to a German wedding. But probably this is not so German as my friend, the groom, is half German half Algerian. He is married to an Indonesian girl.

The wedding is in Hatersheim, suburb of Frankfurt am Main (FFM). I arrived there at midnight just before the wedding next day. Apparently, at that time the reception hall hasn’t been decorated at all!!!! So I have to spend my night helping the soon-to-be-newlywed decorating the reception hall.

This surely will never happen in Indonesia. The bride and groom are like the king and queen. They are not allowed to work. They only have to pamper themselves. And I even remember in my sister wedding preparation, the wedding decorators arrived at night; and by the time I woke up in the morning, everything is settled.

The wedding legalization process is held in the city council office, or something like that. There’s small reception after that for awhile. Then, we all come home (as me and some others are staying at the groom’s house) for waiting and preparing for the wedding reception.

After the wedding ceremony

The reception party started at 4PM. There’re about 50 people coming; and for German wedding measurement, this is a medium size party. It’s very different to Indonesian wedding. 100 people are only the family!!! The room looks empty as it probably suits for 150-200 persons. The foods are consisting of Algerian and Indonesian. Yummy!!!

The party lasts until midnight after dancing, karaoke singing, and Algerian traditional ceremony.

Surviving Paris (Time of visit: 8 – 11 June 2008)

I finally have a chance to visit France. Well actually I plan to meet my friends, former colleagues in Indonesia, there. One is French guy who works in Indonesia and the other is Indonesian girl who study in England. But then, the girl can’t make it as her visa was approved late. In the end, I just met the French guy but will come again later to meet the girl ;)

My travel to Paris wasn’t so exciting. I have to fly from Hamburg in order to be able to land in CDG, the main airport. If I fly from Bremen, the landing will be far from the city. I was supposed to land at midnight; yet due to technical problem, the plane has to land in Orly, airport far from the city!

After communicating back and forth with my friend because he waited in CDG and tried to go to Orly while at the same time I was transferred by bus to CDG; in the end we have to take night bus as the Metro wasn’t operated anymore. We arrive at our hostel at 3 AM!!!

General Impression
What a crazy city! I must have been living in Germany for a long time. I am so shocked to find out that streets in Paris are almost no different than Jakarta. People just jaywalking, vehicles sometime don’t stop during red light, and the litters are everywhere. Probably the only difference with Jakarta is that they don’t litter to the river. Or maybe not yet!

This is Europe? Oh c’mon!

The Metro
One thing that my friend taught me was how to travel within Paris. Metro is the main public transportation in Paris; and my friend has taught me how to travel with it. Whenever we go to one place, he’ll let me to lead and he just followed. And after awhile, I understand the principles. Great, now I can just go there alone without afraid of getting lost although I don’t speak the language.

Louvre Museum
This is the first tourist attraction that I visit in Paris. The self proclaim ‘the biggest museum in the world’, it’s surely a nice place to visit especially it holds the most famous painting: Mona Lisa. And yes, the Mona Lisa corner is the most crowded spot in all over the museum.

Another interesting collections to see (well, at least for me) are Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylonia and Napoleon III apartments. Perhaps I don’t need to go to Egypt, Iran and other area to see their heritages now. I can see pyramids, mummies, fraction of palaces, etc. In Napoleon III apartments, I am amazed by the gold rich ornamental designs. And remember, France doesn’t have gold; they all come from the colonies and trades!

Notre Dame
The most famous church in France, but probably due to the story of Hunchback of Notre Dame. The church of course is fascinating, but if you have seen the Köln Dom, you will not so amaze anymore.

The Eiffel
Of course you can’t visit Paris without visiting the Eiffel tower. It’s something that makes the city famous for. I can’t believe it that finally I can visit this famous tower. And of course I am not just come to the place, I am also climbing it. Yes, I really climb it. I didn’t use the elevator; I took the stairs!!!

But taking the stairs only available until the 2nd level. To go further we have to take the elevator which cost pretty high. But I guess that’s enough. After climbing the Eiffel, I ate a big portion of ice cream to balance my calorie lost ;)

For complete Eiffel stairs climbing, please go to:

The Grand Mosque of Paris
I know it’s not a mainstream tourist destination, but as a Moslem I would like to see it. The Mosque is big, of course but somehow the ornamentals are not so much. I like the nice and shooting garden; it makes you feel peaceful.

Next to the Mosque, there’s a famous Algerian Café. It serves Algerian sweets that taste so good. Even the birds love it! The café is pretty full and not easy to find empty nice seats.

To see the birds eating crumbs, take a look at:


When I have to move to Germany, I know I’ll miss some of my favorite things from Indonesia like the foods or some activities that I usually do. One of them is watching Slank concert. Slank is my favorite cult rock band from Indonesia. I sometime followed their tour to other cities in Indonesia. And for sure, I never thought that I could see them live in Germany!!!

It’s all started about 1.5-2 months ago. I got information that Slank is invited to have concerts in Holland for an annual Indonesia festival in May. After hearing this, I start to provoke Indonesian students in Bremen to arrange Slank concert in Germany. Fortunately, there’s one guy who commit to do it. (How’s that for a provocateur work?! Nice, isn’t it?!)

So there it is. Slank will have a concert in Hamburg Germany on May 30th 2008. Hamburg is chosen because it’s easier to access from other cities rather than Bremen. For watching the concert, I plan to go with Simon, my tandem partner in learning German language. He joined an exchange program to Indonesia, so he knows about Slank. And since the concert is in Hamburg and the last train to Bremen is on 11PM, so we have to spend a night there. (The concert starts at 10PM). So, Simon asks his friend there, Jan, to go along in order to be able to stay at his place. His friend agrees. So I buy 3 tickets for us.

But then, there’s another friend of Simon, Sonia, who also wants to come along. But the 300 tickets available are sold out already. So the chance for her to watch it, is not so promising. But we just go and see whether it’ll work or not.

Me and Simon start from Bremen at 18.28 by train. We arrive around 1 hour later and then go to Sonia’s place that happens to be near the venue. The venue is called ‘Indra Café’. In this place, The Beatles has performed for the first time and the place where Sonia lives is opposite to the place where The Beatles was lived.
Soon we start from her place. It’s only 3 minutes walk to the café place. There, we see many people queuing to go in. I ask my friend, who also organizes the concert, for additional ticket. She said that extra ticket will be decided later after all the audiences come in. If the capacity is not full, then they will sell more ticket but in higher price. The normal ticket is €15 while the extra will cost €17. Sonia agrees, so we just wait.

When we are waiting, then I see Massto, the brother of Slank drummer and also the band tour manager. Spontaneously, I come to him and greet him as we haven’t seen each other for a long time. After saying hi and a bit chit chat, I ask him for extra ticket. When he knows the problem, he advices me to give my ticket to Sonia, while I can go through backstage with him!!! Oh My God….!!! That’s soooo cool!!! So it pays to become a fan;)

So that’s it. Problem solved and I go to backstage. There, I am warmly welcomed by Bunda, the mother of the drummer who also the band manager, and the whole gang. I am so touched. It feels like I met my family. I feel surprised that Bimbim (drummer), Kaka (vocal), and Ivan (bassist) still remember me. These three are somehow the closest ones to me from the whole five members of the band.

After sometime, then Ivan wondering whether I can hold his handycam and record the show. At first, I am not so sure because I don’t think I could make a good video while jumping around and singing loudly during concert. But Ivan persuades me, so then I get an idea to give the task to Simon. Beside, he is tall so basically he can shoot the video without getting interrupted by people heads. And apparently, my decision is right. Simon is so proud to do his task. He even kinda showing off it to other audiences…! ;)

The show is opened by Sandy Sandhoro, an Indonesian guy who becomes a finalist of singing competition in one of the German TV stations. And in around 10PM, Slank takes over the stage! People are just screaming hysterically to welcome them. It’s so so insane!!!

I really enjoy the whole show because everybody is just sing along loudly, screaming, jumping, moshing. Non stop! It’s so crazy, everybody ends up in heavy sweating as the café is a closed air one. Later on, Kaka admits that the Hamburg concert is the most awesome one during their current European tour! And what I love the most is no fighting or even riot; and no harassment! That’s very important because in Indonesia, guys will take advantage in concert situation to touch girls. But here, no. Not at all. Once, I ask Jan to carry me on his shoulder in order to get a clear picture. When I try to climb him, there’s a guy who helped me without touching me in unnecessary places. It’s just awesome. I wonder when I could get the same attitude in Indonesia. These guys are also Indonesian but apparently they don’t go to the same concert as me.

After the concert, I go to backstage again to return Ivan’s handycam with Simon and Jan. Sonia goes home straight away as she wants to prepare the mattresses for me and Simon. I introduced Simon and Jan to the band. Ivan is so satisfied with Simon’s work. We hang out with the band until around 2AM. After some chats, Jan separates himself from us to go home while me and Simon go to Sonia’s. Simon can’t stop talking about the whole night, even in the next day he still talk about it. I guess he won’t stop it for the next 10 days…

I come back to Bremen in Saturday noon, feeling blessed. It’s a perfect weather, perfect band, perfect atmosphere, and perfect satisfaction. Slank rocks!